The Trinity in Salvation, Sanctification, and Prayer

Blog Post | What are the depths of the beautiful Trinity? Let's take a deeper look at the Trinity in Salvation, Sanctification, and Prayer!

The Trinity

The Trinity (Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit) is one of those distinctives of Christianity that is, at first glance, complex and confusing but is, at it’s core, foundational to our faith. Our God is three in one. All three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) have their own roles but remain completely God in essence. This and several other truths about the Trinity have deeply impacted my walk with God and my prayer life recently and I’m greatly indebted to Bruce Ware and his book “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance” for clarifying some gray areas for me.

So, in light of this, I want to share a few highlights from his work.

The Trinity in Salvation

Salvation, our redemption from sin and it’s eternal consequences, is wholly dependent of the work of all three persons of the Trinity.

In order for us sinners to be saved, one must see God at one and the same time as the one judging our sin (the Father), the one making the payment of infinite value for our sin (the divine Son), and the one empowering and directing the incarnate — human — Son so that he lives and obeys the Father, going to the cross as the substitute for us (the Holy Spirit). The Christian God, to be savior, must then be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is, our salvation comes as the Father judges our sin in his Son, who became incarnate and lived his life in the power of the Spirit as the perfect and sinless God-man, and accomplished his perfect obedience to the Father through the power of the Spirit. Disregard the Trinity and you necessarily undermine salvation.

- Bruce A. Ware (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance)

Wow! I can’t say it any clearer than that! How distinct this doctrine of the Trinity in relation to our salvation!

The Trinity in Sanctification

Seeing the Trinity at work and in unity in Salvation makes it easy to see the same in Sanctification, the process of spiritual growth and gradual purification in the life of believers.

In Christian sanctification, the full work of the triune Persons is involved, together in harmonious unity, but each with his distinctive contribution. First, the Father ordains and secures our holiness. As noted above in Ephesians 1, we are to give praise first and foremost to the Father, since “he chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:4). This ordained plan then moves toward becoming a reality in the lives of sinners as the Son lives the pattern after which we are to be remade, and then dies to pay for and defeat our sin (vv. 7–10). The Father sent his Son into the world precisely to accomplish the saving work necessary for those whom he had chosen to be made holy. But even with the plan of the Father and the saving work of the Son, we are not declared holy or remade as holy until we put our faith in Christ. Then, by faith, we begin the life-long process of conformity into his likeness, and here the Spirit directs us to the Son and his work in opening our eyes to see the glory of the Son (2 Cor. 4:6) and in making us like Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). So our sanctification is done by the triune God, with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each participating in different but complementary ways.

- Bruce A. Ware (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance)

The Trinity in Prayer

For me, this was the greatest area of struggle in view of the Trinity. Who exactly am I praying to? Do I pray to the Father, Son or Holy Spirit? Is Jesus in heaven or in my heart?

The Christian’s life of prayer must rightly acknowledge the roles of Father, Son, and Spirit as we pray to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit.

- Bruce A. Ware (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance)

May I suggest something both clear and radical? If Jesus taught us to pray to the Father, then we ought to do this. For one reason or another, we sometimes follow a different practice. We may encourage our children, especially, to open their prayers with, “Dear Jesus,” despite the fact that Jesus said to pray “Our Father in heaven . . .” Perhaps we do not think about prayer as we should because we do not understand the doctrine of the Trinity. As Jesus taught us, we should pray to the Father through the Son. Jesus Christ is the mediator. He is the one through whom we address the Father. He is the one who brings us access to the Father. Our prayers bring spiritual benefit only when we pray in his name. And prayers that bring fruit in the kingdom are those offered in the power of the Spirit. We pray as the Spirit prompts and urges us to pray. So prayer rightly understood — Christian prayer — is prayer to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. To pray aright, we need a deep appreciation for the doctrine of the Trinity.

- Bruce A. Ware (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance)

So we see that we, as Jesus, pray to the Father…but we also see the path, through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. As God, all three are present (omnipresent) when we pray. We should not use this knowledge to become legalistic or judge others’ prayers. The beauty of God that He is beyond our comprehension and He hears our weakest and strongest prayers!


If this is new to you or if you are seeking to study the Trinity more fully, I would highly recommend Bruce Ware’s book. However, I’d also love to hear your recommendations. Use the comment section below to add your favorite resources in relation to the Holy Spirit!

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