Sunday Aug 06, 2023

Soteriology Lesson 12 - The Work of the Trinity in Our Salvation

In Christian theology, the Bible reveals there is one God who exists as three distinct Persons within the Trinity (Gen 1:26; 11:6-7; Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Pet 1:2): God the Father (Gal 1:1; Eph 6:23; Phil 2:11), God the Son (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 20:28; Col 2:9; Heb 1:8), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 2:11-12; 2 Cor 13:14). God is three in Person, but one in essence, sharing the same attributes. The use of the Hebrew numeral echad (אֶחָד) reveals, in some contexts, the idea of a complex one, which supports the doctrine of the Trinity (Deut 6:4; cf., Gen 2:24; Ezra 3:1; Ezek 37:17). All three are co-equal, co-infinite, co-eternal, and worthy of all praise and service. According to John Walvoord:

  • In contrast to the polytheism of the heathen world with its many gods and idols, the Christian faith centers in one God. This God, however, is revealed to be a Trinity, including the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As such, we distinguish the Father from the Son and both of them from the Holy Spirit…All students of scriptural truth labor to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, but it eludes them because it is beyond anything that they experience in this life…Accordingly, the best procedure is to accept the Bible as true and accept the fact that there is one God who exists in three persons and leave the explanation of this to the life after this.[1]

     The three Persons of the God-head are one in essence (Deut 6:4; Isa 43:10; 44:6; 45:5-6), and share the same divine attributes. The attributes of God consist of intrinsic characteristics that are equally representative of the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God’s attributes are revealed in Scripture, which means they are objective and can be learned by God’s people. Furthermore, the attributes of God explain His actions. And we cannot separate or elevate one attribute above another. The Bible reveals God is: Living, which means “He is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jer 10:10), He “has life in Himself” (John 5:26; cf. Psa 42:2; 84:2; Matt 16:16; John 1:4) and is the ultimate source of life. Paul states, “for in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). This attribute takes priority, for if God is not living, none of the other attributes are possible. Self-existent (aseity), which means His existence depends on nothing outside of Himself (Ex 3:14). Moses said, “from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psa 90:2). There is no prior cause that brought God into existence, He will never cease to be, and He depends on nothing outside of Himself. Holy (Lev 11:44; Psa 99:9; Isa 45:5-19), which means God is morally perfect and separate from all that is sinful. Spirit (John 4:24; 2 Cor 3:17), which means the nature of God’s being is spirit, not material. Sovereign (Psa 115:3; Isa 46:9-11; Dan 4:35; Acts 17:24-28), which means God acts freely as He pleases, always as He pleases, and only as He pleases. Immutable (Psa 102:26-27; Mal 3:6), which means God’s essential nature does not change. Eternal (Deut 33:27; 1 Tim 1:17), which means God has always existed, does exist, and forever will exist. Infinite (1 Ki 8:27; Jer 23:24), which means God exists in space and beyond space. Omniscient (Psa 139:1-4; Matt 6:31-33), which means God knows all things and is infinite in knowledge. Omnipresent (Psa 139:7-10; Jer 23:24), which means He is equally and fully everywhere present. Omnipotent (Job 42:2; Isa 40:28), which means God is all-powerful and able to accomplish all He desires. Righteous (Psa 11:7; 119:137), which refers to His intrinsic moral perfection, from which He commands all things in heaven and earth, and declares as good that which conforms to His righteousness and as evil that which deviates. Just (Psa 9:7-8; 19:9), which refers to the outworking of His righteousness in which He justifies or condemns, blesses or curses, that which does or does not conform to His righteous character. True (Jer 10:10; John 17:3), which means He is genuine, in contrast to false idols. This means He truthful (2 Sam 7:28; John 17:17). His knowledge and declarations define reality and help us make sense of what is. Love (Jer 31:3; 1 John 4:7-8), which means He is committed to us, desires our best, and acts for our benefit. Good (Psa 100:5; 145:9; Nah 1:7; Jam 1:17), which means all He does is good, and that He is the ultimate source of all that is good. Faithful (Deut 7:9; Lam 3:21-23), which means He is reliable in all He says and does, always keeping His Word. Merciful (Psa 86:15; Tit 3:5), which means He is kind toward us and does not judge us as we deserve. Gracious (Psa 111:4; 116:5), which means He treats us better than we deserve.

     All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in providing salvation. Our salvation is said to be planned and initiated by God the Father, agreed upon and executed by God the Son, and imparted to each person by God the Holy Spirit. According to Lewis Chafer:

  • [It] is essential to recognize that the “salvation [which] is of Jehovah” includes the three Persons of the Godhead as actively engaged in the realization of this stupendous undertaking…In every aspect of saving grace the three Persons are concurring. Even when hanging on the cross, the Son was not alone in His vast achievement. It was God who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; the Father was offering His Lamb; and that sacrifice was offered through the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14).[3]

Robert Lightner states:

  • Evangelical Christians, in harmony with the historic orthodox Christian faith, worship God who is one in three and three in one, one in essence and three in person. The entire Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is involved in the salvation of the sinner. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for sinners. He is the Savior! It is customary in evangelical circles to put such emphasis on the second person’s part in our salvation that the roles of the Father and the Spirit are often slighted…Even though it is not always expressed in the same way, evangelicals agree that man’s salvation is the product of the Holy Trinity.[4]

Warren Wiersbe adds:

  • You will note that all three Persons in the Godhead are involved in our salvation (see also 1 Peter 1:3). As far as God the Father is concerned, you were saved when He chose you in Christ in eternity past. But that alone did not save you. As far as God the Son is concerned, you were saved when He died for you on the cross. As far as God the Spirit is concerned, you were saved when you yielded to His conviction and received Christ as your Savior. What began in eternity past was fulfilled in time present, and will continue for all eternity![5]

     In the following lessons, special attention will be given to the specific members of the Trinity and their work in salvation.


[1] John F. Walvoord, What We Believe (Grand Rapids, Mi; Discovery House Publishers, 1990), 38-39.

[2] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 200.

[3] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 207.

[4] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 190–191.

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 11.

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