Messages By Ovid Need


The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity

This chapter explains the orthodox doctrine of God, and the Holy Trinity as formulated in the Nicene Creed of 325, and revised in 385.

The first two points present the character or attributes of God, and have been treated at length by various authors. So we will not spend time on them.

We will however, look more closely at the third point, the important doctrine of the trinity.

1. The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; {1 Corinthians 8:4 ¶ Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 1 Corinthians 8:6 Yet unto us there is but one God, which is that Father, of whom are all things, and we in him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Deuteronomy 6:4 ¶ Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is Lord only,} whose subsistence is in and of himself, {Jeremiah 10:10 But the Lord is the God of truth: he is the living God, and an everlasting King: at his anger the earth shall tremble, and the nations cannot abide his wrath. Isaiah 48:12 Hear me, O Jacob and Israel, my called, I am, I am the first, and I am the last.} infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; {Exodus 3:14 And God answered Moses, I Am That I Am. Also he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.} a most pure spirit, {John 4:24 God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and Truth.} invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; {1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King everlasting, immortal, invisible, unto God only wise, be honor and glory, forever, and ever, Amen. Deuteronomy 4:15 Take therefore good heed unto yourselves: for ye saw no image in the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Deuteronomy 4:16 That ye corrupt not yourselves, and make you a graven image or representation of any figure: whither it be the likeness of male or female,} who is immutable, {Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord: I change not, and ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.} immense, {1 Kings 8:27 Is it true indeed that God will dwell on the earth? behold, the heavens, and the heavens of heavens are not able to contain thee: how much more unable is this house that I have built? Jeremiah 23:23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God far off?} eternal, {Psalms 90:2 Before the mountains were made, and before thou hadst formed the earth, and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art our God.} incomprehensible, almighty, {Genesis 17:1 ¶ When Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am God all sufficient. walk before me, and be thou upright,} every way infinite, most holy, {Isaiah 6:3 And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole world is full of his glory.} most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will {Psalms 115:3 But our God is in heaven: he doeth what soever he will. Isaiah 46:10 Which declare the last thing from the beginning: and from of old, the things that were not done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do whatsoever I will.} for his own glory; {Proverbs 16:4 ¶ The Lord hath made all things for his own sake: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and for him are all things: to him be glory forever. Amen.} most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, {Exodus 34:6 So the Lord passed before his face, and cried, The Lord, the Lord, strong, merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth, Exodus 34:7 Reserving mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression and sin, and not making the wicked innocent, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon ye children, and upon children's children, unto the third and fourth generation. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God, must believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him.} and withal most just and terrible in his judgements, {Nehemiah 9:32 Now therefore our God, thou great God, mighty and terrible, that keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the affliction that hath come unto us, seem a little before thee, that is, to our Kings, to our princes, and to our Priests, and to our Prophets, and to our fathers, and to all thy people since the time of the Kings of Asshur unto this day. 33 Surely thou art just in all that is come upon us: for thou hast dealt truly, but we have done wickedly.} hating all sin, {Psalms 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: for thou hatest all them that work iniquity. 6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak lies: the Lord will abhor the bloody man and deceitful.} and who will by no means clear the guilty. {Exodus 34:7 Reserving mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression and sin, and not making the wicked innocent, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon ye children, and upon children's children, unto the third and fourth generation. Nahum 1:2 ¶ God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth: the Lord revengeth: even the Lord of anger, the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. 3 The Lord is slow to anger, but he is great in power, and will not surely clear the wicked: the Lord hath his way in ye whirlwind, and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.}

(June 13, 2010)

2. God, having all life, {#Joh 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself, so likewise hath he given to the Son to have life in himself,} glory, {#Ps 148:13 Let them praise the Name of the Lord: for his Name only is to be exalted, and his praise above the earth and the heavens. } goodness, {#Ps 119:68 Thou art good and gracious: teach me thy statutes.} blessedness, in and of himself, is alone in and to himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which he has made, nor deriving any glory from them, {#Job 22:2-3 May a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise, may be profitable to himself? 3 Is it anything unto the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it profitable to him, that thou makest thy ways upright?} but only manifesting his own glory in, by, to, and upon them; he is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, {#Ro 11:34-36 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who was his counselor? 35 Or who hath given unto him first, and he shall be recompensed? 36 For of him, and through him, and for him are all things: to him be glory forever. Amen.} and he hath most sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatever himself pleases; {#Da 4:25,34-35 25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 34 ¶ And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?} in his sight all things are open and manifest, {#Heb 4:13 Neither is there any creature, which is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto his eyes, with whom we have to do.} his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent (subject to change) or uncertain: {#Eze 11:5 And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak, Thus saith the Lord, O ye house of Israel, this have ye said, and I know that which riseth up of your minds. Ac 15:18 From the beginning of the world, God knoweth all his works.} he is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, {#Ps 145:17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.} and in all his commands; to him is due from angels and men, whatever worship, {#Re 5:12-14 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was killed to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and praise. 13 And all the creatures which are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Praise, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him, that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for evermore. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen, and the four and twenty Elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for evermore.} service, or obedience, as creatures they owe to the Creator, and whatever he is further pleased to require of them.

