Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE TRINITY IN SALVATION” 

I want to bring a message to you from God’s Word today about God. That should not be a great surprise to you since you expect to hear sermons about God on Sunday mornings in a Baptist Church such as this. However, today’s message will be a bit different. I want to begin by challenging you to think about some important things as they relate to God that is different from Christianity than can be found in any other belief system known to man. We will begin a bit broadly and then narrow our considerations down step by step.

Of all the belief systems known to man, from those that embrace secularism or materialism at one end of the spectrum to those that embrace the notion that nonphysical life exists, there are only three belief systems that posit the existence of only one god. Communism, secularism, and humanism are materialistic belief systems that deny the existence of anything that is not solely physical substance, while such religions as Mormonism, Hinduism, animism, Native American religion, etc., subscribe to the notion that there is more than one god or that God is not distinct from His creation, that God is all and all is God.

Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, on the other hand, believe in only one true and living God, Who is distinct from His creation. All three of those belief systems subscribe to the existence of spirit beings existing that were created by God, but that only one God exists. Of these three belief systems, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, only the Christian faith describes God as He reveals Himself in the Old and New Testaments as the Trinity. Trinity is a word that does not appear in either the Old or New Testaments but is a word coined by early Christian leaders to label the concept that is taught in the Bible, being especially clear in its presentation in the New Testament.[1]

When I make such statements about God and the Trinity, there is typically one or two present that is a bit startled by my insistence that Mormonism is not a monotheistic religion and does not embrace the Trinity. However, I have chosen my words carefully based on the studies of not only theologians but former Mormons who have written and spoken on the topic.[2] Mormonism believes in many gods, believes Jesus Christ and Satan are half-brothers, believes Jehovah had physical sex with the Virgin Mary to produce Jesus Christ, believes in salvation by works, and at one time subscribed to the notion that “Cain, the first murderer, was the progenitor of the Negro race, his black skin being the result of a curse by the gods.”[3] My reason for drilling down on the cult of Mormonism is to counter their efforts for the last few decades to convince people they are a mainstream Christian denomination (which they are not), all the while believing as true what no real Christians in history have ever held to be true.

To resume our central theme for consideration, Christianity stands alone among all known belief systems in understanding that while there is only one true and living God, God describes Himself in His Word as a triune being, hence the word Trinity. But what does the word Trinity mean? Contrary to what Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses insist, Trinity does not refer to three gods. Islam and Jehovah’s Witnesses rail against Christianity for believing in three gods, though the Christian faith emphatically denies there is more than one God. Trinity refers to three in one, that the one God is also three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is only one God. While the Father is shown to be God, He is not the Son, and He is not the Holy Spirit. There is only one God. While the Son is shown to be God, He is not the Father, and He is not the Holy Spirit. There is only one God. While the Holy Spirit is shown to be God, He is not the Father, and He is not the Son. These three coequal and co-eternal Persons are each revealed to be God, yet there is only one God. The Trinity.

Having established that Christianity subscribes to the truth that God is a Trinity (one God and three Persons each of Whom is the one God), there is another uniqueness about Christianity’s understanding of God as He reveals Himself in the Bible I want to bring to your attention. It is that while mankind is a fallen race, God effects the salvation of individual sinners by graciously saving some through the means of faith and not of works. This uniqueness not only distinguishes the Christian faith from all other belief systems but it also greatly narrows from among those erroneous approaches that claim to be Christian the one approach that reflects what the Bible teaches about salvation. Only Biblical Christianity believes in God effecting the salvation of sinners by grace through faith.[4]

Illustrations are in order. Though Judaism teaches that salvation is the result of good works performed by religious Jews and righteous Gentiles, their Scriptures tell a far different story. Genesis 15.6 records that the Jewish patriarch Abraham 

“believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” 

And then there is the prophet, in Habakkuk 2.4, recording the LORD’s declaration that is repeated several times in the New Testament, that 

“the just shall live by his faith.” 

As well, Islam is well-established as a works-oriented belief system. Combine that with such purportedly Christian denominations as Roman Catholicism, the Greek Orthodox and Coptic Churches, along with the Seventh Day Adventists and most mainline denominations, and the one thing they all have in common with each other, that is also held in common with every other belief system in the world, is the notion that whatever concept they have called salvation is attained or acquired by good deeds, works of righteousness, or whatever else they want to call it. But it distills down to essentially someone doing his part to become worthy enough to merit whatever salvation his concept of God has to offer.

