This past Friday some acquaintances of ours happened to come by our house to ask if they could use our cabin for a few days. Under normal circumstances this would have been fine with us, but last week we were having some problems with the electrical system so there was no power on at the cabin. We explained to them that with no power it meant there would be no water, no shower, no heat and no toilet facilities. This they took in stride and said, fine we we’ll go anyway. It was my intention to go down on Friday night to fix the electrical problem for other guests, one’s that were expected to arrive on Saturday and stay through Memorial Day. But these, unexpected guests would need to ‘make do’ with what was available to them. About 4 hours after their arrival, one of the unexpected called to find out when we’re coming down . . . they found themselves, thirsty, cold, hungry and desperately needing to use the bathroom. They found themselves suffering and in the cold because of two important reasons: one, the cabin wasn’t ready for them, and two, they weren’t expected. Had they been on the schedule we would of course have made the place ready for their arrival.
This little incident got me thinking about today’s sermon about a number of things going on today including a baptism, Memorial Day and Trinity Sunday all rolled up into one weekend.
I think most of realize that if we plan something (whether it be a vacation, a weekend, or a picnic) ahead of time, things usually work out as expected. There are of course always those things that can prop up unexpectantly, but for the most part we know that things will work out. For those who do NO planning ahead of time there is always the fear of the unknown, the worry that the money will run out, or in the case of our friends, they’ll be holed up in the wilderness in misery with no power, no heat and no water. This is how it works in the real world.
Well by no chance coincidence, this is how it works in the spiritual world as well. The founders of our country knew in the beginning that if they founded this country on the basis of a firm belief in God, and if they dedicated this country to God, that the providence and protection of God would see the plan through. We read, of course, from the words of the Declaration of Independence stating . . . We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The founding fathers believed in a Creator and planned this country on the solid rock of a belief in God. And so by turning toward God in this endeavor, God turned toward them and guided the nation into all truth and under the arms of his almighty protection. But as you may be aware something has changed in the past generation . . . our country has turned away from God and belief by taking God out of the public square and replacing Him with a new religion . . . one of political correctness. From the Book of Jeremiah we read a passage about another nation (Israel) also founded on a belief in God that turned its back on God. It reads . . . ‘For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me–the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!’ Jeremiah 2:13. When Israel had done this evil, God abandoned them to their own ways . . . their country fell to invaders and the people were enslaved in captivity.
There are signs that God has not given up on us yet but it seems to me that the time is running out for us unless we do something . . . soon.
Just as we celebrate this Memorial Day how our country was founded on the blood of patriots and the rock of our salvation so to, do we celebrate when one community or one family or even one person is brought to Christ. Today we baptize one child into the household of faith. The Church has been founded on such as these and as long as there are believers who have accepted Jesus into their hearts there will be hope for a brighter future. I am asked occasionally why we baptize small children who cannot know what is going on. We baptize children as an introduction into the kingdom of God. Is it the end of their instruction? By no means! Baptism is the initiation of a believer into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is by virtue of baptism that a child’s name is written into the book of life by the Holy Spirit. Baptism is the foundation of a child’s faith, but each child will continue to have a number of opportunities in his life to renew his acquaintance with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit, but it is this one initial act, through the faith of his sponsors, that a little child is made free from the bondage of sin and becomes an inheritor of the kingdom . . . and so it seems planning is everything.
Today is also Trinity Sunday which celebrates the mystical being of God, the Almighty in the three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Along with the virgin birth, the dogma of the Trinity are two of the most difficult Christian concepts for people to understand. This is mainly because we all know where babies come from and if there is a God, how is it that He is three? Where does it say that in the Bible? Well, it doesn’t say that at all. And that is what we need to consider today.
Biblical scholars over the years have pieced together evidence from the Holy scriptures that infers the essence of God as three personalities if you will, yet one being. The Father was addressed by Jesus on many occasions usually prior to a miracle; and in the Lord’s Prayer which we are all familiar with. The advocate, or Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God was also addressed by Jesus when he told the Apostles that the Spirit would come to them only if he, Jesus had left them to prepare a place for them. Jesus, the Messiah of God, was expected by the prophets throughout the Old Testament and is specifically described in Isaiah as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
From these few examples of the many verses in scripture, the church has stitched together a picture of God as three in one and as one in three. Though God is totally unknowable by any of us, we have come to the conclusion that this picture is the most accurate way of describing the essence of God’s being.
In a book I read a few months ago, called Heaven is for Real, a six year old boy travels with his father in the family car and becomes involved in a horrible accident. The boy’s father lives through this by the grace of God, but his small son dies of a broken neck and is revived only to be in a coma for almost a year. The story is about the boy’s arduous, but miraculous recovery and his near death experiences and how God gives him the grace to return and to tell his tale. It is a best seller and a true story narrated by the boy’s father who is a pastor.
The little boy comes back to describe what he saw and his experiences in heaven, how Jesus has a cousin there, and a horse; that God the Father sits on a throne but there are clouds of smoke hiding his face and winged angels are flying all around him and that the Holy Ghost is blue and other angels guard the walls surrounding the throne in heaven. He goes on to describe other children in the presence of God’s throne and how he met a little girl who had no name but who turned out to be the boy’s sister who his mother had miscarried before he was born. Every believer ought to read this book to get a better understanding of the reality which is heaven.
If God can be compared to something other than a Trinity, I believe that he might best be compared successfully as a family . . . though many voices, one force for good in the world.
The concept of the Trinity becomes easier when we come to the realization that we need not know all the facts or all the answers but to accept it on faith through the spirit of God. Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus did not die for the sake of your religion, he died for you. Jesus came so that those who would believe in this concept of the family of God, might choose to join Him and his Father and the Sprit in the heavenly kingdom. Though we are separated from him in sin, the sacrifice of his blood cleanses us; enabling us to enter into the presence of God as a friend and not a stranger. And so we stand justified in the presence of God and are welcomed as guests, soon expected, into the kingdom of heaven.
As Paul today wrote . . . Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.