The Economic Trinity
Fancy term, but good to become comfortable with.
Over the last several episodes we’ve been studying the ontological Trinity. Simply put, it means the existence and reality of the Trinity.
When speaking of the economic Trinity we are using a theological term that means the ordering of activities. It is the different ways that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit act as they interact with this creation.
What does the Father do?
In a nutshell, He’s the source of ideas (and the fountainhead) from which all the eternal decrees came forth.
So what’s an eternal decree?
A decree is simply the sovereign decisions that the Father has made concerning all things external to himself. This involves everything. Nothing is missed, and nothing exists and occurs apart from his decrees.
Isaiah 14:26-27 "This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?"
Daniel 4:34-35 “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
Eccl. 3:1-11 “ There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven… 11 He has made everything appropriate in its time.”
When trying to talk about the roles of the Father, it’s easiest to see them in relation to the work of redemption.
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. (1 Pet. 1:1) [note how all three are shown in their unique duties here.]
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." (Eph. 1:3-4)
Predestination to Adoption as sons:
"In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will," (Eph. 1:4-5)
1 John 3:1 "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God . . .”
Sending His Son:
"We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world."
(1 Jn. 4:14)
The crucifying, raising, and exalting of His Son:
“... this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."
He is called the Savior:
The giving of eternal life:
"And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."
(1 Jn. 5:11)
Giving to His Son those whom He will save:
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me . . .” (Jn. 6:37)
Causes us to be born again:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"(1 Pet. 1:3)
But there are several other things the scripture tells us the Father is doing:
He gives glory and honor to His Son:
“For when He received honor and glory from God the Father…” (2 Pet. 1:17)
In John 17, Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him once again as He once had prior to becoming a man.
"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9-11)
He maintains our life:
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Jude 1:24-25)
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
He comforts the afflicted:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction . . .” (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
Gives all good things:
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1:17)
(good things are not always pleasant things.)
We blasted through a lot of Scripture, but the point of this was to see the kindness and grace of the Father upon all of us who are Christians.
We can make the mistake that everything is about Jesus, but it isn’t. Everything is about the Triune God.
We also sometimes make the mistake that the Father is really angry with us and Jesus is the one who placates Him.
So while it’s true and right to say that the Father is filled with wrath. It’s equality right to say that He’s also filled with pity, compassion, and grace; and that in His love, He sent His Son to redeem a people.
And then, it’s also the Father who gathers and gives these people to His Son.
And then beyond even that, He then keeps these people in His grasp for all eternity.
So the point to understand, is that we’re more safe than we can even begin to grasp. John 10:29 says, “my Father who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man can snatch them out of my Father’s hand."
Next episode we’ll talk consider the work of the Son and the Spirit.