This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).
Since the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute one divine being – one God – the work of salvation is shared among the members of the Trinity. No single member delivers all the elements of salvation, but together they accomplish all the work that produces redemption.
Ephesians 1:3-14 is a good illustration of a Trinitarian expression of praise. In verses 3-6, Paul praises the Father for choosing us. In verses 7-12, he exalts Jesus for dying for us. And in verses 13-14, he honors the Spirit for sealing us. Let’s look more closely:
Ephesians 1:3-6 – “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.”
Whatever your views on the doctrine of divine election, it’s indisputable that the Father plays a vital role in our salvation. Specifically, He grants us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm. He chooses us in Christ in eternity past, so that we are reckoned as blameless before Him, just as Jesus is blameless. And He predestines us to be His adopted children through the finished work of Christ.
Much more could be said about these weighty verses, but it is clear that the work of the Father and the Son in our salvation may be distinguished but not separated. The Father blesses, chooses, and adopts us as His own.
From these verses, we may draw the twin truths that the Father is the one who elects, and the Son is the one through whom election is realized. Jesus – the way, the truth, and the life – ensures that all those given to Him are never lost.
Ephesians 1:7-12 – “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time – to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him. In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will, so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory.”
The blood of Jesus, shed at Calvary, purchased the forgiveness of our sins, made us children of the Father through the new birth, and secured our inheritance as coheirs of all things with Jesus. Paul does not depict Jesus as the one who chooses, predestines, or adopts us, but He is the one who completes the work necessary for all of these blessings to be received as our sin debt is cancelled and we are restored to a right relationship with God.
Ephesians 1:13-14 – “In him you also – when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you also believed – were sealed in him with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.”
Being forgiven of our sins, granted a new birth, and adopted into God’s family, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, who places God’s mark of ownership on us; Satan no longer may lay claim to us. What’s more, we are joint heirs with Jesus of all things. To secure that promise, the Holy Spirit serves as the guarantee – the “earnest money,” if you will – of our place in God’s everlasting kingdom.
A few chapters later, Paul cautions the Ephesian believers not to “grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). And in 2 Corinthians 1:22, the apostle writes, “He [God] has also put his seal on us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.”
Together, these verses show that the triune Godhead works in complete unity to secure the salvation of believing sinners. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit carry out distinct roles, but they do so with a singular purpose so that the Father’s election cannot be separated from the Son’s sacrifice, which cannot be separated from the Spirit’s sealing.
This necessitates the deity of all three members of the Godhead, the distinctiveness of their persons, the uniqueness of their roles in salvation, and the unity of their love and purpose.
Is it any wonder that non-Trinitarian Christian sects and cults fail to adequately capture the wonder of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone?
Next: Facets of salvation.