Q&A: The Trinity and Salvation

The Trinity and Salvation

Which persons of the Trinity are involved in our salvation?

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Answer

Salvation is a thoroughly Trinitarian action, and I think we can see this from various angles. One rather simple way to see it is to think of the Father, especially, as the one who has established the plan of salvation and from all eternity has set apart his Son to be our Savior. We think of the second person of the Trinity as the one whose special work was to come in the fullness of time to become incarnate, to be obedient unto death, to offer himself up as a sacrifice for sins, to rise, and to be exalted on our behalf. And then, the Holy Spirit is the one whose special work is the application of what Christ has done for our benefit. Christ has accomplished salvation, he's earned our salvation. The Spirit is the one who has the special work of opening our hearts and applying all the benefits of Christ to us in our lives. But there's even a sense in which that's not sufficient. It's even richer than that because all of those things that I mentioned; each of those individually are really Trinitarian works. It wasn't just the Father who planned our salvation from all eternity. Father, Son and Spirit together willed our salvation. When we think about Christ coming, it wasn't Christ acting all alone, but he was acting according to the will of his Father. And you think of Hebrews 9 that says he went to the cross by the Spirit. And even as we think about the application of salvation by the Spirit, well, what is the Spirit doing? The Spirit is applying Christ to us. So, whatever aspect of our salvation we're thinking about, we have to say that this is a Trinitarian act and that Father, Son and Spirit work together in this marvelous unity to accomplish all these great benefits for us.

Answer by Dr. David VanDrunen

Dr. David VanDrunen is professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California.