Friday, July 11, 2014

God Saves

His own purpose . . . before the ages began.
It's been more than a month since the last post in this series on truths every Christian woman should know, and you've probably forgotten where we were. We Are All Sinners, our previous post, told the story of the fall of humankind. Adam sinned, and the whole human race inherited his guilt, along with an inner corruption that causes us to sin, too. So we are all guilty before God—both for Adam's sin and our own—and alienated from him. It wasn't a happy place to end things.

But thankfully, it was only the end of a post, and not the end of the story. The story continues with a flashback to eternity past. Way back, before the fall of Adam, before the creation of the universe, God had a plan. His goal for history of the universe was to show his glory, and all the events in history, including the fall, are his means to accomplish this goal. The bad news that we are guilty and alienated is the backdrop for the good news, the centerpiece of God's plan for history: his plan to save sinful people "to the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

The Plan to Save

J. I. Packer calls this plan God's "redemptive project."1 The blueprint for this project is laid out in Ephesians 1.

Before creation, the Father chose people from Adam's guilty and alienated descendants to eventually stand before him as blameless adopted sons and daughters.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons . . . . (Ephesians 1:3-5 ESV)
Christ's role in the redemption project is to make God's chosen people blameless, for it's through his death that their sins are forgiven.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses . . . . (Ephesians 1:7 ESV)
And it's the Spirit who applies Christ's redemption to those God has chosen, and who protects his forgiven sons and daughter until they receive their final inheritance.
. . . you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)
This plan requires a Triune God; each member of the Trinity has a role. In eternity past, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit agreed to a "division of labor"2 in their work to reconcile sinners. This eternal agreement is sometimes called the covenant of redemption.

In later posts, there will be more on the roles of the Trinity in salvation, particularly the work of the Son and the Holy Spirit. But for now, we can bring in the biblical teaching from other texts and  summarize the agreement for the division of labor in salvation like this: The Father chooses and sends and adopts; the Son comes and redeems and intercedes; the Spirit applies and creates and keeps. In other words, the Father gave the Son a people to redeem, and the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of Christ's redemption to his people.

And the best news is that what God plans, he accomplishes for certain. In the end, God's people will be saved and his glory will be praised.

Learn More

Here are a few ways to learn more about God's plan to save sinners.
  1. Study Ephesians 1:1-14, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and 2 Timothy 1:9-10.
  2. Read up on the covenant of redemption in your favorite systematic theology. It's in chapter 25 of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Here's the section from Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology.
  3. Listen to The Covenant of Redemption by J. Ligon Duncan.

[1] Concise Theology by J. I. Packer, page 38.

[2] Systematic Theology by  Louis Berkhoff, page 266.

This post is the latest in a series of posts on truths every Christian woman should know. Here are the previous posts:

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