Thus, every belief system in the world apart from Biblical Christianity conceives of salvation as something someone works for, something someone eventually to some degree deserves, and something God (or their version of God) is then obligated to reward. Bible Christianity, on the other hand, reflects what the Old and New Testament teach, which is a holy God who owes no man anything and who is unimpressed and unmoved by any man’s vain attempts to convince God that he deserves anything other than eternal torment for his vile sin and rebelliousness. This is not to say the God of the Bible does not save sinners, but that He only saves undeserving sinners (really, the only kind there are). This willingness to save the undeserving, to reach out to the unworthy to give them His blessings and to enable them to partake of His riches, is called grace. It can be thought of as the unmerited favor of God. It is the recognition that no sinner has anything God needs or wants, but that for reasons that lie completely within His being God reaches out in love to the unlovely to draw them, to persuade them, and to save them using faith.

Thus, Christianity is unique among all of the belief systems to which people throughout the world are devoted. Not only is the God of Christianity alone (to be contrasted with the false gods and the misconceptions of God) the Trinity, but this one true and living God of the Christian faith provides through the Christian faith the only salvation that is undeserved, unmerited, unearned, and given fully and freely by means of faith as opposed to works to individuals who are properly understood to be not good, not righteous, and not worthy, but sinful. Indeed, at the risk of getting just a little bit ahead of myself, Romans 5.8 declares, 

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 

So, unlike Judaism, or Mormonism, or Islam, or any other false religion, the God of the Bible, the God of the Christian faith, effects the salvation of sinners, people who are not righteous.

Does that shock you? Does that surprise you? Does that astonish you just a bit? Good. That is what I intended by framing the truth for your consideration in that way. With your attention secured, let me now briefly describe for your consideration “The Trinity In Salvation”: 

First, THE TRINITY AND THE SINNER 

God is as He has always been. When one is perfect, there is no room for improvement, for perfection is not something that is attained, but is a characteristic of the one true and living God, Creator, and Sustainer of all things. As He declared through His prophet, in Malachi 3.6, 

“For I am the LORD, I change not.” 

Something did change, however. In six days God created the universe, and all that herein is. [5] Sometime after Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they sinned and became by their acts of rebellion sinners, and the progenitors of the sinful race known as mankind.[6] The concern for sinners is how does God, the Trinity, relate to sinners? Though there is an undivided unity of purpose within the Godhead, the Bible does show that different divine Persons are prominent concerning certain dealings with men.

Consider the First Person of the Trinity, God the Father. Though in one respect the First Person is the father of all men in the sense of His creative activity, there is an estrangement that exists between God and sinful men, so that the Lord Jesus Christ disputed that God was the father of His adversaries, pointing out that their father was the devil, John 8.41-44. At present, because of sin, the Bible declares 

“God is angry with the wicked every day,” 

Psalm 7.11. That is why there is 

“a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.” 

by the unsaved, Hebrews 10.27. That said, there is no question in God’s Word that He loves the world, John 3.16: 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

This brings us to consider the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ; God’s only begotten Son. The Second Person of the Godhead was dispatched from heaven’s glory by the Father to be born of a virgin named Mary.[7] He lived a sinless life,[8] died a sacrificial death,[9] and rose from the dead after three days to ascend to His Father’s right hand on high.[10] All of these things the Lord Jesus Christ did thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away. Why did He do what He did? The Lord Jesus Christ did what He did because God loves you and because He loves you. Interestingly, though the Bible teaches that God is angry at the wicked every day and sinners are fearful of His judgment, such is not the case with the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, the Roman Catholic Church has for centuries taught that Jesus Christ is angry with sinners. However, they do not do this because the Bible so teaches, but in a wicked effort to coax sinners to the Virgin Mary. The reality is that the Lord Jesus Christ, both during His earthly ministry and in His present session in heaven at the Father’s right hand, urges sinners to come to Him, as Matthew 11.28-30 shows: 

