Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / May 31st / Matthew 28:16-20 / Trinity Sunday
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June May 31th, 2015, Trinity Sunday: Matthew 28:16-20 (series "A" text)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I Am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Why do we have Creeds? The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed? Why do we subscribe to them in the Lutheran Confessions? Why do we make them our personal confession? And why do we have a day like Trinity Sunday in which to highlight the Athanasian Creed? Why? Because some doubted! The text from Matthew that I just read to you said, "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted." But some doubted. Creeds are meant to be universal statements drawn from Scripture to nail down the Faith in a succinct and simple way. The Creeds of the church developed because some doubted.
Sixty years or so after Jesus’ ascension, a man named Cerinthus taught that God the Father did not make the physical world and that Jesus was not God, he taught that Christ came to Jesus at baptism and that Christ left Jesus as the cross (why did Cerinthus teach this? Because he doubted the teachings of the Apostles); the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds teach that Jesus is the only Son of the Father, they teach that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, that He is God of God and Light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made and simultaneously that He is both God and man, that He is perfect God and perfect man composed of a rational soul and human flesh.
Cerinthus was not the only one who doubted this, so did Marcion. Marcion was a man who lived between 85 A.D. and 160 A.D. And Marcion taught that Jesus’ body was only an imitation of flesh; like plastic made to look like wood or a wall painted to look like marble, or flowers and plants constructed of silk, or computer generated images (CGI) like from a movie; The Docitists from the same time taught that Jesus’ Body was an illusion and that as such He couldn’t have died on the cross (it only looked like He did). When Saint John writes in his Gospel, “The Word became flesh” they looked at this as figurative, poetic language, they made the teachings of the Apostles twist and turn to their whims, they along with Marcion and Cerinthus took the Old Testament Scriptures and the inspired writings of the Apostles and Evangelists and cut parts out, or conformed Scripture to themselves; they were not interested in being conformed to it, they were not interested in being disciples of the One Who said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I Am with you always, to the end of the age.” They were not interested in being taught to observe all that Jesus the Christ commanded them.
Well it’s a good thing those days are in the past, we only recite and confess the creeds out of habit now. Everyone knows that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God the Father and that He’s begotten from the substance of the Father before all ages; and that [Jesus] is man, born from the substance of His mother in this age. We’re all Christians and we all agree on these things so why bother saying the Creeds week in and week out? Why bother having a special day for this long creed? Today is a Fifth Sunday - some churches confess the Athanasian every Fifth Sunday to keep it fresh in the minds of people throughout the year. Why should fathers and mothers and grandparents teach their sons and daughters, their grandchildren these Creeds?
Well? Because some doubted and today we have those who teach falsely about Jesus: The Jehovah’s Witnesses, contrary to Scripture, teach that Jesus is "a god" and that His true identity is not the Only Begotten Son of the Father but rather that He’s the archangel Michael. Mormon’s teach falsely about Jesus, Brigham Young (who was President of the Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877) taught that Jesus was not born with any involvement of the Holy Spirit, rather he said, "The Father came down and begat him, the same as we do now..." According to the Bible, Jesus was not born through sexual relations. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit like it says in Matthew 1:20, When Joseph was troubled at the news of Mary’s pregnancy an angel of the Lord came to Him in a dream and told him, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” For this reason we confess in the Apostles Creed that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit [and] born of the virgin Mary. In the Nicene Creed we confess that Jesus was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and in the Athanasian Creed we confess that it is necessary for everlasting salvation to faithfully believe the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ: namely that although Jesus is God and Man, He is not two but one Christ. Incarnate!
What does this mean for you? It means that your forgiveness isn’t fake, it’s real forgiveness, it’s not an illusion; it’s not imitation forgiveness. It also means that Jesus Christ Who is God and man, is who Scripture says He is, and that He died fully and completely for your sins. God didn’t skip out on the suffering of the cross or death upon the cross, it was not the man only who suffered and died, who took the cup of wrath down to the dregs, there was no illusion in it. Jesus Who is man and God, Who is not two but One died for you and not just for you but for all the scum of the earth, the losers, the sinners, the disobedient of whom I count myself as one; He died for every single last person, every single last sin. Jesus died for liars, cheats, thieves, those who curse His name and use it falsely, those who sleep around or dream of sleeping around, for those with covetous hearts, and those who refuse to hear His Word: He died for you and for me and for all our sins.
