A few years ago at our farm, we reached the peak in a long period of historically high precipitation. Sloughs ran over. Fields were saturated. Few crops were planted. By July, nearly all my neighbors were talking about seepage into their basements. They were going on about their sump pumps.
My basement didn’t have seepage yet. While I was sympathetic about my neighbors’ problems, I was not interested in the solution. Sure, I was vaguely curious how one could put something electric in water without electrocution or fire, but I was not interested in how sump pumps work.
Then it happened. Water started seeping into our basement. It welled up from deep within the house. If not stopped, it would flood the floor and rise. It would make the foundation crack and settle. It would ruin everything with rot and mold.
It is like that with sin and salvation. As long as sin is only our neighbor’s problem, we have less interest in the problem and the solution. Once we have the problem and know we are in trouble, we want to know more about sin and its solution, the sacrifice of Christ.
Just as questions about how a sump pump works become vital when our own basement is flooding, so questions about how sacrifice works become vital when our own soul is seeping from within, flooding, cracking, settling, rotting, and molding.
There are questions about how sacrifice works. It does not work for a person to make a sacrifice to himself. If Jesus is the sacrifice for our sin, to whom did he make his sacrifice? In his sacrifice, Jesus died, so who presented his sacrifice? How did Jesus rise again to life for our justification?
As with nearly everything vital to our faith, again, a key part of the answer is the Trinity.
Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” This compact, tightly wrapped sentence reveals the Trinity. It packs in the work of each Person of the Trinity in the sacrifice.
The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all work together in the sacrifice. Jesus, the Son, sacrifices himself for us. His sacrifice is to God, the Father. His sacrifice is presented through the Spirit. This they did in the Holy of Holies in heaven, which had only been shadowed or copied in the tabernacle and temple on earth. “Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these [Levitical earthly] rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Hebrews 9:23-24.
The Father and the Spirit together raised Christ from the dead. Paul said he was an apostle not from men, “but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” Galatians 1:1. He says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11. The Father “raised him [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:17, 20. The Father accepts the sacrifice of Christ, and seats Christ at his right hand.
Without the Trinity, sacrifice would not work and we still would be under the flood of sin. Without the Trinity, Christ would not be raised for our justification.
Unitarianism, Oneness Pentecostalism, modalism, and all other heresies against the distinction of the Persons in the Trinity present a god that simply has not got the capacity for sacrifice or resurrection. They present a one-person god, while sacrifice and resurrection need three persons. Such non-trinitarian gods do not have the capacity to justify sinners. This article of justification on which the Church stands or falls is lost when we defect from the Trinity.
Apostle Paul says, “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.” Romans 10:9. The Christian confession, the confession of the sacrifice that saves us from sin, is a confession of the Trinity. It is a confession that the Father raised Jesus from the dead for our justification.
Glory be the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.