New Year, New Beginnings
Holy Trinity Series
Today is January 2, 2023. Yesterday was the beginning of a new year, a new month, a new week, and a new day, at least according to the calendar we use today. New beginnings are filled with things to explore and learn about, and can often times be exciting. Think of a new job, a new car, a new living space, or anything like that. There is often a certain excitement and anticipation of what is to come. The same with a new relationship, a marriage, etc.
The same is true for our new birth, our spiritual birth, through which we access the kingdom of God and eternal life. There is a lot to it that we have no clue of as we embark upon the journey.
As we conclude the series on the Holy Trinity we will apply what we have learned so far to a framework of how the Trinity interacts with one another and with us.
Access and understanding of these things only come to those who are born again. Last time we considered why a Savior was necessary. In the first part of this series we considered the relationship we can have with Christ Jesus. But what of this salvation? What does it mean to be born again?
There is a story of a Pharisee named Nicodemus who sought Jesus, believing Jesus was sent by God. Sometimes it is our curiosity that the Father uses to draw us to the Son. As we have discovered, no one can come to salvation in Christ unless the Father draws him or her to the Son.
The story of Nicodemus is in the Gospel According to John, chapter 3. Being a Pharisee, a religious leader of the day, he went to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Though the Father was drawing him, he did not yet know who he was dealing with and kept his behavior quiet.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one
can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
John 3:1-2 ESV
A little side note here, did you notice that Nicodemus said, “we know”? This leads me to believe that at least some of the other Pharisees thought the same things as he did. If it was just him, Nicodemus would have said something like “I know” or “I believe”, not we.
In verse 3 Jesus goes straight to the heart of the matter, spiritual birth.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3 ESV
I remember a movement in the seventies that involved the phrase “born again”, complete with bumper stickers. Back then I was in the Catholic religion, and many believed the movement was by crazies and a part of a cult. Because it challenged some religious beliefs, people would not hear that these were the words of Jesus. I believe religion is used by the enemy to segregate us into groups, keeping us at odds with one another. Politics and religion, the great dividers. It wasn’t much different back then as Nicodemus was crossing one of those lines by even going to have a conversation with Jesus on a personal level.
When Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again, Nicodemus immediately thought of the physical birthing process, not realizing Jesus was referring to the spirit of man being brought to life and to full awareness, which was lost at the fall of man due to sin entering into the world. Adam did surely die in that instance, and physical death entered into the world as well.
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born
of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
John 3:4-6 ESV
Christ Jesus, the Son, tells us how we can enter the kingdom of heaven. We must be born again. The spirit of a person must be brought to life by Holy Spirit. This is done through believing Jesus is the Son of God, sent by the Father to save us from the penalty due to us for our sinfulness.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 ESV
So we see that Christ Jesus, our Savior, instructs us in spiritual birth, that through belief in Him and the work of Holy Spirit giving life to our spirit, we can enter the kingdom of God and receive eternal life as well as access to the Father.
The interesting aspect of this process is the interaction of the Holy Trinity with us, which begins without us even realizing what’s going on. For Nicodemus, it appears to be curiosity that opened the door for the process to proceed. The process began with the Father drawing him to the Son.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 6:44 ESV
Peter, the apostle, affirms this in his first epistle.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the
1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV
Our call to salvation originates with the Father, bringing us to the Son, working by the power of God in the Holy Spirit. In those verses Peter states:
- The Father caused us to be born again
- Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
- With an inheritance kept for us in heaven
- The believer is being guarded by God’s power through faith
- Our salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time
Peter goes on to state in that letter, concerning our behavior as believers of loving one another:
Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:23-25 ESV
Peter compares the perishability of the flesh to the imperishability of God. Salvation and being born again includes the awakening of our spirit through the truth of the word of God. Peter is referring to the gospel, the good news, that is shared with people. We have also looked previously at Jesus being the Word of God.
We saw in John 6 that the Father must draw us to the Son. Interestingly, in John 14 we see Jesus telling Thomas that no one can get to the Father except through Himself.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6 ESV
I see that as an interesting dynamic. We like to dissect the Trinity into the three individual members, but it seems there isn’t a time when they aren’t working as one.
I refer back to the third part in this study, Holy Spirit Leading, where I presented a view of the Trinity as I see it.
I believe that one function of Holy Spirit is to make certain that the Scripture is fulfilled; that the word of God is successful in doing what it is intended to. Like any analogy to the Holy Trinity falls short at some point, my view of the Trinity may fall short as well, but I do believe there is a pattern I see in Scripture that mirrors the verses above concerning creation.
I view the Holy Trinity as this:
The Father – of whom
The Son – through whom
The Holy Spirit – by whom
That is podcast episode 37 if you want to check it out.
I believe that Holy Spirit opens our heart to the Word of God so we can have the faith necessary to receive the word, leading to our salvation. This matter of salvation is wholly based upon faith. Any works, or action on our part comes after the faith as a confirmation of the faith we profess to have. The apostle Paul deals with this topic in chapter three of his letter to the believers at Galatia. He begins by asking questions that he knows they know the answer to.
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith … ?
Galatians 3:2, 5 ESV
Paul goes on to teach that the righteous shall live by faith. The law and our works have a purpose, but they do not gain our salvation, which is a gift of God. He taught this very thing in his letter to the believers at Ephesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
Paul writes of that faith to the believers at Rome.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 ESV
The gospel, the good news that was shared by Christ Jesus, that which He also sent out through the seventy disciples to the surrounding towns and villages, and that He also sent out through His disciples in the great commission before His ascension to heaven, those same words of promise and hope, that is what Holy Spirit uses to produce the faith to believe. Paul tells us in that same portion of the letter to Rome how we receive that gift of salvation.
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him
will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For “everyone who calls on the name
of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:9-13 ESV
We cannot do it on our own. We need faith. We need Holy Spirit. We need the Father to draw us, sending Holy Spirit to produce faith within us. The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us faith is necessary.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and the He rewards those who seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
One reward, the greatest reward, is our salvation through which God gives us eternal life.
So we see a process and we see the Trinity. The Holy Trinity interacts with one another as they work out their plan of salvation, bringing us back into that loving relationship for which we were originally created.
- The Father draws us to the Son, Spirit to spirit
- Holy Spirit cause us to have faith to believe the gospel, the good news we hear, the Word of God
- Someone preached the good news
- We heard the good news
- We believed the good news
- That faith produced in us by the Holy Spirit enabled us to believe
- Believing in our heart, we were empowered to confess with our tongue that Christ Jesus is Lord
- By Christ, our Savior, we have access to the Father, and we receive the Holy Spirit who dwells in us
It is from this point that our works confirm our faith and our salvation in Christ Jesus, by whom we may go unto the Father, through the power of Holy Spirit working in us.
So we see that, just as in our creation, our salvation is by the Holy Trinity; the Father of Whom, the Son by whom, and Holy Spirit through Whom. It is all because Jesus went to the cross and suffered and died for our sake, which also is the plan of God, the Holy Trinity.
As with any new beginning, including being born again, there is much to explore and learn. There are many interactions with God that are only available to those who have been born again.
Jesus: Savior, Lord, Bridegroom, will never leave us, abides with us, seated with Him, brethren, joint heir, use of His name, intercedes for us, our model whom we mimic
Father: Abba, abides with us, access to His throne, can pray directly to Him, intimacy in relationship, child of God
Holy Spirit: dwells within us, His temple, teacher, counselor, guide, gifts, intercedes for us, matures us
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in
Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the
righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV
We are indeed filled with aspects of the Godhead, and with each member of the Holy Trinity as needed, as we co-labor with Christ for the sake of the kingdom of God.