Monday, May 14, 2007

The Drama of Redemption (Lesson 1, Part 4)

This is a new Sunday School series which will be largely based on R. C. Sproul’s audio series The Drama of Redemption, available from his website.

See the sidebar for links to other lessons.

Thr Trinity in Creation

The agreement and cooperation among the members of the Godhead should not be surprising. There are three major themes in history:
  1. Creation
  2. The Fall of Man
  3. Redemption

Cooperation among the persons of the Trinity is seen in that all three participated in the first, none participated in the second, and again all three participated in the third. Where you find one at work, you find all three.

From all eternity, God planned this drama of redemption. And the key is: he had only one plan. He did not, at halftime, switch to plan B because plan A wasn’t cutting it. There never was a plan B. Even in Dispensationalism, which teaches that the Church came as a surprise when the Jews rejected Christ, the dispensational scholars at least acknowledge that the “parenthetical” Church was not a surprise to God. It was, if you will, a surprise to the Jews and to the Jewish prophets, who did not foresee it.

Furthermore, this single plan of redemption has no chance to fail. God does not “hope” that things will somehow work out, he knows and ordains whatever happens. God’s plan, scripture tells us in wonderful phrasing, “must needs come to pass.” Nothing in his plan can be thwarted by the actions of man: All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" (Dan. 4:35)

We will talk a great deal about the cooperation in redemption among the members of the Godhead, the pact known as the Covenant of Redemption. However, it is interesting to take a moment and look at how all three participated in creation.

Unlike redemption, which we sometimes have a hard time accepting had been planned before the creation of the world, it is rather easy to accept that God intended to create a world prior to actually creating it. Creation, we readily accept, was part of God’s eternal plan. What we don’t always appreciate is that it was the work of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Father’s role is the easy part. The very first verse of the bible tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. But the very next very next verse tells us:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Gen. 1:2)

In fact, we tend to see the Spirit closely associated with life, almost as if his role in creation is the master biologist. It is the Holy Spirit who quickens us. It was of the Holy Spirit by whom the Virgin Mary conceived.

As for God the Son, we know:
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3)
Scripture tells us, in fact, that the world was created by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ.

But the three persons of the Trinity didn’t just plan for creation. They had already planned for the redemption of that creation. We know that God (the Father) so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Scripture not only speaks of God giving the son, but also of God sending the Son. In this we see that the initial impetus for redemption lies with the father. The Father, as Sproul points out, is the super-ordinate member of the Godhead, while the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate. That speaks of roles in the drama of redemption, not of any inferiority of the Son or the Spirit, for they are equal in their deity. It simply means that the Father sent the Son into the world; the Son did not send the Father. And the Father and the Son both, scripture tells us, sent the Holy Spirit.

So it was the Father who was the initiator of the plan of redemption—but as in creation all three play active roles. It was the Son who, Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. And it was from before the foundation of time, when the covenant of redemption was established, that the Son agreed that, at the appointed time, he would empty himself of his glory and, as was necessary, humble himself in the form of a man and submit himself to the law of the Father.

This is important. The decision to send the Son should not be seen as either a unilateral decision of the Father (or of the Son), but part of an eternal pact that included the Holy Spirit. Christ comes to the world voluntarily. And it is the Son who gives the oblation to the Father to satisfy his wrath and justice on our behalf. And he continues participating in redemption in the role of high priest, interceding for us.

What about the Holy Spirit? His role, too, is crucial. The Father sends the son, the son becomes incarnate, but, as we mentioned, his mother Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit who anoints Jesus at his baptism:
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. (Luke 3:21-22)
And when Jesus dies and is buried it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that he is resurrected:

regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 1:3-4)
In addition, the redemption that was design by God the Father, and carried out by Christ the Son is applied by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates us, who gives us a second birth, and it is the application of the Spirit that sanctifies us, convicts us of sin, who helps us to pray, and anoints us for work in the ministry.

No comments:

Post a Comment