Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
With this Sunday we conclude the middle of the year of the church, which began in November with the season of Advent and preparation for Christmas. We celebrate Christmas, Holy Week, Easter Sunday, Ascension and Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church. Our Lord told His disciples that the Almighty Father sent His Son into this world, to be born of the Virgin Mary, to grow as a man, to die on the cross and to rise on the third day. He ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father and the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to help the church in its mission to proclaim the good news of eternal life. Therefore, the theme of this Sunday is a summary of the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and I explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Then, the other half of the church year deals with the history and mission of the church.
The word, "Trinity" is not found in the text of the Scriptures. It is a word invented to name the concept that is already in the text. Several verses in the Old Testament point to the revelation of the Trinity. Genesis 1: 1-3 reads like this:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. "
In these verses we find God, the Word of God and the Spirit of God. In addition, the Hebrew word translated "God" is אֹלִ֑הםים, a word in the plural form used as singular. Genesis 1:26 says, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
However, we do not have the full revelation of the Trinity before the coming of Jesus Christ. In each of the four gospels, Jesus began his public ministry with his baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. This is the version of Matthew 3: 13-17.
"Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to the Jordan, to be baptized of him. But John resisted him greatly, saying, I need to be baptized of you, and you come to me? But Jesus answered and said unto him, Leave now; For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then she left him. And Jesus, after he was baptized, went up after the water; And behold, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and he was coming upon him. And behold a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. "
The voice of heaven was the Father; The Son was present in the person of Jesus; And the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit moved on the face of the waters in the beginning descended to Jesus in the form of a dove.
Our text for today are the last verses of the Gospel according to Matthew. "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway , until the end of the world. Amen."
Again the people of the Holy Trinity are linked to baptism. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit means that each time a person is baptized, the same people are present. The baptism of Jesus is the model of our baptism. It's the same process. The Father sent his Son to suffer, die and rise from the dead: The Father and the Son send the Spirit in baptism to create faith in our hearts, and so we always have the presence of the Father, the Son and the Spirit Holy in our lives. Baptism is our personal Pentecost, because in baptism we become members of the church and as the first Christians receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In the creed we call the Father creator of heaven and earth, although the Son and the Spirit were active in creation. All three also have their role in the works of redemption and sanctification, but to understand this mystery rather, we speak of creation as the work of the Father first, redemption as the work of the Son and sanctification as the work of the Holy Spirit. We are God's children by creation, because God formed us in the wombs of our mothers (Psalm 22:10), but because of sin, we are estranged from the Father; We are children of God by adoption in baptism, because of the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity is the theme of every creed. The three great creeds, Apostolic, Nicene, and Athanasius, constitute the first part of the Book of Concord, the summary of the teachings of our churches, why three creeds when each one deals with the same doctrine? In every church age they had been false teachers who wanted to sow confusion among believers.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the opening of the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. In that council, the church leaders signed the first version of the Nicene Creed. Before the Nicene Creed there was the Apostolic Creed, very simple and brief. But a sect arose, they were called Arians who said, we believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God, but the Son is not equal to the Father, but is like an archangel. Today, Jehovah's Witnesses also say that Jesus is the Son of God, but not equal to the Father, only Jehovah is God. However, it is key to our salvation to understand Jesus Christ as true God and true man.
The controversy continued, so the Athanasian Creed, which we used today for the public confession of faith, was written to explain in detail that every person of the Trinity has the attributes of God, but they are distinct persons. Those who do not believe in the Trinity do not believe in the true God, so they do not have the promise of eternal life. Neither the Jehovah's Witnesses, nor the Moslems, nor the Mormons. Perhaps they say we believe in one God, but they do not believe in the triune God. That is why the first words of the Athanasian Creed are: "Everyone who wants to be saved, first of all, must have the true Christian faith. And if anyone does not keep it intact and inviolate, it is certain that he will perish forever. And the true Christian faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in Unity; Not confusing the persons, nor dividing substance.”
Those who do not believe in the Holy Trinity do not have valid baptism. Because we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we should have all confidence in the promise of eternal life. That is why we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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