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Living In God

June 16, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: John 8:48–8:59

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
June 16, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Trinity Sunday
Living In God

The Jews answered and said to him, "Are we not right! in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I have no demon! But I honor my Father and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory but there is One who seeks it and he is the judge. Truly truly I say to you that if anyone embraces my word he will never, never see death."

The Jews said to him, "Now we are certain that you are possessed of a demon. Abraham died and so did the prophets but you insist that if anyone embrace your word, he will not ever taste death! Are you greater than our father Abraham who died, and the prophets who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?"

Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me he of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you do not know him, but I know him; and if I were to say that I do not know him then I should be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Moreover your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see my day and he saw it and was filled with gladness."

So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?"

Jesus said to them, "Truly truly I say to you that before Abraham was, I am." At this they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them, and exited the temple passing through the midst of them. (John 8:48-59)

The church finds herself in a pickle this Trinity Sunday, Beloved. Hard pressed by a culture that has put the church on notice that if she wants its respect, and wishes to avoid its wrath, then she must tone down her message.

As a result the church has lost her courage to be church.

Under sustained attack she has lost her taste for proclaiming the truth, and the first casualty is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the feast that the church marks today! “The one eternal God whom earth and heaven adore.” (Lutheran Service Book #895)

No doubt everyone wants to be loved, that is only natural. But the world will never love you because it does not love Christ. It will never celebrate you because by baptism you are made holy, and holiness is radio-active!

But before we proceed let us rightly understand the nature of that holiness: it comes from baptism which cleanses us of sin, and incorporates us into the Holy Trinity. Into God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. That is our place of residence as the baptized. And so our holiness is not the result of our stellar performance then, for “we daily sin much.” But by the righteousness of Christ given by grace and received through faith. (Eph. 2:8-9)

Those outside the church have always opposed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Not only because they do not understand it, but because it lays claim to singular truth that declares all other gods to be false.

Indeed, you recall that the first of God’s ten commandments, the one that stands at the head of them all is this, “You shall have no other gods!” It is a statute that was placed there to help us keep our focus in a world that is filled with idols.

What idols, you ask?

At the top of the list is the god: Self. S-E-L-F

Every man, worships himself.

Every woman, worships herself.

Indeed, the conversation that takes place in the hearts of seven billion people every day goes something like this:

“There is me and everyone else.” “I am the center of all things.” “And every day I must go about the business of being god. Of molding, shaping, coaxing and, if need be and if possible, of forcing the world to conform to my image of it.

That is idolatry.

The second false god is love of money because money is power; and with enough of it one can command the loyalty of the masses, and fulfill every vain desire.

That, too, is idolatry.

Following these two faux gods comes a pantheon of lesser ones: the environment, the planet, and the deification of our pets. How often do we hear the refrain: I can’t stand people but I love animals … be glad that God does not feel the same way.

Yes, take note of how culture speaks of its gods in reverent tones peppered with should’s and ought’s. Those are the marks of religion, however informally conducted. Moreover note how the world speaks about another of its favorite gods, sexual license. Not with reverence now but with defiance for morals that are written in stone.

No there is no shortage of false gods, Beloved, but do not worship them.

But worship the one true God; the Father Son and Holy Spirit; and serve only him. (Mt. 4:10) Worship God as he is revealed in Sacred Scripture and confessed in the Athanasian Creed. God who created us by his gracious Word, who redeemed us with great love by the cross of Christ, and who sanctifies us by the Holy Spirit in holy baptism and promises to care for us from here to eternity.

But the Holy Trinity is not only a doctrinal proposition to be rightly formulated but is, in the words of Isaac Watts, “our eternal Home,” for we are baptized into him -- which is not a notion, but a location, a place of residence. By the cross we have left the domain of darkness, and now reside in the kingdom of his dear Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:14)

Jesus confounds his opponents in today’s gospel when he tells them that Abraham rejoiced to see his day. Confounds them because Abraham lived 18 centuries before the Word became flesh. He then further bewilders them when he says: “Before Abraham was, I am!” It is at this point that they went berserk! That they picked up stones from the ground to kill him. To silence the One who is “of one substance with the Father.”

But they did not succeed because his hour had not yet come. What hour? The hour that was pre-ordained by God before the foundation of the world!

The hour when Jesus would joyously mount the Tree of Life to give his flesh for the life of the world. (John 6:51). You are that world.

And so what is baptismally true of us now – that we dwell inside of God, and that we will never taste of death, will become manifest to all creation when this “poor life of labor” is over and our exalted life begins. (Lutheran Service Book #708)

Then we will live the life that God himself lives. Then, like Abraham, we will rejoice in, and participate in, the mutual love that exists between the Father the Son and Holy Spirit in a world without end. And we will be glad.