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Holy Trinity Sunday

June 16, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Trinity Sunday

Passage: John 8:48–8:59

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 8:48-59
Date: June 16, 2019; Holy Trinity; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Throughout the Church Year there are certain days that are set apart as being special.  
  • They are meant to help us celebrate and focus on important events and on special people God used in his act of saving us.
  • We call these special days “feasts” or “festivals”.
  • Last Sunday was one of these special days as we celebrated the Festival of Pentecost.
  • However, today’s festival is different than every other.
  • Today is the only day in the Church Year that is set aside to focus on a doctrine of the Church – that is a teaching.  
  • That being the doctrine, or teaching, of the Holy Trinity.
  • And this festival of the Holy Trinity fits very nicely into the Church Year calendar.
  • The Church Year begins with the yearning and anticipation of Advent as we look forward to the coming Messiah born in Bethlehem.
  • Advent is followed by the Festival of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the promised Saviour of the nations.
  • Christmas is followed by the Festival of Epiphany – the coming of the Magi who were led by God to recognize and proclaim that Jesus is truly God in the flesh.
  • Epiphany is followed by the Season of Lent when we focus our attention on our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice for us – showing his love for the entire world.
  • Lent is followed by the Festival of Easter when we celebrate our Lord’s victory over sin and death shown through his death defeating resurrection.
  • Easter is followed by the Festival of Pentecost, which we observed last week, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the spreading of the Gospel in the different languages of the nations.
  • And so here we find ourselves on the Festival of the Holy Trinity – moved by the Spirit given at Pentecost, poured out in our Holy Baptism – that we would believe and boldly confess the Holy Trinity.
  • God has revealed himself to us in his Holy Word, the Bible, as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus says in Matthew 28: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 
  • The Creeds of the Church - the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed are known as the three Ecumenical Creeds because anyone who is a Christian believes what is confessed in them.
  • The Creeds of the Church are simply summaries of what the Scripture teaches about God as the Holy Trinity.
  • Christians have used the Creeds to help clarify and keep straight what the Bible teaches about the Trinity for centuries.
  • The Holy Trinity is a mystery.  It cannot be fully understood.  It can only be believed.
  • There is one God in three persons. Three persons in one God.  
  • As we confess in the Athanasian Creed, “…we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. For the Father is one person, the Son another, and the Holy Spirit is another.  But the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one…”
  • The Holy Trinity is a mystery.  How can God be three in one and one in three? 
  • Well, according to our fallen reason he can’t be.  It’s impossible.  The math doesn’t add up. 
  • But that is how God has revealed himself to us.
  • God is beyond our comprehension.  God is beyond our understanding.  He transcends our thinking.
  • So all we can do is receive God’s revelation and trust it.  Have faith in it. 
  • Despite the fact that we cannot understand or fully grasp how the Trinity can be – we accept it as truth because God reveals it as such.  God is truth.
  • The Holy Trinity is a mystery of the Faith.  It is one we hold and maintain by faith.
  • Whenever we let go of faith and try to reduce God to our fallen reason we will end up in heresy - false teaching.
  • The mysteries of God are not to be explained - but adored.
  • We accept the mysteries of God as they are revealed to us in faith. 
  • We marvel at them and we recognize that God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, as the psalmist says.
  • In faith, we place ourselves and our reason below God and his Word.
  • We do not claim God’s Word to be false or mistaken because we cannot grasp it. 
  • We recognize the limits of our reason and trust the truth that God has graciously and mercifully revealed to us that we may be saved.  
  • We trust that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
  • To be sure, this is not to say that we simply turn off our brains and give up thinking.  
  • We are not to simply accept the things we are told without consideration.
  • God has given us our minds, he has given us our reason, as a gift and we are to use them.  
  • Through our reason we can discover a lot about God, his creation, ourselves, and his salvation.
  • But we must always remember that our reason is fallen.  Our reason is limited.  Our reason is unable to grasp many things - including the mysteries of God.
  • There is the mystery of the Incarnation which we hold and confess as Christians.
  • We confess in the Athanasian Creed: “Therefore, it is the right faith that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is at the same time both God and man.”
  • The mystery of the incarnation is that God became a man.  
  • How can it be that Jesus is at the same time God and man?
  • I have no idea.  It is beyond my reason and understanding. 
  • But, we believe and receive this mystery with wonder and adoration – because God has revealed it to us.
  • By faith we trust it.  We celebrate it every year at Christmas with wonder and joy.
  • There is the mystery of Holy Baptism.  In a miraculous way God has attached his promise of forgiveness and salvation to water.  When his Word of promise is connected to the waters of our Baptism his promise becomes personally ours.
  • There is the mystery of Holy Communion.  God has attached his promises to wine and bread, which are his true body and blood, to nourish us spiritually.
  • There is the mystery of God’s living and holy Word.  Unlike any other book on earth, the Bible actually stirs up faith.  It comforts and gives us peace.  It guides and leads us.  It gives us the very promise of God that is revealed in it.
  • These mysteries are beyond our reason and human understanding.
  • But we trust them because we have God’s Word that they are true.
  • God has revealed himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three in one; one in three.
  • I invite you to look on the back cover of the hymnal.  Engraved there are symbols representing the Holy Trinity.
  • You have the hand of the Father reaching down from heaven creating and providing.
  • From the Father we have been given the Son – because God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son.  
  • There is the symbol of the cross reminding us that Jesus suffered and died in our place.  
  • With the cross is the rising sun, representing Christ’s resurrection and the empty tomb.
  • Below that is the Holy Spirit, pictured in the form of a dove.  The Holy Spirit works faith in us that we may receive the gifts that Jesus earned through his life, death, and resurrection.
  • And how does the Spirit do this?
  • Well, turn to the front cover of your hymnal for the answer.
  • At the top you can see the Word, the Bible, God’s revelation to us through which he promises to create and sustain our faith.
  • Under that you see a shell with drops of water.  This symbol represents Holy Baptism through which he pours out his grace and forgiveness upon his people who are baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • And underneath that you see grapes and wheat, a chalice and a paten.  These symbols represent Holy Communion where Jesus promises to be present for you to forgive your sins and strengthen you.
  • Through the Word and the Sacraments - the Holy Spirit brings to us the gifts of the Son provided by the Father.
  • We receive it all by God’s grace through the faith that we have been given.
  • As his people we marvel at the mystery of God’s great revelation and his great love for us.
  • In humble adoration, we receive his gifts with thanksgiving and praise.  Amen.
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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.