A Sermon for Series A Holy Trinity 2017 “Being Good”

 

Old Testament Lesson  Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Epistle Lesson  Acts 2:14a, 22-36

Gospel Lesson  Matthew 28:16-20 

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.  The text for our meditation this day is the Old Testament lesson just read.  [Gen. 1:1-2:4]

Last Sunday we watched as six young adults confessed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior; confessing to this congregation and to the world; confessing, proclaiming, that they were not ashamed of the gospel.  As I listened to them, I realized how much I really like teaching Confirmation class.  I like making them think … hard, about why God said the things he said in the Bible.  I like showing them the depth of Scripture and the rich tapestry that is God’s inspired, inerrant word; given to us; given for us; revealed to us by his Holy Spirit.

Not everything is spelled out for us ‘word for word’ in scripture.  It’s all there, but sometimes not in such an obvious way.  Take for instance the concept of who God is.  We say God is three-in-one and one-in-three; being One God, but being three persons.  We give that concept a name.  We say our God is Triune.  But the word ‘Triune’ can’t be found anywhere in the Bible; and yet, we see the Triune God in action everywhere we look in the Bible; from beginning to end.

In the creation account we heard today, we’re given a picture of the Father creating the entire universe out of nothing.  He speaks and it is; and when he speaks the Word, it’s that Word, the Word, the Son, who does the creating.  And in the very next verse we see the Spirit of God hovering over the waters!  What clearer picture could God have given us of his Trinitarian nature?

And as we listen to the account of our Trinitarian God creating over the next six days we hear over and over again that everything God creates he declares ‘good’.  Finally, when creation is complete, we hear him say that it is very good!

What a contrast there is between this creation account in the first chapter of Genesis, and the rest of Old Testament scripture.  Just five short chapters later, everything has changed.  We’ve moved from “It is good.” to a deepening regret over ever creating man; a grieving that moves God to start over, to select a chosen few to save and to destroy not just man, but much of the creation that he delighted in.

What happened?  What changed between: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  and Genesis 6 where we hear: And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” ?

What happened??  Sin happened.  Adam had sinned and in an instant, all the world was changed.  From that moment forward, all mankind was born with a sinful nature.  A nature so intricately woven into every part of our being that even if we never had a wrong thought, or said a wrong thing, or did anything inappropriate, we would still have to admit we were sinners.

Now all the earth, all the universe was corrupted.  Death had been introduced into the world where immortality had once been. That which had been created ‘good’ was no longer good; and there was nothing anyone in creation could do to make it good again.

Not that God had stopped loving his creation; he still longed for the creation that he’d established, the pure and holy creation that he’d made, to be with him forever.  He still longed to look at his creation and say: “It is good, very good!”

Throughout the rest of Old Testament scripture, we see our Triune God, the One who created the earth, the heavens and all that’s in them, preparing his people for the time when he’d send the Redeemer; forgiving their sin and restoring the good.

We see God trying in many and various ways to cause his rebellious people to repent and to return to him; to remain true to him, to remain his and his alone.  But his people refused, turning away from what God had told them was good, and instead going their own way.  We read over and over again that: Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.  And that ‘everything’ was ‘anything’ but good.

Going our own way never creates ‘good’.  Only as we follow where the Holy Spirit leads us; as we trust in the Lord and believe in his promises, will the Spirit use us for good.

And indeed, in scripture we learn that only God is good and creates what is good.  We see that in the Old Testament lesson today, and we see it again at the Baptism of Jesus; the other place where scripture gives us a sure and certain revelation of our Triune God.  As we see Jesus baptized, we see John the Baptizer plunging God’s only begotten Son into the Jordan River, and as Jesus walks out of the river, we see the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, join him, as he lights upon him.  The heavens rip open and we hear the sound of the Father declaring, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” This is the Son who is truly good.

This is the Son who was there at the beginning, creating what was good.  The One through whom all things were made; now sent by the Father, sent willingly, sent to fulfill all the promises that our Triune God had made to his people; to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob.  This is the one who Abraham longed to see; his descendant, the One who would be a blessing for all nations.

The Son who would take all the bad, all the evil, all the things everyone did that was right in their eyes, and place it upon himself, carrying it all the way to the cross; nailing those sins to the cross as he suffered and died there; burying those sins, never to be seen again, as he was buried in the tomb.

The Son who had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again; who rose on the third day, triumphant over sin, death, and the devil, and forty days later ascended back up into heaven to be with the Father again, so that together they might send the Holy Spirit to us; to be with us always even to the end of the age.

Now, through this God-man, Jesus, all sin is forgiven and all believers, and all creation, are made right again, new again, good again.  Now, as the Holy Spirit works faith in us, the image of God that was tarnished by our sinful nature is made pure and holy again; making us able to be called his children again, able to be with our God again … for all eternity.

No one in all of creation could ever restore this sin corrupted world and make it good again, but God sent his Son, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father; his man, his God-man, and in this man, Jesus, God declares that you, and me, and all believers; along with all of his creation is, once again, ‘very good.’

In Christ’s service,

Pastor Huelle