Read This Page in My Language
Sermon: Romans 5:1-5
Pentecost 1 – Trinity – June 16, 2019 – Rev. Steven J. Radunzel
Next Sunday I’m going to begin a new Sunday adult Bible class entitled “Why the Christian ‘church’ Is Dying in America . . . and the West . . . and What We Can Do about It.” And one of the sections of the study will deal with the fact that too many churches no longer boldly profess their historical confessional beliefs, their basic biblical beliefs.
And one of those basic biblical teachings that churches are not always professing so faithfully and clearly is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, that God is three Persons in one God, each Person is God, and yet there’s only one God. It’s not that churches are out right denying the doctrine of the Trinity, but the problem is that the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as others, is not be taught well, confessed clearly, or vigorously defended. How many people who sit in church pews each Sunday could really give a good definition of the Trinity? That statistic would be even worse for the person on the street who has just a casual connection with the Christian teaching.
Today is Holy Trinity Sunday. It’s really a Sunday that in a sense wraps up the festival half of the Christian church year. It’s like a summary or reminder of all that the Triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did to save us from our sins.
Our text today from Romans is a good reminder
WHAT THREE PERSONS IN ONE GOD HAVE DONE FOR US
Another one of those doctrines that too many churches are losing touch with and not teaching or confessing clearly is justification. The teaching of justification is really the heart and core of the Reformation. It is in fact the heart and core of the Christian faith. Justification means that God has declared us not guilty of our sins because Jesus’ holiness has been credited to us and that his death on the cross fully atone for our sins. We’re not justified because of good works, because of who we are or what we’ve done in life, but simply and fully through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proves that all of this wonderful news about our justification is really true.
In the first four chapters of Romans the Apostle Paul very thoroughly teaches us that we are forgiven, declared righteous, or justified through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why he begins in chapter 5, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .”
Are you at peace with God? Do you feel at peace with God? Unfortunately we probably speak about the peace of God so much that we almost forget what it means; we fail to appreciate what a priceless gift it is. Think about it. The Bible speaks about the peace of God in hundreds of places. Before we receive Holy Communion the pastor greets the congregation with the words “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” After receiving communion you’re dismissed with the words, “Depart in peace. In our Spanish service toward the end of the service the members actually get up from their seats, shake hands and often hug the other worshipers and wish them “La paz de Christo,” “the peace of Christ.” And we end every service with the Aaronic benediction, the Trinitarian benediction, from our Old Testament reading today, “The LORD look on you with favor and give you peace.”
Why is the peace of God so important? Why does it fill our worship so abundantly? Putting it simply and bluntly, if we didn’t have peace with God, if we were not at peace with God, we’d all be going to hell. You see, we were born with a sinful nature that was hostile to God. We were on the wrong side of God. Jesus came to take our place on the wrong side of God. God poured out his wrath and anger for our sin on Jesus. God forgave us, declared us not guilty, justified, and at peace with him. It’s no wonder that the angels said to the shepherds on the night that Jesus was born, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
As a result Paul goes on in our text to say that “we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” That means that we at any time can boldly stand in the presence of God, worship him, and pray to him. Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Ephesians: “In [Jesus] and through faith in [Jesus] we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
That access to God is so abundantly available to us that, just like the peace of God, we also can take it for granted. But just imagine for a moment if you didn’t have that kind of access to God. Just imagine if you only had access to God for one minute each month or each year! Just imagine if you had no access to God ever. Just imagine if in the biggest crisis of your life you couldn’t go to God at all, or if you called on God he just chose not to listen. Having no access to God is the horrible essence of hell. But thanks be to our Savior Jesus we are at peace with God and have twenty-four/seven, every minute, every second access to God who loves us.
And so Paul continues, “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Before they sinned Adam and Eve knew the glory of God. They were created in the image of God. They were without sin. They perfectly reflected God’s glory. When we get to heaven we’re going to know and experience in all its fullness the glory of God, the unimaginable feeling of no sin, and the ability without hindrance or hesitation to glorify and worship God.
And Paul says that we can rejoice so much in that coming glory of God that while we’re still here in this world we can even rejoice in our sufferings. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, . . .” When was the last time you rejoiced in your sufferings? When was the last time you rejoiced during your grief over someone’s death? When was the last time you rejoiced at medical struggles? When was the last time you rejoiced during marital or family troubles? When was the last time you rejoiced during financial struggles? Those questions almost sound ridiculous, but they’re very appropriate because Paul tells us to rejoice in our sufferings.
Just imagine that. Because we’re at peace with God through Jesus Christ, because we have direct and unending access to our merciful and loving God, because we know that we will experience the fullness of God’s glory in heaven, we can actually rejoice in our sufferings here in this sinful and problem-filled world. Our problems and troubles, sin and death, do not get the final say in our life. God is bigger and more powerful than all our problems and sin and death put together.
In another part of this letter to the Romans Paul writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according his purpose.” In other words through all the events and experiences of life, good or bad, easy or challenging, God will work to make all those things work out for our good, that he will bring us to faith in Jesus, strengthen us in faith, and keep us in faith to the very end.
Do you ever let your troubles and sufferings to get you down, depress you, overwhelm you? We’ve all had that problem. It’s easy to get down and discouraged. But Paul is saying, “Don’t. As a matter fact rejoice in your sufferings because God goes through those sufferings with you and makes them finally work for your good and eternal salvation.” “Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, . . .” Suffering and challenges from the devil and the world make us stronger Christians. Be glad about that. Rejoice in your sufferings Paul says.
The unbelieving world will say that rejoicing in our sufferings is illogical and ridiculous. But we can actually rejoice in our sufferings because of the work of the Holy Spirit. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
God the Holy Spirit is the one who has taken the power of the gospel message of forgiveness in the name of Jesus and brought us to faith in Jesus. He has made us children of God. When you feel love for God it’s because the Holy Spirit has put that love there. When you feel love for fellow Christians and others it’s because the Holy Spirit has put that love there. When you’re glad and you appreciate and cherish the forgiveness of sins it’s because the Holy Spirit has put that thanks and appreciation in your mind and heart. When you rejoice at the thought of heaven that’s yet to come it’s because the Holy Spirit has put that faith and joy in your heart.
So what does all this have to do with Trinity Sunday? Did you notice how skillfully Paul wove throughout these five verses the work that each one of the Persons of the Trinity does for us. God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son, to be our Savior. God the Holy Spirit has brought us to faith and given us peace with God. And Paul explained that work of the three Persons of the Trinity without using the triune or Trinity.
As a matter of fact the words triune or Trinity are not actually in the Bible. Be aware of that fact because Jehovah’s Witnesses at your front door will try to trip you up. They’ll tell you that God isn’t a triune God because the word Trinity isn’t even in the Bible. Trinity isn’t in the Bible, but Trinity is a theological word that early Christians used to describe how God reveals himself to us in the Bible. But he is triune, three in one. He’s three Persons in One God. That makes no sense to human reason, but it’s a good thing God goes beyond our human reason and understanding. He’s God. We’re not. He wouldn’t be much of a God if he didn’t baffle us and go beyond what we can understand.
When you read scripture begin to notice how Paul and the other apostles, as well as Old Testament prophets, skillfully speak of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but only one God. And they never use the word Trinity. Those three Persons in one God have saved us from our sins and given us eternal peace with God. Amen.