The Feast of the Holy Trinity: Praise to the Holy Trinity

Lessons: Isaiah 6:1-7, Romans 11:33-36, John 3:1-17
Hymns: 504, 953, 505, 940, 506

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today, for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, we will focus on the short passage from our Epistle reading, which is written in Romans 11. These four verses conclude a theological point St. Paul made in Romans 9-11. In these three chapters, Paul writes that many Israelites rejected Jesus and therefore they did not receive salvation. In chapter 11, he notes that many Gentiles (non-Jews) believe in Jesus and therefore they are grafted into Christ’s Church.

Because you are believers in Jesus, this is also so for you. You are grafted into Christ’s Church through the waters of Holy Baptism.

Paul then speaks of the mystery concerning these truths. You see, it is tempting for us to come up with well-reasoned, logical explanations that even the smallest children can understand when it comes to all matters of the Christian faith. We want to confine God and His ways to our thinking and our understanding. Because we are the most intelligent beings of God’s creation, we want to think that there is nothing higher than the intelligence of man. We do not want to think of God as being greater, more intelligent, or more advanced than we are.

That is precisely why so many people take for granted many teachings which contradict the Sacred Scriptures. Many people hold to teachings that they think are so obvious, yet they are unbiblical and therefore unchristian. Contrary to the Bible, many believe in an old Earth and believe God used evolution (which requires death) to form life. Many no longer hold to the biblical definition of marriage being a life-long union between one man and one woman. Many are unwilling to trust in the Lord for the provisions of our bodies instead of their savings, insurance receipts, or entitlement benefits. Many are not ready to admit with Isaiah, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).

Instead of being ever so quick to assert our own selves or our collective wisdom, we should instead be ready to assert the wisdom of God. In a sense, God has touched our lips. He has certainly taken our guilt away and our sin is atoned for (Isaiah 6:7). He has given a purpose for our lips: to tell the wonderful works of God, as we heard last week. Just as generation after generation told and retold the works of God and the blessings He bestowed, God has seen to it that His work and wisdom has been passed on to us. We have wise words to speak—words guided by the Bible—truths as He reveals them in the Scriptures.

Our Old Testament lesson tells us of the account of when God called Isaiah to be a prophet. Isaiah knew he was a sinner. He would not assert himself or his thoughts. Instead, when God touched his lips, cleansed them, and purified them, Isaiah would not teach his thoughts or give his opinions on any matter of doctrine. Instead, he taught the pure Word of God.

 We should never long for pastors who will tell us what we want to hear. Instead, we should also seek after servants of God who will tell us what God’s Word says. Man’s word fails. But God’s never does.

And so, we say with St. Paul in our Epistle, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

With graduation season among us, many are interested to know who are ranked near the top of the class. We are always impressed by their discipline and knowledge. But we can never say of them what we say of God. “The depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” Same with Solomon. He requested wisdom, and God gave it to him in an extraordinary way. Yet we cannot say of him, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of Solomon! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Instead, we know that Solomon sometimes lacked judgment and always remained a sinner.

Unlike Solomon, God’s judgments and His ways are perfect. In fact, God even pronounces a judgment for us that most are unwilling to do for others. God saw our sin and sent His only-begotten Son to pay for our sin. The Father sent His Son to die for us, that we should not perish but have eternal life! As the Scriptures declare, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:7-8). And “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

What this means is that God’s judgment toward us is now one of acquittal. Despite our many sins, He judges us to be righteous and credits to us the very righteousness of Christ.

 If you think about it, who will do that? Are you ready to step in for the police officers who killed George Floyd, state that you are guilty and not them, take all the heat they are taking, and bear all the punishments and consequences for their shameful act? Are you willing to do this? Yet, that is what Jesus did for you. He took the blame for your sin, held Himself accountable to God in your place, and paid the penalty for all that you have done wrong. He shed His innocent Blood on the cross to serve as the ransom payment for your sin. Oh, “how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable His ways!”

Our Epistle asks three questions, which is certainly fitting on Trinity Sunday. These three questions are rhetorical, and the obvious answer is “no one.” The first is, “Who has known the mind of the Lord” (Rom. 11:34)? Who knows His thinking? Who knows His inner counsel? Who knows the interaction between the three persons of the Holy Trinity? No one. Concerning this verse, our Lutherans Confessions state, “We cannot know about matters outside of and beyond what God has revealed to us in His Word.”

So, we may wonder how the Holy Trinity could possibly work. Three persons, but one God? Not three gods. Not one person. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three persons, yet one God. That goes way beyond our thinking! Or how can God become Man? Or how can Jesus be present in the bread and wine on altars across the globe when He is reigns at the right hand of the Father? Or how can some be saved and others not when God desires all to be saved and Jesus paid for the sins of the world and when God chooses those who will be saved? Clearly, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are greater than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).

Next, we are asked, “Who has been his counselor” (Rom. 11:34)? This is a profound question! Who knows more than God? Who should give God advise? From whom does the God who made us seek counsel? Will He consult us and get our opinions and feelings before forming a theological truth? No, for we have nothing to offer Him. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait to see if we should request salvation. He sent His Son before we were born and, for most of us, He added us to His family through the waters of Holy Baptism when we were infants. He causes us to be born again by the working of His Spirit. And so, we ask in wonderment with Nicodemus, “How can these things be?”

When people disagree with the Bible, we may ask them, “Are you God’s counselor?” Do you have the authority to inform God what His ways ought to be? He created you. He redeemed you through His Son. He sanctified you by the working of His Spirit. Are you so sure of yourself that you can provide Him a new perspective? Perhaps, then, they will begin to see the folly in their thoughts and recognize the wisdom and knowledge of God.

The final question St. Paul asks is, “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid” (Rom. 11:35). After all, what can we render to the Lord for all His benefits (Psalm 116:12)? Many think they can somehow pacify God for their sins through their offerings, good works, best intentions, or pleasant behavior. While these may be good and even commanded by God, they are an insufficient repayment to God for all His goodness. For everything belongs to God. What we could offer to Him is His in the first place.

Therefore, we receive what He loves to give us—the salvation of our bodies and souls, which is granted to us through His Son who died for us. We receive the means of grace with thanksgiving, knowing that through these means God blesses us with the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Christ.

 And, having received everlasting life and salvation—having been reconciled to the Father through the Son by the working of the Spirit, we speak words of doxology—of thanksgiving and praise, saying, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).

While the three persons of the Holy Trinity are not explicitly named in this final verse of our Epistle, the Holy Trinity is implicitly understood. From Him. Through Him. To Him. Same with Holy, Holy, Holy (Isaiah 6:3). Same with “The Lord bless you. The Lord make His face shine upon you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you” (Num. 6:24-26).

 We worship the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity. To Him be glory forever. Amen.          

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting.  Amen