Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and the other Protestant Reformers did not set out to create a new religion but to bring the medieval Western church back to its biblical foundation. Proof of that can be seen in the fact that the Reformers left essentially unchanged the soundest biblical reflection from the fifteen hundred years of church history that preceded them. In other words, where the church had gotten things right biblically, they left things alone. We see this most fundamentally in the Reformation doctrine of God.
Reformation theologians affirmed the same biblical monotheism that was confessed by the Apostles and such figures as Athanasius, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. This means that the Reformers were Trinitarian in their view of God. Biblical monotheism is not unitarianism; it admits to particular distinctions within the Godhead. Though God is one in His essence, He is three in person—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three coeternal, coequal persons share this essence in its entirety, possessing all of the attributes that make God God.
We will flesh this out more in the coming days. Today, we begin our look at the full deity of the three persons by considering the Father. That God is Father is revealed throughout Scripture. We see in today’s passage, for example, that the Lord revealed Himself to Pharaoh as the father of Israel (Ex. 4:22–23). It is the New Testament, however, that gives us a fuller picture of God as Father. Jesus, for example, frequently referred to the God of Israel as His Father (John 5:18). It is true that there is a way in which God is uniquely the Father of Jesus, as we will see in due time, yet Jesus’ reference to God as Father goes beyond His unique relationship to God. Our Savior, after all, tells us to address God as “our Father” when we pray (Matt. 6:9–13). God stands in a fatherly relation to His people. More specifically, the first person of the Trinity, who is fully God, is our Father. Jesus, who is the incarnate Son and second person of the Trinity, is fully God and is our Brother (Heb. 2:11). The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is fully God and is our Helper (John 14:26; Acts 5:3–4).
Importantly, the sovereign God of the universe is Father not to all people but only to those who trust in Jesus (John 1:12–13). The One who made all things takes us as His dearly beloved children in Christ. There is no better news than that.