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 

We now turn to a consideration of the Holy Spirit of God. I make mention of but two things concerning the Holy Spirit under this heading? When the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by His cousin John the Baptist the Spirit of God was seen by John descending on the Savior, John 1.32, to anoint Him for His messianic ministry. This is one of the most irrefutable proofs of the Trinity in the Bible, with the Father speaking from heaven, while the Spirit descended, and the Savior was being baptized. Each Person of the Godhead, each member of the Trinity. As well, during His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus Christ was Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered, and Spirit-guided in all aspects of His ministry, John 3.34: 

“for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” 

This is not to deny Christ’s Own infinite power and capability, but to recognize the role the Holy Spirit of God had in His life and ministry on behalf of sinners as the Third Person of the Trinity. 

Next, THE TRINITY AND SALVATION 

To conserve precious time I will abbreviate my remarks and limit my comments to declarations that you can verify with the footnotes you will see when this sermon is posted on the Church website:

We begin with the First Person of the Trinity, God the Father, and salvation. Understand that salvation involves you being reconciled to God, the God you are estranged from and against Whom you have grievously sinned. Understand, also, that God does not need for you to be saved from your sins. You need to be saved from your sins. But you are incapable of approaching Him in your sinful state because He is holy and you are spiritually dead and morally defiled. This is why the Lord Jesus Christ pointed out that 

“no man cometh unto the Father, but by” 

Him, John 14.6. As well, 

“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you,” 

Isaiah 59.2. Then, in John 6.44, the Lord Jesus Christ uttered these very sobering words: 

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” 

What does that mean? It means, my lost friend, that you are not in the driver’s seat. You do not dictate terms. It means you need to be very, very concerned.

We continue with the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ; God’s only begotten, Son. Concerning the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus Christ to provide for sinful men’s souls, these things have already been done. That the Savior is seated at the Father’s right-hand shows that His saving work is done. He already came to seek and to save that which was lost. Now He awaits your response to what He has done. But wait. Did not the Savior declare, 

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” 

Yes, He did say that therefore it is true. Does that mean, concerning the Savior, there is nothing a sinner can do? Not at all. The Lord Jesus Christ said in Luke 13.24, 

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” 

Then there is Isaiah 55.6: 

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” 

Is God sovereign? Yes. Is the sinner responsible? Also, yes. Therefore, since you will never be able to fully reconcile the sovereignty of God with the responsibility of man, you’d best be about the serious business of investigating and considering the claims about Jesus Christ in the Bible. After all, He is the only Savior of sinful men’s souls.

We conclude under this main heading with the Holy Spirit of God. What does the Spirit of God do in the life of the sinner? He does three things of particular note to us at this time: First, the Spirit of God is that Person of the Trinity who is tasked with persuading and convincing sinners of the truth claims of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. He is the One Who bears witness to the Bible when it is read and preached as being true. The Savior spoke of this portion of the Spirit’s ministry in John 16.8-11: 

8  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9  Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 

Second, the Spirit of God works to focus the sinner’s attention on the Object of saving faith, Jesus Christ. Remembering moments before the Lord Jesus Christ identified Himself in John 14.6 as “the truth,” notice what He declares in John 16.13: 

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself.” 

Third, the Spirit of God is the Agent of the new birth. He is that Person of the Trinity who quickens the sinner come to faith in Christ. This occurs when the sinner is born again, John 3.3-8, and it always occurs in conjunction with God’s Word, James 1.18: 

“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” 

Finally, THE TRINITY AND CHRISTIAN SERVICE 

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit always work in harmony, in God’s dealings with the unsaved and when the miracle of the new birth occurs, the Father drawing the sinner to Christ, the Spirit convicting the sinner about Christ, the Savior forgiving and cleansing the sinner who comes to Him by faith as the Spirit of God births him using the Word of God. It is simply amazing. But what happens next? What happens concerning the Trinity and the Christian? Since Ephesians 2.10 declares, 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” 

we should briefly consider how the Trinity, how each Person of the Godhead, works in every genuine Christian to bring about this behavior called Christian service.

