Last time I began a series of short posts on Owen’s teaching on communion with the Trinity under the analogy of building an iPad. This second post presents the basic building blocks of his teaching.
What the Owen iPad Does: The Trinity, Covenant Theology, and Union with Christ
Three components make the “Owen iPad:” the doctrine of the Trinity, covenant theology, and union with Christ. The Trinity means that God is one in essence and three in person. This doctrine is revealed in Scripture and is not a contradiction, since God is one of one thing and three of something else. The Father begets the Son eternally, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son together. The unity of God means that all three persons operate inseparably in every divine work. The distinction between and the order of the persons means that each divine person works appropriately in every divine action. To illustrate, the Father sent the Son to save his elect, Christ took on true humanity, and he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb (Lk. 1:35). In terms of salvation, the Father plans salvation, the Son purchases salvation, and the Spirit applies salvation. God communicates to us from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit. In turn, we come to God by the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father (Eph. 2:18).
The next two components work together. God is high above us (Ps. 113). He comes to us in an agreement called a covenant. This means that God must be reconciled to sinners through Christ’s death and that sinners must be reconciled to God by the Spirit changing their hearts (Rom. 5:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; John 3:3-5). Yet what good is it if Christ has no personal relation to us and we still stand under God’s wrath? We need faith to unite us to Christ (1 Cor. 6:17), which means that all that is his becomes ours. By Christ’s righteous life we are counted righteous before God (Rom. 5:17-20), by his cursed death God removes his wrath and curse due to us for sin (Gal. 3:13), by his resurrection we walk in newness of life and hope in the life to come (Rom. 6:1-11), by his ascension and session in heaven he prepares a place for us (Jn. 14:3) and he ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Christ is the bond of union between God and us ensuring through the Spirit’s work in our hearts that we can be saved and walk with God.
This means that the gospel is Trinitarian. The Father, Son, and Spirit save us together and each in their own way. We live in covenant with God through Christ, in which he adopts us as his children (Gal. 4:1-4) and makes us joint heirs of heaven with Christ (Rom. 8:17). This should enable us to live the entire Christian life, from the new birth to the resurrection, in loving fellowship with all three divine persons.