“Our Confession, Our Life”

The Holy Trinity
“Our Confession, Our Life”
June 11, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 28:19-20

Peace be unto you from the one true God, the Lord God Almighty – Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Our Savior said shortly before ascending into heaven, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Do it all in the one true God. Do it all in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And to this we say “Amen” because it is highly doubtful that among those gathered here this morning, there are some who do not confess the Holy Trinity and the fact that there is but one God in three Persons.

I believe that all of us faithfully confessed the same a few minutes ago in the form of the Athanasian Creed which, along with the Nicene and Apostle’s Creed, boldly state our belief in the Holy Trinity. Such is the firm conviction of the Christian Church universal… the Christian Church catholic. Indeed, the one true Triune God confessed by the one true Church here on earth as well as that above… the Church Militant as well as the Church Triumphant.

Belief in the Holy Trinity is also an important part of the confession of our beloved Lutheran Church. And this, as stated right up front, in Article 1 of the Augsburg Confession, where we read:

“Our churches teach with common consent that the decree of the Council of Nicaea about the unity of the divine essence and the three persons is true. It is to be believed without any doubt. God is one divine essence who is eternal, without a body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. He is the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible [Nehemiah 9:6].  Yet there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19]. These three persons are of the same essence and power.”  (Augsburg Confession, Article 1, ¶ 1, 2, 3)

This article in our Confessions then goes on to condemn all heresies against this belief in the Holy Trinity, which, when this was written, included the teachings of the Manichaeans, the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, the Muslims, and others.

Needless to say, some false beliefs remain, others have come and gone and new ones have risen up in their place to lead many astray as to who is really God, if He even exists as quite a few firmly doubt and deny.

But again, this is not an issue here… an issue with us. We get it. We believe it… not that we fully understand the profound mystery of one God in three Persons. But we embrace and confess it nevertheless… the fact… the eternal truth of it, that is. Why? Because God has so revealed Himself in Holy Scripture.  The Bible says it. We believe it and that’s that.

What is at issue, though (an incredibly serious one no less) is the oftentimes major disparity between what a person believes about the Almighty and how that belief is actually lived out, played out, translated into their daily life. How is it with you?  If the truth and nothing but the truth be told, how many would hear themselves say:

“Ya, sure, I believe in the one true God, but in fact I make for myself other gods… that which oftentimes comes first in my life, that which takes top priority… the best of my time, my talents and treasures… all of which I can actually justify and give reason for… explanations which those around me agree with and support.”

All but One that is… all but God who says unequivocally and unconditionally, “You shall have no other gods” (Exodus 20:3) and isn’t kidding. God our God who is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and will not share His glory with anyone or anything. God our God who declares in Holy Scripture, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other.” (Isaiah 42:8)

Adding to the tragedy of all this is the fact that many adults are teaching children… theirs and others… to go against the First Commandment. Parents, grandparents, teachers, instructors and coaches who maybe not in word, but certainly in action are clearly saying to their children and the children of others that in regard to certain activities and certain circumstances, the Lord God and the worship of His name, learning and growing in His Word and being about one’s service to Him and His Church can take a back seat… a far back seat even… can anyone say “back of the bus?”

For too many, God is really God… His Word heard, studied and adhered to… His will done… His name worshipped… when it is convenient or when IT is… when HE is… needed.  How is it with you?

How many of you would say, “Hey, I am just trying to balance all aspects of my life and my children’s lives.”  Well, ask yourself how many times is it that the things of this world come out on top.

How many of you would also say, “I am just trying to juggle my Christian life and my personal life” as IF they were mutually exclusive!  Your Christian life is your life, all aspects of your life and if it is not, you are not… a Christian that is!

For those offended by that and who want to go now to their “safe space” where they can be affirmed for just the way they are and how they see things… good luck… because there is no greater safe space than here in the sanctuary of the Lord… here where the Lord tells you over and over again that you are loved, but where He also declares to you,

Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33 NKJ)

You heard this said and read to our five catechumens last Sunday in the rite of confirmation. Did you think it only pertains to them? Just to others?

My friends, what a different story it is… our confession truly being our life… as one comes to know God to the fullest degree all that He would have us know… that which He has graciously revealed to us in Holy Scripture about Himself

What a different story it is… our confession truly being our life… as one comes to understand God to the fullest amount He can be understood and comprehended and this by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

For in having such knowledge and understanding of God, our God, the only true God, the Triune God… knowledge and understanding of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit… it is a game changer… a life changer.

It is, all at the same time… a fearful thing, an awesome thing, humbling thing, a revering and respectful thing, an incredibly comforting thing, peaceful thing, joyful and joy-filled thing and so much more.

Could it be… just asking… that you have forgotten who God is? Or that you have never really come to know Him… not really… certainly not fully? These are easy things to do or to be true in this life, in this world and in our society and culture today which promotes our seeing ourselves as god… where the focus is on us… it is all about us.

I recently shared in an e-mail to the congregation about a book that I would encourage all of us to read. And it is a perfect time to mention it on this, Holy Trinity Sunday. Why? Because the book is entitled of all things, “The Unholy Trinity: Martin Luther against the Me, Myself and I.”

Sad to say, there are many who confess the Holy Trinity, but actually worship the unholy three as they carry out their daily lives all wrapped up in the me, myself and I.

This instead of the major focus, constant focus and attention being on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Father who is truly our heavenly Father. He who created us, loves us so, for we are His dear children made so in the waters of Holy Baptism.

The Son who is our Savior, Lord and King. He who came to earth to save us and all mankind from sin, death and the devil and accomplished the same on the cross, giving His very life that we may have life, life to the fullest, life eternal now that all our sins are forgiven, blotted out with Christ’s own precious blood.

And this includes the sin, our sin, of so often breaking the First Commandment… all of the times we have been irreverent and disrespectful toward the Lord God Almighty… all of the times we have gone against His Word and will… all of the times we have made other gods for ourselves. We are forgiven of it all… made clean… given a new start… today… this very day. It is true. Believe it. Rejoice in it. Move forward in it!

Rounding out the Trinity, we have the Holy Spirit who is our counselor and comforter. He who has created faith in us and sustains the same through Word and Sacrament. He who guides us all our days. He who always points us to Jesus.

The blessed Trinity… this is our confession… this is our life in the One true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How blessed we are and so very thankful Amen.

 May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“Our Confession, Our Life”  6/11/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL