St John 3.1-17 The Holy Trinity
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 2013.5.26
In the holy name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.
Such a powerful, divine Truth. Not three holies, but one holy—one, holy God.
This is the catholic faith. Whether you are Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Orthodox, or non-denominational. If you desire to be saved, this is the catholic, the “universal” faith that you must hold, keep, and believe. In other words, no one can be saved, unless he keeps this faith, and keeps the object of this faith, that is, the Holy Trinity.
There is no other God. There is no other Creator, there is no other Savior, there is no other Spirit of Truth. One God, three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. Unless you keep this one God, unless you have this Tri-une (this three in one God), unless that God is the God in whom you believe, you can plan to perish eternally, for, as the Athanasian Creed says, “Whoever does not keep [the catholic faith] whole and undefiled will without doubt perish eternally.”
But with Him, with our holy God, and with the catholic faith that He gives / you are safe, you are saved, you will eternally live, for this Triune God / is the God who saves.
“For God loved the world in this way: that He sent His only-begotten Son, so that all who believe in Him [that is, all who hold, keep, believe the one, holy, catholic, apostolic faith] might not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
This is the Triune God. He is the God who saves, because He is the God who loves. His love is so great that He can love the whole world; His loves is so real that He loves you.
Of course, sometimes we get confused about God. Sometimes we think that His love is conditional, or that His love is just something that makes us feel better, or / we forget that He is love. We picture Him as an unbending, crotchety, old judge who is up in the heights of heavenly dominion just waiting for an opportunity to send us to hell, to condemn us. Dearly beloved, believe the Word of the Gospel, believe the Truth, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
God does not hate mankind, even when mankind deserves being hated. God is love, He is the True and Original Philanthropist. (Philos means 'love', or 'lover', anthropos means 'man' or 'mankind') God is Philanthropist, the Lover of Mankind, He loves us, and He does this especially when we need His love the most: when we are lost. You were lost / and in need of salvation, for you were once alienated from God, detached from Him, therefore detached from His salvation, detached from His holiness.
That was when you needed Him the most; / So He died for you, and then baptized you. Baptism / is the activity of God re-attaching his creation back to himself, making us holy, as He is holy, and giving us the gift of the catholic, apostolic faith.
Holy, Holy, Holy is He. Therefore the one who is attached to this God, who holds this holy God, is himself also holy. The Christian life is a holy life, not because it is somehow more exceptional or acceptable, but the Christian life is a holy life because it is a life attached to this one, holy God, or, in the words of the Gospel Reading, it is a life “from above,” lived by those who have been born from above, born of water and the Spirit, that is, baptized.
Last week / was Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church, the re-gathering of fallen man. As God is one, those who are gathered in God's Church, are made one, holy Church. How? Not because the people are holy, but because they are joined back together with holy God, re-attached to God. The Church is one, because God is one. The Church is holy, because God is holy. / What God is by nature, the Church becomes by grace. This happens through the means of grace: / Baptism.
Nicodemus missed that. In all his study of the Torah and the Pharisaical Law, He missed out on that one key: grace. Only God is holy by nature, the Church is made holy / only by grace. Baptism / is grace. It's is God's doing / and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Yes, God's work is always marvelous in our eyes! To the world, it doesn't look like much. (Not yet, anyhow.) But to us, to those who have the one, holy, catholic, apostolic faith, who have the eyes of faith to see the one, holy God at work in His one, holy catholic, apostolic Church, to us / we see the marvelous mysteries of the catholic faith. We see holiness, where the world sees superstition; we see holiness, where the world sees foolishness; we see holiness, where the world sees empty ritual; because we see holy God at work, even among us.
A little water (it ain't much), except that holy God has infused that water with His holy Word, making it a life-giving water, rich in grace and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit.
A little bread and wine (it ain't much), except that holy God has spoken it into a new reality. “It is my Body...It is my Blood,” Jesus said. Jesus said this, Holy God said this. // The only question is this: will you believe Him? Will you hold, keep, and believe His Word, His holy Word. If you keep His holy Word, you can be assured of this: you will be holy, as He is holy.
God grant to all who hear His Word this day and until He comes, God grant you all to hold tight what He has spoken, not doubting, but firmly believing, that by the holy Words spoken in ordinary tongue, by the holy meal received in ordinary food, and by the holy water, poured on ordinary people, that by these holy works you may be preserved in this one, holy, catholic, apostolic faith, now and forever.
In the holy name of +Jesus. Amen.