The Basics of Our Union with Christ (2)

by Roel Velema

Basic 2: Man is a tripartite being (as seen in salvation)

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23).

Man is a tripartite being comprised of spirit, soul, and body. Our salvation, within its complete scope (past, present, and future), pertains to our salvation with respect to our complete tripartite being. Scripture reveals that each of these three parts of man is subject to salvation at different times. Salvation is far more than our eternal salvation. Ephesians 2:8,9 speaks about our (past) eternal salvation, the salvation of the spirit.

There is also a present saving, which we find in Romans 5:10b: “now that we are reconciled, shall we be ‘[being’] saved by his life.” This present ongoing process of saving, has to do with an increase of awareness of our full rooting, our whole fullness of Christ in whom we already have been filled in completely (Col. 2:9,10). This present saving is a present “reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). This inward reign emanates from our union with Christ. This present reign pertains to the soul and is related to the “salvation of the soul” (1 Peter 1:9). Those who saved their souls, which has nothing to do with eternal salvation, have denied their natural lives and didn’t count their lives precious to themselves. They learned intercession, they learned to lay down their lives for others.

Finally, there is a future inherited salvation and a future redemption of the body.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebr. 1:14). Eternal life is not an inherited salvation, because one has to become a son of God before one can become a heir of the testator. To inherit a future salvation is to inherit the coming kingdom in view of the millennial promises to the overcomers in Revelation 2-3. Ruling as kings in this present life inwardly then will become a rule with Christ outwardly. To determine whether we will be overcomers will determined at the judgment seat of Christ, where we will stand with “redeemed bodies” (Rom. 8:23).

So, salvation covers the whole panorama of our Christian life, and this cannot be seen clearly if we do not recognize that man has been made up by spirit, soul, and body.

Since Elohim is a Trinity, for man to be created in the “image” and “likeness” of God, he too must be a trinity. Unlike the dichotomous animal kingdom (created apart from the “image” and “likeness” of God) possessing only bodies and souls, trichotomous man (created in the “image” and “likeness” of God) is a triune being. Man not only possesses a body and a soul, but he also is spirit as well.

Jesus is Elohim manifested in the flesh; and having been made in the “likeness” of man (but apart from unredeemed man’s fallen nature), He, as man, must also be a trinity (John 1:14; Phil. 2:7). This tripartite nature of Christ, in Whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9), was clearly revealed at the time of His death. At this time Jesus yielded up His spirit, which went back into the presence of His Father in heaven (Luke 23:46; cf. Eccl. 12:7; Acts 7:59); His soul went into Hades, the place of the dead, and His body was removed from the Cross and placed in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb (Matt. 27:57-61). This threefold separation persisted until the soul and spirit re-entered the body at the time Christ was raised from the dead.

Thus, God, Elohim, is a Trinity; Jesus, Elohim manifested in the flesh, is likewise a trinity; and man, created in the “image” and “likeness” of Elohim, can only be a trinity as well.

Accordingly, a complete redemption provided by the Triune God must, of necessity, pertain to man as a complete being. Man’s complete salvation must encompass spirit, soul, and body.

{to be continued}

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