The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Matthew 28:16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NASB)
Every year on this day, Trinity Sunday I make the point that this Sunday is a little different from all the other Sundays in the church year. The church calendar designates the first Sunday after Pentecost Sunday as the Festival of the Holy Trinity. Typically, a Sunday service or a festival celebrates or highlights a particular deed or theme. We are not at the beginning of the Season of Pentecost which is dedicated to teaching Christians what it means to be a Christian.
But Trinity Sunday is a Sunday dedicated to a particular doctrine about who God really is in contrast to Who God is not. It is a Sunday designed to rebut all the false teachings that have arisen over the centuries regarding God’s identity. It is a also a Sunday of pure worship and praise of the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity.
Today is the day we reflect on why we believe in the Holy Trinity and why we believe that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three Persons in one godhead. In world gone mad and looking for a unity brought about by violence, extortion, and chaos, today we see what true godly Unity and co-operation and fellowhsip really looks like.
The whole service speaks of it. But the most notable difference between this morning’s service the normal service is the use of the Athanasian Creed. It is the longest and most detailed confession of the Godhead. Each assertion contained in this Creed was placed there to counter a false teaching regarding the Trinity and to show us the divine co-operation between the persons of the godhead in the work of salvation.
All three readings highlight the three Persons of the Trinity. All three Persons of the Holy Trinity were present and active in creation. All three Persons are present, active, and preached about in Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. All the hymns today sing of the Trinity and each Person of the Trinity. It is a Sunday dedicated with single minded devotion to the God who is God, the God who is of one substance, but three Persons, the God who is perfect unity, of one substance, but three Persons working together to bring the Christian Church and you home.
All three persons of the Holy Trinity were busy and active throughout the Old Testament. All three Persons are busy and active in the New Testament church, which continues to this very day. Where one Person of the Holy Trinity is, there also are the other two. There is nothing that is done that isn’t done by all three Persons of the Godhead.
While we tend to assign primary areas of responsibility to each Person of the Godhead, God the Father, maker of heaven and earth; God the Son, the Redeemer: and God the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, all three Persons were and are at work making heaven and earth, redeeming those lost, and making holy the children of God.
While other religions and philosophies seek to shed the idea of religious and moral truth, objective truth, truth claims, and the God who is God, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all about language, words, deeds, and propositional truth at a level that the world cannot understand. In confessing the Christian Faith in the words of the Athanasian Creed, we the church and you the Christian are making very precise and life saving statements, that unless a person believes faithfully and firmly cannot be saved.
Psalm 119:160 “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The High Priestly Prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
When we say that the Christian Faith is a creedal religion, we are saying that the Church’s task and the task of the individual Christian is to confess Christ and all His words. We are to repeat the words of the Bible. We are to live in the words of truth. We are to comfort one another with God’s truth.
The life and mission of the New Testament church began with Jesus’s preaching, teaching, and baptizing word, which are all to be carried out in the revealed and proper name of God. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” That is also where your Christian life likely began, when you were baptized into the name of the three Persons of the God.
Take note that Jesus did not use the plural form, “in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” even though those are three names. Jesus used the singular form, “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” signaling One Godhead.
As we confess in the Athanasian Creed, “the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one. There are not three Eternals, but one Eternal; not three Uncreated and Eternals, but one Uncreated and Enternals; not three Almighties, but one Almighty.” One singular name of Almighty God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is how God revealed Himself to us through the prophets, apostles, and most fully in Jesus Christ. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the One true God. This puts Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, most liberal church scholars, teachers, and clergy, and others outside the pale of the Christian Faith.
We just sang Luther’s hymn “We all Believe in One True God.” I’m always just a little uncomfortable with that hymn. Not because of anything in the hymn itself. It’s a grand hymn and sings of each person of the Holy Trinity and of our salvation. But when Luther wrote it in 1525 he wrote at a time of a great fight over certain doctrines. In the reformation the biggest issue was over the Bible’s teaching regarding justification. Secondarily, it was also a fight over just how far church authority went. It was fight over the power and primacy of the Pope.
What they weren’t fighting over the Holy Trinity. There was no serious challenge to the doctrine summarized in the three creeds. Europe was Christendom. They all believed in the One True God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This is not the case today. Not all so called “Christian church” bodies believe in the One True God. There are a lot of “church” bodies that claim to be Christian, but do not accept God as revealed in the pages of the Bible. The ELCA is one of those. That article on the ELCA that I posted on our Facebook page shows just how pagan the ELCA has become. That is something I predicted when I wrote my book in 1988. It doesn’t take a prophet or a scholar to make such predictions. We only need to know what happens when the truths of the Christian religion are given up and a religion of sinful mankind takes it place.
Language and names are essential. Calling things what they really are is essential. God is Father, God is Son, and God is Holy Spirit, three Persons on One Godhead is the way in which God has revealed Himself.
Through the readings and the liturgy today the Western liturgical Church and God reminds us of Who He is, by what name He is be to be called, and how unique and powerful His name is.
All three Persons of the Godhead created everything that exists. All three have brought about our redemption. All three were active in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. All three are with us until the end of the age.
God Himself puts His name upon us in the waters of Holy Baptism. This name means something. It means eternal life, complete forgiveness, and a peace with God that surpasses all understanding.
No other name—not Allah, not Buddha, not Shiva, not Ron L. Hubbard, not Enlightenment, or Wisdom, or Reason, and no political figure or institution past, present, or future can bring about the forgiveness of sins, everlasting salvation, or the peace that surpasses all understanding. These are only found and given in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
On the Feast of the Holy Trinity we exalt the God into whose name we were baptized. We confess very profound things of which we cannot understand and the world rejects with riotous zeal.
“We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.” There is One God in Three Persons . . . For as the reason soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; and ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from which He will come to judge the quick and the dead . . .This is the true Christian faith. Unless a man believes this firmly and faithfully, he cannot be saved.”
And praise be to God, this is the faith the you confess so that your sins are forgiven you.
May the peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen