“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
God more clearly revealed Himself in the coming of Christ. Through Christ’s coming, He also has more clearly revealed in the three persons. There is much evidence for this, but one piece will suffice for now: baptism. Paul connects three things together: God, faith, and baptism. He builds his case from one to the other. Because there is one faith, he infers that there is one God. And because there is one baptism, he infers that there is one faith (Ephesians 4:5-6).
Therefore, if we initiated into the faith and worship of one God through baptism, we must believe that the “Name” we are baptized into is the true God. Jesus testified that the perfect example of faith is exhibited by being baptized into the “name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This is the same thing as being baptized into the name of the one God, who has been fully manifested in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It should be evident, now, that three persons subsist in the essence of God.
Since faith should not run after various idols but cling to God alone, it is obvious that if there are different “faiths” then there are different gods. Since the baptism of faith is a sacrament, its unity assures us of the unity of God. What could Jesus mean when He commands us to be baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit except that we are to believe with one faith in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? What can we do but declare that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one God?
Therefore, since we must hold that there is one God (and no more!), we must conclude that the Word and Spirit are the very essence of God. Nothing could be more stupid that the arguments of the Arians who, while acknowledging the divinity of the son denied, His divine essence. Equally bad were the ravings of the Macedonians who insisted that the Spirit only poured out gifts of grace upon people. But since wisdom, understanding, prudence, endurance, and fear of the Lord proceed from the Spirit, so also He is the one Spirit of wisdom, prudence, endurance, and piety. He not divided according to the giving out of His gift, but as the Apostle Paul assures us–however the gifts are divided, the Spirit remains one and the same (1 Corinthians 12:11).