“The Holy Trinity Makes Our Salvation Sure”
(Romans 5:1-5 – Holy Trinity – May 27, 2018)
Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Dear fellow-Redeemed in Christ Jesus,
On this Trinity Sunday, we confess in the Athanasian Creed: “Whoever will be saved shall, above all else, hold the catholic [i.e., universal, Christian] faith. Which faith, except it be kept whole and undefiled, without doubt, one will perish eternally. And the true Christian faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the Persons nor dividing the substance.”
The Creed then describes in great detail the nature and work of the three Persons of the one Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If we are to be saved, it is necessary to believe in the nature and work of this one true God. For all three Persons of the Trinity play an indispensable part in our salvation. Let us see how “The Holy Trinity Makes Our Salvation Sure”: 1) The Father has justified us, 2) The Son has redeemed us, and 3) The Holy Spirit gives us faith.
1) The Father has justified us
First, the Father has justified us. Our text begins: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.”
What does it mean to be justified? In courtroom terms, it means to be declared “not guilty”; or in positive terms, to be declared “innocent” or “righteous.” Before we can appreciate this merciful declaration by God the Father, let us see from what He has declared us “not guilty.” For we have not always had this peace with God our text speaks of. It goes back to a time shortly after God created the world, when mankind fell from the blessed state of innocence in which God had created him.
Usually we associate the work of creating and preserving all things with God the Father. True, all three Persons of the Trinity were active in creation, as the account in Genesis 1 shows. The Father was there, for it says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Holy Spirit was there, for it says: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The Son was there – the Word of God who would take on human flesh and live among us (John 1:1-14). For the pre-incarnate Word of God spoke again and again at creation, saying: “Let there be… and it was so.” Yet, there is only one God who created all things. For Scripture testifies: “The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). But we especially relate the work of creating and preserving the world to the Father. For it is a fatherly work to bring forth creation and lovingly to care and provide for us.
It is also a merciful work of the Father that He continues to care and provide for us. For we have not deserved our Creator’s fatherly care. As Jesus said of His Father: “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). We have all been unjust and unrighteous before God as fallen sinners. When He created mankind originally, it was in His own image so that we could live perfectly, just as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). God saw that His creation “was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But then, with our first parents we lost that perfect image of our heavenly Father as we fell into sin. Our sin left us alienated from God, enemies in our minds because of our wicked works (Colossians 1:21). In our sin, we have not sufficiently thanked God for His many daily blessings; but we have thanked ourselves for what we have. We often complain about how He provides and leads us in life, and we turn away from His fatherly will. We who are unrighteous do not deserve to be called children of the righteous Father. He should declare us “guilty” and “unrighteous,” and be done with us. He should say, “Go away from Me; you have forfeited My fatherly love forever.”
But here our text says, as an already established fact: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” What is this? The highest Authority in the universe, the Creator and Judge of all, who has seen every way we have sinned and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), has declared us “not guilty.” Indeed, He has declared us “righteous,” and at peace with Him! How can this be?
2) The Son has redeemed us
It is because God the Father, in His infinite mercy, sent His only begotten Son in the flesh to redeem us from our sin. As it says: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” God’s grace is His undeserved love for us sinners. God forgives us and loves us because His Son redeemed us from sin. Through faith in Jesus, we stand in this grace of God.
The verses following our text explain how God redeemed us and reconciled us to Himself through His Son: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10).
See what love God the Father has shown us undeserving sinners! He has stopped nothing short of offering up His own Son to a bloody death on the cross, to pay for all of our guilt and unrighteousness, to rescue us from our death and damnation, to bring us back into fellowship with Him as our heavenly Father!
Through faith in His Son, we have the peace of His forgiveness. We confidently call God “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9), knowing that He answers our prayers and provides for us according to His love for us in Christ. We “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” as we look forward to sharing in His eternal heavenly glory. If it were mere men promising such peace and lasting blessings, we would not have true hope. But it is God the Father Himself, who justifies us and gives us the sure hope of eternal glory. He has sealed this promise by the redeeming blood of His own Son!
3) The Holy Spirit gives us faith
In light of this it says: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
God the Father, together with His Son, has sent His Spirit into our hearts to give us true knowledge of His love for us in Christ. The Holy Spirit creates in us true saving faith in Christ and preserves us “in hope of the glory of God.” As we confess in our Catechism: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”
The Holy Spirit strengthens our faith daily through God’s Gospel promises, delivered to us personally in His Word and Sacraments. Through these, the Spirit brings us the forgiveness, life, and salvation Jesus won for us. The Spirit leads us in the hope of eternal glory, so that we can rejoice even in the midst of temporal sufferings.
As it says: “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
In our “tribulations” – when we are under pressure from troubles and weakness – the Holy Spirit leads us like the apostle Paul to look all the more to God’s grace which is sufficient for us, and His strength which is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The Spirit leads us to trust with childlike faith in our heavenly Father’s promise that He is still working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). The Spirit comforts us with the Gospel that says God’s love for us in Christ never fails.
So our suffering produces “perseverance” – the ability to stand up under trial, patiently waiting for God’s deliverance. “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). But in our journey to heaven, the Holy Spirit makes us like athletes who come through each step of painful training with new resilience and toughness. Through God’s Word and Sacraments, we are given new strength to endure and go forward with stronger faith than before. But the Spirit reminds us that the heavenly goal and the winner’s prize are ours, not by our own suffering and endurance, but by the perfect life and suffering of Jesus, who endured the cross and rose again for our victory.
As we come through sufferings, strengthened by God’s Word and His grace for us, we will not be weak and immature Christians. That Spirit-worked perseverance of faith produces “character” – the state of being tried and tested and found genuine, like gold purified in the fire. So also Job came through his sufferings with proven character as a child of God – with a Spirit-given faith that trusted his Redeemer to deliver him no matter what happened (Job 19:25-27). So the Spirit brings us through the sufferings of life with proven character as God’s true children by faith in Christ. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).
As God the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and character, this produces “hope” – hope that does not disappoint us. As we see how God is faithful to His promises, through every changing scene of life, it leads us to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” For we know that the Triune God, who began His good work in us, will faithfully bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Therefore we give thanks to the one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three Persons of the Holy Trinity play an indispensable part in making our salvation sure. We praise God the Father, Creator and Preserver of all things, who in mercy has justified us through faith in His Son. We praise God the Son, who came from the Father to redeem us by His blood and give us peace with His Father. We praise the Holy Spirit who has given us saving faith in Jesus, and who continues to strengthen us and keep us in the hope of eternal glory.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.