Monday, May 31, 2010

Trinity Sunday 2010

Trinity Sunday
John 8:48-59
Bror Erickson

[48] The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" [49] Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. [50] Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. [51] Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." [52] The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.' [53] Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?" [54] Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.'
[55] But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. [56] Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." [57] So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" [58] Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." [59] So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:48-59 (ESV)

Trinity Sunday. I love Trinity Sunday! It is a Sunday in which we celebrate the full revelation of God to us, as He is, three in one, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. If there is a Sunday that I think deserves more attention, perhaps a parade, it is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday set aside for explicit instruction on the Trinity. It deserves this because it is such an important doctrine, without it you don’t have the gospel. This is why it is the ultimate mark of orthodoxy in the church. This is why we can tolerate to a certain extant the false doctrines of other churches so long as they hold to the Trinity, that is we still recognize them as Christian Churches, unlike those that don't teach the Trinity. That is we say that Baptists, Methodists, or a myriad of other reformed churches, or the Eastern Orthodox or the Roman Catholics are Christian Churches, despite all the harmful doctrines they often teach, as long as they teach that God is three in one the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Not three Gods, but three persons who are each the one God. We trust that where this doctrine is taught the Gospel will poke its head out, it will also be taught that is despite being mucked up by other doctrines of works righteousness. Why? Because this doctrine finally gets all its meaning in the Cross of Christ, where God died for your sins. Yes where this is taught aright, where it is driven home that Jesus is God, and it is comprehended that God died for you on the Cross, then you see how grave are your sins that you cannot atone for them yourself, then you see how grave is your sin, that you are helpless even to do good works in the sight of God, so that in His love for you God Himself would have to die for you. And there in the Trinity you see when it is brought home that Christ is God and has died for you that if the infinite power, the eternal value of God’s blood was shed for you then there is no more need to wonder if your salvation is incomplete. There can be no doubt that His atonement also satisfies the wrath of God against sin. If God Died for you then it is done, your sins are certainly forgiven. This is why it is the mark of orthodoxy. Where the Trinity is compromised the Gospel can no longer be taught, it becomes a farce. If a mere man died for you, well it matters not how much you do, it will never be enough. If Jesus was not God when he died, then he did not die for you the atonement is nothing. This is why the Mormons are not recognized as Christians. They have not the gospel and cannot teach it as long as they deny the Trinity. As long as they deny the Triune God. And most people don’t get this. Most Christians never really understand the necessity of the Trinity, the true importance of it. This goes beyond mere Biblical authority. This goes beyond that is, just believing something because the Bible says so. Though that might be good enough reason. This goes beyond just getting the first commandment right, and not having another God beyond the one revealed in Scripture. Or by mistake having a different God. All of Christian doctrine, our faith, our hope is dependent upon the doctrine of the Trinity. This is why I said earlier this week in a face book post that you cannot have the gospel without the Trinity, that you cannot believe the Gospel without also believing in the Triune God. For if the God through whom all was made, including you, did not also die for you on the cross, well then, no one did. Because not man can die for you. Without understanding the Trinity, without understanding who God is, and how he is, the Bible remains a closed book read through the veil of Moses, that is it remains nothing but a rule book for life, but not a source of life. Without getting the Trinity right, the gospel will never show through right.
For instance, our gospel text today, yes I was planning to get to it at some point, Jesus talks about keeping His Father’s word, and then says “whoever keeps my word if anyone keeps my word He will never see death.” Now what does Jesus mean by keeping his word? My first instinct, even when I know the gospel, and believe in it, is to believe that here Jesus is talking about law. I mean Jesus was a master at the law. He understood the law better than anyone. Which is why he died for us on the cross. He understood there was no other way for us sinners to be saved. God knows we couldn’t save ourselves, even our attempts end up being selfish and sinful. But our selfish and sinful selves read law into this statement right away. We latch on to all those statements that Jesus made saying Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. We here him saying love the Lord your God with all your soul, your mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. And would that we took that a bit closer to heart people. We delude ourselves thinking that we can do that without following the Ten Commandments. Love summarizes the law people, it does not replace it. Love fulfills the law people, it does not replace it. And we need to start practicing love a bit more. We should listen to Christ when he tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
But you know, I’m getting tired, and perhaps a bit impatient these days as people lecture me on love when they don’t. I don’t know if there are degrees of hypocrisy to which I think we are all guilty. I know I have caught myself being guilty of it. But sorry you cannot love your neighbor as yourself and not love the girl you sired a kid with enough to marry her. You do not love your neighbor as yourself, you do not love the Lord your God when you cannot love your own children enough to forgive your spouse, husband or wife. Men, especially need to learn how to love here. It is not love to have your way with a girl just because you can. The women don’t always understand this themselves, they subject themselves to the abuse hoping to find love. You do not love your neighbor as yourself, you do not love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength, when you are committing adultery, fornicating, treating women as toys to be played with, and demeaning them by paying them to take their clothes off on stage, or to perform sexual acts on camera. No more than you are loving God and your neighbor when you steal from them, or take their life, beat them and put them in the hospital. Love doesn’t do these things! Women who subject themselves to this, giving in to passions and the desire for love, are not being loved. We fool ourselves thinking we can love our neighbor as ourselves when we are guilty of such things, we fool ourselves when we think we can love God, believe in God, that is fear, love and trust in God above all things when we do these things to our neighbors, male or female. Yes, by neighbor God means your husband, God means your wife, God means your own child, God means everyone, but most especially those closest to you, those with whom he has blessed your life. Because if we love the God who made us and died for us, then we love everyone for whom He died, and shed his blood, you, me, your husband, your wife, your girlfriend, or boyfriend too, and to swallow a bit of crow your ex spouses too. And sometimes it is a bit much for us sinners to do isn’t it.
So keep His word and you will not see death. Perhaps it is true that if we loved we would not see death, but now we see how futile that is. Now that we see the depth of our sin. But that would be the extent of it if Jesus were mere man, and what a messed up world we would live in then. Then there would be no hope. But Jesus explains what he means when he says before Abraham was, I am. Jesus explains that he is greater than Moses, greater than the prophets, and his word is greater than the law, because he is more than mere man, though he is man, fully and certainly man, he is also true God, very God of very God, begotten not made, without beginning or end the alpha and omega of all that is. And His word is love, Love for you, love beyond comprehension, because he is God, and God is love. Jesus’ word for us is that God so loved the World that He gave his only Son, that whoever believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. That whoever keeps his word would not see death. Because his word is love, his word is your sins are forgiven. Because his word is love, his word is I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Because His word is love, His word is take eat this is my body given for you. Because His word is Love, His word, His last word, His Testament, Take Drink the this Cup is the New Testament in my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Because His word is love, His final word is, it is finished. Because his word is love, your sins are forgiven. And because He is God, because he is the Great I Am, the I Am present and existing as “I AM” the Go without beginning or end, The God who sent Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt, His word is true, In his death our redemption is finished, In his baptism you are children of God, In the New Testament is His body given for you, Is His blood shed for you, is the forgiveness of sins for you, love as only God can love. And there we learn how to love, there we are given love that we might Love, and there we are given eternal life despite our failures to love. Because on the cross it was God who died, the God through whom all was made, there on the cross it was God who died for you, and therefore someone took your place in death, as only God can.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.


Scottydog said...

"I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith . . ." Rev 2:13

Thank you so much for the work you are doing - especially where you are working. It is an answer ot paryer. I just finished reading "Knights of Rhodes." Fantastic little book. Thanks for translating this gem into English.

Bror Erickson said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Glad that you enjoyed the book. There will be more Giertz coming out this year. I think the ball might be rolling now.