Whose Child are You?

Holy Trinity Sunday
Romans 8:14-17

The grace of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of God the Holy Spirit be with you all! Amen. In the name of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dear friends in Christ: Does this happen in your home? Or did this happen at some time in your home? One of our children will do something odd or strange or wrong and either my wife will say it to me or I’ll say it to my wife, “Do you know what YOUR child did today?” “I can’t believe what YOUR child just did.” “You better talk to YOUR child.” Have you ever spoken those words or heard those words? It’s almost as if there are times when we try to separate ourselves from our children, because, after all, MY child would never do such a thing! I can kind of see it in other aspects too. At times my children can be incredibly stubborn and I jokingly tell my wife, “That must come from the Myers side of the family, definitely not the Nitz side. J Does that ever happen in your home?

Now, I’m a sinful human parent and I can even recognize the bad and wrong things that my children do and it can be at times embarrassing- that’s MY child!?! Maybe there can even be times when I’d like to pretend that the child isn’t even mine, maybe when you’re in public somewhere and your child begins to cry and throw fit right in front of people, are there times when you want to at least pretend that this child isn’t mine? And we’re sinful humans. What would it be like to be a perfect parent with sinful children? How easy would it be to admit that these sinful children are yours? God is totally perfect and totally holy and yet, what is amazing, is the incredible way that God pictures our relationship to Him in these verses.

Let’s first consider for a bit who God is. Who is your God? God is eternal. He views everything in a never changing present. God is all present. God penetrates everything everywhere. God is at the same time right here and yet at the same time God is across the globe in China, if you go to the moon, God is also there. God is also all-knowing. God knows all things completely and perfectly, God not only knows everything that has happened or will happen but he knows everything that could happen. God is also all-powerful. He has unlimited power and can do whatever he pleases. He has unbounded strength and can do more than we could imagine. God sustains all things. The fact that our earth remains in orbit and doesn’t jettison into oblivion is because God is keeping it in orbit around the sun.

In fact, God is so big, so grand, so magnificent, so far beyond our comprehension that we’ve actually had to make up words to describe Him. We call God the Triune God or the Trinity. The fact that God is triune means that He is one God and yet three persons in that one God. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, yet they aren’t three Gods, they are one God. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. He is Triune. Literally, the three-one. How? It goes beyond our minds, beyond our comprehension, beyond our imagination. In other words, God is WAY bigger than you and I.

So, if God is so huge and awesome and incredible, it would make sense that we would always honor God, always listen to Him, always be ready to bow in amazement before Him, if God is all-powerful and powerfully sustains all things it would make sense that we would always trust His control and rule over this earth, if God is all-knowing and all wise, it would make sense that we would always trust His wisdom and His plans for our lives, right?

But is that what happens? Does God get every part of our trust? Unfortunately, we often fail to stand in amazement of Him, fail fully trust Him, fail to love Him. And that means that on our end, the very thought of who God is ought to frighten and terrify us.  It ought to make us cower in fear of Him. What right do you and I have to stand before such an awesome God when we’ve failed to honor and love Him? And this also means that from God’s end, He ought to disown us. What is possibly the worst thing or at least one of the worst things that a parent could do to their child? Isn’t it to disown their child? To say, “You’re not my child, I don’t want you, I disassociate myself from you.” But shouldn’t God say that about each of us? Shouldn’t He say to us in anger, “You’re not MY child, I don’t know you, you’re not associated with me, I disown you.” God is holy and perfect, and us? We’re full of sin! We have no right to be God’s children.

But notice what God says to you in this text. He doesn’t come to us with anger like we deserve. He doesn’t cause us to be afraid of Him. He doesn’t disown us. He does just the opposite! “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but your received the Spirit of sonship!” It’s as if God is saying to each of us, “I don’t want you to be afraid of me, I don’t want you to cower in fear before me as you deserve. I want to deal with you like a father and a child.” And it goes even further, “And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” “Ab” is the Aramaic word for Father, “Abba” was an extension of that term, it was something that even little children would say to their father, “Abba, Abba.” In other words, we can come before God like He’s our dear Father and call Him, “Dad, father, daddy.”

Think about that, before this almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all-encompassing God, who’s magnificence is totally beyond our comprehension, who’s transcendence is beyond our imagination, we can come before Him and call Him not, “Oh Powerful One, O Incredible One, O Almighty One,” but rather, “Oh Father, Oh Dad.” Is that not incredible love and grace?!

