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Same-Sex Marriage

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THE WORK OF THE TRINITY IN THE SALVATION OF SINNERS

by Michael Gowens

"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Galatians 4:4-6

The Bible, because it is the word of the eternal, righteous, and immutable God, never contradicts itself. When properly understood, there is an amazing symmetry and consistency in the historical facts it cites, the ethical standards it upholds, and the theological truths it champions. Whenever an apparent contradiction occurs, the disharmony is not in God’s book, but in man’s mind. The interpreter’s challenge, consequently, is essentially a matter of synthesizing each verse with its immediate context, then with the particular book in which it appears, then with the other inspired writing of that same human author, and finally, with the many other claims the Bible makes as a whole. He does this by comparing scripture with scripture. When a level of consistency is achieved so that the truths fit together in a unified way, like the many pieces of jigsaw puzzle go together to form a big picture, then he can be reasonably certain that his view is correct.

Admittedly, accurate interpretation is not easy. But neither is it impossible. Divine help notwithstanding, the more you know- the better grasp you have of the big picture-the easier it will be to understand how all the theological pieces fit together. Remember, the goal is to understand every truth in the light of every other truth so that a kind of theological unity, consistency, harmony, and symmetry prevails.

With that premise, I proceed to state a hypothesis which I will then endeavor to prove: The Biblical doctrine of the Trinity makes the doctrines of unconditional election, particular redemption, irresistible grace, and eternal security a necessity. In other words, "the doctrine of grace" is the only theology of salvation that is consistent with the revealed truth that God is triune. That’s my hypothesis. Let’s attempt to establish it Scripturally.

God is Tripersonal

Scripture teaches unequivocally that God is triune. The Godhead is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (I Jno. 5:7). Few tenets of the Christian faith have come under greater attack than the doctrine of the Trinity, and few verses of Scripture have been the subject of greater technical scrutiny that I John 5:7, no doubt because it is so unmistakably clear.

I John 5:7 defines the Trinity in terms of "three Persons within the unity of one God:" "There are three that bear record in heaven… and these three are one." God is, therefore, triune, for "trinity" means "tri-unity." This doctrine is, in Pauline language, a Divine mystery. There is more to it than finite minds can comprehend. From passages like Matthew 28:19, however, where the Lord commissions the church to baptize " in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," a formula for expressing this mysterious doctrine emerges. Note the distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost implied by the use of the conjunction "and" : "…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The language implies that there is a distinction of persons in the Godhead. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. They are distinct, the one from the other. Now note that the word "name" is singular. Jesus did not say "in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit," but "in the name…", singular. This suggests that there is a unity of essence within the Godhead. From this verse, the Christian faith derives the formula expressing the doctrine of the Trinity in terms of "a distinction of Persons but a unity of essence." In other words, there is within the Godhead three Divine Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Spirit - who are one in mind, in attribute, in design, in purpose, in ability, and in glory. The Father is 100% God; the Son is 100% God; and the Spirit is100% God. Yes, that is a mystery, not unlike the mystery of the two natures of Christ who was at the same time God of very God and man of very man, not half God and half man. Formulae like this are not intended to explain everything so that no mystery remains, but to safeguard the mystery so that God is not misrepresented by those who speak in His name.

Both oneness and threeness are basic to the being of God. When Christians say they believe in the Trinity, they are not saying that there is one Person in the Godhead who wears three masks, like comedian Red Skelton playing his three famous characters - Klemm Kididdlehopper, Freddie the Freeloader, and The Mean Little Kid - all in the same skit. It is not that God sometimes plays the role of the Father, then decides to be the Son, and then puts on the mask of the Spirit. That’s unitarianism! The unitarian model fails to explain how there could be interaction within the Godhead as expressed in John14:16: "I [the Son] will pray the Father and He will send the Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;" and Psalm110:1: "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand till I make the enemies thy footstool." God is not a unit, but a unity. Neither are they saying that they worship three Gods. That’s tritheism! But they are saying that there are three Persons in the Godhead, but one God (I Cor. 8:4-7; cf. Deut. 6:4; Jno. 10:30; 2 Cor. 3:17). Biblical and Historical Christianity is unquestionably trinitarian (Lk. 1:35; Jno. 14:16; Jno. 15:26; Eph. 2:18; Mt.28:19; 2Cor. 13:14; I Jno. 5:7; Rev. 1:4-5).

Salvation is the Work of God

So, God is a trinity. That’s premise one. Now let’s establish a second premise from Scripture, namely, that salvation is God’s work, not man’s: "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jon. 2:9); "so then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Rom. 9:16); "[God] who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given

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