The Trinity In Salvation (Part 1)
 
The Trinity In Salvation (Part 1)
Written By David Lovi   |   07.19.23
Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Father’s Plan

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
in
 the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we
would be
 holy and blameless before Him. In love  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
to Himself,
according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace,
which He freely bestowed on us in
 
the Beloved.”
Ephesians 1:3-6

The Christian faith is monotheistic – that is – we believe in only ONE God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We can say “Amen” to the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, “Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ecḥad – “Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One.”

However, at the same time, the Bible teaches that our ONE God subsists in THREE distinct persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In other words, we believe that our One God is a Trinity. He is a tri-personal being. Now, this is a difficult concept to wrap our finite minds around! How can One be Three, and Three be One? Are all of the Persons of the Godhead equal? And since the Members of the One Trinity are distinct, what are their respective qualities and roles?

Suffice it to say, the doctrine of the Trinity has been misunderstood and maligned by false teachers throughout the centuries. A teacher named Sabellius in the 3rd century taught a heresy called “modalism.” He said that there is one God who reveals himself in different “modes.” i.e. sometimes he manifests himself as the Father, and at other times as the Son, and at other times as the Spirit, but he is not Triune. Arius, who lived in the 4th century taught that Jesus Christ was the first of God’s creatures, but that he was not Divine, and that there was a time when he didn’t exist. Whereas, a group called the Docetists in the 2nd century taught the opposite, namely that Jesus was Divine but only gave the appearance of being human. There are many other heresies like these as well.

This is why we must be very careful when using human analogy to depict the Trinity, in fact all human analogy must by necessity fall short, because the Trinity is supra-rational – the nature of God’s Triunity is higher than anything our creaturely minds may conceive. If we say that the Trinity is like water which is in 3 different forms (Liquid, Solid (ice), and Vapor), we are actually teaching modalism, the same heresy of Sabellius. If we say the Trinity is like the Sun where you have the star, and the light which comes from it, and the heat which comes from it, we are teaching Arianism because the light and heat are not the star, but products of the star.

All human analogies of the Trinity fall far short, but the Bible says that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Athanasian Creed puts it this way,

“…We worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, and their majesty coeternal.”

And so, for the next three articles we will be looking at how our Triune God works in the salvation of His people. Paul wrote

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:4-6).

Paul also wrote a wonderful explanation of the Trinity’s work in Salvation in Ephesians 1:3-14. Lets look at it verse by verse:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

This verse starts with the “Blessed God.” Paul identifies the Blessed God as the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice that in verse 3 the word “blessed” or “blessing” appears 3 times! In fact, this section of Scripture starts with the blessedness of God the Father, and in vs. 14 of Ephesians 1, Paul ends by saying “to the praise of His glory!” This text from the beginning sets out to put forth the Blessed and Glorious God and his saving work!

And so, our Blessed Father God, out of his own intrinsic and overflowing Blessedness pours out His blessing! And WHO is it that are the recipients of this blessedness? Paul tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us” This is a more profound statement than it may seem at first glance, considering who it is that Paul is writing to – namely the “saints at Ephesus” who are predominantly Gentiles! This shows that God’s blessings are now lavished upon the world, and not just the Jewish people.

When the Temple curtain tore in two upon the death of Jesus, access to God was opened to ALL who had faith in the Son, and not simply access, but even all of the benefits of that relationship. And even more, we too who trust in Christ may be included in the “US” that the Father has blessed, for his blessing transcends time, and geography!

But the verse does not stop here. It also tells us WHAT the Father has blessed us with, namely that IN CHRIST we would have “Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” James 1:17 says,

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Therefore, not only all of our physical blessings, including our bodies, our possessions, our families, our abilities come down as gifts from above, from the “Father of Lights…” but He has blessed us with every SPIRITUAL blessing as well by uniting us to His Son Jesus! Like what, someone may ask? All of the aspects of our spiritual life and salvation. Our Calling, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, Perseverance and final Glory are ALL spiritual blessings which come from above in the “heavenly places” and are given to us through union with God’s Son! The next verse tells us why we in particular have these blessings.

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him…” 

Verse 4 says that “HE chose us…” so who is He? God the Father! The Father chose us. If you are a believer, then let that sink in dear Christian. The Father CHOSE you from BEFORE the foundation of the world! Before you became a Christian, before you did anything right or wrong, before he created you in the womb, before he invented trees! Before he said “Let there be light!” BEFORE ALL OF THAT, The Father had us in mind! Listen, beloved children of God, you were not an afterthought! Oh NO! You were a FORE-THOUGHT IN THE MIND OF GOD THE FATHER! The Father CHOSE US! Of course, this was also an inter-Trinitarian choice. Jesus says in Matthew 11:27,

“All things have been committed to Me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the SON chooses to reveal Him.”

God’s choice is inter-Trinitarian, but here in our passage in Ephesians, Paul emphasizes the Father’s Sovereign choice.

