Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today is the Sunday of the Holy Trinity when we focus on the centrality of the doctrine of the Trinity for the Christian faith. Today is different from the other special days on the church calendar. We do not remember a historical figure or an event, but a teaching, a concept. We confess our belief in this doctrine every Sunday, however, today is the day dedicated to the Trinity.
We have three creeds, the ecumenical creeds. Ecumenical is a Greek word that means the whole world. These creeds define what is the Christian faith, which is saving faith. Outside of this faith, there is no hope of salvation. These creeds are part of the confession of the Lutheran church, but are older and larger than the Lutheran church. From the Lutheran perspective, there are churches that have the Word of God, but not the pure doctrine, the doctrine of God is mixed with false teachings. But, these churches accept what the creeds say can be called Christian churches.
We are in agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on the Holy Trinity. We are in agreement with the Baptist churches on the Holy Trinity. We have differences with Catholics over the authority of the Pope, the meaning of what happens in the mass, indulgences and other things. Baptists baptize adults only; we Lutherans baptize infants. But, we are in agreement about the Trinity. There is only one God, but three personas in the same divinity. And one of these persons is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The doctrine of the Trinity is essential to understand the person and work of Jesus. Who is Jesus Christ? Better yet, who is God? Many people use these words, but they have another meaning for them. When we see the sun, the moon and the stars; the trees, the sea and the whole earth, it is our human reason that tells us there is a design in this diversity and harmony. And where there is a design, there has to be a Designer, a Creator of heaven and earth.
But, although heaven and earth bear witness to a Supreme Being, they do not tell us who God is. By means of human reason, we only understand the Supreme Being as something very far from us, without love or mercy. But we, as Christians, believe in a religion of special revelation. That is to say, we not only have the testimony of creation, but God himself has spoken at various times and places in the history of the human race. And God has revealed to us something of His will and His nature.
The source of the doctrine of the Trinity is special revelation, not human reason. Nobody can understand this doctrine in its entirety. It is a mystery, as God is still a mystery to us. St. Paul says in our epistle (Romans 11: 33-36), "Because, who understood the mind of the Lord? Or who was His counselor? " God tells us in the Old Testament, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts as heaven is higher than the earth.
Very well, in our text for today, Jesus Christ commanded his disciples, "Go, and teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." A singular name, but three persons This name is the name of God for us.
In the story of the burning bush, God called Moses to send him to the king of Egypt. His mission was to command Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. And Moses asked him, Lord, who are you? God answered him, "The God of your fathers." But, again Moses asked him, What is your name? And he replied, "I am." Jesus also told the Pharisees, "Before Abraham was, I am." Because the name of God in the Old Testament, Jehovah, means "He who was, who is and will be forever."
We have a more complete revelation in the New Testament. God has told us, "I am the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." There are clues to that in the Old Testament. The first book of Moses, Genesis, says in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The word translated as God is Elohim, a plural word, but used in that text as singular. Also in the first chapter of Genesis, God said "Let us make man in our image." God refers to himself as we do here. We do not have an explanation in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, St. John tells us that God the Father was present in the beginning with his Word and through this Word all things were created and this Word was with God and was God. Also the third person, the Holy Spirit was He who moved on the face of the waters.
In our reading of the Old Testament for today (Isaiah 6: 1-8), the prophet had a vision of God on his throne surrounded by seraphim, each with six wings and each one chanting, "Holy, holy, holy, God of universe". Three times. We sing that in our worship and conclude with the priestly blessing of Aaron in the book of Numbers.
The Lord bless you and keep you,
May the Lord shine his face on you and have mercy on you.
The Lord turn his face towards you and grant you peace.
Always three times. In the New Testament, we have the revelation of who is the three. This doctrine is from the mouth of God, not from human reason.
On this Father's Day, it is appropriate to speak of Almighty Father God. Our heavenly Father is the model for earthly parents. But, look, Jesus spoke of his Father and told them no one can know the Father without the Son, or the Son without the Father. But the Son, Jesus, who spoke of the Father and prayed to the Father, is also God. And the third person, the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, is also God.
We have three creeds, the Apostolic Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Today we confess our faith in the words of the Athanasian Creed, the longest and most detailed creed. But all creeds have the same content and the same structure. And in the structure of the creeds, God the Father Almighty is associated first with the work of creation, the Son with redemption, and the Holy Spirit with the sanctification or growth of our faith and Christian life. However, all the persons were present in the beginning at the creation, all were involved in the redemption because the Father sent the Son to be born of Mary and the Son was conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit. And we baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, because, as in the baptism of Jesus, the three are manifested in every Christian baptism.
Another way of thinking: The Father is God above us and all things; the Son is God with us, at our side; and the Holy Spirit is God living inside our hearts. But no model is completely adequate. The Trinity is a great mystery that God has revealed to us.
There is only one baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is no Lutheran baptism, only Christian baptism. And in this promise of baptism there is the basis of a sure faith, because the three people always act in harmony and common will. In this promise we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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