Wy wife, Danielle, commented that this is not a very fun title. I suppose she is right. But we all know that followers of Christ do not grow spiritual muscle consuming high-carb diets. Unfortunately that is what most Evangelical pastors serve-up for meals these days. Lessons in biblical doctrine that require thinking and application are the equivalent of a high-protein diet – and certainly do serve to increase one’s musculature.
Accordingly, as depicted by the title, this week I would like to explore an interesting element of the doctrine of Salvation. Don’t think for a minute that what follows is dry stuff! Notice for instance, how these truths, by way of pertinent application, must inform our nation’s international quest for democratization of other nations (see page 4).
On a more personal note, studying this topic will help you to further grasp in a theological sense, “how great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3) the believer possesses!
Read on my friend!
Great Doctrines of the Bible: The Trinitarian Covenant of Redemption
I have used three words in the title of this study that need to be defined (it is one of my objectives as a Bible teacher to continually increase your working theological vocabulary). Your understanding of their meaning is basic to what follows.
A. TRINITY, TRINITARIAN
“The Christian understanding of God as triune. Trinity means that the one divine nature is a unity of three persons and that God is revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The ultimate basis for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity lies in the divine self-disclosure in Jesus, who as the Son revealed the Father and poured out the Holy Spirit” (Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms). The picture of the tie knot alongside the first page title is a good (but not perfect) symbol of the Trinity (notice that the one tie has three distinctive parts in its union).
“An unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man (or as used here Himself) that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.” (Grudem, Systematic Theology)
“The process by which sinful humans are ‘brought back’ from the bondage of sin into a relationship with God through grace by the ‘payment’ of Jesus’ death. Redemption is one of the pictures or metaphors that the NT uses to give insight into God’s gracious saving work in Jesus.” (PDOTT). With these understandings, we will clearly see from the following passages that….
THERE EXISTS A “COVENANT OF REDEMPTION” AMONGST THE THREE MEMBERS OF THE TRINITY
The following passages illustrate the agreement among them regarding how to save mankind. Notice the specific plan and purpose each has agreed to in order to achieve man’s redemption:
II. THE PART OF THE FATHER
In the Trinity’s covenant of redemption, the Father agreed to the following five aspects of salvation:
A. TO GIVE THE SON ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND EARTH
In the Great Commission passage of Matthew 28:18, Jesus is speaking to His disciples near the end of His earthly ministry. He states the following:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations….”
The authority Jesus is referring to that has been given to me is that which stems from God the Father, indicating a previous allocation of responsibilities from the Economic Trinity. (The Economic Trinity is a theological term more closely depicting the subject matter at hand: “the manifestations of the three persons of the Trinity….in regard to the outworking of God’s plan [economy] of salvation”). (PDOTT)
B. TO SEND THE SON TO BE THEIR REPRESENTATIVE
In Romans 5:18-19 we read how sin enters the world through man’s representative, Adam, (God views Adam as prototypical of man). God thus imputes Adam’s sin to all of creation. But subsequently, according to the Trinitarian plan of salvation, God’s representative, Jesus, offers offsetting imputed righteousness:
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
This passage serves to evidence that the Trinity agreed to send the second member of the Trinity to be their representative. A further observation and explanation of and from this passage is in order:
SKEPTICS OFTEN COMMENT THAT INHERITANCE OF SIN THROUGH ADAM SEEMS UNFAIR. BUT NONE OF THOSE PUNDITS ARE LACKING IN THE GUILT OF PERSONAL SIN THEMSELVES
Additionally, for one to deny God’s economy of imputed sin through Adam, is to reciprocally deny God’s economy of imputed righteousness through Christ! Notice the representative aspect of Jesus for God the Father in John 3:16….
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
C. TO PREPARE A BODY FOR THE SON TO DWELL IN AS A MAN
In Hebrews 10:5 we see that the second member of the Trinity is given a body by God the Father in order to dwell as a man and relate personally to mankind, (and I should add, to be able to provide a final sacrifice as well for sin (cf. Heb. 10:10).
Therefore when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me.’
Colossians 2:9 further underscores this idea:
For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.
Fully God, Jesus is given a human body by the first member of the Trinity in order to best relate all three members’ love for and identity with man. (This is known as they Hypostatic Union, a term first used by the Church counsel of Chalcedon in A.D. 451. “This doctrinal designation is an attempt to describe the miraculous bringing together of humanity and deity in the same person, Jesus Christ, in that He is both fully divine and fully human”) (PDOTT).
D. TO ACCEPT HIM AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF HUMANS WHOM HE HAS REDEEMED
Hebrews 9:24b states what Christ did after His resurrection:
For Christ…. enter[ed]…. into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Christ represented the Godhead to mankind (point B) and after completing His propitiatory work on the Cross, returns to God the Father satisfactorily representing the payment for man’s sin and fulfilling God’s requisite holiness. Lastly, the Father agreed to this aspect of redemption….
E. TO POUR OUT THE HOLY SPIRIT TO EMPOWER THE REDEEMED
Acts 1:4 records a post-resurrection encounter of Jesus with His disciples. Note the insight from this passage related to what the Father had promised….
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me.”
Acts 2:32-33 provides further insight into God’s previous agreement and promise to pour forth the Holy Spirit into the lives of believers….
This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He [the Father] has poured forth this, which you both see and hear.
