Sermon of the Week
TEXT: NUMBERS 6:22-26                               #3011                       HOLY TRINITY
Phoenix - 5/27/18
My dear fellow redeemed,
Today in the Christian Church Year we are celebrating the Festival of the Holy Trinity, and in connection with our celebration I am reminded of an experience that a pastor named James Hazelwood tells about. "A couple of years ago," he says, "I thought I did a really good job of explaining the Holy Trinity to my congregation. When the worship service was over, a member came up to me and said, 'Pastor, for more than 75 years now I've been listening to preachers talk about the Triune God.' And then she paused," Pastor Jim says, "and I thought to myself that she was going to say that I had finally made this doctrine clear to her. But she didn't. Instead, she went on to say, 'In all that time, no pastor has ever been able to explain the Holy Trinity to me, And you know what I think?' she continued. 'Judging from what you said today, I think tKat maybe preachers don't understand the Bible's teaching about the Triune God either. "'
And I would be the first to admit that she's right at least as far as I'm concerned. There are some teachings of Scripture that are simply beyond what our finite human minds can comprehend, whether we're the pastor in the pulpit or the people in the pews, and what God tells us about Himself in His holy Word is one of them. There our God reveals Himself as being "triune" — the great and holy "Three-in-One." Even though we can't comprehend or logically explain what He teaches us about Himself, He does encourage us to meditate on what He says and to rejoice in the blessings He tells us we find in Him. So this morning we're going to do this by directing our attention to "THE MYSTERY AND MARVELS OF THE ONE TRUE GOD." First, we will be reminded that 1. HE IS MYSTERIOUS IN HIS BEING. And then also that 11. HE IS MARVELOUS IN HIS BLESSINGS. 1.
Back in the days when space exploration was first kicking into high gear, three Russian cosmonauts, who has spent quite a bit of time orbiting the earth, returned to their home base in the Soviet Union and they reported proudly and arrogantly, "We have gone thru the heavens from one end to the other — from east to west, from north to south — and nowhere in all our travels," they said, "did we see any kind of God." That may be shocking, but it's noi surprising. What their statement merely confirmed is the psalm writer expressed thousands of years before them when he wrote, "Thefool has said in his heart, 'There is no God. "' Fools. Everybody knows there is a God. Everybody knows that God exists — that God is real — because everybody has what is called "a natural knowledge of God." They can see the evidence God has given them of His existence in the created universe around them, because they know that nq matter how hard they try, they can't produce even a single blade of grass or one solitary grain of sand. So there has to be Someone infinitely greater than they" are. Then too, everybody has a conscience, and that little voice inside them constantly reminds them that they are accountable to a Being far greater than themselves.
Everybody knows there is a God, but down thru the ages people have tried to "shrink God down to hip-pocket size," so to speak. They fry to picture Him in the way they want
Him to be so that they might be able to comprehend Him, and that just can't be done. The Apostle Paul tells us very plainly, "Who has known the mind ofthe Lord? Or who has been His counselor? " The simple fact is that God is "incomprehensible," as we will confess again this moming in the Athanasian Creed. In other words, God is infinitely great and far beyond our human ability to grasp and comprehend. HE IS TRULY MYSTERIOUS IN HIS BEING. The problem involved with the mystery of God's Being, however lies not in that He hasn't told us who He is and what He is like, but rather it lies in our inability with our limited human intellect to understand and fathom what He has told us about Himself.
The one true God has clearly revealed Himself to us in the Bible. There's no doubt about that. He has told us who He is and what He's like. Just listen, for example, to what God tells us thru Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy. "Hear, O Israel," Moses said, "the LORD our God, the LORD is one." God is one, or to put that another way, there is only one God who fruly exists — not a whole slew of them like many people believe, but just one. And yet in numerous passages throughout the Bible — including the verses which are now before us — this one ü•ue God has also revealed Himself a's three separate and distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Because of this, the early Christian theologians coined the Latin word, "triune, " which means, 'three in one" to describe the mystery of God's Being. Before us this morning are the words of that well-known blessing God told Moses was to be pronounced by the high priest Aaron and his sons upon God's people, and three times in these words God identifies Himself "the LORD....the LORD....the LORD" but each time with reference to Him doing something different because He is indicating that He is actually three different Persons who are each "the LORD" (spelled with capital letters) — the God for free and grace.
There is just no debating thefacts God has revealed about Himself because those facts are all clear and simply stated. The one true God is 'triune" — He is one, and yet this one true God is three distinct, separate, equal, and etemal Persons. The more we ponder this teaching, the more mysterious it becomes. The more we try to "total it up on the calculator of our human mind," so to speak, the more impossible it appears. I mean, according to our math, one plus one plus one always equal three, but according to God's math concerning Himself, one plus one plus one equals one. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity just doesn't fit the framework of common human logic, nor can it be fully analyzed under the microscope of our miniscule human intellect. It just doesn't add up or make any sense. And yet the fact remains: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three Persons, each separate from the other and each fully God all by Himself, but still they are only one God. That's the great mystery concerning the Being ofthe one frue God.
It's a mystery that we can't probe like some scientific puzzle waiting to be solved, nor is it a mystery that we should just reject simply because we can't comprehend it or rationally explain it. Dr. Martin Luther has said: "We are not to wrack our brains and discuss whether or not something is possible, but simply ask whether or not it is God's Word. If it is God's Word," Luther maintained, "if He has truly said it, you may be sure that He will neither lie nor deceive you, even though you may not understand the how and why and when of what He is saying." And my friends, the one true God definitely IS triune, three in one. This is what He's saying to us. This IS His own Word when it comes to His Being, and so without a doubt this IS how He is. Our God is triune. He doesn't ask us to understand Him or to comprehend Him, but merely to accept with childlike faith what He tells us about Himself. What our Lord Jesus told His disciple Thomas applies to each one of us as well, and that is, "Blessed are those who •have not seen and yet have believed " This is the only way to approach the mysterious Being of the one true God — with humble, unquestioning, childlike faith.         11.
