Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Equally God!
But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
Question 11 of the Larger Catechism asks, “How doth it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?” It gives the answer, “The scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto them such names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to God only.” In previous articles we have already seen that the Bible teaches that there is one God, in three persons (Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Cor. 13:14). And, we have noted a few places where Jesus and the Holy Spirit are explicitly said to be God (John 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Act 5:3-4). This week we want to focus on those Scriptures which teach that these three persons of the Godhead; the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; are equal with one another.
The Catechism notes that the Bible teaches this equality of the persons in the Godhead by ascribing to each of the persons, things (“names, attributes, works, and worship”) which can only be properly said of God. Thus, Jesus is given the name “God” in the Bible (John 20:28; Rom. 9:5), as is also the Holy Spirit (Act. 5:4). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share one name (Matt. 28:19). Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both said to be “eternal” (Isa. 9:6; Mic. 5:2; Heb. 9:14). Moreover, God is the “God of truth” (Deut. 32:4; Psa. 31:5; Isa. 65:16). Yet Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6), having come to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37), for His name is “called Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11). Likewise, four times in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 Joh. 4:6). For, as the verse at the head of this article declares, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (who alone is true – Rom. 3:4), to testify of Jesus (who is the truth – John 14:6), and the Holy Spirit is able to perfectly bear witness to the Son because “the Spirit is the truth” (1 John 5:6).
In addition to the attributes of eternality and truth, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all share the same perfect knowledge of one another. The prophets, as well as the holy angels, are pictured in Scripture longing to know what the Son and the Spirit know and came to reveal about God and His plan (1 Pet. 1:10-12). For the Son, and the Spirit, and the Father know one another fully and reciprocally, with a knowledge beyond the capacity of any created thing. Thus: Matt. 11:27 and 1 Cor. 2:10-11: All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. … But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
The Son and the Spirit likewise share with the Father in the work of creation (Gen. 1:2; Col. 1:16) and redemption (2 Cor. 13:14). God the Father is the one who so loves His elect throughout the world that He sent His Son to give everlasting life to everyone trusting in Him (John 3:16). And the Holy Spirit brings about that faith as He causes God’s elect to be born again (John 3:3-6), so that they do good works that please the Father (1 John 3:22). The verse at the head of this article shows how the three persons of the Godhead work together to sanctify God’s people: Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to us from the Father so that the Holy Spirit will testify to us of Jesus so that we will be able to be God’s witnesses (v. 27).
Finally, the Bible ascribes equal worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Jesus claims that He and the Father must receive the same honor (John 5:23). Jesus is worshiped in the Bible (Matt. 14:33; Luke 24:52; John 20:28; Rev. 5:8-14), and He accepts that worship, which would be idolatry if He were not fully God. Likewise, we are only able to worship the Father and the Son by the Spirit (John 4:24). For it is by the Spirit that believers have spiritual life (Rom. 8:11), and are enabled to cry out “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:15). Thus Phil. 3:3: For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, let us bow they knee to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God our Father!