THE PRACTICAL AND DOXOLOGICAL APPLICATION OF THIS THEOLOGICAL TRUTH IS PROFOUND
Jesus states directly to His disciples in Acts 1:8 what I am getting at here….
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
Part of the agreement of the Father with the Son and the Holy Spirit is to empower dunamis (“explosive power;” cf. Eph. 3:16; 20) believers after Christ’s redemption! It is therefore normative for God the Holy Spirit to give His followers extra strength, spiritual abilities and character in the advancement of the Gospel! One can count on it: Danielle and I do – and we can personally attest to the truth of God’s empowerment promise herein.
In summary of this first point in the Trinity’s covenant of redemption, the Father agreed to perform those five aspects of salvation. Now let’s examine what the Son agreed to in the plan of salvation:
But first, there is a very important, broader, application of this aforementioned theological truth for all members of Congress….
THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION AND AMERICAN MILITARY ACTIONS
It follows that countries dominated by non- Christian religions do not have the benefit of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of very many citizens; the aforementioned theological truth is not manifested in their culture. Those of us possessing a Western, Christianized mindset must realize this. Whereas the fruits of the Spirit (i.e., personal, internalized by the Holy Spirit character qualities such as “peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and selfcontrol” (Gal. 5:22-23), indwell many redeemed citizens in historically-based Christian cultures, nations that have continually rejected the Trinity have fewer self-governed individuals.
Cultures void of personal self-governance possess little basis for national self-governance. It is therefore a sign of theological naïveté for American leaders to believe they can “export” democracy to Middle East countries through military force.
The absence of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals, His lack of influence over the historical whole of a nation, largely predetermines the outcome of such military efforts. The advancement and success of Christianity, often through missionaries, is a prerequisite for true democracy, as illustrated by the nation of South Korea wherein a post war acceptance of American Christian missionaries led to their successful national democratization.
III. THE PART OF THE SON
In the Trinity’s covenant of redemption, the Son agreed to the following five aspects of salvation:
A. HE WOULD COME INTO THE WORLD AS A MAN
Galatians 4:4a and Hebrews 2:14-18 read respectively….
But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman….
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same…. Therefore He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might….make propitiation for the sins of the people.
The second member of the Trinity was not by nature flesh and blood (cf. Phil. 2:7-8), but took this form upon Himself in order to achieve man’s redemption.
B. HE WOULD LIVE UNDER THE MOSAIC LAW
Galatians 4:4b states how Jesus would live under and fulfill the Old Covenant of Works….
….born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
In His covenant with the other members of the Trinity, Jesus agreed to live perfectly under God’s law and fulfill God’s earlier Covenant of Works (cf. Gen. 2:16-17): His fulfillment of God’s Covenant of Works, that is, His sinlessness, made Him the unblemished sacrifice for sin.
C. HE WOULD BE PERFECTLY OBEDIENT TO THE FATHER
In addition to His perfect fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, Jesus agreed with the Trinity to be obedient to the additional commands of the Father in all things. Hebrews 10:9 and Matthew 26:39b underscores this point….
Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will.”
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
D. HE WOULD BE OBEDIENT TO THE POINT OF DEATH
In Philippians 2:8-11 Paul states about Jesus….
Being found in appearance as a Man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow….and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Again, note the inner relationship between the members of the Trinity. God the Father rewards God the Son for His willingness to take on a humiliating death – crucifixion – the most cruel, degrading and excruciating form of death ever invented by sinful man.
E. HE WOULD GATHER TO HIMSELF AND NOT LOSE THOSE WHOM THE FATHER HAD GIVEN HIM
In John’s Gospel (17:12) he records Jesus’ words with the Father….
While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished…. so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.
This passage speaks not to Jesus’ role in salvation, i.e. the security of the believer’s salvation.
In summary of this point, these are the five aspects of salvation that the Son agreed to perform on behalf of the Trinity in their internal covenant to redeem man. Now let’s look at what the Holy Spirit agreed to:
IV. THE PART OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In the Trinity’s covenant of redemption, the Holy Spirit agreed to the following three aspects of salvation:
A. HE WOULD DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER
Matthew 3:16 records….
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.
In this one passage all three members of the Trinity are mentioned. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus to empower Him in His ministry.
B. HE WOULD FILL AND EMPOWER JESUS TO DO HIS MISSION
Many passages serve to make this point. Luke 4:1, 14 and 18 follow….
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.
And Jesus returned from Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor….”
God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit in order to achieve the redemption of man.
C. HE WOULD EMPOWER THOSE WHOM CHRIST REDEEMED AFTER CHRIST RETURNED TO HEAVEN
This is similar to point II E in the outline. But notice the following additional passages respectively: John 14:16-17; John 14:26 and Acts 2:17. It is important that I list all of these due to their wonderful reality in the believer’s life.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever, that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind.
In summary of this point, these are the three roles that the Holy Spirit agreed to function in relative to the Trinity’s covenant of redemption.
Theology is important (and as we have seen, very applicable and helpful) to the end result of building strong men and women of God in public office. The Trinitarian aspects of salvation, are basic, foundational biblical truths that need be learned by those who understand that “My people are destroyed by a lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6). Theology builds strong spiritual muscles that are necessary for statesmen who are under so many kinds of continual, intense pressure to compromise. God’s New Covenant of Grace, as preached by Jesus, is the Trinity’s amazing plan of redemption through faith in Christ. How great a salvation!