Now secondly, from what God has revealed about Himself, we can see that He is not only mysterious in His Being, but also MARVELOUS IN HIS BLESSINGS. what God was impressing upon His people in the words He commanded their high priests to pronounce upon them. "The LORD bless you and keep you," they heard regularly, just as we still do today, v.24. This is what God does for His people. He "blesses us and keep us." It's from His gracious hand and tender heart that we receive everything we need for the preservation of our body and soul while we live here on earth. At one time there was a little 4-year-old boy in Vacation Bible School who obviously had comprehended this comforting truth. When he came home from his first day at the VBS, his mother asked him how he liked it. "Oh, Mom," he said, "it's just great! My teacher is really nice, and after she tells us the Bible story, we go outside to play. Then, when we come back in," he continued, "God has some cookies and Kool Aid all set out for us and ready to go. It's just great!"
It really is, isn't it! It really is "just great" how every day our loving heavenly Father does graciously take care of everything for us. He blesses us very richly, provides for all of our needs, and keeps us safely in His wonderful care. This really is "just great!" With regard to this, however, someone once said, "At times. when we talk about God's blessings, we tend to think first of the 'nickels and dimes,' so to speak — the bread on the table and the butter to put on it; the anxious trip to the hospital and the happy return from it; the job we still hold, and the children kept safe from harm. But why stop with the 'nickels and dimes'?" the man asked. "Our heavenly Father gives us lots of 'tens and twenties' too! What happened when your faith started to flicker like a match in the wind? What happened when your spot in life seemed far too hot? What happened when your future seemed way too dark? Wasn't your heavenly Father there as well to 'bless you and keep you'? He certainly was....and will always continue to be!" And this is å•ue. Our heavenly Father does "bless us" with all we need each day, and He does graciously "keep us," both physically and spiritually. It's this marvelous blessing from the one true God that helps make life in His family "just great!"
But that's not all He does for us. No, God's people are also reminded, "The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you," v.25. When a new mother gazes down in awe at the little miracle nestled in the crook of her arm, or when a new husband looks adoringly at his beautiful bride, like Prince Harry did at Meagan, his princess-to-be, during their marriage ceremony, those looks spell love, don't they? That's love you see shining on those faces — love for someone who is very dear and precious. And so it is also with our God and each one of us. His face too is "shining with love" upon all of us, only His love is a love that is far deeper and much more dear than any human being could ever muster. And let's be honest, my friends. Is this what we really deserve? Is it a look of love that we should have coming from our holy Lord and God? Or should it rather be the menacing look of righteous anger and the flashing eyes full ofholy wrath?
I think you know the answer to that, don't you? Because of the sins we commit each and every day, we deserve nothing but punishment from the one true God — punishment already now during our life here on earth and eternal punishment in the torments of hell. And yet He "makes His face shine on us" and is "gracious to us." Instead of the divine punishment we have merited, the one true God gives us an unconditional pardon for all of our sins, and Hé does this only because of God the Son, our Lord Jesus ChrisT, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. It is for Jesus' sake that God smiles on us with love and is gracious to us. Because Jesus willingly took upon Himself the guilt of all our sins and in our place experienced the full anger of God over those sins, we have been fflly and freely forgiven by God and are now basking in the sunshine of His love and grace. What a marvelous blessing this is!
But equally as marvelous is another blessing that our God has for us and gives to us. To put it very simply, He calls it "peace." "The Lord turn His face toward you and give you* peace," we are told, v.26. This is also what the one true God has promised His people. He has promised to bless them with "peace." But what does this really mean? What kind of peace is God talking about? Does this mean there will be no more threat of nuclear war among the nations of the world? No more sound from automatic weapons and bomb blasts in various places here on earth? Does it mean no more bickering between spouses and no more quaneling among relatives? No more bigotry, prejudice, and tension between the different races? Does it mean no more cold-blooded killing in our schools and no more random slaughter on our sü•eets? Is this the kind of peace God has promised His people? No, when God promises to bless His people with "peace," He means "the real thing," and that is, peace with Him.
This is what's truly important and absolutely essential — that every human being personally be at peace with God Himself. It's the peace we find when we trust in Jesus as our Savior from sin — the peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake and that we won't be condemned to burn in hell when we die. It's the peace that comes from knowing that we are God's own dear children thru faith in Christ Jesus — the peace of knowing that God is our loving Father, our gracious Provider, Protector, and Preserver, from whom nothing can separate us from as long as we live here on earth. It's the peace that comes in knowing that we will live forever in the Paradise of heaven because of God's grace to us in Jesus — the peace in knowing that God is guiding, directing, and controlling every aspect of our lives so that this glorious future He has promised us will ultimately materialize. It's "the peace of God that transcends all understanding " as the Apostle Paul put it. And it is God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of our Triune God, who "turns His face toward us" — who "looks with favor upon us" - and thru His Word and sacraments creates and preserves this saving faith in our heart so that He might continuously flood our soul with this marvelous blessing ofpeace.
This, then, my friends, is a brief review of the mystery and marvels of the one true God, our Holy Trinity. He is without question mysterious in His Being — the God who is incomprehensible and awe-inspiring. And at the same time He is also without question marvelous in His blessings — the God of grace....the God who gives us all that we need with the blessings of His preservation, His pardon, and His peace. In view of what we have recalled again today, we too should join the psalm writer and say as he did, "Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised!" I pray that God will fill our hearts with gratitude so that we always do this... .both here in time and for all of eternity.


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"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." ~ John 10:27