“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed,
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
but who will by no means clear the guilty,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.”
Today’s post is the final of the four incommunicable attributes of GOD. This author’s division (Wayne Grudem) includes them by different names than we are used to. This one is Unity. Or, as it is sometimes called, Simplicity. To review, they are:
What does it have to do with a parrot? All the different colored feathers make up the parrot. The same goes for GOD. He has many attributes symbolized by the different colors. But it is all one parrot. We can’t just choose the yellows. We have to take the whole parrot with all the colors. GOD’s person can’t be split up for us to pick and choose the parts of Him that we want.
Now, for today: What is unity as it relates GOD? According to Wayne Grudem,*
“God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of GOD emphasized at different times.”
“This attribute of GOD has also been called GOD’s simplicity, using “simple” in the less common sense of “not complex” or “not composed of parts”. But because the word “simple” has come to mean “easy to understand”, it is more helpful to use the term “unity” rather than “simplicity”.’
Does that answer all the questions for you? Actually I found it quite helpful for the most part. One important thing to remember is that we don’t pick and choose the attributes we want for a god of our making and separate them out from the rest. GOD is one. His mercy, justice, love, jealousy, grace, holiness, hatred of evil, longsuffering, tenderheartedness, righteousness…all His attributes go together into the one true GOD. There is a unity about them that never clashes or gets out of balance. That is what this attribute is all about.
Is this an issue that involves the Trinity?
Yes, it probably does have to do with the Trinity. We often try to separate the Three more than is wise. It can make us more comfortable in some ways to feel like we now have one part of God figured out. However, His unity extends to this part of the conversation too. Despite the fact that there are three, it is still One God. The mystery is how we can have One God, yet He also functions in three ways. But when the Spirit is present, the Father and Son are present as well. That is the mystery of the Trinity. We pray to the One God, not to separate aspects of God. Some of us mistakenly think of ourselves praying more to one of the persons of the Trinity the another. But this shouldn’t be true.
We know that the Trinity is One God, three persons. There is never any division. They have different roles in redemption, of course. They have different roles at other times too but sometimes not quite as crisp and clean as we would like to make them. Each member of the Trinity is fully GOD and as such has all of His attributes. Yet they are not three gods.
God the Father is not the same as God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is different still…but with all the same attributes! They are the same, yet with different responsibilities.
Do I understand how this can all work out? NO!
How can there be One GOD, three persons, yet still only ONE GOD?
I have no idea how that all works out, really. I just know He is ONE GOD, not three. I know that they are all in agreement. That there is never any disunity, confusion or chaos. I know that there were times when the Son submitted to the Father in order that the Father would be glorified. The Holy Spirit is present to bring glory to Christ and remind us of what Jesus taught. All were present and active at Creation, Jesus’ Baptism and the Cross, to name a few.
Is submission only an issue for women?
**This can certainly give me pause as a female regarding that “dirty word” submit. If it was good enough for the SON of GOD, surely it can be good enough for me! Yes, I know this is a rabbit trail, but an important one. Surely we don’t need to look on that word with such horror, as either men or women! It is something God calls on all of us to do in different settings.
If the persons of the Godhead can submit to each other in certain settings, surely we can submit to our husbands for the “glory” of our home. Or we, as members of churches can submit to certain inconveniences for the glory of GOD in our churches even though the decision is not our first preference. Or within a marriage, we can submit to one another because of our love for Christ even if we can’t totally appreciate the desire of our mate at the time. (Here I’m referring to times when husbands might need to submit to their wife’s preferences as a way of loving her as Christ loves His church.)
We need to see the example of Christ who was honest regarding His desire NOT to drink of that cup if it would be possible. Yet He wanted to do the Father’s will! And for that, what did He do? He laid down His life…in a gory, horrible death…for us! Yet we so often have such difficulty “submitting” in much smaller issues. It is something to think about!
I don’t know if I have cleared anything up, at all! It is helpful to me to see that there is nothing about GOD that is able to be divided. He isn’t made up of parts. When I look at GOD, I must take the whole package. I don’t get to pick and choose which parts of Him I want so I can leave the rest behind. That is part of what this unity is about.
The other thing I was reminded of is that the Trinity (which isn’t directly related to this issue) is made up of three persons who are fully GOD, not parts of GOD, or separate gods. The three make ONE GOD. I don’t understand it. I just have to believe what is taught in a variety of passages throughout Scripture.
Where can I read more about this in the Bible?
One book that has a considerable amount of teaching, often of two members of the Trinity at a time, is the gospel of John. John 1:1-14 sets the stage for the coming of Jesus. He is not just a good man. He is GOD. He is the WORD made flesh who came to dwell among us. Or, as it says early in the chapter, In the beginning, the Word was GOD and the WORD was with GOD. All things were made by Him…. It’s all pretty important and basic to the rest of the book that talks about Jesus’ life on earth. If Jesus wasn’t GOD, His sacrifice for sin wasn’t effective! But He was…and it was effective.
Later, in John 14, He refers to the Comforter/Counselor/Advocate/Helper that He will send. This is the Holy Spirit. It isn’t that the Holy Spirit wasn’t around before this. It’s just that He wasn’t as personally indwelt in the people of GOD before the cross. But you’ll find the Trinity in places like John 3:1-18, Genesis 1:2, Psalm 33:4-22 , John 16, John 17, Colossians 1:15-23 and many other places as well.
Start watching as you read the WORD. See where God’s unity shows…and even where the different persons of the Trinity show themselves in these passages.
While it is true that this is not a communicable attribute because GOD doesn’t have separate parts like we do, we as believers need to be aware of what we show the world around us, and what we truly are! We do have parts. It is very easy for us to be divided. We tend in that direction so easily!
What do you do to encourage unity in your home? in your church? among your friends? at work?
How can GOD’s unity meet you in these places?
*from the book he wrote SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. pp. 177-180. Wayne Grudem includes helpful diagrams as well. It is the first theology book I have read that has diagrams! Very helpful…especially in regard to this topic. See the book in the Bibliography carousel to the right.
**This is an official rabbit trail
updates made here 5/23/21