✠ One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you ✠
Ephesians 1,3-14 3312
Tag der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit (Trinitatis) weiß 045
Caecilius, Bishop of Carthage 311
Franz August Otto Pieper, Pastor and Theologian. † 1931
03. June 2012
1. O Merciful, Blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Holy and Exalted Trinity, grant us Your grace to truly believe, righteously to live and happily to die, so that after this wearisome life we may enter the joyous fellowship of the holy angels and Your elect, see You face to face, and love, praise and serve You forever and ever. (Löhe 148). Amen.
2. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.
3. Although we confess the Triune God every Sunday, on Trinity Sunday we especially emphasize that there are 3 Persons in 1 God. Was ist das? (what is this?) A: The 3 Persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit comprise 1 God. This confession separates Christianity from all other religions. We are not polytheists with long- or short-list of gods and goddesses like the Ancient Greek or German pantheons. This confession also separates Christianity from the world’s other monotheistic religions. Both Judaism and Islam hold a strict belief that there is only 1 Person who comprises 1 God.
4. The Apostle Paul lists and affirms the 3 Divine Persons in his Epistle to the Ephesians. There is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; each one of these Persons is God, and together they are 1 God. In the 21. century, Christians readily affirm that both the Father and Son are Divine Persons. The waters become muddy when it comes to the Holy Spirit. While Christendom confesses the Holy Spirit to be a Divine Person, the way some churches speak about, or treat, the Holy Spirit is to neuter Him of both His Divinity and Personhood.
5. Those who grew up with George Lucas and his Star Wars movies are comfortable thinking of the Holy Spirit as a force or the force. This implies that He is something that can be manipulated and used in one’s life. As such, He would be both good and evil, for some would utilize Him to do good things, but others would use Him to do evil things. This furthermore implies that He is not really a Person, but an impersonal and neutral power or energy that can be tapped into. Our 21. culture is quite comfortable with thinking thus about the Holy Spirit, and is quick to depersonalize Him into a mere force.
6. The Apostle Paul describes the Holy Spirit quite differently. He tells the Ephesians: »In Christ you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory«. There is no talk of the Spirit as a force or a power which operates at the whim of men and women. The apostle rather speaks of the Holy Spirit as a Divine Person who is the guarantee of your inheritance of eternal life. The Holy Spirit has a will, an intelligence and a personality complete with emotions and Divine characteristics.
7. One of the apostolic teachings in the New Testament is that all 3 Persons of God are involved in mankind’s salvation. God the Father chose Jesus, His Son, to be our Savior. God the Son redeemed us through His blood and forgave us of our trespasses. God the Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee of life everlasting in Christ Jesus. In this Holy Trinity, we have our Providence in the One, True God. The Apostle Paul summarizes it this way: »For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen« (Romans 11,36). „The Scriptures teach us that all creation is the work of One God, or the whole Godhead; and yet, inasmuch as they make a distinction between the 3 Persons of the One Godhead, we may properly say that everything, had its origin, everything exists and continues, in the Father as the 1. Person; through the Son, who is of the Father; and in the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from both the Father and the Son; which 3, nevertheless, are comprehended in the One Undivided Essence“ (Luther 24 §41).
8. As pertains to our salvation, and indeed in all things, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are in unison and agreement. We do not uncover this in Creation or by natural revelation. Nature does not teach us that God is comprised of 3 Persons, nor does nature teach salvation for sinners. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity and salvation through Jesus Christ come by God’s revealed revelation which is His written Word of Holy Scripture.
9. While it is true that the Triune God is indeed omnipresent, He is not pantheistic, namely that nature and God are identical, such that the Divine is found in every rock, tree and blade of grass. Pantheism is the groundwork of Mother Nature and Gaia religions popular among some Americans today. „A god who is everywhere is as useless as a god who is nowhere. What we need is a God who is somewhere“ (Nagel). The Triune God is an immanent God, not a transcendent one. „He has chosen to be available to us through things of our human world, through words, water, bread, and wine. Within the means of grace, God makes Himself known to us, He imparts Himself and His salvation to us. There He would be found. It is folly to look elsewhere. We cannot tell God who He is. God tells us. He comes to us, all the way. He is made known to us in reading and hearing His Word and in the Holy Sacraments. He shows us what He is like and bestows on us what Christ achieved“ (Nagel 157).
10. The Triune God manifested His Divinity to us through the 2. Person of the Deity, Jesus Christ the Son of God. In Christ, God took up human nature with a real flesh and body. Christ entered His creation in a new way, He entered our time and space as both God and man. He did so to redeem us from sin and the curse. If you would see God and know His glory and will, then look to Jesus who is the Word and Wisdom of the Triune God. Christ brings you God’s mercy, forgiveness and eternal life. It is the will of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to redeem fallen mankind, and in Christ Jesus the Triune God has indeed redeemed you and the entire world. Amen.
11. Let us pray. O Triune God, Your deeds are mighty and Your glory great, keep us steadfast in our confession of You so that we may glorify Your Holy Name. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
Löhe, Wilhelm. Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith. Copyright © 1902 Frank Carroll Longaker.
Nagel, Norman. Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis. Frederick W. Baue, Ed. Copyright © 2004 Concordia Publishing House.