Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sermon: Holy Trinity – 2017

11 June 2017

Text: John 3:1-17 (Isa 6:1-7, Rom 11:33-36)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Religions that are made-up by men generally have either one singular god and are monotheistic, or they have a plurality, that is, many gods, and are polytheistic.  

But of course, the real world is never quite so simple.  The real God is both singular and plural at the same time.  The real God is indeed one, but the real God is also three.  

You can’t make this up.

For Christianity is the only religion that has an eternal and yet incarnate God who died and rose again – and there is an empty tomb that bears witness that this isn’t just a myth told by men.  For once again, the human myths either describe a logical unitary god, or a great logical hierarchy of competing gods.

Christianity is the only faith that can say, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  “God loved the world.”  And in the Old Testament, this word for “God” is plural, though every verb that goes with it is singular.  And this God sent “His Son,” – whom John had just a couple chapters past called “the Word” and said that “in the beginning” this “Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

So, how can the Son be God and be with God at the same time?

“God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”  We believe, as Scripture teaches, that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and it is into this one name that we are baptized: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  We are not baptized into three names, but “in the name.”  Or as we said in the creed: “we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.”  We say this because “the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God.”

This is why St. Paul uses an unusual word in the letter to the Romans that we just heard: “inscrutable.”  God’s ways are “inscrutable.”  The word in Greek means that it can’t be traced out on paper.  It cannot be grasped by the human mind.  God’s ways are simply unknowable to us.  God Himself is a mystery.  But we do know quite a bit about Him from His own revelation to us in the Bible.  We can’t understand the Trinity, but we can confess it.  We can’t explain it, but we can teach it.  We can’t wrap our minds around it, but we can believe it.

And, dear friends, to believe in God is to worship God.  For if you truly believe that He exists, that He created all things, if you truly believe that a man can be “born again” being born this second time “of water and the Spirit,” being baptized into this inscrutable and mysterious name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, then you will worship this God.  For the faith, the true faith, the Christian faith, the “catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.”

The one true faith is the Trinitarian faith.  Everything else is a human, manmade religion, a mere myth that suits the mind of man.  But our God, as revealed in Scripture, doesn’t conform to our logic, but rather calls upon us to conform to His will.

Now, maybe all of this just sounds like theological jargon, something for ivory tower debate that has no effect on our lives in the real world.  Nothing can be further from the truth, dear friends.  For it matters what you believe.  Do you worship the true, inscrutable God, the one who is “holy, holy, holy,” the “Lord of hosts,” the omnipotent and omnipresent almighty Creator, or do you worship a God who can safely be tucked away within the confines of a logic textbook?

The fathers of the church understood that without faith in the true God, man is lost: for the true God “so loved the world” that His Son became incarnate, the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” Jesus Christ, the one who in the beginning was both “God” and one who was “with God,” for He hasn’t come to us to confuse us, but to save us.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”  

This, dear friends, is why we are born again of water and the Spirit, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for as our Lord explicitly taught us: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.”  Saved, dear friends, that is, rescued from sin, death, and the devil, pulled out of the grave and out of hell that we might not perish “but have eternal life!”

We don’t have to understand how this works, we simply have to believe it, trusting in the Word of God, in His mercy, in His love for us, and in His desire that we be saved.  For that is the message of the cross, the result of the Lamb’s pure sacrifice, and the very reason we are born again by water and the Word.  This is why we are here: to worship this God, to sing praise to the Father, to joyfully receive the Son in His body and blood, and to be drawn into this one true faith by the Holy Spirit.  And through this faith which we confess, which receives the grace and love of the Triune God, the faith that confesses the Holy Trinity and the person of Jesus, we are born again, born to eternal life, born to walk out of our own graves, born to live forever in joyful communion with the one true God.

And like Isaiah, the “mighty seer of old” who was “high and lifted up” to the throne of the thrice-holy God, a “burning coal” from the altar is placed upon our lips, and though we are people of unclean lips, we have the promise of the Triune God Himself: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.”  “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  “This is the catholic faith” into which we are baptized,

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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