1689:2.1 God and the Holy Trinity (Pt.3 Without Parts and Passions)
1. The Lord our God is one, the only living and true God.1 He is self-existent2 and infinite in being and perfection. His essence cannot be understood by anyone but him.3 He is a perfectly pure spirit.4 He is invisible and has no body, parts, or changeable emotions.a He alone has immortality, dwelling in light that no one can approach.5 He is unchangeable,6immense,b,7 eternal,8 incomprehensible, almighty,9 in every way infinite, absolutely holy,10 perfectly wise, wholly free, completely absolute. He works all things according to the counsel of his own unchangeable and completely righteous will11 for his own glory.12 He is most loving, gracious, merciful, and patient. He overflows with goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. He rewards those who seek him diligently.13 At the same time, he is perfectly just and terrifying in his judgments.14 He hates all sin15 and will certainly not clear the guilty.16
I would encourage you to read each of my previous articles in this series in order to find your footing for today's subject. I am slowly working my way through this section of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith an old, biblically faithful, time test statement of faith drafted not long after the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Confession, like the WCF, organizes the great doctrines of Scripture confessed by the church through creeds and catechisms all throughout church history. The statement of faith is a synthesizing of what God delivered to the prophets and apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Today and tomorrow, I want to spend time on the Confession's statement: He[God] is invisible and has no body, parts, or changeable emotions.
I am dividing this statement over the course of two days because no-one wants to read a long online article. So, today I want to focus on the part of the confessional statement that says, "God is invisible and has no body"
Now, a few passages and then a few comments to support this statement:
 But,” he [God] said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (ESV)
 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (ESV)
 He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (ESV)
 By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. (ESV)
There are a few things these selected verses tell us/don't tell us. Our Exodus passage does not say that God is invisible, but it does say we cannot see Him and live. Our Holy Triune God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16). Think of the sun for a moment. Do you have it in your mind's eye? Are you squinting? Now try to think of a light that would consume the sun and make it seem like a dim, puny star. That image is just scratching the surface of God's "unapproachable light".
God's glory is such that the unfallen Seraphim dare not gaze upon His glory. In fact, they cover their eyes as they declare in Trinitarian format "Holy Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory" (see Isaiah 6). No man shall see God's face and live. And this isn't just because man is sinful. Again, even the unfallen angels turn their gaze.
The Apostle John in John 1 and the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1 speak of the God who is unseen and invisible being revealed in the person of Jesus. These Apostles were establishing the Divinity of Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God because He is God.
And the author of Hebrews speaks of Moses as "enduring seeing him" (God) who is invisible.
Now certainly, a few questions arise from these passages. Questions that gnaw at me. How could Moses see God (and live) who is invisible? I mean, if you were to read Exodus 33:11 you would see that Moses even says he spoke with God face to face. How do I reconcile those Scriptures with Scriptures like Isaiah 6? Furthermore, how is God invisible if Jesus is the image of the invisible God?
While my answer will not fully quench your curiosity or mine, it is however what I offer you based on what we see in Scripture.
First, we must work to understand that God graciously used human authors to communicate weighty, eternal matters. This means that God spoke to human writers and inspired them to write using words we can understand. God became knowable to us through these words He inspired the prophets and apostles to write.
Because God wrote us a book by using men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, sometimes anthropomorphic language is used to describe things about God that we would not be able to understand otherwise.
So let's work to harmonize these passages of Scripture because as Christians we have the faith to confess they aren't in conflict.
Here is a rule of interpretation for you. We must understand when Scripture is telling us something about an action of God VS something about His Divine Person. For example, John tells us plainly in John 4:24 that God is spirit. In other words, He has no physical body. He has no hands or feet or eyes or ears. Our Triune God is an invisible spirit. This is a statement about God's Divine Person.
Now take the Scriptures that mention Moses' interactions with God. When the Scripture speaks of Moses meeting with God face to face or seeing God and living, what it is communicating is that Moses experienced a special (but veiled-see Exodus 33:21-23), intimate relationship with the Lord. The Scripture is stating that God drew near to Moses- an action God initiated (think burning bush). In fact, Moses enjoyed such a close relationship with the Lord that he veiled his own face from the Israelites at times (see Exodus 34).
In other places, we read of God hearing, but this does not mean He has a physical ear. We read of God seeing, but this does not mean He has a physical eye.
When anthropomorphic language is employed by the biblical writers it is to teach us something about an action of God. It is not used so that we may construct an image of Him.
But what of Jesus? Jesus is God and those who lived with Him saw Him, touched Him, smelled Him. As we think of Jesus' Divinity we must not forget His humanity. Jesus did not cease to become God in His humanity, but certain Divine qualities were masked (not emptied) by His humanity. This had to be the case for sinful men to dwell with Jesus. This had to be the case as Jesus took our sin upon Himself. This had to be the case as He suffered and died.
Emotions can be translated into passions.