Children's catechism.

The confession does not seek to explain the Trinity, for the Trinity cannot be explained. It simply defends it.

Faith involves accepting holy mysteries that cannot be explained, and this is one of those mysteries. It is the highth of arrogance to try to explain these Holy Mysteries.

3. In this divine and infinite Being there are three persons, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, {1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.} of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, (nature) yet the essence undivided, {Exodus 3:14 And God answered Moses, I Am That I Am. Also he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. John 14:11 Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me: at the least, believe me for the very works sake. 1 Corinthians 8:6 Yet unto us there is but one God, which is that Father, of whom are all things, and we in him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.} the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; {#Joh 1:14,18 John 1:14 And that Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw the glory thereof, as the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father) full of grace and truth. John 1:18 No man hath seen God at anytime: that only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.} the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; { John 15:26 ¶ But when that Comforter shall come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth of the Father, he shall testify of me. Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, which crieth, Abba, Father.} all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence upon him.

Eternally begotten of the Father. We are men not gods, so we cannot understand how one can be an Son from eternity past. Again, these men did not seek to explain the mystery, only define and defend it.

There are several denominations today that can be described as anti-trinitarian.

Paragraph 3 combines statements from the First London Baptist Confession of 1644, the Westminster Confession of 1646, and the Savoy Declaration of 1658.

A little history:

"The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

In 1643, the English Parliament called upon "learned, godly and judicious Divines", to meet at Westminster Abbey in order to provide advice on issues of worship, doctrine, government and discipline of the Church of England. Their meetings, over a period of five years, produced the confession of faith, as well as a Larger Catechism and a Shorter Catechism. For more than three centuries, various churches around the world have adopted the confession and the catechisms as their standards of doctrine, subordinate to the Bible.

The Westminster Confession of Faith was modified and adopted by Congregationalists in England in the form of the Savoy Declaration (1658). Likewise, the Baptists of England modified the Savoy Declaration to produce the Second London Baptist Confession (1689). English Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists would together (with others) come to be known as Nonconformists, because they did not conform to the Act of Uniformity (1662) establishing the Church of England as the only legally-approved church, though they were in many ways united by their common confessions, built on the Westminster Confession."

I found this statement very interesting:

"The Church of Scotland adopted the document, without amendment, in 1647. In England, the House of Commons returned the document to the Assembly with the requirement to compile a list of proof texts from Scripture. After vigorous debate, the Confession was then in part adopted as the Articles of Christian Religion in 1648, by act of the English parliament, omitting some sections and chapters. The next year, the Scottish parliament ratified the Confession without amendment."

In other words, the document was submitted with no Scripture proofs. Though there were no proofs for infant baptism, that point was left in the document.

The Baptist Confession provides more detail on the Trinity than any of them, maybe because of the rise of Arminianism and Unitarianism in their day.

There are three basic parts in the historic and biblical doctrine of the Trinity. They are defined in the children's catechism:

'Are there more gods than one? No, there is only one God.

In how many persons does this one God exist? In three persons.

Who are they? The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.'

There is one God, who exists in three persons, each with distinct personal characteristics and works.

The doctrine of the Trinity is a divine, Holy Mystery that can never be understood though some groups have tried and are even today trying to do so. Any teaching that the God head is anything except one essence or substance manifests in three persons is a false teaching.

These early orthodox creeds did not seek to explain the mystery, but to build a fence around it to protect it from attack. It is foolish arrogance to seek to reduce this Holy Mystery to human level.

One of the problems with the doctrine of the Trinity is the eternal generation of the Son and the eternal procession, or going forth, of the Spirit. How can the Son be the self-existent God yet eternally generated? The Son is begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from both.

Certainly, these are problems for our human mind, but we cannot entertain doubts on the subject.

Some consider the doctrine of eternal generation involves Subordinationism. That is, the Son is subordination to the Father, or on a lesser level than the Father. Such a thing can be wrongly assumed from the Son's submission to the Father while he was here among men. But the fullness of the God-head dwelt in the man, Christ Jesus.

They are all three self-existent, yet are eternally derived from the Father.

If we ignore the eternal Father of God the Father, and the eternal Sonship of the Son, we suppress the eternal Fatherhood and the eternal Sonship. We then lessens the glory of redemptive love. We glory in the fact that the Everlasting Father gave his Only Begotten Son for our redemption. Without the Divine Trinity, where is the glory of the Father's sacrifice? Where is the glory of the Son's faithful obedience? Where is the glory of the gospel?