Introduction – Trinity

“And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore that child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35).

With this answer given to a simple, but pious and faithful, Jewish maiden we enter into one of the most complex and glorious truths in all of existence. There is one God who exists eternally as a three-personed being and he has acted decisively to bring salvation to his people. In this text we see the single purpose of redemption in its initial historical manifestation distributed fittingly according to the covenantal arrangements of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By the Spirit’s operation of giving life while proceeding from the Father and the Son, by the Father’s eternal generation of the Son, and by the Son’s covenantal faithfulness to the Father’s will, salvation was created. By the overshadowing of the Most High, the “Son of the Most High” entered Mary’s womb to embrace the humanity established in her body by the Holy Spirit. As a result, not only do we find that by God’s immutability the salvation he promised is certain and irresistible, but we are confronted with a stewardship of truth. We now must speak in terms of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with a seriousness of intention, an alacrity of mind, a wonder of soul, a joyousness of spirit, and a submission of heart that will challenge us to the very depths of our being.

Out of this sense of stewardship and worship this edition of the Founders Journal consists of the second part of our intent to give exposition to chapters of the Second London Confession. Having looked at chapter one, “Of the Holy Scriptures,” we turn now to chapter two, “Of God and the Holy Trinity.” We are not unaware that many pitfalls lie along the path of such a transcendent topic. Errors loom at every place where we do not observe with care the biblical revelation. We must look humbly also, to the constructions of others, and where we find their insights into Scripture accurate and instructive, we must follow them. Where differences in vocabulary, conceptual frameworks, priorities, or even matters of doctrine exist, each interpreter must seek a path that most closely approximates the data of the biblical revelation.

To give time and energy to such an issue, even with the difficulties of finding proper expressions to carry the freight of heavy truth, is not a burden but a priceless privilege. As with every revealed truth, both privilege and stewardship, a joy and a woe, accompany its reception. May the grace of God as shed forth in the illuminating work of the Spirit teach us to “judge all things” as we seek the mind of Christ on this truth.

—Tom J. Nettles

 

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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