June 25, 2019
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Expect more, pay less. A Christian ministry of healing that promotes the well-being of all individuals, families and communities. Semper fidelis or Semper Fi. I’m guessing these phrases are familiar to most of you. This is a list of the slogan for Target, the mission statement of Baylor Scott and White Health, and the motto of the United States Marine Corps. The purpose behind these short phrases is to give you an idea of what each of these organizations is about without taking up a lot of time or ink. At a glance, Target wants you to know that you can get more of what you need or want for less, Baylor Scott and White Health wants you to know they are a Christian hospital hoping to help their community at large all the way down to the individual have better health, and the United States Marine Corps wants you to know they will always be faithful to their country, orders and fellow soldiers. Short phrases like slogans, mission statements and mottos surround us every day and help us understand what people, organizations, businesses, etc. can do for us. In the Bible, God provides us with short summaries about what he has done for us. Today we will look at three of those portions of Scripture that reveal God speaks the truth you need to hear!
Today is Trinity Sunday. This Sunday is unique because we use the Athanasian Creed as our confession of faith. There are three Christian Creeds that have been used for centuries; the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed. These creeds function almost like a slogan, mission statement or motto for Christians. They serve to summarize the foundation of our Christian faith in the one true God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and his work as our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. The Athanasian Creed was written in the fifth century to defend the Bible’s teaching of the Trinity and Jesus as both true God and true man. The Athanasian Creed continues to be said by Christians around the world because the threat against the truth of who God is remains and the truths summarized in the Athanasian Creed about God will never change.
The Athanasian Creed summarizes what the Bible teaches about God as a Trinity. The word trinity never appears in the Bible, but believers created the term to describe God. The term means “three in one,” capturing the Bible’s description of God as one like in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,” and also that there are three distinct persons of God as in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” God needed to reveal the truth of the Trinity to us because we cannot come to an understanding of it on our own by thinking deeply about God or discovering him in nature. If we are to understand anything about God on our own, we can understand that he is powerful, knowledgeable, wise and very old. In Psalm 19:1, David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” When we look around us, we see the power of God as the Creator, but little else. The problem with what creation tells us about is that we still need answer to questions like: is God still around, does he care about us, why is the world a broken place and what happens after we die?
We cannot know everything about God just by looking at his creation, just like we cannot know everything about a person just by looking at a ceramic bowl they made. If you go to Target to buy a ceramic bowl, you might find one you really like in a section of the store dedicated to a certain designer from Waco, Texas. Now, if you look at the bowl, you might be able to say that the designer likes a certain color scheme, patterns, textures, materials and a few other things, but just by looking at the bowl, you cannot know that the designer is married, has five kids, has brown hair, opened a bakery, etc. The only way to find out that other information about the creator of a bowl is if they or someone else shares it with you because the bowl isn’t going to talk to you. The same is true about God, we can learn some things about him from creation, but the truth about who he is and what he has done for us is only found in his Word.
When God’s people came together in the Old Testament, he spoke the truths they needed to hear about him through his prophets. In our Old Testament reading from Numbers 6, we have an example of God summarizing who he is, 22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ 27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” Here in these words we can see God revealing himself as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father’s work as our Creator is to bless and keep us by providing all we need to live. Jesus’ work as our Redeemer is to be gracious to us by coming down to earth to save us. And, the Holy Spirit’s work as our Sanctifier is to give us peace by giving us faith in our Savior’s forgiveness and gift of eternal life. God had these words recorded so that we would have the answers to questions like: is God still around, “Yes,” does he care about us, “Yes,” why is the world a broken place, “Sin, in that we rebelled against God and his blessings,” and what happens after we die, “We go to be with God in heaven or are separated from God’s blessings in hell.”
Although God has given us what we need to know about him in the Bible, what is says about him still goes beyond our understanding. In our gospel reading from John 16:12-15, Jesus said, 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” Here, Jesus was speaking to his disciples the night he was betrayed, just hours before he would be put on the cross to die. Jesus knew he had come to this world to suffer and die to save us from our sins, and he had told the disciples this was the plan as well, but there is a difference between an academic understanding of what Jesus came to do and faith in what he did for us. In Jesus’ knew even the glimpse he had given the disciples about his work to save them and the world from sin was a lot for their souls to bear. So often, we can find ourselves falling into a mindset that our time in God’s Word is an academic study of memorizing facts or passages as if preparing for a test or being ready to reason with someone about God, but we cannot approach the Bible in that way. Instead, we recognize that God’s Word is a hospital for us.
God gave us his Word to reveal what Jesus has done to save us. The Bible reveals that our lives and this world are both broken because we are against God. God created this world and our ancestors, Adam and Eve, to be good, but they chose to do evil. Sin, evil and bad are all synonymous for going against what God wants. We are the ones to blame for the world being broken because we are constantly breaking it. God has the right to punish us for all the bad that we do, but if he did, we would be separated from him forever and he doesn’t want that to happen. This is why God sent Jesus to suffer and die for us, so that we would be free from the punishment of sin and free from an afterlife of separation from God. Jesus did the work to save us and give us the hope of eternal life. He is the cure we need, like medicine at a hospital. And we get the cure of Jesus delivered to us through the Holy Spirit as Jesus said, John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
The Spirit makes us understand the truth of how God provides what we need. We cannot understand from nature what we need to know about God, we needed him to speak to us, to our hearts, and not to our heads. Our reading from Romans 5 says, 5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” All of us were empty, but God filled us up with faith through the Holy Spirit. We did nothing to receive it, but God poured faith into our lost, unbelieving hearts. God made us alive, restored our relationship with him and gave us peace as Romans 5 says, 1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Faith in the truth from the Holy Spirit allows us to stand firm in the forgiveness of Jesus. Practically then, this faith gives us the ability to endure the hardships in our lives and the attacks of the devil, while we wait for eternal life in heaven.
Until we are at home in heaven with our God, we have work to do. The faith we have allows us to stand firm in the grace and peace of God, and Romans 5 says, 3 “…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.” The truth of what God has done for us is true power for us, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, 11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
God’s Word is our armor: the helmet of salvation protects our minds from the lies of the world, the breastplate of righteousness protects our heart from the devil, the belt of truth saves us through Jesus, the shield of faith protects us from temptations, the sword of the Spirit is the word of God used to attack the devil and pierce the heart of unbelievers that the Holy Spirit would enter their heart and bring it to life. It is our mission to be ready with the Word of God as Paul said, 15 “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” The gospel of peace fuels our need to share the truth of God with others and our desire to hear what he has done for us every day.
The Athanasian Creed ends with the phrases, “This is the true Christian faith. Whoever does not faithfully and firmly believe this cannot be saved.” This is more than a slogan, mission statement or motto, this Creed summarizes what the Bible reveals to us about the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. Every day we are bombarded with slogans, mission statements and mottos, but what really matters is the truth we need to hear to be saved, the truth about God. This truth doesn’t come from our own thoughts or observations, but from God’s Word, even though creation does make it clear that someone powerful, knowledgeable, wise and very old made it. The truth of who God is and what he was willing to do to save us came to life in the Son of Man, Jesus, in time, even though he is also the true Son of God without beginning or end. And this great truth that God gives us what we need, saves us and defends us all has been made known to us by the Holy Spirit. There is no greater blessing than to know God speaks the truth you need to hear! Amen.