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 11, 2017
In the Beginning God! - June 11, 2017 - Holy Trinity Sunday - Text: Genesis 1:1-2:4a
This morning we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday. We celebrate the fact that we worship a God who has revealed Himself to us as one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our second lesson from Acts shows us that Jesus is truly God as He was before David, even as He was at creation. Our Gospel lesson reminds us of the trinity in Jesus’ command to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Our text is the Old Testament lesson and the account of creation with our emphasis this morning being on the “proof” of the trinity at creation. With that said we must confess that, “yes, the word ‘trinity’ is not in the Bible,” but that does not mean that we cannot use it to describe how God reveals Himself to us, that is as a trinity, a three in one, a triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God clearly describes Himself as being one God as we heard last week, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). And as being a plurality, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we will see.
Our text for this morning is the Old Testament Lesson from Genesis and although this text would make for a wonderful sermon recounting the might of our almighty God, that is not our agenda for this morning. Instead, our text for this morning and God’s account of creation is set before us as “proof,” if you will, of the trinity of our God.
Before we use this text as “proof” of the trinity, let us take a moment to look at some of the important messages from this Biblical account of creation. As we look at the account of creation and let me say that I am not an expert in science but nonetheless I would put forth that there are basically two theories of how our world came into existence. One theory, posed by human beings who are known to be wrong, is that it came into existence by itself, without God. This theory comes in many forms and variations, and although most are referred to simply as the theory of evolution, I prefer the term “Darwinism” named after its main creator, Charles Darwin. The theory of Darwinism is only a theory and we Christians must also confess that the Creation Account, at least in human terms, is only theory as well, because neither can be proven, because no one, except God, was around at creation, so no one can say with absolute certainty that it happened one way or another. As Christians, however, we take God’s account as fact because we believe that He was there at Creation and because He never gets it wrong. When God speaks it is truth. Darwinians suggests that all that we see came about by its own doing. To me that sounds as reasonable as my suggesting that I was born according to my own doing.
With that said, let us take a quick overview of this Biblical account and theory of creation. First, we will make note that this account was recorded by Moses as directed by God. Again, as I just said, no one was around at the creation of the world except God and since God does not lie we accept Moses’ account as God revealed to him and moved him to write. Besides, if you really take a look at the facts of the creation of the world, you will notice that the Biblical explanation fits the facts a lot better than any human explanation, especially since the human explanation is an explanation tainted by sin, and because they change over time. Remember, after God created a perfect world, sin enter the world through Adam and Eve. And if anyone wants to discuss this more in detail, please find me later.
Anyway, the Biblical account of creation reminds us that there is an absolute, there is an ultimate authority, and that ultimate authority is God the Creator. Ultimately we will be held accountable to Him. The Biblical account of creation personalizes the creation of the world. The world was thought out, was planned, was designed, was created special. All things in the world have meaning and purpose and as Christians our response is to be good stewards of all things in this world, meaning that we are to take care of the environment, as well as be good humanitarians. As Christians, recognizing that all things were created and given to us by God we will respond with responsible stewardship of all of creation.
The Biblical account of creation also reminds us that we are special. We are not just the products of many accidents that happened over millions and billions of years. Rather, we were thought out. We were designed. We were created special. We have a purpose. Our lives have meaning. We are God’s children and have been created to be loved by God. And, as a response of faith, God works in us to live our lives to His glory.
With that said, let us move to our trinity emphasis, that is that this creation account is “proof” of the trinity of God in whom we worship. Our text begins with the words, “in the beginning God,” and the word God is in the plural. In Hebrew there is a singular form of the word “god” (El) and a plural form of the word “god” (Elohim) and the word which is used in our text is the word “god” (Elohim) in the plural. And yet we do not understand the word god in the plural to mean that we worship a pantheism or a polytheism of gods, that is we do not worship a god who is in all things nor a god who is many gods.
We are also told in verse two that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Here we have another indication that there is more to God than a singleness can encompass. God is God and He is Spirit. In the New Testament we are given the name of God the Spirit as the Holy Spirit and we get a better understanding of God as Father and Son as well as Holy Spirit.
