Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 9, 1959
NUMBER 9, PAGE 12-13a

The True God

Herschel Patton, Shelbyville, Tennessee

Editor's note: This is the second in a series of radio sermons on the Baptist Manual. The entire series (nineteen sermons) is in book form, and can be ordered from the Gospel Guardian, Box 980, Lufkin, Texas. The price is $1.00)

We continue our study of the nineteen articles of of faith, believed and taught by a great segment of today's religious world and written down for man's study and consideration. Whatever men write down as their faith and recommend to others should be given careful consideration by all. I have many newspapers and magazines entitled "This I Believe." In these brief articles men from various walks of life set down in writing some of the things they believe. I find myself in agreement with what some believe in these articles, but find others which I do not believe to be well founded. Out of interest for our soul's welfare, we should carefully study all things that are taught — study them in the light of what the Bible says.

Article No. II.

"We believe the scriptures teach that there is one, and only one, living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is Jehovah, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of Heaven and Earth: inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love; that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption."

One Living And True God

First, in this, we have presented the idea that there is one and only one, living and true God. This faith of course, is in contrast with the belief in many gods, which has often been the faith of many in time past and is today the belief of some in various parts of the world. There is, however, no division throughout so-called Christendom today over how many Gods there are. Faith in the existence of one true and living God is the faith of all who accept the Bible as God's word. Paul in Ephesians 4:4-6 says "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." In Malachi 2:10 the prophet asks "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" That this one God is a living God must also be accepted by all Bible-loving people. To Moses God said "I AM THAT I AM; and thus shalt thou say unto the children, I AM hath sent me unto you." In Revelation 1:4 John writes unto the seven churches saying "Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come .... In verse eight we read "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."

It is further affirmed that this one, living and true God is "an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is Jehovah, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of Heaven and Earth." Throughout all Christendom these things are believed and preached. What is here affirmed contributes to no division in today's religious world, for all believe these things to be true of God. They are believed because the scriptures clearly so teach. It is affirmed in John 4:24 that God is a Spirit. Psalm 147:5 declares "Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite" Psalm 83:18 says "Thou whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the Most High over all the earth." To the philosophers in Athens, Paul said "God that made the world and all the things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your poets have said, For we are also his off-spring."

Holy And Worthy

The next thing, in article No. II, declared of God is that He is "inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love." Again, no division exists over this statement. This is the faith of all God-fearing, Bible-loving people. There is no need for a creed to teach these truths, for they are clearly revealed in the Bible. Moses and the children of Israel sang "Who is like unto thee, 0 Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?" (Ex. 15:11) In Revelation 4:8-11 those surrounding the Lord's throne are pictures as saying "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. . . . The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast crowns before the throne, saying Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

The atheist may scoff at the existence of such a divine, powerful being, but a consideration of all the facts forces us to a faith in such a God. It has been said, and truthfully so, "If the universe exhibits design, there must be a great DESIGNER; if it shows thought, there must be a great THINKER; if it is run by the laws of nature, there must be a great LAWGIVER; if it operates with mathematical precision, there must be a great MATHEMATICIAN; if the universe gives us important chemical combinations, there must be a great CHEMIST." (Why We Believe the Bible, DeHoff, P. 20.) Thomas A Edison said that the universe is such an engineering feat, "there must be a Great Engineer" Thus, we may say, faith in the existence of such a God as we have been discussing does not even depend altogether upon the Bible, for these things can be learned by reading the great book of nature.

The Godhead

The latter part of this article No II has to do with the Godhead. It is stated thus — "We believe that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption." A proper understanding of the Bible teaching on the Godhead will establish the truthfulness of this statement. It might be thought by some, from the way this part of the article is stated, that the work of each member of the Godhead in the great work of redemption is the only thing concerning which they harmoniously work. However, the Godhead was a unit in the creation of the world as well as being such in connection with the work of redemption. It will be in order here for us to make a few observations concerning the Godhead.

"Godhead" and Godhood" are terms which convey the same idea though "Godhead" is more frequently used than "Godhood." These terms express the state, dignity, condition, quality of Jehovah. Manhood expresses that which makes a man a man and childhood expresses that which makes a child a child, so Godhead is applied to a being, it suggests that all that enters into the idea of God belongs to him.

The term "Godhead" is found three times in the King James Version. In Acts 17:29 Paul said, "We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man." The term used here means that which is divine, concretely, "the deity." Paul uses the term in addressing a heathen audience and it emphasized the idea of God as contrasted with that which is made by the hands of men. In Romans 1:20 we have the expression "even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse...." The term here used embraces the whole of that which constitutes "God." In the third place, Paul said in Colossians 2:9 "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." This simply means that in Christ is seen the Father and the Holy Spirit; the whole plentitude of the Godhead dwells in Christ.

There are three members of the Godhead. God, the Creator, the Almighty, Jehovah, and Father is always first. We have already introduced passages which show how He is revealed to us in the Bible. We have seen that He is the great planner and designer of the universe; supreme in authority and Sovereign Ruler of the universe — supreme in wisdom, power, love, mercy and justice. He is not only a being; He is a spiritual being, a divine personality, a divine, speaking personality with all power and wisdom. God is always referred to in the masculine gender and with a personal pronoun.

Christ is the second member of the Godhead; he is given numerous names and titles in the Bible. Some of the names applied to God are also applied to Christ. When reference is made to his relation to man he is called "Son of man"; when the reference is to his relation to God he is called "the Son of God." Christ is the only member of the Godhead that has been clothed in the flesh. He was born of Mary of the tribe of Judah in the flesh; he lived in this fleshly body and accomplished the will of God; he became "obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross." He was buried and was raised from the dead for our justification. Before coming to earth he existed "in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:6-7). He is the Savior of mankind.

The third member of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. This member is of the same nature and essence as God and Christ; the Godhead is thus composed of three coeternal and coequal persons, but are distinct personalities. In the Bible, The Holy Spirit is always third in the Trinity; God is first, and Christ is between them. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter, and there are other titles given to him in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is referred to in the scriptures in terms of personality. Christ spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person distinct from himself.

While it is wise to speak of things as the Bible speaks of them, still, since men have coined many words as synonyms and titles for the Godhead, it might be well to notice a few of these. A phrase often used in referring to the Godhead is "the Divine Family." This name suggests the close relation — the kinship — of the members of the Godhead, and that they constitute a family. The term suggests an interest in each other and a cooperation in activities.

"The Trinity" is another term that man has given to the Godhead. This term expresses very emphatically that the Godhead is composed of three.

"The Sacred Three" is a term that expresses the same idea as "Trinity." The word "sacred" suggests the reverence and respect that should be given to the Godhead.

Many people refer to the Godhead as "The Divinity." This term has some divine authority for in Romans 1:20 in the King James Version where the term "Godhead" is used, in the American Standard Version the term is translated "divinity." Since the Greek term here used may be translated "Godhead" or "Divinity," then this term would have scriptural sanction.

With these things before us concerning the Godhead, surely it will not be denied that "in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Spirit); equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the work of redemption. We should not, though, as already suggested, limit this harmonious work to the work of redemption.

Article No. II is a carefully worded statement, not just of the belief of a certain religious sect, but of the belief of all who accept the Bible.