But why? Why are we part of God’s family? Why can we approach God as our dear Father? We can approach God the Father because of the 2nd person of our Triune God, God the Son. Jesus who is God for all eternity, in time took on our human flesh, became our brother fully and completely. He came to live as our perfect brother keeping all of God’s commands 100% of the time. And how should he feel about us? His wayward brothers and sisters? Shouldn’t He disown us, have nothing to do with us? Not only did He NOT disown us, but actually came to live as our substitute and die as our substitute. He came to shed His blood on a cross to save our souls. All so that now, God can look at you and me and say, “You’re mine! You’re my son! You’re my daughter! You’re part of MY family!” What grace!

And not only that, but notice what else God calls us, not only are we God’s children, but, “Heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” Co-heirs with Christ!?! Think about God as our Dad and He’s passing out the inheritance. Here’s your inheritance, here’s your inheritance, here’s your inheritance, Jesus, here’s your inheritance, etc. Can you imagine? He puts us on the same level as His Son Christ Jesus Himself and says that we get what God the Son gets: THE inheritance, glory in eternal life forever! That’s amazing!

And there’s NO WAY we would ever believe any of this if it wasn’t for the 3rd person of the Triune God: the Holy Spirit. We’re told that the “Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” God the Holy Spirit used the Gospel to create faith in your heart, to convince you that Jesus’ payment for sins applies to you, that your sins are forgiven, if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit, you’d never believe any of it. Thank the LORD for the work of the Triune God!

And does this mean that everything is going to go great for us? We are children of the God of all, right? Well, how did life on this earth God for God the Son? Yep, He suffered, was crucified, and died. But how did God use it? How did it turn out in the end? He rose, He ascended and now He sits in glory ruling all things for the good of God’s people. That’s God’s promise to you: He will use even our sufferings to keep us focused on Him, His grace, His love, His mercy, all in order to lead us to THE inheritance in eternal life with Him forever.

It is our distinct privilege in life to live as God’s beloved children. To live in this world in such a way that people see us as being different, unique, so loved by our Triune God that we display that peace, that joy, that love in our day to day lives. Parents have a profound influence on their children either positively or negatively. Parents who not only love their children but also show that they love their children by their actions have a huge impact on their children. The opposite is also true in a hugely profound way. Children whose parents love them and show it generally have way more joy, peace, security, contentment, they know who they are, confidence, etc. While the opposite is also true.

So, when people see you, do they know whose child you are? Can they tell that you are a child of God? Can they see in your life and in your actions that God is your Father who loves you more than you will ever know and that He doesn’t only tell you He loves you, His love for you led Him to sacrifice His own Son to win you the forgiveness of sins and eternal life and He sent His Spirit into your heart to convince of His love for you and assure you that you ARE His child? Do people see that?

Look at the reality! God isn’t lying when He tells you that YOU are His child, you not only inherit heaven, you are a co-heir with Christ, what more do you need? What more reason do you need to live life free from fear, anxiety, worry, anxiousness, and insecurity? What more do you need to live life with joy, peace, contentment and security? You are the Triune God’s child, that’s whose child you are. Amen.

What a Relationship!

Trinity Sunday
Matthew 28:16-20

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!  Amen.  In the name of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, friends in Christ,

We have all sorts of relationships in life, don’t we?  Some relationships are important others perhaps not so much.  Some relationships are close, some are not.  Some relationships are significant, others not so significant.  We have all sorts of relationships in life: today especially we focus on the relationship of fathers with their children, but we have all kinds of other relationships: with our spouse or with our children or with our family or with our siblings or with our friends or with our coworkers or with our fellow church members or with the person we strike up a conversation with at the store.  And two of the over-arching needs that every human being has in life are having not only good relationships with other people, but having a good relationship with God.  In order to have a good life every person needs those relationships.

So, here we are on Trinity Sunday and we’re focusing on that relationship that we have with our Triune God.  So since the most important need humans have in order to have a good life is a good relationship with God, how many of us considered the enormity of the fact that God is Triune this past week?  How many of us used that word “Triune” or “Trinity” in our discussions this past week?  I’m guessing that “triune” or “trinity” don’t make it into our regular vocabulary.  So it’s with great wisdom that the church for centuries has set aside one Sunday a year to focus on our Triune God and our relationship with Him.

