The Feast of Holy Trinity 2016
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Amen)
In the name of Jesus. (Amen)
I think most of you would agree. Giving an explanation of the Holy Trinity is not easy. Trinity as a word is not in the Bible. It comes from the Athanasian Creed. The Athanasian Creed, along with the Apostles’ and Nicene, is one of three creeds universally held by all Christians in all times and places. These three creeds delve into the mystery of the Holy Trinity. These three creeds explain who God is according to the Holy Scripture.
So is there a way to explain who the Holy Trinity is? Yes. It is the content of what is written in the Bible. The hard work of summarizing the Holy Bible into short explanations has been worked out by your spiritual ancestors in the ancient church. You know who the Holy Trinity is because you are baptized and “faithfully and firmly believe” that Jesus is your Savior (Mark 16:16 and Athanasian Creed line 40).
Nicodemus needed some help with this mystery too.
Nicodemus was a faithful Christian layman with a high position in the government. He knew very well what we call the Old Testament. It may come as a surprise but there are more Old Testament references to the Holy Trinity than in the New Testament although the NT references are clearer. But Nicodemus had all that is needed in the Old Testament.
Nicodemus knew Genesis chapter 1: God created, the Spirit hovered over the waters, and the Lord (Jesus) said, “Let there be light.” The Israelites were aware of a trinity in unity.
Nicodemus knew Isaiah chapter six where the seraphim ascribe holy, holy, holy to one God. The Israelites were aware of a trinity in unity.
Nicodemus, along with the Pharisees, had no problem with what Jesus said in Matthew 22:41ff, that the Christ is God and the Psalms are the inspired Word of God.
And yet Nicodemus didn’t yet see that Jesus is the Christ. That the Jesus before his eyes is true God. That the Scriptures witness to this Jesus. So Nicodemus went to talk to Jesus.
Many today are not as faithful as Nicodemus. Many do not hold to these Old Testament facts today. That the Christ is God and that the Holy Scriptures are inspired. If you think I am describing you then you have found where God is giving you repentance so that you may trust God and His Word.
But most of you gathered here are not that coarse in you sins. You come here because you truly believe the Jesus is God and that the Bible is from God. If you think I am describing you here, then where is the gift of repentance found for you? Look to Nicodemus.
Nicodemus, in the eyes of the world, might be considered today as an ideal Christian. He is a good man who takes care of his wife and children. He has a good job in public service and works hard to solve big problems for other people. He attends services regularly and he is even a teacher of the Word. Nicodemus even recognized that at a minimum, Jesus is a prophet. All good stuff.
Yet, there is one thing lacking. Nicodemus expects Jesus to praise him.
For all the good things Nicodemus does, he does not believe He is saved by grace alone. Although his works are good, they are a distant second to the grace available to him through the work of the Holy Trinity found in Jesus alone.
The Lord expects Nicodemus to do his good works.
The Lord expects you to keep doing good works also. Keep on taking care of your mom and dad. If the Lord has given you a spouse and maybe children, keep taking care of them. Keep going to jobs or school and work as unto the Lord. Keep on serving your congregation by attending services and Bible studies, serving on boards and committees, going to LWML conferences and Higher Things retreats. But these works are a far distant second place to the Holy Trinity’s grace given to you in Jesus.
You might impress the world with your works, but you do not impress the Holy Trinity. Your works will earn you a comfortable life until your death, but they will not earn you eternal life.
Only the Holy Trinity’s work is good before His eyes. Without faith in Christ, all your works are sin. That bears repeating. Only the Holy Trinity’s work is good whereas all you work is sin and death.
You, like Nicodemus, don’t need more good works. You need to be baptized and firmly trust that what the Holy Trinity says in His inspired Bible is what He does for you. You need to “faithfully and firmly believe” that what the Holy Spirit promises to you He also gives to you.
The Holy Trinity works for you by creating you and keeping you alive along with all creatures.
The Holy Trinity works for you when the Father sends His only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary to be the scapegoat for sinners.
The Holy Trinity works for you when the Holy Spirit convicts you that you are a sinner by means of His Holy Law and then gives you the new birth of water and the Holy Gospel into the death of Jesus and life in His name which is Holy Baptism.
The Holy Trinity works for you when He gives you repentance to confess your sins and the faith to receive Holy Absolution in His name.
The Holy Trinity works for you when He delivers Christ’s death to you as your own in the eating of Jesus’ body in the bread.
The Holy Trinity works for you when He delivers the Christ’s life to you as your own in the drinking of His life blood by means of the wine.
I think most of you would agree that explaining the Holy Trinity is not easy. I also hope you realize that this is a mystery that the Lord has not fully revealed in the Bible. But the Lord has revealed all that you need to know of this mystery for your salvation. Therefore, let us look to Nicodemus as an example of one who now “faithfully and firmly believes” that the Holy Trinity is the only one who does the work to save him, for the same is true for you.
You not only know the Holy Trinity, you also trust Him to do what He says for you and to give you what He promises for you.
This Holy Trinity forgives you all your sins and gives you eternal life in His name: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Amen)
The peace of God, which also passes understanding, will guard you and protect you in Jesus Christ your Savior. (Amen)