Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, One God - June 15, 2014 -Holy Trinity - Text: Acts 2:14a, 22-36
This morning we have a guest preacher. As the first verse of our text tells us, “Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed the them...” With these words Luke, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, draws our attention to who is speaking in our text. Thus, this morning we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday by hearing Peter preach his Easter sermon.
Before we get to Peter’s sermon, and because today we are celebrating Holy Trinity Sunday, we want to first, for a moment, look at the trinity of God as revealed in Holy Scripture. In our Old Testament reading for this morning we have the account of the creation of the world. In this account we will make note that the term God, “el” is in the Hebrew a plural “elohim” in other words, in Genesis we are given that we worship a plural God. Now understand, we do not worship many gods, plural, that is we are not polytheistic, but we worship one God, that is we are monotheistic. We worship one God who has a plural identity. Also, note from Genesis that the “Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the earth.” So, at the very creation of the world we understand that God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all present. In our Gospel reading for today we have Jesus giving what we call the Great Commission, or what I would better describe as the great giving of authority and the great promise. In His words Jesus explains to us more of the nature of God, that is He tells us that God is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” God is one God and three persons. And, as we confessed in the Athanasian Creed this morning, the three persons of our one God are undivided and unconfused, even if we may not completely understand him. If you listened closely to the children’s message, I believe the little book I read is one of the best illustrations to help even us adults in understanding the trinity of our God.
Now, moving to our text, Peter addresses the congregation, not with the words that we are used to hearing, “grace, mercy and peace be multiplied unto you from God our Father. . .,” but with the words “men of Israel.” Might I remind you that by faith in Jesus we are children of Abraham, thus we are a part of the children of Israel and rightly we would imagine that Peter is addressing us this morning. Peter begins with Jesus, His life and death. Jesus was a human being and He was God. And we might well add that Jesus is still a human being and He is still God. Jesus did signs, wonders, and miracles as “proof” of His divinity or His God-ness. In his Gospel, John continually points to Jesus’ signs and works of might, His wonders and miracles as “proof” of His divinity. Continually we hear of Jesus forgiving sins and healing. The Pharisees would always balk at Jesus’ announcement of forgiveness saying that only God can forgive sins. Then to show that He was God, Jesus would heal the person, because they also believed that only God could heal. Thus, if Jesus could heal, then He was God and if He was God, then He could also forgive sins. We might get bogged down in their logic, but we have the advantage of being able to look back at these events and as we have witnessed Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and we know that He is the Messiah.
Peter reminds us that Jesus was born according to God’s set purpose and foreknowledge. Jesus was born just as God told us in the promises of the Bible. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God promised to send a Savior. In Hebrew the word is a Messiah and in Greek the word is a Christ, thus we have the beginning of the Holy Christian Church. God reiterated that promise to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Moses and to many more throughout the history of the children of Israel, not as a new covenant, but narrowing the family line through which the Christ would be born. Jesus was born in order that He might fulfill all of the promises of God in Holy Scripture. The fullness of the Gospel is this fact that Jesus lived perfectly for us in our place.
And now Peter gets personal. You know how it is, you do not mind if I, as your pastor, preach about sin, as long as I do not preach about your sin because when I preach about your sin then I am getting personal and I am getting nosey, or I am meddling. But it is okay if I preach about the sin of the person sitting next to you. Peter gets personal. He points the finger and his finger is pointing through time to us. About Jesus he says, “you crucified and killed [Him] by the hands of lawless men” (v. 23b). Jesus was put to death by human hands, the human hands of the listeners, our human hands. It was because of our sins that Jesus had to give His life. It was because of our sins of greed, envy, selfishness, gluttony, idolatry, cursing, swearing, irregular worship and devotion life, refusal of God’s gifts, name calling, lust, begrudging others, gossip, coveting and the like.
