The Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation

Principle No. 12 The Three-fold Principle Part 1

By Clifton L. Fowler

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1924


The Three-Fold Principle exhibits the grace of God in blessed fashion. It shows the fulness, the completeness, the richness, and the eternal extent of the matchless salvation planned by God for sin-cursed man. The Threefold Principle lifts the curtain and reveals the beauty of the Bible's basic theme, — God's grace. The Word was given to reveal the grace of God to a race of lost men.

It is to be specially noted that this principle, linked as it is to the grace of the living God, is not confined in its manifestation to those Scriptures which refer to the present dispensation. Salvation is by grace in every age. Since salvation is by grace in every age and this principle specially reveals the grace of God we shall expect to find it appearing in every part of the Scriptures, no matter what dispensation may be in view.

The definition of the Three-fold Principle is, —

The Three-fold Principle is that principle of Divine Revelation under which God sets forth the truths concerning Israel, Jesus, and the individual believer from the standpoint of God's triple dealing with man, — justification, transformation and glorification.

The Three-fold Principle of Divine Revelation is the key to the very purposes of God in giving us the Bible. Under this principle God is constantly declaring to us the three mighty blessings which grace has revealed. They are a foundation, a manifestation and a consummation.

1. A foundation for the believer's hope. This foundation rests entirely on the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

2. A manifestation of a Christian walk in the daily life of the believer. This walk is to be of such a type as to honor the Lord and silence the critics. Such a walk is possible, only as Jesus gives strength and power.

3. A consummation of eternal glory in which the believer is raised into visible and eternal likeness to and union with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Heaven at last!

What matchless grace! The Bible is given to a hell-doomed race to pour forth a flood of light upon man's pathway. The flood of light is epitomized to our souls by the Three-fold Principle which brings to man this thrilling message, — there is a reliable foundation provided, there is a worth-while manifestation possible, and there is a glorious consummation impending.

Furthermore, these three rich blessings which are unfolded to us in the Scriptures are peculiarly fitted to meet fallen man's need; for our need as set forth in the Bible is also three-fold:

1. Man needs to get right with God.

2. Man needs to live right.

3. Man needs to go to heaven instead of hell.

And man finds himself incapable of meeting these three needs so clearly presented in God's Word. Unless some miraculous provision were made, man would be doomed. There would be no hope. But as we have already seen, God's Word reveals, under the Three-fold Principle, that there are three blessings from God. These three blessings are specially designed to meet the three needs of man. God has seen that man's sin is such that he cannot "get right with God" on the basis of any human deed, so God lays a solid foundation. He provides that man may be justified on the ground of naked faith in Jesus the Saviour. The Lord has also seen how weak and unworthy man is and hence incapable of even "living right," so he has offered man the possibility of having his life transformed through occupation in the One Who died on Calvary. Thus we see man is justified by an act of faith and transformed by an attitude of faith. And God has also seen how absurd it is for man to try getting himself to heaven so He has given His own Holy Word that those who have believed in Him shall be glorified. The three needs of the race are fully met by the grace of God. The foundation provided is justification. The manifestation made possible is a wondrous transformation. The consummation guaranteed is glorification with Him in His Kingdom forever.

This principle has abundant Scripture proof. One passage will sufficiently display the truth and the presence of the Three-fold Principle. We turn to Titus 3:11-13:

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

How beautifully the Holy Spirit exhibits this principle here. Verse 11 sets forth the foundation, — "the grace of God that bringeth salvation." Verse 12 sets forth the appeal for transformation, — "teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously and godly." And verse 13 sets forth the consummation, — "looking for that Messed hope, even the glorious appearing of the Great God!" Note the universality of the application of the principle.

It applies to Jesus Himself. When this principle is applied to Him, we see Him as He is working out our justification on Calvary; effecting our transformation as He intercedes on high; and bringing to pass in mighty power our glorification in the coming age.

It applies to Israel. When this principle is applied to Israel we find that God is dealing with the nation as a whole. When He gave them the covenants in the early days, He called them His own, His elect, His righteous nation. They were typically setting forth justification. Through the period of the kings and the prophets God sought to bring them to transformation of life and walk, but owing to their unwillingness there was only a varying success. In the future the nation will be willing and then will He show the sentient universe Israel in glorification, when He reigns over them and the Gentile nations from the throne of His father David.

It applies to the individual soul. When this principle is applied to us individually we see ourselves, although unworthy and sinful, ushered into a glorious standing of perfect righteousness before God, — justification; invited by the Spirit into a life of complete dependence upon the strength of Jesus, which would mean our transformation; and pointed to a wondrous certainty in the future in which we shall be made like Him — our glorification.

The working out of the Three-fold Principle in the life of the individual believer is God's purpose. When a man believes in Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour the first of the three blessings is instantly completed by God. The man is justified. Justification is "being declared righteous." The believer is "declared righteous" by a Divine edict based upon the full satisfaction given by Jesus our substitute Who suffered vicariously on our behalf. This is the believer's standing before God. Being a Divine gift it never changes for "the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29, Worrell's notes). But our transformation is not received as justification is. Justification is instantaneous, while transformation is progressive. When Paul speaks of justification, he says, "justified by faith" (Rom. 5:1, 2), showing it to be a finished and completed thing, but when he speaks of transformation, he says, "from glory unto glory" (II Cor. 3:18), showing it to be a step by step process, a growth depending upon the willingness and yieldedness of the individual child of God. And when we turn to glorification we find that in the matchless grace of God He planned to glorify every child of His even though that child missed the mark of transformation which the Father had designed for him. This astonishing truth (and to some seemingly unbelievable), is set forth in such Scriptures as,

"Whom he justified, them He also glorified" (Rom. 8:30),


''Having loved His own * * * He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1).

The Three-fold Principle is God's key to the subject of grace. It reveals the significance of His dealing with Israel, it uncovers God's purpose in Christ, and unlocks the mystery of the whole Divine plan toward the souls of men "in bringing many sons to glory."

Oh the grace that drew salvation's plan!

Oh the love that brought it down to man!

Oh the mighty gulf that God did span,

          At Calvary!