We see it here in our text.  Here Jesus is getting ready to physically and visibly leave His disciples presence and He directs them on what they were to be doing.  Specifically one of the things they were to be doing was making disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And that makes perfect sense.  Since the Father is God, it makes sense that they were to baptize in the name of God the Father.  And they were to baptize people in the name of the Son.  And that makes sense because Jesus, the Son, is God.  And they were to baptize people in the name of the Holy Spirit.  And that makes sense because the Holy Spirit is God.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God.  Three very distinct persons, each of whom are clearly referenced in the Bible as being “God.”  Yet, the Bible is also very clear that there aren’t three Gods.  The Bible is crystal clear that there is only one God, in Deuteronomy God says, “Hear O Israel the Lord is one” and in 1 Timothy “There is one God…”  So the Bible is crystal clear that there is only one God.

And so, we’re faced with two crystal clear truths of God’s Word 1. There is only one God, 2. There are three distinct persons each of whom is God.  And what happens?  Basically, we throw up our hands and with some degree of confusion and say, “God, you are way too big for me to understand” “God, you are way to huge for a simple mind like mine to grasp.”  And so we coin terms like “Triune” and “Trinity” in order to describe God’s person.  But the terms are really non-sense terms.  Triune is a combination of the prefix Tri (which means 3) and Une (which means 1).  So, literally, it means “the three one.”  And Trinity which is the combination of tri and unity means “the three-one-ness.”  Real helpful, right?  Actually by confessing that God is triune we are confessing that we sinful human beings cannot wrap our minds around the entire truth of God.

But there’s also something wonderfully comforting in confessing this truth.  It means that your God is huge, it means that your God is awesome, it means that your God can do absolutely anything!  God is so huge that we can’t even come near to understanding His essence.  Which is comforting!  God has the ability to help you and me.  He has the ability to make things work out no matter what.  He has the ability to make things work out in the best possible way for the most amount of people.  He has the ability to do whatever needs to be done in order to make sure that things will work out according to His plans.  God has that ability and we confess it when we confess that He is Triune.

So, think about it, if our God is really that huge, that awesome, that magnificent, do you and I really have anything to fear in life?  If our God is that huge, that awesome, that amazing then why in the world would any of us be anything but always completely confident in life?  If God is that huge then why in the world would we do anything except what He’s told us, like here in our text “obey everything I have commanded you”?  Remember, that’s our huge, almighty, amazing God speaking!  How could we even ever think about neglecting worshipping God, or studying His Word, or telling others about him?  How could we, as fathers, ever neglect our number one duty as fathers to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord?

And notice what else God says here, “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”  That means that awesome, huge, incredible, majestic God sees it all.  He’s seen everything that you and I would love to forget about.  He’s been there every time we’ve purposefully sinned against Him.  He knows every shameful thought, every careless word, every detestable act that we’ve ever made.

And that Triune God, that huge, awesome, incredible, mind-boggling God is also all-powerful.  And as such not only does He have every right to judge us He also has all the power in every universe to give us what we rightfully deserve to condemn us, to squish us, to destroy us forever.  Ouch.

And the same is true for these disciples in our text.  They’re no different than you and I.  This was written not just for them, but also for us.  Though it’s only the eleven disciples that are referenced here it’s quite possible that this is the time that is referenced in 1 Corinthians as the time when Jesus appeared to over 500 believers at once in Galilee.  And it says that “when they saw him, they worshipped him.”  But then it goes on, “but some doubted.”  Really?  Doubted?  How could they do that?  After all that they had seen?  After all the miracles that Jesus did?  They saw him go to the cross, die on the cross, and then appear before him alive!  They had the witness testimony of Mary Magdalene, the women, the Emmaus disciples, the other disciples, Peter, John.  How could they doubt??  We’d almost expect Jesus now to finally lose his patience with them, tell them He’s through with them, and find some other disciples.

But notice how Jesus, how the Triune God, deals with them.  Not harshly, but graciously.  First, He tells them “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him.”  All authority, power, and might has been and always will be our God’s.  Need there be anything to fear in life?  Then he commissions them for the work that he wants them to be doing, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  In other words, He tells them, “We’ve got work to do –together, we’ve got a wonderful message of sins forgiven to share with the world.”  And he doesn’t even just let them go and figure it out themselves but he gives them the very tools to do this most important work – the word of God and the powerful washing of baptism.  Baptism where God takes people who are outside of him, people who are his enemies, and he brings them “into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  Makes people his own dear children.

