Part 3 - God
Welcome to the third part in our ongoing series on the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCoF), the ‘subordinate standard’ of the Free Church and a summary of our understanding of the teaching of the Bible. In this part we are going to be looking at what the WCoF has to say about God.
The WCoF teaches that there is but one true God, the God of the Bible. He is eternal, infinite, all powerful and perfect. He is the source of all that is and requires nothing from his creation. His existence is not dependant on our belief or faith in him. All things were created by God and are dependant on God for their existence.
The WCoF takes a clear Trinitarian position, that is it teaches that there is one God, but that God is three persons, this “unity of three” is where we get the word trinity from. It can be a difficult concept to wrap our heads round, but our faith teaches us that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God, and that together they are one God, not three separate ones. All are eternal and all are equal and equally God. All the persons of the Godhead were involved in the creation of the universe and are involved in its ongoing existence.
From the Bible, the confession understands that from eternity God ordained everything that has happened, is happening and will happen. The confession also makes clear that although God’s will is absolute this does not undermine or diminish the fact that humans have free will and are responsible for our own decisions. This may seem paradoxical, but as a former professor at the Free Church College once told us it is only a paradox for philosophers, for Christians it is simply biblical truths which we don’t fully understand the interaction between! Nor does this invalidate the idea of cause and effect, it merely recognises God as the prime cause which sets all others in motion.
Part of this control over all things is the doctrine known as predestination. This teaches that God has chosen those who will be saved (by responding to the free offer of his grace) and those who will not. Those to be saved have been selected by God’s will from eternity and not by any merit of their own. In line with the Bible teaching on free will this does not negate our responsibility to respond to God’s word or to share and evangelise. We are called to spread the word and share it, but it is only through God’s power and decisions that this will bring about salvation. There is nothing we personally can do to ensure our salvation or that of others. Equally, none that God has chosen to save can ever be lost.