I Believe in One True God
A sermon based on Romans 8:14-17
Sunday, June 11, 2017 – Pentecost 2B
There is one God. But there are three persons. The Father is God. The Son, Jesus, is God. The Holy Spirit is God. But the Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is not the Father. Or to put it another way…
"We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being. For each person—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is distinct, but the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty.
"What the Father is, so is the Son, and so is the Holy Spirit. The Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated; the Father is infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father is eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal; yet they are not three who are eternal, but there is one who is eternal, just as they are not three who are uncreated, nor three who are infinite, but there is one who is uncreated and one who is infinite."
That's from the Athanasian Creed which describes the Triune God. We know the doctrine (even though we can't fully understand it). There are three persons (tri). But there is one God (une). That's doctrinally sound according to the Word of God. But… so what? Why do we set aside a Sunday in the church year for a doctrine? We don't have "Predestination Sunday" or "Verbal Inspiration Sunday." So why "Trinity Sunday"?
Well, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday we look at the practical side of this doctrine of the Trinity. We see who we are because of what our Triune God has done for us and continues to do. Today, we boldly confess that "I Believe in One True God." We believe in the Holy Spirit who set us free and leads us still. We believe in the Father who sent us his Son to make us his children now. We believe in Jesus Christ who became our brother that we might share in his inheritance.
Our text for consideration this Trinity Sunday is from Romans 8:14-17…
14 Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
What has God done for you? Well, there's almost too much in this text to cover it all! What hasn't he done?!
For starters, we believe in the Holy Spirit who set us free. Can you imagine an enemy nation attacking Alaska and in a shocking victory, they haul us all off and lock us up in their prison camps? With no hope of ever seeing your family again, of just endless days of forced manual labor, with endless nights of physical and mental torture, we would live in constant fear of the merciless enemy.
But then can you imagine seeing special ops forces break into the encampment and after killing every one of your captors, telling you to stand away from the door, before they break it down and set you free? What joy would be ours! Free at last from the enemy that would keep us living in fear!
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship."
You're not a slave anymore. You're set free! Free from sin! Free from guilt! Free from shame! Free to live for God as his dearly loved child.
For, we believe in God the Father who has made you his very own. "You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." You haven't just been freed from prison, but even more, you've been adopted!
Now imagine the prisoner set free from the enemy by that special ops team was an orphan who's parents had been killed in the war. I'm sure it would be great that he would be free, but now what? Who would take care of him? Who would provide for him? You don't have to have such a worry, becaue the Father promises that you are his dearly loved child. He loves you so much he adopted you as his own.
And how did he accomplish that? He signed your adoption papers with the blood of his own Son. We believe in the Father who sent his Son to die for us to make us his own children.
And finally, we believe in Jesus Christ, who became our brother to rescue us. He was the special ops team! How did he do it? Paul only alludes to it in these verses when he mentions, "his sufferings…" But you know what he's talking about. Jesus willingly took our sin on himself to suffer death and hell on a cross to rescue us from death and hell for eternity. And he's promised us an eternal inheritance in heaven that can never spoil or fade!
What has God done for you? What hasn't he done?! The Triune God has done everything! God the Spirit set you free! God the Father adopted you as his own! God the Son rescued you from sin, death, and hell, and consequently from all fear! He's won heaven itself for you! Do you see why the doctrine of the Trinity is such a special doctrine? Do you see why we set aside a day to celebrate the love of the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
And how do we respond to such wonderful truths? Well… Not well. Having been freed, we climb back into our comfortable cells. We wallow in the filth of sin again. Having been made sons and daughters of God, we act like he's a stranger as we reject his will and his ways. Having been given an eternal inheritance, we still prefer the shiny trinkets of this life, as worthless as they are in comparison to the eternal riches that are ours, and we chase after them. Our schedules and our budgets prove our priorities. We show not just apathy, but utter contempt to the things our Triune God has done for us.
And as the verse right before our text says, "If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die…" That's what we deserve: Instant death, right now, followed by an eternity of death, separated from God forever in hell. That's what you deserve. That's what I deserve.
But we don't get what we deserve because of our Triune God. What he did for us, he still does. The Holy Spirit still sets us free from the prison of guilt and shame by the powerful words of the Gospel, by the absolution you heard earlier this morning, by the promise of sins forgiven you hear right now. The Father still calls you his dearly loved child whom he loves even after you misbehave and run away from him. He still calls you his own. The Son still promises you the inheritance of heaven that he won for you as your big brother. And he will do all he can to rescue you from this world and take you to be with him there. So you are forgiven. You are free! You are a dearly loved son or daughter of God! You have Jesus as your big brother! You are a part of God's family! You have an inheritance in heaven!
Now there's only one proper response: "We have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it… but… by the Spirit… [to] put to death the misdeeds of the body…" (Romans 8:12-13) So let's respond well. Let's live well, according to the Spirit and the will of God he's revealed in the Word.
And know that you're not alone in this. The Spirit will lead us. So be led by the Holy Spirit. For "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." Listen to what he says to you in the Word. Which means you need to hear and read the Word. There he will guide you in a life of thanksgiving to God.
The Father will help us whenever we pray for help. Whenever, "We cry, 'Abba, Father.'" You can be certain that the one who sent his Son to death and hell to make us his own children, will certainly help us when we ask for help to live according to his will!
And the Son who went to the cross to suffer hell to rescue us from it, will certainly be with us and help us as, "we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
There is one God. But there are three persons. The Father is God. The Son, Jesus, is God. The Holy Spirit is God. But the Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is not the Father. This is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. But it's not just some dry, stuffy doctrine to keep in your head. It is a glorious truth that gives you your identity: Led by the Spirit, a child of the Father, an heir of the eternal glory the Son won for you. Now, go live for him: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the name of our Triune God, amen.