The Role of the Godhead in Salvation
by Nathan Battey
For a short while today I want to consider the Godhead and the role each person of the Godhead played in bringing about our salvation, with emphasis on the Third Person of the Godhead.
There are three persons that make up the Godhead: The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Note: These are three distinct beings.
The Bible speaks of the Godhead in terms of threeness and oneness.
When the Bible speaks in terms of threeness, it speaks of three distinct members of the Godhead – Matthew 3 and the baptism of Jesus or Matthew 18 and the great commission.
However, the Bible also speaks of oneness: The oneness concept is in reference to purpose or nature:
Example: Genesis 2:24 –When we look at a husband and wife we should see a single unit. There are two persons, but one unit, one purpose one nature.
Side note: When you think about getting married, you need to find someone that you can be one unit with. Think on that.
God the Father, Son, and Spirit – though three distinct persons – are one in nature and purpose. They agree on all things, and are never divided.
One of the key components to polytheism (the belief in many gods) is that for each god they ascribe a different personality, power, purpose, and flaw.
None of these are found within the Godhead. They are perfectly united forming a single unit .
The Bible also teaches us that the three members of the Godhead indwell one another – not literally or bodily – but metaphorically:
“… that the Father is in me and I in Him.”
“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily;”
Jesus was not teaching in either of these passages that God the Father literally dwelt in his body; he was speaking metaphorically – When Jesus did the works of the Father, they were acting as a single unit. Jesus was acting in perfect harmony with His Father.
Now, I have said all that to say this:
Though one in nature and purpose, each member of the Godhead has a distinct Role; they are not always doing the exact same thing.
Example: Savannah and I make a single unit. Does that mean we always have to be doing the exact same thing to truly be a unit?
Example: The Battey’s made dinner. Nathan and Savannah Battey made dinner. Are those contradictory terms? No.
Example: The Battey’s made dinner. Does that mean both Savannah and I had an equal share or identical role in making dinner? If I peel the potatoes and Savannah cooks the potatoes, we have still made dinner together. If she cooks the potatoes and I cook the meat, we have still made dinner together. If I go to the store and buy the potatoes and she does the cooking, we have still made dinner together.
If we read this verse by itself, it would appear that God the Father, all by himself, made the world. However, we read down to verse 3 and learn that the Spirit was there doing something on the face of the waters. Then we turn to John 1:1-3 and learn that the Son was present and was not left out of any of the making process.
Thus we learn the Godhead worked together to form the entire universe.
Major Point: Unlike our flawed human relationships, the Godhead always works together in perfect unity and purpose.
Example: Savannah clean and I make a mess. Even at times when I do clean, we are not united in singleness of thought or purpose. Though you may laugh, in every human relationship, we do not share perfect unity and often times we work in opposite directions.
Not with GOD.
IMPORTANT Concept: Were it not for the separate roles of the Godhead and those roles being outlined in Scripture, we would not know that there were three persons in the Godhead – for they would appear as one. Example: Genesis 1:1.
Important Point: At different points of time a different part of the Godhead took the predominate active role. Each role was determined by the system of authority in the Godhead.
Let’s back up for a second and get a running start at that concept:
What do we mean when we say, “Jesus is God” or “The Holy Spirit is God”?
Listen closely: We are using the word “is” as a descriptive term – not as a term of equality.
Explanation: Jesus is not another name for God the Father as Oneness Pentecostals teach. When we say “Jesus is God” we mean that Jesus is deity – not that he is God the Father or Equal to God the Father. When we say “The Holy Spirit is God” we mean that the Holy Spirit is deity – not that he is God the Father or equal to God the Father.
This is an important point because the Bible teaches 3 Persons, with three different roles, and three different levels of authority, yet all working perfectly together as a single unit.
Stated a different way:
They are all three divine in nature, one in purpose, but are not equal in terms of authority.
God Has All Authority And Gave It To The Son: Matthew 28:19 / John 5:22-23
The Son Gave Of His Authority To the Spirit: John 16:12-13
Within these three passages, we see different roles, different levels of authority, but a single purpose in mind.
Side Point: Just because we are all human does not mean we all have the same role or the same position of authority. None of us would have any authority at all unless God gave it to us, and He gave it in measured portions with distinct roles – some for men and some for women. May we learn from the example of the Son and the Spirit.
So far we have seen that there are three distinct persons of the Godhead, they have distinct authority, and they have different roles.
The question for today: What role did each play in bringing us salvation
I believe the three roles can be outlined clearly in Ephesians 1.
One of the overlying themes of the Book of Ephesians is that Gentile Converts were equal to Jewish Converts now in the Church. Judaizing teachers had been troubling these brethren in regard to their salvation and making them feel like they were second rate citizens in the kingdom if citizens at all. So Paul has to address this problem and he deals with it head on in the opening chapter – Ephesians 1:
There are three phrases which help in understanding this chapter:
1- Us, We,
The “Us” and the “We” refers to Jewish converts. The “You” of verses 13-14 refer to Gentile converts. The “Our” refers to all Christians sharing something in common. Pay close attention to these words as they help us understand this passage.
