This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity”, published by MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).
In his book Rearrange Trinity, Rodrick Durst notes that there are 75 Trinitarian references in the New Testament. Many of these passages reveal the collaborative work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to secure our salvation. Space does not permit a full exploration of every reference, but we list several in an effort to demonstrate how the Trinity is woven into the fabric of the greatest story ever told.
Romans 8:14-17 – “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. You were not given a spirit of bondage to fall back into fear. Instead, you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, also heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if at least we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
The disciples of Jesus received the Holy Spirit within them, which also serves as an agent in our adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. As adopted children, we are joint heirs with Jesus in his inheritance of all things. This includes glorification, which is received when we are raised from the dead and put on the immortality of Christ. Paul shares a similar message from the work of adopting the Trinity in Galatians 4:4-7.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 – “But we must always thank God for you, beloved brothers and sisters of the Lord, for from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. He has called you to this through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
From the very beginning – that is, before the creation of the world – the Father chose/elected disciples of Jesus. This action was based on His foreknowledge (see Rom. 8:29-30). The means that God uses to bring salvation, in addition to the finished work of Christ, is the work of the Holy Spirit, who calls, regenerates, indwells, baptizes in the Spirit, seals and sanctifies. The human aspect of salvation is the “belief in the truth” of the gospel.
1 Peter 1:1-2 – “Peter, Apostle of Jesus Christ: To the elect, living in exile scattered abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the work sanctifying with the Spirit, to be obedient and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ…”
Peter describes Christians as chosen, or chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. We too are sanctified, or set apart and sanctified, by the Holy Spirit. It all depends on the blood of Jesus, which cleanses us from sin. In a passage known as the “golden chain of redemption,” the apostle Paul links the foreknowledge of the Father to predestination; predestination to call; call for justification; and justification to glorification – an unbroken chain stretching from eternity past to eternity future (Rom. 8:29-30).
1 John 4:2-3 – “Thus you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit [person claiming divine gifting for service] whoever confesses that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is from God, but any spirit that does not confess Jesus is not of God. It is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard coming from; even now he is already in the world.
John writes against the docetics, adherents of a primitive form of gnosticism who deny the humanity of Christ and who argue that Jesus only appeared to take on a body. The apostle counters this by insisting that Christ is both divine and human.
Furthermore, John says that we will know if a person truly has the Spirit of God within him if he affirms both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus. The Father did not send the false prophet who disputes the Incarnation.
Hopefully this column, and the one before it, have opened our eyes to the divine tapestry of the Trinity’s work of salvation. Yes, Jesus is our Savior. He, and He alone, took on human flesh and bore our sins on the cross. He, and He alone, physically rose from the dead to assure us of eternal life. Yet Jesus did not act alone.
Together with the Father and the Spirit, Jesus volunteers to temporarily put aside his privileged position at the right hand of the Father and come to earth to save us from sin. The Father fully agrees with this. After all, he is the one who sent Jesus (John 6:38). The Father also plays an active role in our redemption as the One who foreknows us, elects us, and predestines us.
The Spirit – whom the Father and the Son send – comes to call us to salvation, to regenerate us, to indwell us, to baptize us spiritually, to sanctify us and to seal us. The Spirit also serves as the agent through which believing sinners are adopted as children of the Father and joint heirs with Christ.
One day, when Jesus returns, his disciples are glorified or fully conformed to the image of Christ. And we enjoy eternal life in the face-to-face presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Apart from the three persons of the Trinity and their collaborative work of salvation, we would still be dead in our sins and without hope of being restored to a right relationship with God. Christ is our indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15), whom the Father sends and whom the Spirit signifies. The triune God is worthy of all our praise.
Next: The Trinity and Scripture