Archive for the ‘John 8:48-59’ Category

Do We All Believe in One True God?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Holy Trinity Sunday C, May 26h, 2013

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Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. [John 14:26]

After hearing those words of Jesus, most people who call themselves Christian, would respond with a hearty AMEN! And if this world were not controlled by our enemies, sin, death, and the crafty devil, we could  let it go at that; we could shake their hand, pat them on the back, and call them brother and sister. But this world is controlled by our enemies, and all that glitters… is not gold! So what can we do to protect  ourselves from the threats of our enemies and the false teachings that they have tried to sneak into the church since the very beginning of creation? We must keep God’s Word and accept the truth, that we don’t  all believe in One true God!

This morning, we have done something we only do once a year; we have read together the Athanasian Creed. Why did we do that? So that we can keep God’s Word; so that we can abide in it, be protected by it,  and so that we can protect it from the attacks of the enemy. That is also why every Sunday we recite either the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. If we do not know the truth, then unfortunately we will fall for  anything new, but as Solomon has said, “There is nothing new under the sun” and that includes the various forms of false teaching that bombard us today. Long before there were Jehovah Witnesses, Oneness  Pentecostals, Mormons, and Newagers, the church had to defend itself against Satan’s attack.

It started in the garden, when he used the serpent to cause doubt, with the words, “Did God really say you shall die if you eat of the fruit. You shall not die!” Once that crafty devil was given an inch by our first  parents, he has been taking mile after mile ever since. And his attack has been relentless, with false teaching after false teaching. What the cults and phony preachers are spewing out today is no different than the  lies that were proclaimed thousands of years earlier. And at the heart of all of their blasphemy, is the regurgitation of the same lie… God may express love, but God is not in His essence love! So let’s allow God to  shine His light on this lie so that we can continue to keep, teach, and confess His pure Word.

First, God’s own Word declares that He is love. Throughout Holy Scripture we see a compassionate and forgiving God; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. We discover that God is not slow to punish  sinners, but He is patient, and He doesn’t wish that any should perish, but that all would return to Him and have eternal life. [2 Peter 3:9] And “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  [1 John 4:10]

Do you hear that? You can know that God is love by remembering that God has a Son, and that He sent His Son to die for you; to atone for, or pay for your sins. Remember those words always, because without them, the enemy can once again take an inch in your life, with the sole aim of taking away your eternal life.

The first attack of the devil is always to cause doubt; in this case, he wants you to doubt that God has a Son and His name is forever Jesus Christ. The devil doesn’t care if you believe in the Holy Spirit nearly as much as he cares about your belief in God the Father’s only begotten Son. He does not want you to believe that Jesus is God’s Son who is forever begotten and not made, because if you loose this faith, you will no longer see God as love, and if you no longer see Him as love, you will no longer see His desire to give a Savior who is sent to you in love.

In all three of the Creeds, we confess that the Son of God is begotten of the Father. Now this doesn’t mean that God some how reproduced Himself and created a Son in the same biological way that we reproduce. No the Son of God was not reproduced; He has always been God. You see, the First Person of the Trinity has always been the Father, and He has always been in a relationship with the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son. Their relationship has always been one of perfect love and it always shall be that way. Why? Because “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” [Numbers 23:19] In Him, “there is no variation or shadow due to change.” [James 1:17]

The Creeds, which God has given as wonderful gifts of security to the church, also express this relationship between the Father and Son together, with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is always proceeding from, or is sent out by the Father and Son together. Many have tried to explain with illustrations what this relationship is like, but ultimately all illustrations fall short and really do an injustice to our Triune God and once again invite the enemy to take another inch. What we do know is that the Holy Spirit, being sent by the Father and the Son uses the means that together they have chosen to bring faith and eternal life to sinful men and women. The Father and Son together send the Spirit on a mission to save a fallen creation, simply because…

GOD IS LOVE. In Scripture, whenever it is referring to the “inner relationship” of the Trinity, we are given a glimpse into the relationship that is also at the very heart of the God head… love!  This love that they share is more than mere affection and it is more than just an ideal; it is at the very heart of who God is.  You see, in order to say that you have love, you really must have someone to love, right?  Listen to how St. Paul describes love, and see if you don’t see this is exactly what he is saying: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful”. [1 Corinthians 13:4-5]

Another way we could say this is that love is always… and I mean always directed at another person, correct? Isn’t true love always a denial of your own comfort over another’s? This is why I always cringe when modern psychology says, “If you don’t love yourself, how can you love someone else?” Of course we should love our self; but that is not the kind of love that IS GOD! Self-love is really kind of a oxymoron, isn’t it? It’s like saying someone is a “married bachelor”. The point is, we cannot love ourselves if we truly understand what love is. Love is always about another.

So if God is love, the epitome of love, then God must have another person to love, correct? It just can’t be enough to say that He loves us, His creation, because then whom did He love before the creation? No, if God is love in its perfect and scriptural definition of love, then love must also describe who He was before creation. In other words, God has always had another to love; He has had Himself in the person’s of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit loves the Father and the Son. In other words, God is One, but since God is love, He loves within Himself, in the way of the Holy Trinity!

So when we confessed the Athanasian Creed this morning, we see that not only is God love, but He is never alone. God Himself is a community of love; He is a relationship in and of Himself. He is One God but also Three Persons. God is love and…

THIS LOVE IS PASSED ONTO US. Through the Word of God we know that not only is God love, but that He loves us.  He has sent His Only Begotten Son to live and die for us.  In the cross, we see the extent of God’s sacrificial love for the world, and in our baptism we have been assured that His love is specifically now and forever given to each of us as individuals.  In baptism, we have been recreated into the very image of God… into the image of love.  God’s means of simple water and His powerful Word have recreated us to express our love not by ourselves, not by looking into a mirror, but in community.

This community is first expressed in family as husband and wife, parents and children, and then it widens into our church family, then our community, and finally out into the world, a world that God loves so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for. When tragedy strikes in any of our circles of love, God’s Holy Spirit moves us in this true love to gather around those we love who are hurting, and we support them and uphold them with God’s gift of love.

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day; a day that we remember the great sacrifice so many in our armed forces has given. In their sacrifices, we see pain and suffering; we see the cost of love. But we also see the greatest of all sacrifices in the giving of a Heavenly Son by a Heavenly Father so that we may be One with our Triune God; so that by keeping Jesus Word, a Word that proceeds from the Father and the Son, through the blessed power of the Holy Spirit, we might have eternal life… abundant life, and never ever fear death.

As we prepare to leave this place but not God’s loving presence let us also remember our brothers and sisters in Oklahoma, who have been hit so hard by another tornado. Let us keep them in our prayers, and where God provides let us find ways to come along side of them in love. When we do this small thing for them and any who are hurting within our family circles, we are really celebrating our relationship of love with one God in Three Persons, each relating to and loving one another and each other… and loving us. In Jesus name… AMEN!