Fifty Anniversary Reprint: Question & Answer Forum

What are we to understand by the expression, the Triune God?

The expression, the Triune God, is not found in the Word of God; notwithstanding, it is a scriptural doctrine. To the Jew, “The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) was a most emphatic statement. While the Old Testament teaches the unity of the Godhead, we see within that unity a plurality of divine Persons. In Genesis 1:1 the word “create” is in the singular, but “Elohim” (God) is a plural word. “God said, let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26), clearly suggesting plurality. Throughout the Old Testament we have the activity of divine Persons described. Such passages as Psalm 110:1 and Proverbs 30:4, “What is His Name, and what is His Son’s Name?” contain the truth of plurality.

While at times we hear of the first, second, and third Persons of the Godhead, we should be very clear that there is no priority of Persons but rather equality in the Godhead. Many passages in the New Testament reveal further this plurality (Ephesians 2:18; 4:4-6, etc.).

S. Maxwell (June, 1978)

In light of Matthew 1:20-21 and Luke 2:7-11, is it scripturally correct to say, “The virgin Mary gave birth to the Son of God”?

When we are speaking of divine Persons, great care needs to be taken in the use of language; this is particularly true when we are making public statements. The only truly safe principle is to adhere to the words of Scripture.

The expression, “The virgin Mary gave birth to the Son of God,” may well seem correct in the mind of the speaker and no wrong impression is intended, yet we do not judge the statement to be correct for a number of reasons.

Isaiah 9:6 tells us, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” This verse guards against any thought that the Lord Jesus must be born to become the Son of God. Matthew 1:20,21 points out clearly the fact that a male child was born and His name was to be called Jesus. The passage in Luke 1:35 states, “That which is to be born shall be called holy, the Son of God” (RV). In Galatians 4:4 “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman.” These passages make clear that the virgin birth did not cause Him to become the Son of God, for He was the Son from eternity. His birth into the world introduced Him into new conditions as a man amongst men.

We have no desire to split hairs, but we deem it to be most dangerous and careless language to link birth with His deity. We do well to keep to the divine revelation that a child was born but the Son was given. In matters of this nature it is good to remind our hearts of the words of Moses, “The place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

S. Maxwell (February, 1980)

Can you tell us when and where propitiation was made?

When we have answered the first part of this question, as to when propitiation was made, it will be evident to the reader as to where it was made. The great day of atonement (Leviticus 16) saw Israel’s high priest kill a bullock (Leviticus 16:11) and also the goat for the people (v. 15). He took the blood of the victims within the veil, which was the evidence of a life forfeited in sacrifice, giving satisfaction to the throne of God. The Lord Jesus is not only the Propitiatory (Romans 3:25, the Mercy Seat), but is the propitiatory sacrifice as well (1 John 2:2; 4:10; Hebrews 2:17, JND). The publican in Luke 18:13 was looking towards the altar when he desired God to be propitious to him. We can state then with utmost confidence that when the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30), propitiation¬†was accomplished. It was made on the cross and not in heaven. He did not, as the high priest of old, take blood into the sanctuary of God, but in contrast presented Himself, the glorious evidence of propitiation made and accepted by God (Romans 4:25; Hebrews 9:11-24).

S. Maxwell (February, 1979)

Could the Lord Jesus, as He is now at the right hand of God, be the same as He was before the foundation of the world?

If the question relates to His true nature, then the answer is an emphatic yes. Deity marked Him in the eternal past (John 1:1) and the same can be said of him in manhood (John 8:58).

If the question has to do with conditions relative to the Lord Jesus, then the answer is no. Before the incarnation He is seen in His eternal glory (Isaiah 6:1; John 17:5) and He is the Eternal Word (John 1:1). When He came to Bethlehem, He took manhood in permanent character (Hebrews 2:14; Philippians 2:7). In heaven now, He has taken glorified manhood to the throne. This indicates something unique in heaven, that never was there before, a man in a glorified body. This is the great mystery of 1 Timothy 3:16.

S. Maxwell (December 1978)