And he gives them a powerful promise: his permanent presence with them.  He knew their failures, their foibles, their mistakes, their doubt, but He doesn’t leave them.  He knew they would often disappoint him and fail him, but he would fail them.  He – the awesome, huge, amazing God – would go with them.  So how does God deal with his people?  With wonderful grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  He deals with us as his children, children who bear His name.

How do we know that?  We know that by our baptism.  When you were born you were born into a relationship with a father and a mother.  And if you had a good father, a father who loved you, cared for you both physically and spiritually, you were proud to call him father, proud to bear his name.  But whether or not you had a good father, you have an infinitely better Triune God.  At your baptism He wrote His name on you.  You were baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Think about what you write your name on.  You don’t write your name on something that doesn’t mean much to you.  You don’t write your name on a orange peel that you throw in the garbage.  You don’t write your name on a piece of junk mail that gets thrown in the recycling.  You write your name on something that is important – maybe the title for your house, title for your car – you write your name on things that are yours, that you don’t want to lose, that are important to you, that are valuable and special to you.

In your baptism, the awesome, HUGE, powerful, triune God came to you and … He placed His name upon you.  What was/is God saying?  He’s saying, “You’re special … to ME!  You’re so special to Me that I do NOT want to lose you!  You’re so valuable to Me that I’m going to place My name upon you so that everyone knows that you belong to ME, that you’re MY child!”  Can you imagine?  The triune God – the God who’s essence is so beyond our understanding – that God, that three-in-one, perfect God – He’s placed His name upon you.  Which makes you what?  It makes you to be a child of the Almighty!  A child of the Triune!  A child of God!  The AWESOME God!  The All-Powerful God!  The Huge God!

And just how – do you think – will that awesome, all-powerful, HUGE, loving, forgiving God take care of those precious children of His?!?  Graciously, mercifully, faithfully lovingly!   What a relationship!  Amen.

The Triune God Testifies to You!

Trinity Sunday
1 John 5:5-12

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.  In the name of our Triune God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dear friends in Christ, Parents are very familiar with how this goes.  It’s a regular occurrence in my house.  Something will happen, something will break and the parent has to exercise some fact finding.  “Which of you children broke this?”  Now, the child really has 3 options: a. tell the truth and face the consequences, b. plead ignorance or lie, or c. blame it on your 2 year old brother who can’t defend himself.  Humans are good at lying, we learned how to do it when we were very young.  Our world understands this.  You walk into a courtroom and what do you hear?  “Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”  People who are called to testify in court are typically required to take some sort of oath in order to validate their testimony.  Why?  Because our world understands that people don’t always tell the truth, people lie.

But why is this so important?  Because it’s often the court’s job to establish what is true and factual and what is not.  Normally, in court you have two parties both claiming opposing things and yet both claiming to be telling the truth.  So judges and juries are often called upon to examine the testimony of evidence and witnesses in order to determine what true and what is not.

Well there’s something in life that is absolutely vital for us to know is true and real and that’s God.  We need to know who our God is and what our God has done for us.  But what God tells us isn’t easy for us to believe- it’s actually impossible for us to believe on our own.  Every Sunday it comes up in some way, our God is a Triune God.  That means He is three but one.  There is only one God.  Yet, this one God has revealed Himself to us in 3 distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  How can God be 3 in 1? It goes far beyond our minds and is something that we can’t fully comprehend or understand.  So God has provided us with testimony not that we might fully understand Him, but that we might fully understand the truth of where we stand with Him and be confident knowing it.

We live in a world full of lies and deceptions, don’t we?  And the last thing any of us wants is to be wrong.  Where did all these lies come from?  From the very beginning.  God the Father created a beautiful, wonderful and perfect world out of His goodness and power.  He spoke and it came to be.  Then in amazing love He fashioned and He formed specially and uniquely the prize of His creation: humans, Adam and Eve.  He gave them the whole creation to use and rule and He gave them one command by which they could show their love to Him: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”  (Genesis2:16-17).  Then came the first liar and father of lies.  He told them, “You will not surely die!  God knows that when you eat it you will be like him.  He’s holding something from you, you’re missing out, he really doesn’t love you.”  And so now you have a question: Who are you going to believe?  God who created you or this serpent?  One is telling the truth, one is lying.  Unfortunately, they believed the lie and became ashamed and afraid of God.