In First Corinthians 12.4-6 the very confused Corinthian Church members are being taught and corrected of their confusion by the Apostle Paul. In these three verses, particularly, Paul informs the congregation about the precise role each member of the Godhead has in the Christian’s ministry. Let us read, and then I will address each of the specifics in the order in which Paul raised them: 

4  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 

Verse 4 indicates there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit, meaning the Holy Spirit of God. A spiritual gift is an endowment of some kind; its source being the Spirit of God. Spiritual gifts are given at the time of the new birth, and though it is possible for a Christian to have more than one spiritual gift, every believer has at least one spiritual gift with which he or she is to serve God. Thus, every Christian is given by the Spirit of God a capacity to serve God. Paul elaborates a bit in verses 7-11: 

7  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 

Though some spiritual gifts are no longer given by the Spirit of God, every believer is still given at least one gift to discover, to sharpen, and to develop in his or her life of service.

Verse 5 indicates that there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord, referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. Though Paul does not elaborate the meaning of verse 5 as he did verse 4, the issue has to do with where in the congregation a spiritually gifted believer serves. Not everyone with the gift of teaching teaches God’s Word, and not all teachers of God’s Word have the gift of teaching. Thus, there is great variety of how a person will discharge a responsibility in ministry based upon what he is doing, and also based on what spiritual gift he applies to the doing of it.

Verse 6 indicates there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all, in reference to God the Father. If the Spirit gives you a gift with which to serve, and the Lord addresses the place within the congregation where you serve, then God the Father is that Person of the Trinity who blesses the size and fruitfulness of your labor in His vineyard. I say this because the word “operations” translates the Greek word that gives us energy and has to do with being effective, to producing. A wonderful illustration of this is the late Jerry Falwell, who was saved at the age of 19, who enrolled in Bible college, and who began teaching a boys Sunday School class that rapidly grew to more than 375 in attendance. Thus was it always with Jerry Falwell, God deciding that his ministries would always be big.

Thus, we see that that so much of Christian ministry is not controlled by us, be it gifts, administrations, or operations. That understood, what are the criteria for success in ministry? The criteria are faithfulness, as Paul wrote in First Corinthians 4.1-2: 

1  Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 

Understand that this message is essentially a survey, at best. It is a high-level overview of the Trinity’s involvement in people’s lives at different stages; before conversion, at conversion, and after conversion. And since we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, it is obviously God’s will for every believer to serve God and failure to do so is disobedience to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. But what about the unsaved person’s dealings with the three Persons of the Triune Godhead? You understand that God the Father is angry with you while loving you, do you not? Just as it is entirely possible for a loving mother or father to be angry with a disobedient child while at the same time loving that child, so God can love a sinner who is estranged from Him.

For that reason, because of His love, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, and also dispatched His Spirit. His Son died on the cross, was buried, rose from the dead, and now sits at God’s right hand on high, ready to save the sinner who will come to Him by faith. Of course, that is what the Spirit of God seeks to persuade sinners to do, trust Christ. To that end the Spirit of God uses the Word of God in the hands of men and women to communicate truth to sinners about God, about their sins, about the fate that awaits them if they die without Christ, and about their desperate need of the salvation only Jesus Christ provides. When the sinner closes with Christ in faith the Spirit of God gives life to the dead soul, the Father adopts into the family of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ forgives and cleanses with His precious blood.

Thus, to reject Christ is not only to reject Christ. To reject Christ is also to thwart the Spirit of God and to impugn the character of God the Father. Do that, my friend, and there will be severe consequences. But if you will turn to Christ in faith the Father will adopt you, the Son will forgive and cleanse you, and the Spirit will enliven your soul with eternal life.

__________

[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity 2/4/2018

[2] Walter Martin, The Kingdom Of The Cults, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., Publishers, Revised 1977), pages 147-198 and http://www.utlm.org/

[3] Martin, page 191.

[4] Genesis 6.8; Exodus 33.12, 16; Zechariah 12.10; John 1.14; Romans 3.24; 4.16; 5.15; 11.6; Ephesians 1.6-7; 2.5, 7-8; Titus 2.11; 3.7; Hebrews 4.16; James 4.6; 1 Peter 5.5

[5] Genesis 1

[6] Genesis 3

[7] Isaiah 7.14; 9.6;

[8] Hebrews 4.15; 9.28

[9] Isaiah 53.4-6; 1 Peter 3.18

[10] Matthew 28.1-10; Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 13.1; 14.2-4; Acts 1.9-11; 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; 6.9; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

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