Walking through the New City Catechism in 2020

Question 3: Praise to our Triune God!

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Question: How many persons are there in God?

Answer: There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.


Although the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, the truth that there is only one God who exists eternally in three Persons is clearly revealed by God in his Word. For example, the three persons of the Godhead are found at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:13–17 (the Holy Spirit descends on the Son while the Father speaks from heaven). Jesus also points to the Trinity in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18–20. Another New Testament text about the Trinity is Paul’s benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Some may brush off this foundational Christian doctrine as merely abstract or even irrelevant. But the apostle Paul certainly did not think so, for he had gazed in wonder at the trinitarian nature of our salvation. He then proceeded to write one long, glorious declaration of praise at the beginning of his letter to the Ephesians. Let us consider together the distinct works of the three persons of our one God that have brought about our salvation:

Verses 3–6: God the Father plans our redemption

Left to ourselves, not a single sinner would ever choose to receive mercy and forgiveness from God. The blindness of our sinful nature is too great for us to see and desire his glory and goodness. Yet God the Father acted before time began to choose those who would be recipients of his saving grace, deciding before any decision of ours to adopt us into his family and transform us into the image of his Son.

Verses 7–13: God the Son accomplishes our redemption

The plan of redemption put into place before time still needed to be carried out in time, so God freely poured out his glorious grace on his elect (chosen) people in the person of Jesus Christ, his Son. It is only through the obedient life of Jesus lived on earth that we can have a right standing before God, and it is only through the bloody death of Jesus on the cross that we have forgiveness of our sins. And our marvelous redemption is only the beginning of God’s “plan for the fullness of time.” Ultimately, God will “unite all things in [Christ], thing in heaven and things on earth.” Why has God started his plan with us? “That we who [are] the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”

Verse 14: God the Holy Spirit applies our redemption

That which was planned in eternity past and accomplished 2,000 years ago in Israel is brought into our lives when God the Holy Spirit brings us to life and opens our spiritual ears to hear the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, that we might believe in Christ. The moment we trust in him, we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. The promises of God—forgiveness, Christlikeness, eternal life, adoption as his children, the inheritance of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places—are all guaranteed to be ours, and the Holy Spirit serves as the downpayment of those glorious benefits until that wonderful day—may it come soon!—when we acquire possession of them.

 

Our true and living God is forever for us as his people. May we always worship our triune God “to the praise of his glory!”

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