That’s where it all started.  Those are our first parents.  Ever since then our world has been both full of lies and full of shame and fear of God.  And you’ve felt it.  Your conscience has felt it.  We’re faced with lies all the time, aren’t we?  “You’ll feel better if you just get angry, get even, talk about him behind his back.”  “It’s about time you served yourself, do what you want for a change” “It’s your body, do with it whatever you want.”  “Just try this drink or take this illegal drug that will help you.”  Our world is full of lies to get us to turn from God and disobey Him.  And at times we’ve listened to those lies and have felt the shame, the fear, and the guilt.

But the biggest lie and the goal of all lies that the father of lies, the devil, will try to get you and me to believe is this: that God is not true, that God doesn’t love you, and that God hasn’t saved you.  How will he do this?  He’ll try to get you to think that God doesn’t exist or that the Bible isn’t true or the Bible is just a nice collection of stories that aren’t necessarily factual or that Jesus really isn’t God, that He was just a nice guy or a great prophet or whatever.  Well this is the lie that the devil was using at the Apostle John’s time.

A false teacher by the name of Cerinthus was teaching that Jesus was actually not fully God.  Rather, he claimed that Jesus was born of earthly parents and then at his baptism he became the Messiah, but then just before he suffered and died he stopped being the Messiah.  So, the believers that John wrote his letter to were faced with a tough question: is Jesus God or was Jesus just a man who took on God qualities for a little while?  Which is true?  Which is a lie?

He begins with the truth: The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God has overcome the world.  If Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Triune God, the Savior of the world, the payment for all sins, then they know that no matter what happens, their salvation is accomplished and sure.  But if Jesus was not true God, then we are still in our sins and there is no hope we are lost.

Then God calls three witnesses to the stand: “This is the one who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ.  He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.  For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”  What is he talking about with this “water” and “blood”?  Obviously John is using picture language that was familiar with those who first read his letter, but not so familiar to us.  What is most likely is that “water” here refers to Jesus’ baptism.  Think about what had happened: Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized, John pointed to Jesus and said, “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Then at his baptism God the Father spoke from heaven saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Then the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.  Clear testimony that Jesus is God.  But unlike what Cerinthus said, Jesus remained God even at His death where He shed His precious blood that purifies us from all sin.  And recall the events: the temple curtain torn in two, earthquakes, rocks splitting, darkness, the soldier exclaiming, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)  Again, clear testimony that Jesus is the Son of God.

The third witness is third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the truth.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t need any help; He is His own convincer of the truth.  God’s Word is the Spirit’s tool to work on people’s hearts.  As the Holy Spirit does His work through the Gospel he turns hearts to believe the truth.  This last week we had Chris Driesbach here for a concert.  Chris also told his story.  He spent the first 42 years of his life as an unbeliever, as an atheist.  Then he met a Lutheran pastor.  He thought, “This is going to be fun, I’ll be able to prove him wrong and argue with him.”  Well, every question Chris had, the pastor always directed him back to God’s Word and soon Chris found himself thinking, “You know, this stuff in the Bible and about Jesus is true!”  How did he come to know that?  The Holy Spirit.  How do you know about Jesus?  The Holy Spirit.  The fact that you believe is personal testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart!  Otherwise you’d never believe this!

Then John goes on, “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.  Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

We receive people’s testimony all the time.  This past week, no doubt, you all heard about the tornadoes that devastated parts of Oklahoma and Texas.  How did you come to know that information?  Well, likely one or more news agencies testified to you that tornadoes really did cause all kinds of devastation and death.  Perhaps you saw photos and videos.  We also all know that photos and videos can be edited, people can lie, and yet I doubt any of us here would insist that the tornadoes didn’t take place.  When there is a testimony of something you either believe it or you don’t believe it there’s no middle ground.  The fact that you believe tornadoes caused devastation in Oklahoma is because you believe the testimony of people who were there and who saw it- even though none of us traveled to OK to witness the devastation first hand.  Well, if we take people’s testimony of events that take place in this world all the time, how much more so ought we to take God’s testimony of the most important thing in all of life and death, namely, that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.  Add to that, if you don’t believe someone’s testimony regarding something you are calling that person a liar.  If someone doesn’t believe God’s testimony that He has provided, that person is calling God a liar.

