Pillar Journal

Book of the Month – September 2023


Beeke’s Book of the Month for September 2023 is Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 3: Spirit and Salvation by Dr. Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley. Dive into the rich doctrines of Pneumatology and Soteriology from historical, biblical, and experiential perspectives with the introduction to this magnificent work.

With much gratitude to God, we present the third volume of Reformed Systematic Theology. In a sense, the project started here in 2016, when we began a significant revision of theological lectures, presented at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, on the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and his work in applying salvation. Those revised lectures became the seed from which this systematic theology grew.

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is discussed in systematic theology under the locus of pneumatology (from Greek pneuma, “spirit,” and logos, “word, speech”). However, here we encounter a complication, for the study of the Holy Spirit’s work overlaps with another locus, soteriology, the doctrine of salvation (Greek sōteria). In God’s plan of salvation, the Holy Spirit applies to the elect the salvation accomplished by the work of Christ as Mediator (Titus 3:5–6). Therefore, we have chosen to combine these two loci and consider them as one. Hence, this volume contains part 5 of our systematic theology, “Pneumatology and Soteriology: The Doctrine of Salvation Applied by the Holy Spirit.”

However, in order to provide an orderly structure for our treatment of the various aspects of the Spirit’s work, we consider it from three perspectives.

First, from the perspective of the history of salvation (Latin historia salutis), we trace the work of the Spirit through the history of God’s mighty works: creation, God’s covenantal and redemptive dealings with the patriarchs and Israel, the incarnation and work of Jesus Christ, the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost and its implications for the church today, and the Spirit’s work in transforming God’s creation into the new creation.

Second, from the perspective of the order of salvation (ordo salutis), we trace the Spirit’s work in applying salvation to individual persons by union with Christ, including the general call of the gospel, conviction of sin, regeneration and conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, and preservation and perseverance.

Third, from the perspective of the practical experience of salvation (experientia salutis), we explore the work of the Spirit with respect to the indwelling of the Spirit, assurance of salvation, the fruit of the Spirit in personal godliness, Spirit-worked obedience to God’s commandments, the fear of God, various Christian virtues, and prayer.

We desire to make it clear from the outset that these are not three separate categories, but three perspectives on the work of God the Holy Spirit. God’s mighty works in history (historia salutis) aim at the salvation of individuals (ordo salutis), and God’s works in history and individual lives are profoundly experiential in producing piety (experientia salutis).

Before we proceed to these topics, we must review a doctrine introduced in volume 1 under the doctrine of the Trinity—the person of the Holy Spirit—for we must know who the Spirit is before we can adequately consider what he does. This we do in the introductory chapter, where we also answer objections to the study of the Spirit and offer reasons why this is such an important doctrine for us to know.