The Holy Trinity
June 7, 2020 - Matthew 28:16-20
What do you do when you get in trouble? You call for help! You may call for your husband or wife. You may call for a close friend. You may call for a parent. You may call 911. You may call your pastor. I encourage you not to forget to call upon God!
“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me,” says the Lord. Scripture promises, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The Lord urges you to call on His marvelous name, promising to deliver you from anything and everything that may afflict the soul and try to rip you from His loving arms. A child cries out to mom or dad after falling. Likewise, God desires that we call on Him when we fall. God wants us to call upon Him in good and bad times. He seeks to hear from His people with forgiveness, life, and salvation.
We often call upon God’s name improperly if we remember to call on Him at all! Unfortunately, times of prosperity can be times of forgetfulness. I pray for healing. God heals. And I forget all about God’s healing, carrying on as usual. Do we remember to give thanks for our daily bread?
When we do remember to call upon God’s name, it may be improperly! Whether talking of your favorite show, movie, sport, or just walking around in public, God’s name is called on a lot! A little warning – in paying attention to this, you may not like how often you find yourself improperly using God’s name both with your lips and your thoughts. I mean – what good is it to call on God to condemn a hammer to hell? Yet it’s done a lot. Was it necessary to call on God to condemn to hell the driver who cut you off the other day? Do we really need to speak God’s name or Jesus’ name without any rhyme or reason? The word damn – which means condemn to hell – has been turned into a substitute for very. This only shows how carelessly words are used.
An easily forgotten way that God’s name is misused relates to teaching. Attaching God’s name to a false teaching is a misuse of God’s name. Rather, “God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity” (Small Catechism). Scripture calls us to remain faithful to the teaching of Scripture. Any departure from the true teaching of Scripture leads us away from the true God who Jesus reveals. False teachings steal the sheep from the Good Shepherd. This is why we have creeds and confessions such as the fantastic Athanasian Creed.
As God’s people, we ought to have a desire to keep everything the Lord commanded. We ought to follow, protect, treasure, cherish, and commit ourselves to the Lord’s teachings – all of them! Jesus says, “…Teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.” The Lord’s Word is the power of God for salvation. If that’s the case, then we need to know what God’s Word says and what it means. Worship and Bible class are great blessings to us and I encourage that they not simply be attended, but truly taken advantage of – for they are to your benefit as you learn more of your God who has revealed His name to you.
God’s name can be sinfully not used and sinfully misused. How amazing it is then, dear friends in Christ, that God still has graciously given us His name to call upon in the most joyful of moments, to call upon in the depths of despair, and to call upon united in true Christian fellowship.
THE NAME OF GOD: THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS BEEN REVEALED TO YOU AND EVEN PUT UPON YOU!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals the fullness of the Trinity. God graciously tells us His name – revealing even more about Himself. Not only that, in an incredible act of love, God puts His name upon us making us members of His family.
The union and mystery of the blessed Trinity is revealed already in the beginning of Scripture – Genesis 1:1. In the Hebrew language, a subject and verb will agree with each other, so that a singular subject will have a singular verb and a plural subject will have a plural verb. However, when God is the subject of the sentence, it can be a totally different matter. In those instances, the subject of the sentence is plural and the verb is singular. So that what we’re reading isn’t quite plural and it isn’t quite singular either. It sounds more like, “In the beginning Gods – He – created the heavens and the earth.” Sounds really weird, so we don’t translate it that way. But already we have a clue right away in the first verse of the Bible that God is beyond our understanding – God is one God in three persons, three persons in one God. There’s a plurality in the Godhead: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Yet Scripture also says, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Throughout Scripture God reveals Himself to you – who He is and what this means for you. Names are important. They’re part of our identity. Our last names identify us as part of a specific family and all the rights, honor, dynamics that belong to that family. You have been baptized in the name (not names) name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. So in Baptism you’re identified as belonging to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who has worked in perfect communion for your salvation – the Father in love sends the Son to save the world; the Son willing comes, laying down His life on the cross for the sins of the world, revealing the Father’s graciousness toward sinners as He rises in triumph; the Holy Spirit delivers the benefits of Jesus’ work to us and makes us holy so that we may enjoy eternally the Father’s kingdom with the Son. The unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in working together for us and our salvation is incredible. What could possibly top that? God desires that you join together in that unity with the Father and the Son and the Spirit. Thus, God puts His own name on you, marking you as His own.
As God’s baptized children, we gather together, calling upon His name. Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” We gather to receive God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament and to offer prayer and praise. We begin with the invocation – a fancy way of saying that we call upon the Lord’s name. We call on God’s name because He’s our great God – worthy of praise and worship – who desires to help His children against the afflictions of the devil, the world, and our sinful natures in the day of trouble. We belong to God who seeks to give us gracious promises.
We continue to call God’s name after the invocation. We call God as we sing the Kyrie, saying, “Lord, have mercy!” followed up by a hymn of praise addressed to God for the salvation He has worked. God comes to us in the Divine Service through His Word as it is sung, read, and preached. We also confess together the Creed – a statement of belief in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We call to God in the Prayers of the Church. We offer thanks and praise to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – as Christ comes to us, giving His very body and blood for us to eat and to drink. Then, after singing praise to the Triune God, the Lord blesses us – the benediction – a three-fold blessing that points to our Triune God. Throughout, our worship together, we call on God who has given His name – the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
When we gather in the name of the Lord – in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – God is present fulfilling what He promises. God’s name isn’t a magic spell. God’s name has power. For God promises to be where His name is called on in faith.
When God’s name is applied in Baptism, God is washing away sins. God forgives sins and brings life and salvation to spiritually dead sinners through His Word. As both of these are done according to Jesus’ command in the Gospel reading, then disciples are being made as He has promised.
God desires that we call upon His name, because by His holy name He delivers us from every assault that seeks to destroy our faith and by His holy name God delivers the victory won in Jesus. Amen.