God has laid out His evidence, provided ample testimony to the truth, it is a fact.  God the Father created all things and continues to sustain all things by His infinite power.  Then in His extraordinary love He sent God the Son, Jesus, to take on human flesh, to live on this earth perfectly, and to die on the cross to pay for the world’s sins.  Then He sent the Holy Spirit to work through the Word and Sacraments to convince you that it’s all true and applies to you and me!  And the result?  Eternal life.  Everyone who believes in Jesus has eternal life, everyone who doesn’t believe, doesn’t have life.  It’s that simple.

In a world full of lies and deceptions you can move forward confidently knowing the truth.  Why?  Because God Himself has testified to you!  Your Triune God has done everything to rescue you and make you His through Jesus, and God, who cannot lie, says because of that you have life- eternal life.  That’s the truth, believe it!

Rejoice in your triune God!

Trinity Sunday

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.  In the name of our triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dear friends in Christ:

“Guess what!  Guess what!  You’ll never believe it!  I can’t believe this is happening to me!  This is awesome!  Wow!  I’ve just got to tell you!  This is incredible!”  Have you ever experienced so much joy and pride that you’ve spoken words like those?  Have you ever been so excited you couldn’t help but announce it to the world?  Maybe it was getting engaged …maybe it was becoming a dad or mom (or a Grandma or Grandpa) for the first time…maybe it was watching your child do something great or that fun and exciting family outing, maybe it was…fill in the blank.  It’s great to be joyful and proud isn’t it?

Certain special things in life make us so proud and cause us to rejoice.  But all of these things are just that, special cases.  They happen once and then some time later its business as usual.  The excitement wears off.  So what keeps us going from day to day?  Isn’t there something that we can rejoice in from one day to the next?  Something to make us feel good of when we get out of bed in the morning?  Something that we can claim as our own and boast about from one day to the next?  What do you take pride in?  Maybe it’s my health, “Well, I’m in decent health I can get around…I can do most of the things I enjoy…my health makes me feel secure.”  Maybe it’s my possessions, “Well, I don’t have everything that’s out there…but I’ve got the main things…life’s pretty good.”  Or maybe it’s my large network of friends or my loving family or my job or that one thing that everyone says I’m good at.  But the problem is, when we find our security, our meaning for life, our pride and joy for living in any of those things we’re actually putting all of those things above God, and that’s sinful.  And when we put our trust in those things, they’ll always fail us, why?  Because none of those things can make life more meaningful, none of those things have any positive bearing at all on what really matters…and that’s eternal life.

So thank the Lord that God’s given us Romans 5:1-5.  Why?  Because here God tells us what we can take pride in, who we can rejoice in, who we can even boast in and about.  Who is it?  It’s our Triune God.  And why do we take pride in our Triune God?  Why do we even boast about our Triune God?  Because of who our three-in-one God is!

He’s God the Father.  He’s the almighty Maker of heaven and earth.  He holds all things in the palm of His hand and protects His children.  In complete independence He does not have to answer to anybody and He does whatever pleases Him.  And what exactly pleases Him most?  It pleased God the Father to look at this world of sinners who by nature can only rebel against Him and who deserve only punishment from Him and say, “My love knows no bounds, I declare you all innocent, not guilty, justified.”  And as God’s children we look at that and say, “Wow!”  With a holy and just God whom we should be frightfully scared of, who we should run in terror from, you now have complete peace literally face to face with Him!  Everything is just right, just the way it’s supposed to be: you’re God’s loved child and He’s your loving Father.  You can take pride in that; you can boast in that; you can rejoice in that!

But something isn’t adding up.  How could a just and holy God ever make such a declaration?  “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  You see, the second person of the Trinity is God the Son.  Although none of us could even add a speck to His infinite glory, in love He chose to live on this earth perfectly in every way because we couldn’t.  And He took upon Himself the full punishment for your sins, my sins, and the sins of the world and paid for them with His death on the cross.  By rising from the dead He proved His victory which is also your victory: your sins are forgiven once and for all!  And because of this “we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”  Because of what Jesus did, you have access to the triune God.  He listens attentively to you!  You can take pride in that!  You can boast in that!

