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Trinity Sunday, May 27, 2018 - St. John 3:1-15

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Posted: Sunday, May 27th, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

“In the confession of the only true God we worship the Trinity in Person and the Unity in Substance, of Majesty coequal.” Worship. We use that word a lot. We talk about worshiping God. But do we really understand what this means? The word rolls off our tongues, we say we’re doing it, and we never actually think about what it means. What is the worship of God? How can you worship Him?

Nicodemus wasn’t planning on hearing a treatise on worshiping God. He wanted to talk with Jesus. Maybe he wanted to warn Him people wanted to kill Him. Maybe he wanted to learn more about Jesus’ ministry. One thing’s for sure: he came at night because he was afraid to be seen with Jesus. Only Jesus’ Death gave him the courage to be seen as His disciple when he attended to His Burial. But now He was afraid. He had no plans to worship Him.

So he came to Jesus and began by trying to butter Him up. But Jesus would have none of it. He does not want false worship or praise. Nicodemus was an ambassador from a wicked people that rejected Him, and he himself did not yet believe. They did not worship Him as God or think it possible for God to be Man, man to deliver. So it was that Nicodemus confessed Him to be not God in the flesh, but a teacher sent from God, just like Moses and the Prophets. He did not speak back to Him the words of Scripture, but instead words he wanted to put into the mouths of Israel’s teachers.

“Amen, amen I say to you, unless someone is born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God.” You, O Nicodemus, you have no idea what you’re talking about. You are not on God’s side. You are not offering worship to God by what you say to Me. You do not believe what the Scriptures say about Me. You must be born from above. God’s kingdom is not of this world. The Holy Spirit must open the door and draw you in.

But Nicodemus did not understand. The Greek word Jesus spoke has a double meaning. Jesus meant “born from above,” but Nicodemus took it the only way his earthly mind could: “born again.” So he made fun of the whole idea by pointing out there was no way he’d ever be able to go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time. But Jesus is insistent. You must be born from above. You need not enter the womb of your mother. Instead, you enter the womb of Holy Mother Church, the font of Holy Baptism. For there the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven riding upon the Word of God spoken over the one to be baptized. He unites that Word, the very Name of God, to the water, and places God’s Name on you. You received your father’s last name when you were born; this identified you with his family. You received God’s Name when you were baptized. You were made part of His family, a citizen of His heavenly kingdom.

But this is something the world cannot understand. The Spirit blows where He wills. The wind goes from one place to the next, but you don’t see its source or where it stops. But you can see where it’s been. So man does not understand the Word of God. He does not hear it as words from heaven. He mocks and despises it and tries to change it when confronted with it. For he is flesh born of flesh and flesh is sinful, so it loves sin and hates God. But that same Word converts. It turns sinners into saints. The Holy Spirit causes us to hear it and causes us to believe it. He draws us to believe in Christ and to love the Father. There is no other way to God.

At this point Nicodemus was clueless. How can these things be? “What We know We speak; what We see We testify.” The Trinity tells no tall tales. He is the Source of truth, the Fount of salvation, the Giver of life. But the world does not listen. It loves its sin and does not want to repent. That’s why it rejects the truth, makes its own ways to eternity, and believes whatever makes it feel good about itself. But there is only one to Whom you should listen. You have not gone up to heaven to hear from God. You cannot go up into His presence. You cannot make yourself feel like He’s more or less present at any given time. You cannot draw Him to you. He’s the Draw-er, the Leader, the Guide. He rejoices to come down to us. You will find God’s saving presence only where His Word, Sacred Scripture, is read and faithfully proclaimed. So we listen to the One from heaven Who came down to earth while ever seated at His Father’s right hand. We listen to The Son of God Who was lifted up on The Cross that we may have life eternal. He is God Who speaks to us right here and now.

This then is the worship of God. The dictionary tells us worship is reverence offered a divine being. So how does The Holy Trinity want you to reverence Him? Jesus gives us a hint in John 4 when He says “the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” These words recall what Jesus said to Nicodemus: “That born from the Spirit spirit is….The Spirit blows where He wills and His voice you hear….thus it is of all who are born of The Spirit.”

How do you worship The Triune God? You worship Him when you hear His voice and believe. Nicodemus was not yet offering worship to God when He called Jesus a teacher sent from God because he was denying that Jesus is God Himself. God is only worshiped when we believe the Gospel. He is only worshiped when we believe Jesus His Son was lifted up on The Cross in order to save us. He is only worshiped when the Holy Spirit has placed God’s Triune Name on us. “Thus it is of all who are born of The Spirit.”

So only the Christian can worship God. Only the Christian confesses: “I am a sinner; I am born of flesh and am flesh. I am full of wicked desires from my conception. Without God’s help I would only fight God’s will tooth and nail every day of my life.” Only the Christian confesses: “Christ Jesus died for me. Christ Jesus willed to suffer in my place for all my sins. He received the punishment for my sins: hell and death. His good desire for my salvation was fulfilled. He earned forgiveness for me on the Cross. If you receive his forgiveness, you gain life eternal. He did not come to serve, but to be served, and to give His life as a ransom for the many.”

So how do you worship The Triune God? Believe His Word! Believe the Sacred Scriptures. Believe what they tell you about yourself: you’re a sinner worthy of death. Believe what they tell you about God: The Father sent His Son into the world to die and rise for you, and they have sent The Holy Ghost to you to lead you all the way to life eternal. Believe that by virtue of Holy Baptism’s healing waters you belong to God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and are united to Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. Believe that by virtue of The Sacrament of the Altar He is continuing to cleanse you from sin and to prepare you for the resurrection. Believe that He comes down from heaven to you here, not because you’re in the right mood or because you’ve earned it, but because He loves you and wants to save you. “By faith God wishes to be worshiped in this way, that we receive from Him those things which He promises and offers” (AP IV:49). Then in true faith proclaim His praises – proclaim all that He has done for your soul by His Death and Resurrection for your salvation.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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