For this reason when Jesus says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” He means it. Jesus is not prejudice in who we are to preach to, He isn’t prejudice in who we are to baptize or teach or help or care for. Once you are the Lord’s He is not near to you, or far from you, as we might imagine nearness or farness; Jesus is always with you to the end of time; whether you feel it or not, This being with you always is not an illusion, it’s His promise: from His very mouth, to the ears of His Apostles, to you this day.
Why do we subscribe to the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed in the Lutheran Confessions? Because they are a true reflection of what Scripture teaches, because they teach what the Bible teaches. Why do we make them our personal confession? (For the same reason). Some may say ‘deeds not creeds,’ but every Christian Church believes, teaches and confesses something about the Holy Trinity; Our Churches Believe Teach and Confess the ancient creeds of the church, shoulder to shoulder we stand together and make our confession, and from such a confession our deeds flow out like a river in our daily lives: At home, at work, at church, in the community. And why do we have a day like Trinity Sunday in which to highlight the Holy Trinity specifically and the Athanasian Creed in particular? We set aside days like this to teach, to honour, and to confess.
But you say, “I’ve failed at making these confessions my confessions, I’ve not taught them well, I’ve not always honoured what Scripture teaches about Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I’ve not had a faith that confessed these things consistently or with great conviction, I’ve been a doubter ... is their hope for me, weak as I am?” Yes, and I’ll tell you why. When you read the Gospel of Matthew you’ll notice something (unlike John’s Gospel) when Matthew uses the word disciple he doesn’t use it to mean everyone who follows Jesus or all who believed in Jesus. When Saint Matthew uses the word disciple he is speaking of the specific men that Jesus handpicked to be the twelve, when the eleven went up on the mountain to hear the words spoken by the resurrected Christ it was the same handpicked group of men minus Judas. So when it says that they worshiped Jesus, rightly as God, it was out of the same eleven that you hear that “some doubted.” The Greek word translated some is an interesting one, it could mean that some of them doubted or it could mean the ones there doubted. Why is this important? Well we just had Pentecost Sunday and the events of Matthew 28 happen before that day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples. Now think of it: the resurrected Jesus, Who could not be stopped by nails and spears and a crown of thorns, Who could not be stopped by the chains of death, Who could not be stopped by locked doors, Who they had witnessed on a number of occasions together as a group [resurrected, risen, alive], Who had eaten with them in those days after His resurrection and done all that He said He would do, stands before them yet again and there is still doubt. Yet Jesus doesn’t say, ‘well I will only send the Holy Spirit to those who muster up perfect faith; so sorry guys but not all of you will receive the promised comforter,’ No ... Jesus forgave their doubting and loved them just the same. Jesus forgave them; Jesus will forgive you. He didn’t withhold the Holy Spirit from any of them on the day of Pentecost and He doesn’t withhold the Holy Spirit from you in your baptism. Jesus will forgive you if you’ve failed in having perfect faith: ask and you shall receive. And if any, by some sad circumstance, have been mixed up in a group of people who deny the Holy Trinity, who deny that Jesus was both perfect God and perfect man, who deny that His death on the cross provides the perfect sacrifice for sin, who deny that they are saved by grace and not by works; if such a person was to hear the truth, read the truth, and turn to the One Who is the Way the Truth and the Life in repentance for their false faith they too will be forgiven. And on the last day when they, like we are risen with our bodies, remember that the deeds you give an account of will be washed clean in the blood of Christ Jesus. Sins forgiven and good works made righteous by the same blood of Christ Jesus. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will see these works and declare them good and you will enter into eternal life. Believe it; teach it; confess it: In Jesus name. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord, have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
 A Manual of Church History, Volume I Ancient and Mediaeval Church History; Albert Henry Newman, 1910, pg 175-176.
 ibidem, pg 192.
 John 1:14
 (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, vol. 1, p. 321; February 16, 1849, Salt Lake City)for more on this go to: http://www.mrm.org/virgin-birth