And finally how did all of this become yours?  “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.”  All of the blessings of God become yours through faith.  And God didn’t even leave that up to you.  No, He sent the Holy Spirit into your heart to work in you that miracle of faith in Him.  He sent the Holy Spirit to convince you that all He’s done for you is true.  And the Holy Spirit keeps on strengthening your faith and building your faith in Him through His tools: the Word and sacraments.  You can certainly take pride in that!

What an awesome Triune God we have, who has done such amazing and glorious things for us!  A God who we take pride in and boast in!

And then…we hear those troubling words whispered in our ear: “Oh wow, yea, look at you, you and your Triune God, some help He is for you, why look at you… you can’t do half the things you used to physically be able to do…oh and look at how great life ISN’T going for you…remember how much it hurt when you lost that loved one…some Triune God you have… oh and remember that tragedy your family went through… sure doesn’t look like that Triune God loves you, much less is on your side”  Yea, troubling words.  Maybe even more troubling when we read in our text: “We also rejoice in our sufferings.” Rejoice??!  The Greek is actually even stronger.  Literally, it’s the Greek word for how I started this sermon.  It’s boasting!  It’s being so happy about something that you’ve just got to tell someone, it’s overflowing with excitement, pride, and joy.  Now, how in the world can you react that way to suffering?

Because we know that God uses “suffering to produce perseverance;” suffering produces in you and enduring attitude when the events of life push down on you keep pushing back and persevering and “perseverance, character;” perseverance shows that you have been through the trial by fire and passed, your character has been proved genuine and finally,  “character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us.”  Hope? Hope in what?  Hope in the glory of God.  No matter what happens to you, no matter what you lose on earth, no matter what the devil whispers in your ear, one thing God never wants you to lose: the glory that awaits you in heaven with Jesus.   You see, no matter what happens, your Triune God continues to guide all things in order to bring you to your real home, your eternal home in heaven.  If suffering keeps us weaned off this world and keeps driving us back to God and His Word, then thank the Lord, because finally heaven’s what matters most and that’s what your Triune God cares most about! And so we rejoice- yes, we boast! – in our sufferings, because they drive us back into the arms of our triune God!

And that Triune God; our three-in-one God; the Father who’s given you peace, the Son who’s given you access to the Ruler of all, and Holy Spirit who’s constantly pouring God’s love into your heart, that Triune God is YOUR God.  And your Triune God is with you and He’s the One who gives you joy in everything. And why?  Because He’s done everything and will keep doing everything for you with one purpose in mind: to bring you to be with Him where He is:  Yes, no matter what, no matter what happens to you or your family, no matter what great joy you have, or what great suffering you experience, you can always take pride in, always rejoice in, and always boast in your Triune God!  Amen.

 

Rejoice in your triune God!

Trinity Sunday

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.  The word of God for our consideration this Trinity Sunday comes from the book of Romans chapter 5.  (Read text).  In the name of our triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dear friends in Christ:

“Guess what!  Guess what!  You’ll never believe it!  I can’t believe this is happening to me!  This is awesome!  Wow!  I’ve just got to tell you!  This is incredible!”  Have you ever experienced so much joy and pride that you’ve spoken words like those?  Have you ever been so excited you couldn’t help but announce it to the world?  Maybe it was getting engaged…maybe it was acing that difficult test…maybe it was getting that promotion at work…maybe it was…fill in the blank.  It’s great to be joyful and proud isn’t it?  And then there are some things that just make you proud but they’re always there.  For example, on Memorial Day we’re proud of those soldiers who’ve given their lives for our freedom so we might enjoy peace and security.

Certain special things in life make us proud and cause us to rejoice.  But all of these things are special cases.  They happen once and then some time later its business as usual.  The excitement wears off.  So what keeps us going from day to day?  Isn’t there something that we can rejoice in from one day to the next?  Something to make us feel good of when we get out of bed in the morning?  Something that we can claim as our own and boast about from one day to the next?  What do you take pride in?  Maybe it’s my health, “Well, I’m in decent health I can get around…I can do most of the things I enjoy…my health makes me feel secure.”  Maybe it’s my possessions, “Well, I don’t have everything that’s out there…but I’ve got the main things…life’s pretty good.”  Or maybe it’s my large network of friends or my job or that one thing that everyone says I’m good at.  But the problem is, when we find our security, our meaning for life, our pride and joy for living in any of those things we’re actually putting all of those things above God, and that’s sinful.  And when we put our trust in those things, they’ll always fail us, why?  Because none of those things can make life more meaningful, none of those things have any positive bearing at all on what really matters…and that’s eternal life.

