3 The triune God

79 How should human beings concern themselves with the invisible?


They should concern themselves with the invisible by turning to God and worshipping Him.

However, it is against the will of God to occupy oneself with the invisible in the form of necromancy or conjuring the dead (spiritism) (cf. Deuteronomy 18: 10 et seq.; 1 Samuel 28).

“There shall not be found among you anyone who [...] practises witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord.” 

Deuteronomy 18: 10-12

Practices of conjuring spirits, especially the spirits of deceased persons, are designated as “spiritism” (Latin spiritus = spirit).

80 What is the position of man in the creation?

Human beings belong as much to the visible as to the invisible creation because they possess both a material nature (body) and a non-material nature (soul and spirit).

Of all creatures, God conferred on human beings a special position, and thereby brought them into a close relationship to Himself: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1: 26-27).

The term ‘material’ is derived from the Latin word materia, which means “substance”, “content”. That which is visible, substantial, and physically tangible is thus described as “material”.


By contrast, the term ‘non-material’ is used to describe that which is spiritual, invisible, and intangible for human beings.

81 What does it mean to be created in the image of God?


Through His Word God created everything and called man by name. Man has thus been addressed (“You may eat...”) and loved by God. He can listen to God’s address and respond to the love of God.

It is because God addresses man, provides for him, and allows him to share in divine characteristics such as love, reason, and immortality, that man is in the image of God.

God is independent, that is, completely free. He has also given man, who has been created in His image, the opportunity to decide freely for himself. At the same time, the freedom with which he has been endowed makes man responsible for his actions (cf. Genesis 2: 16-17).

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’.” Genesis 2: 16-17

82  Are man and woman both created equally in the image of God?


Yes, man and woman are both created equally in the image of God. Thus they are both like Him in their nature.

83 Does being “in the image of God” mean that God and man have the same nature and the same form?


No. The fact that man has been created in the image of God does not imply that one can draw any conclusions about God’s nature or form from the person of a human being.

84 What is the relationship between man and His Creator?


Human beings are dependent on God in their existence.


Human beings have the capacity to recognise God their Creator, to love Him, and to praise Him. Thus human beings are oriented to God, regardless of whether or not they believe in Him.

85 What task does man have in the visible creation?


God has assigned human beings their living environment and given them the commission to have “dominion” over the earth—that is, to shape it—and to protect it (cf. Genesis 1: 26, 28; Psalm 8: 6).

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’.” Genesis 1: 28

86 How are human beings, as the image of God, to conduct themselves within the creation?


Human beings are accountable to God, the Creator, for the way they treat the creation. They can deal freely, but not recklessly, with the creation. As the image of God they are to treat all life and their habitat in accordance with the divine nature: with wisdom, goodness, and love.

87 Were the first human beings allowed to do as they pleased without restriction?

No. As the Creator, Lord, and Lawgiver, God gave Adam and Eve the commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden. In so doing He tested man to see how they would deal with the freedom of decision that had been conferred upon them as the image of God. At the same time He warned them about the consequences of violating this commandment.

Image of God: see Question 81→

88 How did the fall into sin come about?


Through the influence of the evil one, who came to them as a serpent, the first human beings entered into temptation. They transgressed the commandment they had been given by God. Thereby human beings became sinners.

89 What is associated with the fall into sin?


Separation from God, spiritual death, was the direct consequence of the fall into sin. From then on, human beings had to lead a troubled existence on earth, which would end with physical death (cf. Genesis 3: 16-19).

Since the fall into sin, mankind has been sinful, that is to say, enmeshed in sin and thus incapable of living without sin.


Spiritual death: see Question 532→

“Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. [...] For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” 

Genesis 3: 17, 19

90 Do human beings have to remain in spiritual death?


Human beings cannot undo the condition of separation from God on their own. But even as sinners, human beings are not without the comfort and help of God. God does not leave them in spiritual death: with the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, His sacrificial death, and resurrection, God has created the opportunity for all human beings to be delivered from spiritual death.

The first reference to the sacrifice of Christ was given to human beings when God said the following to the serpent: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3: 15).

91 What does it mean to say that God created human beings as an entity consisting of spirit, soul, and body?


Spirit, soul, and body are interconnected. They permeate and influence one another.

The body comes into being through procreation and thus shares in the nature and form of the parents. The soul is created directly by God. So it is that God still continues to act in the present as the Creator of every individual person.

Through the soul and spirit, which are not definitively distinguished from one another in the Bible, human beings are able to partake in the spiritual world, to recognise God, and to have a relationship with Him.

‘Soul’ and ‘spirit’: The immortal soul should not be confused with the human “psyche”, which is also more colloquially designated as “soul”. Likewise, the intellect should be distinguished from the spirit.

92 What happens after a human being’s physical death?


The human body is mortal, whereas the soul and spirit are immortal. After the death of the body, a human being continues to live on as an entity consisting of soul and spirit. Death does not put an end to human personhood. This personhood is then expressed through soul and spirit.

At the resurrection of the dead, soul and spirit will be united with a resurrection body.


Life after physical death: see Question 531→ et seq.

93 Who is God, the Son?


God, the Son, is the second person of the triune God. There is no hierarchical difference between God, the Father and God, the Son, even though the terms “Father” and “Son” might suggest an order of precedence. Father and Son are both equally true God. They are of the same essence.

94 Who is Jesus Christ?


In Jesus Christ God, the Son, became human and yet remained God. He was born in Bethlehem of the virgin Mary.


Jesus Christ, God and Man: see Question 103→ et seq.

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” Luke 2: 1-14

95 What references to the birth of Jesus are there in the Old Testament?


In the Old Testament we find, among other things, the promise of prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7: 14).

The prophet Micah foretold the place of Jesus’ birth: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5: 2).


Isaiah described Jesus with names that emphasise His uniqueness: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9: 6).


Immanuel (“God with us”): see Question 115→.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”Galatians 4: 4

see also Question 4→

96 Who prepared the way for Jesus?


John the Baptist was the one who prepared the way for Jesus. This forerunner of Jesus promised by God (cf. Malachi 3: 1) preached repentance and proclaimed Jesus Christ as the Redeemer: “I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3: 11).

According to the biblical record, John the Baptist was the first to expressly refer to Jesus as the Son of God and also proclaim this to the people.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” John 1: 6-8

“And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1: 34

97 How did John the Baptist describe Jesus Christ?


When Jesus came to John, the latter said: “‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples, and looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (cf. John 1: 29, 35-37).

98 What does the term “Lamb of God” mean here?


The designation “Lamb” is intended to introduce Jesus as the Redeemer, and is reminiscent of Isaiah 53: 7: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.” Since ancient times, lambs were considered the sacrificial animals of preference in the Old Testament. The image of the slaughtered “Lamb of God” is a reference to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

99 What is the significance of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us?


Through His sacrificial death, the Son of God established the way for sinners to be delivered from spiritual death and attain eternal life: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”

(1 John 4: 9-10). Spiritual death: see Questions 89→ and 532→

100 What does it mean when it says that Jesus Christ is God’s “only begotten Son”?


The designation of Jesus as God’s “only begotten Son” means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is unique and eternal. The Son of God is not part of the creation like mankind, nor can He be compared to the angels, who have a beginning. He is without beginning and without end. He is God, and thus of the same essence as the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus He has always been—that is, even before all creation—in fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit (pre-existence).

The term ‘pre-existence’ is derived from the Latin words prae and existentia, which mean “before” and “existence”, respectively. In relation to Jesus Christ, pre-existence means that the Son of God is from eternity, which means that He has always existed, even before the creation and His incarnation.

101 How is it to be understood that the Son of God is described as the “Word” (“logos”)?


God created and ordered all things in a meaningful way through the Word (“Then God said...” Genesis 1: 3). Thus the Word is the source, from whom all things emanate.

The designation “Word” (= Greek logos) is also used for the Son of God in the first chapter of the gospel of John. This is a reference to the fact that God, the Son is just as much the Creator as God, the Father and God, the Holy Spirit.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1: 1-3, 14

102 What does it mean when John says: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us...”?


John 1: 14 states that the Son of God (the “Word”) became “flesh”, that is, a real human being. He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and learned the profession of a carpenter there. He died in Jerusalem: He was crucified on Golgotha.

103 As a Man, was Jesus Christ the same as other human beings?


Yes, in His human nature Jesus Christ was the same as other human beings. In His human existence He had a body and the corresponding needs. He felt hunger when He was in the desert. He felt thirst when He came to Jacob’s well. He rejoiced at the marriage in Cana and wept when His friend Lazarus died. He also wept when He stood in front of Jerusalem and the people did not recognise Him as the Son of God. He suffered pain from the scourging of the soldiers.

However, He distinguished Himself from other human beings in that He came into the world without sin and never sinned. He was obedient to God, the Father, right up until His death on the cross.

104 While on earth was Jesus exclusively a Man?


No. While on earth He was both Man and the Son of God, that is, true God.

Jesus Christ is true Man and true God: He has two natures, a human one and a divine one.

105 What passages in Holy Scripture attest that Jesus Christ is also always true God?


It was only as true God that Jesus Christ was able to say: “I and My Father are one” (John 10: 30), and thereby express that He is identical in essence with the Father.

At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, a voice from heaven was heard saying: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3: 17). During His transfiguration, the Father likewise emphasised that Jesus is the Son of God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17: 5). The words of Jesus: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14: 9) also attest that He is God.

106 Which of His deeds show that Jesus Christ is true God?


The miracles that He performed show that Jesus Christ is true God. Nature was subject to Him because He calmed a storm and walked on the waters of Lake Gennesaret. He showed Himself to be Lord over life and death by healing the sick and raising the dead. When He multiplied the loaves and fish and thereby fed thousands of people, and when He turned water into wine, His actions far surpassed the capacities of any human being. He was Lord over sin and repeatedly forgave sins.


Jesus’ miracles: see Questions 140→ et seq.

“God was manifested in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16

“This (Jesus Christ) is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5: 20