In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
If you were going to make up a religion, you wouldn’t make up the Holy Trinity. It has been the cause of more confusion, more misunderstanding. The greatest minds the Lord has seemed to give to His Church on earth came along in the late 200s through early 400s. Almost all them overlapped with each other in two great generations of brilliant pastors. These are what we call the Church Fathers. They were a series of brilliant teachers of the Church who were put on earth at the same time as each other. Men such as St. Nicholas, St. Athanasius, and later St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom the “golden mouthed”, and St. Augustine. These were all bishops in various places. And we can only assume based on what happened, that they were given to dig into Scripture and give to us the clearest picture of who and what God is. Because there were serious errors invading the Church teachings in the days the Lord put them on earth. For instance Arius was a pastor teaching that Jesus is just a man, born of the Virgin Mary, but not of the Father. Arius taught that Jesus had a beginning. That He was not eternal. Because to Arius Jesus was not God. Not in the same way as the Father. Not in an almighty way, nor an eternal way. For Arius Jesus was just adopted by the Father or something like that. So that by virtue of God the Father’s name Jesus, His Son, might be called God. But according to Arius, Jesus was not God.
You can see the clear problems with that. Of course, Jesus is God. It is the settled teaching of the Church, clear from the Bible. For as Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) Jesus, the Word made flesh, was with God from the beginning and was God from the beginning. (John 1:1-2) But you have to admit that Aruis’ schemes make more sense. After all, how can Jesus be born and take on flesh if He is of the same substance as the God who created all things? How can He who created all things in beginning, and without whom nothing was made that was made (John 1:3), become part of what was made? How can He who has no beginning or end become part of the physical world which has a definite beginning? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. It isn’t what you’d invent if you were making up your own religion. But it is a touchstone of faithfulness to the Word of Jesus. It is a sign of those who are born from above. (John 3:5) That you listen to His word and love His word. (Matt. 17:5)
When you pay enough attention to what the Apostle John wrote about the Holy Trinity, when you listen to the Apostle Paul—“Oh, the depth of riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:33)—right there we are told that God is God. There is no one like Him. You and I can try to figure God out, but we can never plumb the depths of who or what He is. Our words will not contain Him fully. If He had not revealed Himself to us in the flesh of Christ Jesus with words given by the apostles there’d be no way we could even describe or know Him. (Heb. 1:2-3; Rom. 11:34-35) He would be a complete mystery. And to be sure He is mysterious, unfathomable, beyond our comprehension. (Rom. 11:33-35) He is worthy of our wonder, and adoration. (Rom. 11:36) But He would be completely incomprehensible and unknowable if He had not made one of eternal persons of God to take on flesh and be knowable by us. (Col. 1:15-16a; Heb. 1:2-3)
Or to say it another way, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)
Well, in our day, there are attacks on Jesus everywhere. On His being God. On His being whom He says He is. Attacks every where you look on nearly every aspect of His person and His story. Even attacks on whether He existed at all. But the thing you need to know in the midst of all this is: why does our Lord insist on this strange teaching of one God who eternally exists in 3 persons?
Simply put, we don’t know. It is a mystery. But a few observations. As I’ve said earlier, this is a test. A test of yourself and any Christians you find yourself amongst. Are they actually Christians? Do they listen to Jesus and to His Word? Do they believe Him, teach Him, and confess Him in the way He says He exists? As God Himself, the Son of the Father, part of Holy Trinity? Who with the Father sends the Holy Spirit? (John 14:26) Or do they reject that?
This is the basic touchstone on whether the people you are with are actually Christians or not. Because Jesus says to teach everything He has said (John 14:23, 15; Matt. 28:20)—including this strange and hard to understand teaching of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit’s job is to bring to your mind all that Jesus said. (John 14:26b) including this strange teaching of the person of the Holy Spirit who does the Father and Son’s bidding.
Morevover, this truth remains: that you can not by your own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, your Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel, enlightened you with His gifts, sanctified and kept you in the true faith. (Small Catechism: The Third Article) or as Jesus says it no man comes to Father but through Himself. (John 14:6) And no one can believe in the Son, unless the Father draws Him. (John 6:44) And no one can understand any of this stuff unless he is not only born again, but born from above (John 3:3), born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5-6) The Spirit who is poured down from above, sent from the Father, to teach you all things. Who like the wind is not seen. (John 3:8) And no one really knows where it comes from or where it goes. But you can hear the sound or voice of the wind. Just as you can with the Spirit. Because the Spirit comes by hearing the word of God. (Eph. 6:17) The Spirit comes not just automatically or spontaneously, but by means. For think of last week, the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on the 12 who then preached. (Ac. 2:3-4, 7, 11) That preaching caused 3000 to hear and believe and be baptized so that the Spirit was poured out on them along with water in Holy Baptism. (Ac. 2:37-38, 41) Because you can’t see the Spirit, but you can hear it. (John 3:8) For it inspires your faith. It causes you to speak. To come to the Son. To move. To believe in Jesus and His sin slaying death.
And that’s the other big thing about the Holy Trinity: if Jesus is not God, then His death means nothing! (1 Cor. 15:14-17) 1000s die daily in hospitals, in wars, from disease, or famine. But whose death can give you life? No ones. Death causes grief. Death robs people from you. One man’s death will not change your eternal destiny, unless, that Man is God—who was lifted up on a cross so that your sins would be conquered by His innocent suffering and death. (John 3:14-15) And your life purchased and won by His holy precious blood so that you belong to the Father forever, to praise of His glorious grace!
For no one knows the mind of the Lord. (Rom. 11:34) But the Lord has revealed to you by the Holy Spirit through His word that He had it in mind to save you in Christ Jesus, from before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:4)
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.