And in his choice he has a purpose: That we should be “holy and blameless before Him.” Of course, that is the only way for man to even have a peaceful relationship with the Holy God.  But man’s perennial and primary problem since the FALL has been that sin has separated him from his God, and sin infected every area of man, and made him a rebel! THAT is the problem of the world today, that the natural man is a guilty rebel against Almighty God. THAT is the ultimate cause of all of our problems in this fallen world.

And thus, the only way for us to be holy and blameless before God the Father, is to have union with Christ! It is by being IN Christ through FAITH. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 tells us,

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

Paul is saying here that God the Father was reconciling us to Himself through Jesus Christ his Son, and that in so doing we, Christians, have a new relationship with the Father. We have been reconciled – that is – the Father sees us now as holy and blameless before Him! ALL of our sins have been forgotten by the Father! As Micah 7:19 declares,

“He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

If you know Christ, and you know the Father, THAT IS YOUR PRESENT REALITY if you trust in Jesus. Isn’t that just the most wonderful, and liberating truth in the world!? Oh, to be reconciled to Almighty God, who could have crushed me as a rebel against Him, but instead He casts my sins into the depths of the sea! God is so Great. God is so Marvelous. Language itself fails to reach the heights of praise to which God is entitled. That’s why Christians will worship Him forever and ever in Heaven.

But the text of Scripture does not stop here! The Father not only chose us to live holy and blameless before Him, but also for an even greater privilege! Look at the end of verse 4 to verse 5.

“In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…”

Oh friends, let us NEVER question the Father’s love! We must jettison that blasphemous notion that many hold which says the Father God of the Old Testament was angry and vengeful, while the Son of God in the New Testament was gentle and kind.

“For God so LOVED the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!”

1 John 4:16-19 says,

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.”

This fact dispels any myth that God the Father isn’t loving, and it also dispels the myth that you had anything to do with your salvation! He loved you before you loved Him! He chose us according to His perfect plan! Indeed, as the song goes, “How deep the Father’s love for us! How vast beyond all measure! That He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.”

The text says, “He PREDESTINED us…” That is, God the Father made an unchangeable plan, an eternal decree for the salvation of his ELECT! Now, I know that a large swath of the Christian Church has a problem with predestination, but here it is right in our text! The foreordination of God is something which we absolutely cannot deny, lest we deny the plain text of Bible itself. 2 Timothy 1:9 refers to God,

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

Romans 8:29 says,

For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Friends, we should not be scared of predestination because predestination is something different than a mindless, cold, godless fate. Predestination is not Fate. Instead, Predestination is simply the Plan of our loving Father God! Therefore:

1) We should joyfully embrace Predestination, for it means that our destiny is secure in the hands of the Father! The doctrine of Predestination urges us to adore the absolute divine sovereignty of God!

2) This doctrine impresses upon individuals their absolute dependence upon God for their salvation! In fact, it dispels any myth that we had anything to do with our salvation. He loved us before we loved Him. He chose us before we made any choices for Him.

3) This doctrine is incredibly useful to the evangelist, for it means that when we share the Gospel with others, its power to save does not depend upon us! It does not depend on our ability of argumentation! It allows us to sleep at night knowing that the Father’s plan for his preached Word will absolutely come to pass, just like it has in our own lives. And his plan is FOR something. What is it? He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

ADOPTION as sons through the only begotten Son – Jesus! The old saying rings true, “The Son of God became a man so that men could become the sons of God!” This was God the Father’s plan all along. That those who are far off would come so near, by God’s Grace, that we would not only not be enemies of God, and we would not only simply be friends with God, but that we would become SONS of GOD by adoption! That is what has happened “according to the purpose of His will!”

“But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God. (John 1:12-13).

What should all of these magnificent truths cause us to say but “Hallalujah!” Praise God! And that is exactly what Paul says in vs 6.

to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

Here is a place where I like the King James translation more than the ESV. In the KJV the verse reads,

“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”

There is something special about the Greek word translated here as “accepted.” It is used only one other time in the New Testament, and that is in Luke 1 where the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary and he says,

“…Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

Favored, accepted, blessed….ALL of these are ours IN THE BELOVED – Who is the BELOVED? The only begotten Son whom the Father loves – Jesus Christ whom we possess and to whom we belong. Hallelujah! What a Savior! What a God is ours!

O love of God, how strong and true,
eternal and yet ever new,
uncomprehended and unbought,
beyond all knowledge and all thought.

We read you best in him who came
to bear for us the cross of shame,
sent by the Father from on high,
our life to live, our death to die.

O love of God, our shield and stay
through all the perils of our way;
eternal love, in you we rest,
forever safe, forever blest.

-Horatius Bonar


 

David Lovi
David Lovi is the Pastor of Faith Fellowship Church in Oak Brook. A graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, David served for 15 years as the Secretary of the Board of the MLJTrust, which preserves the sermons of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He is the co-producer of the film “Logic On Fire: The Life and Legacy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones,” and the Chicago Representative for The Christian Jew Foundation (CJF). David is pursuing his doctorate at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is passionate about preaching The Gospel. His wife and children to play at the park and travel together.  ...
IFI Featured Video
Hands Off Christian Home Education… Its Working
Get Our New App!