2 Thessalonians 2:13–15 (NKJV)
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday the Church has set aside to remind the people of God that the God we worship is Triune – three Persons in one God. Later in worship we will recite the Athanasian Creed, one creedal attempt to give expression to the Scriptural teaching on the Trinity.
For the moment, I would like you to consider why the doctrine of the Trinity is important and would like to answer that question by reference to Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: for Paul’s words highlight that our salvation, our deliverance from sin and death, is wholly and completely in the hands of God. Notice his words to the Thessalonians: God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father chose us, the Spirit sets us apart, the Son is the One into whose image we are transformed by the Spirit because He is the One who gave His life in our place. Salvation is wholly and completely in the hands of God.
J.I. Packer explains the significance of Paul’s words this way. He writes, “For [in Scripture] there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology [salvation]: the point that God saves sinners.
· God – the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing.
· Saves – does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies.
· Sinners – men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot.
God saves sinners and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedalling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour… sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but…salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen.”
One value of observing Trinity Sunday is that it reminds us of this very fact – that all we were, all we are, and all we yet will be – comes as a result of God’s grace and mercy toward us. So let us confess that we have often failed to praise the Lord for saving us from our sin and helplessness.