So thank the Lord that God’s given us Romans 5:1-5.  Why?  Because here God tells us what we can take pride in, who we can rejoice in, who we can even boast in and about.  Who is it?  It’s our Triune God.  And why do we take pride in our Triune God?  Why do we even boast about our Triune God?  Because He’s our three-in-one God!

He’s God the Father.  He’s the almighty Maker of heaven and earth.  He holds all things in the palm of His hand and protects His children.  In complete independence He does not have to answer to anybody and He does whatever pleases Him.  And what exactly pleases Him most?  It pleased God the Father to look at this world of sinners who by nature can only rebel against Him and who deserve only punishment from Him and say, “My love knows no bounds, I declare you all innocent, not guilty, justified.”  And as God’s children we look at that and say, “Wow!”  With a holy and just God whom we should be frightfully scared of, you now have complete peace face to face with Him!  Everything is just right, just the way it’s supposed to be: you’re God’s loved child and He’s your loving Father.  You can take pride in that; you can boast in that; you can rejoice in that!

But something isn’t adding up.  How could a just and holy God ever make such a declaration?  “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  You see, the second person of the Trinity is God the Son.  Although none of us could even add a speck to His infinite glory, in love He chose to live on this earth perfectly in every way because we couldn’t.  And He took upon Himself the full punishment for your sins, my sins, and the sins of the world and paid for them with His death on the cross.  By rising from the dead he proved His victory which is also your victory: your sins are forgiven once and for all!  And because of this “we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”  Because of what Jesus did, you have access to the triune God.  He listens attentively to you!  You can take pride in that!  You can boast in that!

And finally how did all of this become yours?  “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.”  All of the blessings of God become yours through faith.  And God didn’t even leave that up to you.  No, He sent the Holy Spirit into your heart to work in you that miracle of faith in Him.  He sent the Holy Spirit to convince you that all He’s done for you is true.  And the Holy Spirit keeps on strengthening your faith and building your faith in Him through His tools: the Word and sacraments.  You can certainly take pride in that!

What an awesome Triune God we have, who has done such amazing and glorious things for us!  A God who we take pride in and boast in!

And then…we hear those troubling words whispered in our ear: “Oh wow, yea, look at you, you and your Triune God, some help He is for you, why look at you… you can’t do half the things you used to physically be able to do…oh and look at how great life ISN’T going for you…some Triune God you have… oh and remember that tragedy you went through… sure doesn’t look like that Triune God loves you, much less is on your side”  Yea, troubling words.  Maybe even more troubling when we read in our text: “We also rejoice in our sufferings.” Rejoice??!  The Greek is actually even stronger.  Literally, it’s the Greek word for how I started this sermon.  It’s boasting!  It’s being so happy about something that you’ve just got to tell someone, it’s overflowing with excitement, pride, and joy.  Now, how in the world can you react that way to suffering?

Because we know that God uses “suffering to produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us.”  Hope? Hope in what?  Hope in the glory of God.  No matter what happens to you, no matter what you lose on earth, no matter what the devil whispers in your ear, one thing God never wants you to lose: the glory that awaits you in heaven with Jesus.   No matter what happens, your Triune God continues to guide all things in order to bring you to your real home, your eternal home in heaven.  If suffering keeps us weaned off this world and keeps driving us back to God and His Word, then thank the Lord, because finally heaven’s  what matters most and that’s what your Triune God cares most about! And so we rejoice- yes, we boast! – in our sufferings, because they drive us back into the arms of our triune God!

And that Triune God; our three-in-one God; the Father who’s given you peace, the Son who’s given you access to the Ruler of all, and Holy Spirit who’s constantly pouring God’s love into your heart, that Triune God is YOUR God.  And your Triune God is with you and He’s the One who gives you joy in everything. And why?  Because He’s done everything and will keep doing everything for you with one purpose in mind: to bring you to be with Him where He is:  Yes, no matter what, no matter what happens to you, no matter what great joy you have, or what great suffering you experience, you can always take pride in, always rejoice in, and always boast in your Triune God!