A couple weeks ago, I was unpacking boxes of books and files in my new office at Cornerstone Community Church when a lesson plan caught my eye. It was on the Tri-Unity of God, which I had put together in the fall of 2012, while Satan was making a very distressing but unsuccessful attempt to destroy the gospel witness of our former church through one of his oldest strategies—attack from within by promoting lies about God. In this case, it was by leading a few members to deny the Trinitarian nature of God and embrace a strange mix of modalism and Jesus-only Pentacostalism, and attempt to spread it to other members. My pastoral response was twofold: plead with those who had embraced soul-damning error and protect the rest of the flock by teaching biblical doctrine. My summary document included a chart of the works that the three persons of the godhead accomplish together, fourteen of them.
One of those works, which I want to briefly reflect on, is the work of sanctification. In other words, all three members of the divine Godhead are involved in the work of rescuing sinners like you and me and gradually fashioning us into the image of Jesus. The Father called us in Christ; the Son redeemed and keeps us; and the Spirit transforms us into His image as we grow in submission to His written Word.
The Father Set Us Apart for Christ
According to Scripture, the Father chose believers in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). We are saints by calling (1 Corinthians 1:2), that is, we have been set apart by God—for God. We now belong to God since we have been bought by Him with the blood of His Son (1 Corinthians 6:20). Believers in Christ are “the called” (Jude 1), and “those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
The Son of God Redeemed Us through His Blood
According to Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:21-25); lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15); died, was buried, and rose bodily from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4); ascended to heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of the Father making intercession for those whom the Father set apart to be the Son’s bride (Acts 1:9; Hebrews 4:15-16; 9:24; 10:12). The death Jesus died on the cross of Calvary was a representative, propitiatory, and substitutionary sacrifice for sin (John 19:30; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He redeemed us—bought us back from the slave market of sin—with the price of His blood (Ephesians 1:7). And those whom He redeems He also sanctifies (Hebrews 2:11).
The Spirit Transforms Us into the Image of Christ as He Empowers us to Obey the Word
According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit ministers to the believer by leading, teaching, empowering, interceding, producing spiritual fruit, and filling (controlling) those surrendered to God’s Word (Romans 8:14, 26; 1 John 2:20,27; Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:18). In short, He sanctifies us. That is, as we behold the glory of Christ in the Word—with a heart attitude of submission—we are gradually, progressively transformed from the inside out. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
These glorious works should compel us to worship the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!