But the good news is that Jesus did not stay dead. I remember talking to a group of children one morning during chapel service, not here, but elsewhere. We were talking about Jesus dying on the cross. Of course, I never like to leave the children, or anyone for that matter, with Jesus being dead. I always like to end on the good news. And so I said, “but Jesus did not stay dead, He rose from the dead.” And one of the children, whom I would guess had never heard the story, said, “Nuh uh!” And of course I answered, “Uh huh!” Eight weeks ago we came to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Last week we came and celebrated the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. Today is Holy Trinity Sunday and for the next twenty-four Sundays we will be in the Pentecost Season, yet we will not stop celebrating. We will continue to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. That is why we worship on Sunday, because each Sunday is a mini Easter celebration. We come to worship, not a dead God, but a living God. Jesus did rise from the dead, just as God promised. Jesus resurrection’ was not something that should have been a surprise to the children of Israel and it should not be a surprise to us. His resurrection was predicted by King David as Peter points out by quoting from Psalm 16.
Peter quotes David who was glad that, although he would die, he knew he had eternal life. He knew that although he would die, his body would be resurrected. And He predicted that Jesus’ own body would not see decay, because He would rise on the third day. Of course there are many other passages of Holy Scripture that Peter could have quoted, but this is the one he quotes for us this morning. Jesus’ resurrection was not something about which it was not known that it would happen. God said it would happen, He promised it would happen. He reiterated His promise time and again through the prophets of the Bible. Unfortunately, many people missed it. Many people were like the Pharisees and teacher of the law and even Jesus’ own disciples who had misinterpreted the promises of old and who had come to look for and believe that the Messiah would be an earthly King. Peter quotes the words of King David, given to Him by God, which are a clear testimony and promise that the Messiah would come and die, yet His body would not see decay, because God would not allow that to happen and because He did not stay dead, but rose from the dead. David is certain and we can be certain that because Jesus rose, bodily rose, we too will rise again. Death and the grave have no power over us.
Peter’s sermon are words that remind us that he was a witness to these events. He was with Jesus throughout His three years of ministry, His perfect life and His death. He was one of the chosen twelve who were Jesus’ apostles. Just as David died and was buried and his tomb is “here today” as Peter says, so he was a witness of Jesus’ death on the cross and he was a witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Peter says they are the same, he has witnessed David’s tomb, it is a real thing and he witnessed Jesus’ life, His ministry and preaching, His death, and His resurrection. And it was not just once that Peter saw Jesus alive after His resurrection, but several times. Between His resurrection and His ascension, forty days after Easter, Jesus showed Himself many times to His disciples and to many others.
Peter is preaching to a crowd of people who know what he is talking about because they were a part of these events. They saw Jesus, they heard Him preach, they were healed by Him, they saw Him suffer and die on the cross, it may be that some of them were the ones in the crowd who praised Him as He came triumphantly into Jerusalem and even some who shouted for His crucifixion at His trial. And it could be that some of them had even seen Jesus after His resurrection.
Peter preaches succinctly, these are the facts! Peter comes to us this morning and preaches just as succinctly, these are the facts.
What does this mean for us today? It means that we can have confidence in our faith in Jesus. We rest assured that Jesus is who He says He is and that He is who the Bible says He is, that is, He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world, your Savior and mine. We make use of the Bible just as Peter did. We go back to the promises of the Old Testament and see how they have all been fulfilled in Jesus, in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection.
We have confidence in our certainty of forgiveness. Because Jesus gave His life for ours, because Jesus died the eternal spiritual death penalty for us in our place, because of all that Jesus has done, we have forgiveness of sins. The price of our sins which is death, eternal spiritual death (the wages of sin is death), has been paid. Our sins have been forgiven, cast away as far as the east is from the west, so far have they been removed from us.
We have confidence in our certainty of eternal life. Heaven is ours, now. It is a present reality. Heaven is a gift, given to us by Jesus who earned it for us. Because Jesus rose from the dead we know that we too will rise again.
This morning we want to thank Peter for his words of confidence and assurance to us. We thank Peter for reminding us that Jesus fulfilled all things. We might summarize the message we heard this morning with the words of the explanation to the second article of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” To God be the glory. Amen.