Finally, in verse twenty-six, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...” Again, we see the plurality of God as He again refers to Himself in the plural. Now, let us not misunderstand God in the plural. As I said, this does not mean that we are polytheistic, in other words this does not mean that we worship a god who is many gods. Remember, we do not make a doctrine, a teaching using only one passage of the Bible, but we keep the Bible as a whole to understand God and what He reveals and gives to us. Thus, when we get to Deuteronomy, we hear the Lord say, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” Deut. 6:4. Here in Deuteronomy the word god is in the plural and yet He tells us He is one. Thus, we see that this plurality of God is held in His singularness, three persons in one godhead is how we say it.
Every Sunday we confess our faith in our triune God. We do this as we confess either the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed and on this Sunday, Holy Trinity Sunday, once a year we confess this faith in the Athanasian Creed. These creeds were written in defense of the trinity of God and in order to refute heresy’s that were going around concerning the trinity of God. Today they remind us of our confession of the trinity and the role of God in all of life.
In these creeds we confess that we believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. We confess that we believe that God is the Creator of all things and that He created all things out of nothing. As human beings we change things, we remake things, but we cannot create or destroy matter, only God can do that and that is what He did, He created, brought everything into existence out of nothing. He said, He spoke and it came into being. He is the ultimate authority and He will hold each one of us accountable for our lives.
We confess that we believe in God the Son, that is Jesus Christ who is true God, who gave up the glory that was His in heaven, who took on human flesh and blood, who lived perfectly for us in our place, obeying all the laws and commands of God for us, in our place because we cannot, who took all our sins upon Himself and suffered the eternal death penalty for us. He became accountable for us, in our place. He gave His life for ours so that we might have forgiveness of sins. And with forgiveness we have life in this world and life in the world to come, yes, eternal life in heaven.
We confess that we believe in God the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who comes to us through the means of grace, the Word, the Bible and the Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is the Holy Spirit who comes through these means to give us faith, to strengthen us in our faith and to keep us in faith until eternal life.
Verse one of our text, then, is the summary verse of all of Holy Scripture. Verse one reminds us that in the beginning of human history and time, and even before, there was nothing except God. There was not even time as we know and understand time. At creation God created. He created time. He created all things out of nothing. He created us.
In the beginning was God. He was not created. He was not begotten. He simply was and is and always will be. God has no beginning. He has no end. He simply is and He is eternal. Indeed, that is how we understand God as He tells Moses He is “I AM.” He is God in the eternal present.
In his Gospel John begins with the words, “In the beginning...” but he continues with “was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...” and he continues a little later with the words, “the Word became flesh.” John shows us that Jesus is God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus was with the Father and the Spirit at the creation of the world as nothing was made that was made without Him. John shows us that Jesus is God who became flesh for us, He dwelt or tented for a while among us. Jesus came only for a short period of time, enough time to accomplish our forgiveness and salvation. John shows us the way to salvation. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). The exclusive claim of the Christian Church, and why we are so hated by the world, is that there is only one God, the one true God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and there is only one way to heaven and this is by faith in this one true God.
Again, the Bible does not use the word “trinity” or “triune,” but it does reveal to us a God who is a plural in a singular, a God who is three distinct persons in one God. The Bible passages of which we have been reading this morning are only a few of all that are in the Bible that show God to be a triune God. Yet, even more, our Bible directs us to how great, wonderful and loving our God is. Even though we are conceived and born in sin, even though every inclination of our heart is evil all the time, even though we daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness, even though we continually refuse and reject His gifts, we might say, even though we act like spoiled rotten children, He continues to shower us with His love and His good gifts and blessings. Certainly this is inconceivable to the non-Christian, but to us who would otherwise be perishing, these are words of great comfort and joy. What a great God we have. This morning we praise the Lord that, although we may not fully comprehend with our finite minds His incomprehensibleness (and I might add that for that we are grateful, that is that we have a God who is bigger than our little minds), He has revealed to us what we need to know for salvation and all that we need to know is wrapped up in faith in God the Father who created us, in His Son Jesus Christ who gave His life for ours and in the Holy Spirit who gives us that faith. And to Him we say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.