Trinity Sunday, 2017

For The Epistle – Revelation 4

The Gospel – John 3:1-15

Articles – 1 & 2

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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Today is Trinity Sunday.  It kicks off the whole Trinity Season.  Sadly in other places this is called “Ordinary Time.”

 

The Holy Trinity….the very nature of God is anything but ordinary.

 

Articles 1 & 2 touch on this as to what the true Catholic Christian must believe in order to be a Christian and to be saved.  You have the Articles in your bulletin.

 

“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Very well written.

Very clear.

There is one God.  Not two.  Not 3. Not 2000.

Hear O Israel.  The Lord our God. The Lord is one.”  This is a Jewish creed, if you will.

This is what every Jew knew and confessed.

The Jews lived among pagans.  The pagans had many gods.  None of them existed, so I suppose they had no gods.  But they sure did think they did.

This is idolatry.  There is only one God.  He is to be worshiped and praised. 

The first Commandment also spells this out nicely.

Commandment number 1. “I am the LORD thy God.  Thou shalt have none other gods but me.”

Commandment number 2.  “Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them.”

So one God and no other gods.  Nor can we make images that represent God.  Since He is spirit and does not have a physical body, we cannot make images that we dream up in our own heads and call them God…even if we think we are representing the true God….we aren't to do it.

He says NO to making images.

Aaron tried this when Moses was gone up the mountain one day.  He had some lame excuse about why he made the calf in the first place, blaming the congregation.

Later we read that they were just trying to fashion something that they could see and touch.  Believing in God the way He prescribed was not enough.

They wanted something tangible on their own terms.

So there is good Biblical precedent for God being one and the only one.  He says He is the only true and living God.

To say anything to the contrary is to go against God Himself.  Not a safe proposition.

More about God.  It says He is living.  This may be an obvious comment to make, but it dispels the notion that He can be in any way compared to the ancient Greek and Roman gods. 

They were nonexistent.  They not only lacked body, parts or passions…though the people still assigned these things to their gods…they didn't exist.

The true God also lacks body, parts or passions, but He still exists. Jesus said,

John 4:24

[24] God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (ESV)

This also discredits the Mormon idea of God that He was once a man like us and then became God.

God is everlasting.  Not just in the future will He live forever, but in the past.  For all eternity He is God.

He has no beginning.  He is not bound by time or nature or creation.  He is above all things and before all things and He created all things.

He is the Maker and Preserver of all things as the Article goes on to say….  All things visible and invisible.

The angels owe their existence to God.  Satan, who rebelled against God in the beginning owes his existence to God as well.

Nothing that has been made was made apart from God.

And then we have this statement as well…and we will bring in the second Article at this point also.

In unity in this Godhead, there are three Persons.  Note the Persons is capitalized.

Each Person in the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three separate or distinct persons.

They are never confused with one another. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit.

The Son is not the Father or the Spirit.

The Spirit is not the Father or the Son.

There are three persons and yet there is one God. They are all of one substance, power and eternity.

We confess in the creed “being of one substance with the Father.”  Jesus (the Son and second person of the Trinity as we refer to Him) is of the same stuff…the same substance as the Father.

He is not in any way different from the Father in His divinity or His divine nature.

The Father is Divine.  The Son is divine.

Whatever it means to be God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost have it. No more no less.

Each is fully God.

Article 2.  Which is devoted to Jesus Christ, the Son, says so much as well.

He is the Word of God.  He is the Word of the Father. The Word or Logos is another way of referring to Christ.

In the beginning was the Word.

The Word was with God and the Word was (and is) God.

All of the attributes are listed there in the article. Most of what it ways is included in our Nicene Creed that we confess each Lord’s Day.

But to some of the details.

It says Christ, the Word, The Logos, The Son, took on Man’s human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He took on her substance, and consequently the human substance.  He took it on.  He did not exchange his divine nature for a human nature. He put on or took on human nature by being born of the Blessed Virgin.

 

 

So that…this now is the effect or the outcome…so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, Godhead and Manhood were joined or united in the one Person, Jesus Christ.

The two natures of Christ, Divine and Human are never to be divided.  Never to have one be more dominant. Never to have one overshadow the other.

Nor are the two natures confused or mixed. 

So He at the same time remained divine…remained God and yet as a man, He suffered, was crucified, died, was buried. And rose again.

All so that He could be a sacrifice, not only for original sin and guilt but also for actual sins committed by us… by mankind.

This is a subject that could obviously go on and on. 

So what do the lessons show us today regarding the Trinity? 

We have a reading from John’s Gospel today.  The third chapter.  The encounter we all know by heart of Nicodemus visiting Jesus by night.

The Trinity actually came together metaphorically last week as we finally had the Son sending the Holy Ghost to come and be with the saints and to guide them into all truth and to assist us with His grace to live in this world.

Notice in the passage in John 3 here that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and said, “We know you are a teacher come from God. For no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

A teacher come from God.  True.  God Himself?  Not to Nicodemus…yet. Just a teacher.

This is the view of so many today.  Jesus is a good man.  He is good teacher.  He was full of wisdom. He is like Gandhi.  He is like a philosopher.  Maybe the greatest philosopher.  He is a prophet.

Notice in all of these there is no mention of “He is God.”?  This is sadly what many believe about Jesus….and amazingly some even in the Church.

Reread Article 2 again and lay that up against Nicodemus’ approach.  Yes He is a teacher come from God.  Nicodemus doesn't know just how right he is.

He (Jesus) is the Only Begotten of the Father.  He is from the Father.  He is from God. 

What Nicodemus doesn't know is that He is God as well.  Nicodemus would not have a category for a GodMan.

He knew God was one.  He confessed that.  But he was totally unaware of just who he was talking with this night.

Jesus corrects him or straightens him out about what he is saying.

Jesus here educated Nicodemus about who the true teacher is.  It is the Holy Spirit.

Only those born again have the Spirit and only those born again can understand and accept the things of the Spirit.

We are all born of the flesh.  Only those whom God calls are born of the Spirit.

Jesus later on here tells Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. That’s Jesus.  He is explaining to Nicodemus His deity…His divine nature.  He was in heaven and He came down from heaven.

Then Jesus says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, [15] that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Jesus accepts Nicodemus’ confession that He is a teacher come from God.  But He then goes on to flesh that out.

Yes, there is a Father who is God.
Yet Jesus is the teacher come from God.

But you have to have the Spirit of God to accept these things.

Like Nicodemus, we struggle with the Trinity.  We have an advantage in that we have all of the Scriptures now.  At the time of talking with Jesus, he did not.

Yet Jesus still reminds him of his rank and status and nationality and holds him accountable.

“You are a teacher of Israel and you don't know these things?” Jesus asks.

If I'm speaking of earthly things and you don't understand what I mean, Nicodemus, then how can you understand if I tell you of heavenly things?

Something has to be present in order for anyone to understand heavenly things.

Thanks be to God we have been given the Scriptures…the testimony to who God is.

Thanks be to God for His guiding the hands and minds of those Church Fathers of the past who have hashed these things out and laid them down for us to hold, confess and cherish.

For it is by all of this coupled with the testimony of the Holy Spirit, testifying to the truth of these things to our hearts…that we worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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