Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Our Triune God saves

I've been thinking a little bit this week, having preached from Romans 5:1-5 on Trinity Sunday, about the way that the Christian revelation of God as Trinity-in-Unity affects our understanding of salvation.  A couple of things to note from the passage:

Firstly, it is God who saves, from first to last.  We have peace with God through Christ, whom Paul has already described as having been put forward by God as a sacrifice of propitiation.  The Father initiates, the Son carries through the plan of faithful obedience and sacrifice.  And the Holy Spirit is described as given to us, pouring out God's love into our hearts.  So from the initial and eternal plan, through its accomplishment in incarnation and atonement, right down to the subjective application of that plan into the hearts and lives of individuals - this is all God.  Our God saves, from first to last.

Second, though, it seems to me that understanding Trinity makes this salvation relational, and preserves the reality of humanity in the whole carrying through of the process.  If God were not Triune, if he were the monad God of monotheism, then it would be a supremely grotesque thing to say 'God saves, from first to last', because it would imply a puppet show.  Here is God, pulling the strings of salvation, and his human marionettes dance out their involuntary lives of praise.  But God is Triune - he is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  He is not only the Father - God above us, transcending us, sovereign from his throne in heaven; he is also the Son - God with us, our brother, taking on and sharing our nature, sovereign in our place, even the place of the cross; and then again, he is God the Holy Spirit - God within us and behind us, the God in whom we all live and move and have our being, sovereign in and through our real human lives, actions, and freedoms.  He is God who saves, in every way, from first to last; but he is the Triune God who saves, and that makes a great difference.

It also means that when we say 'God saves' what we primarily mean is 'God welcomes us, even us sinners, into the eternal relationship and love which he is in himself, the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father within the unity of the Holy Spirit'.  And that is really something.

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