The Spirit accomplishes our union with Christ, hides our life with Christ in God, and makes Christ become “unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor 1:30). This is the trinitarian method of grace, whereby God brings us to himself by being himself toward us.
Grace is trinitarian: not only because it is the grace of God who is the Trinity, but also because it works in a correspondingly trinitarian way. God’s method of being gracious is to be toward us what he is in himself: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This strikes some Christians as a new idea these days. But it was once preached and taught as a matter of basic insight into the Bible. Thinkers downstream from John Calvin did an especially good job proclaiming this truth, and the Puritans probably best of all. Take for example John Flavel.
John Flavel (1627-1691) was a Puritan pastor, a nonconformist whose ministry was rendered illegal by the 1662 Act of Uniformity. His work The Method of Grace is a full treatment (my paperback copy is abridged to 500pp) of the way salvation takes hold of a human life. The Method of Grace is a sequel to Flavel’s earlier book, The Fountain of Life, which had discussed how God makes provision for salvation and accomplishes it. The first book was grace accomplished, the second book grace applied.
The “accomplished-applied” schema is handy way of considering salvation in its objective and subjective aspects, and anyone who has tried to get their mind around soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) will appreciate any helpful suggestion for subidividing the field without distortion. Again, it is Reformed thinkers who have made the most of the schema (see for instance John Murray’s little classic, Redemption Accomplished and Applied).
By itself, however, the accomplished-applied schema is merely formal. It is an outline that begs to be filled out with the actual subject matter of soteriology in a way that not only puts some content under each head, but actually explains why it is that salvation has this objective-subjective form. This is where I find Flavel especially incisive. His Fountain and Method books are Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit books, respectively. That is, the first book describes the “grace provided and accomplished by Jesus Christ,” while the second “contains the method of grace in the application of the great redemption to the souls of men” by the Holy Spirit.
Flavel sees salvation worked out in Christ, as God the Father loves the world and gives his Son (John 3); as he does not spare his Son and is therefore willing to give everything (Romans 8 ) ; as God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself (II Cor 5). Nothing needs to be added to this complete salvation provided in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. But it must be applied to each person who is to receive its benefits personally. And that application must also be a divine work, a work of the risen Lord who is not dead or done away with, but is at the right hand of the Father. “From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead,” and in the meantime, from thence he has sent the Holy Spirit.