Read: Ephesians 1:3-14
Keep this in mind as we look for an understanding of this passage.
1- God’s Role (Eph. 1:3-6)
A. Making and Preserving the Plans
-He blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (God made the plan to send Christ)
- He Chose us in Christ before the would began
-He predestined us for adoption to Himself through Christ
- He made us accepted through Christ
2- Jesus Role (Eph. 1:7-12)
A. Enacting the Plans and Bringing Salvation
- Brought us redemption through his shed blood
- Gave us grace
- Jesus has mad our attaining an inheritance possible
3- The Holy Spirit’s Role (Eph 1:13-14)
A. Sealing the Establishing the Plans
Eph. 1:13-14 is a difficult passage. There are three basic positions/interpretations that need to be considered. They cannot all be right; what is the Bible teaching?
First Position: Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit in Conversion
Notice what is being taught by Paul:
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
1- Fist comes the hearing of the Word – not a direct operation of the Spirit.
2- The Word is clarified as “The Gospel of your salvation.” I.e. the Gospel is what brought their salvation – it was not a direct operation of the H.S.
3- After they believe (obeyed) they received the seal of the H.S. – thus whatever it means to receive the seal we know that it comes after obedience to the Gospel.
Thus, I reject the notion that this verse is to be understood in reference to a direct operation of the H.S.
Second Position: The Personal Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
Remember, Ephesians 1 is giving an exposition of the primary roles of the Godhead in salvation.
Point: If the seal of the Spirit is to be understood as the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit this would make the primary purpose to the H.S. to indwell.
That is not the primary purpose of the H. S. The personal indwelling could only be a secondary purpose at best and must be established on the basis of other passages.
Disclaimer: I do not believe in the personal indwelling of the H.S. I believe deity only dwelt in flesh once: The Son came and dwelt literally in flesh.
Question: What was the H.S. primary role in salvation?
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Holy Spirit Baptism:
Acts 2 and Acts 10. H.S. baptism occurred to both saved and unsaved people. H.S. was purely a sign to confirm the word.
The Spirit’s Role: To reveal and confirm the message.
Third Position: The Miraculous Working of the H. S. to Confirm the Word
I believe this is what the passage speaks of for two reasons:
1- The Confirmation of the Word is one part of the primary role of the Spirit
2- These brethren had been given miraculous ability to prove they had the Gospel after they were converted.
Let’s look at the story of the Ephesians brethren’s conversion:
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
1- Paul asks if they had “Received the H. S.” Why did he ask this question? Because the H. S. had been promised to those who believe in Acts 2:38-39. However, the promise of the H.S. must not be simultaneous with conversion or else these brethren would have already received it.
2- These people had been baptized with John’s baptism after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Important Point: Though they had been baptized, they had to be baptized again.
3- They did not receive the H.S. until after they were baptized and the hands of the Apostle were laid on them. Major Point: People do not receive the H.S. at the point of baptism.
4- Receiving the H.S. is the same as receiving miraculous abilities.
Now, keep all this in mind as we look at Ephesians 1:13-14:
Remember: These Ephesian brethren were being counted as second rate citizens. Paul is giving them proofs that they are indeed equal in the Kingdom.
Thus they needed something that they could prove to their Jewish brethren that they were indeed equal:
A Seal: A seal is always an outward proof of authority. Think of a King’s royal seal on a letter. Cor. 9:2 / Romans 4:11 teach that a seal was an outward sign/proof (Circumcision was a seal – an outward sign).
Paul’s Point: When you brethren obeyed the Gospel you received the H.S. – miraculous abilities – as a proof or guarantee that you are now equal citizens in the kingdom. Praise be to God.
Why is all of this important?
Question: Did God fail in accomplishing his role of creating and preserving a plan to save mankind? Absolutely not.
Question: Did Jesus Christ fail in coming to earth to enact the plan to save mankind? No, and people who teach such (Premillennialists) are wrong and false teachers.
Question: Did the Holy Spirit fail in coming to earth to reveal and enact the plan of redemption? Not on your life.
Warning: It is very common place for men to teach that the Holy Spirit failed in fulfilling his role.
1- First, such is blasphemous of Deity.
2- Second, it is false doctrine.
1- 1 Corinthians 13:8-12
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
Miraculous power was only promised for the infancy of the Church and was going to disappear (and did) when the completed word (“that which is perfect”) appeared.
2- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Word equips us for “every good work.” The Spirit is the one who provided that Word. He thus fully equips us through the Word. To teach that we cannot understand the Word or still need revelation is to deny what this passage teaches and declare that the Holy Spirit failed in His mission.
3- Jude 3
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
The Word was delivered one time for all times. We need nothing else. May God be praised.