Holy Baptism: Blessed Holy Trinity

The Feast of the Holy Trinity, 12 June 2022

A Sermon on Romans 5:1-5 by Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS

Romans 5:1-5 English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

HOLY BAPTISM: BLESSED HOLY TRINITY

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us adore the Holy Trinity. We praise you, Father. We praise you, Son. We praise you, Holy Spirit. Three in One. One in Three. Blessed Holy Trinity. (Please repeat that)

For the Peace the World Cannot Give

How do you make a disciple? Our Lord Jesus tells us by baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19) and then teaching the baptized to observe all that He has commanded (28:20). Holy Baptism is not something we do for God the Father out of obedience. Holy Baptism is God the Holy Spirit doing something for us and in us. Baptized into the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are declared justified (in a right relationship with the Father through the Son). That means that just as the Father declared Jesus to be His Beloved Son at His Baptism (Matthew 3:17), so the Father declares us to be His beloved sons (huioi in Greek) because of the perfect obedience of His Son, Jesus Christ (see Romans 8:14-15).

Baptized into the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the declaration, the Word that comes from outside us, that God’s Son in human flesh has lived the life of total obedience to the Father that none of us can live and has died the innocent death that none of us can die. The Father calls us sons because of His Son to whose death and resurrection we are joined in our Baptism (Romans 6:3-4). Because of the faithfulness of the Father to His broken creation and because of the faithfulness of the Son to the Father, the Holy Spirit joins us to the Son in Baptism and creates trust in us through the Father’s promise that we are justified, that is, declared righteous for the Son’s sake. Faith is trust that the Holy Spirit creates in us by the promise of the Father that we are sons because of our having been joined to the Son in Holy Baptism.

The peace of God is not simply a matter of feelings, which can sometimes be there and sometimes not. The peace of God is not the absence of conflict in what is going on around us in the world or even in our relationships. In fact, the peace of God can be ours in the midst of terrible conflict, because the peace of God is His shalom, the Father’s assurance that we are beloved sons and daughters and no longer enemies as a result of the sinful state into which we were born.

If someone asks why they should be baptized, the easiest answer is because Jesus says so. He has far too many admirers and not enough disciples. The only way to become His disciple is through Holy Baptism and then what the Church does with the baptized is to teach these new disciples what it means to be sons through the Son of God. Baptism without lifelong learning and without continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42) is like giving birth and abandoning the newborn. Our Lord says in Mark 16:16, whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Believing is trusting in Christ, and the trusting comes from the Word spoken from outside ourselves. Faith comes from hearing (Romans 10:17).

Let us adore the Holy Trinity. We praise you, Father. We praise you, Son. We praise you, Holy Spirit. Three in One. One in Three. Blessed Holy Trinity.

For the Love That Cannot Be Taken

God’s love in Christ Jesus is agape in Greek (5:5). As with the peace of God (5:1), God’s love is not about feelings. God’s agape is a matter of will. The Father sends the Son to die for a world that is hostile to its Creator. The Son goes forth to be born of the Virgin Mary, to live the life of perfect obedience to the Father even unto suffering and death on a cross, in order that none might be lost and all might be saved. Hearing the Good News of the Father’s love in Christ Jesus for us sinners may move us to awe, to wonder, and even to tears, but agape is not about feelings.

It is a wicked and often willful misreading of Scripture to cast God’s love as affirmation of sin. God’s Law shows us our sin. The wages of sin is death, and all us sinners will surely die. God’s Gospel shows us our Savior. God’s justifying Word, the Father’s gracious declaration that in Christ we have peace with God, does not make sin acceptable or call evil good. The Father’s choice to send the Son to deliver us from evil, and the Son’s choice to go forth to save us sinners from evil is the definition of agape. As Martin Luther winsomely put it: Jesus takes our sin and death to His cross and gives us His life and righteousness as a gift (der froehliche Wechsel).

When you are baptized into the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection, that is love that cannot be taken from you. Marked with the cross of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism, God’s agape is yours. You can run from it. You can ignore it. You can pretend it’s not necessary or pretend that it has to be repeated. No. God’s agape is His choice. You can return to it.

Let us adore the Holy Trinity. We praise you, Father. We praise you, Son. We praise you, Holy Spirit. Three in One. One in Three. Blessed Holy Trinity.

For the Hope That Won’t Be Disappointed

Marked with the cross of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism, you have peace with the Father, and His love in Christ Jesus cannot be taken from you. When you are a child of God, the old evil foe never stops attacking you with whatever he can throw at you, because he wants you to doubt God’s agape in Jesus Christ. If you wonder why so many outside the Church seem to have it so easy, remember that the old evil one never has to attack those he already has. Remember, also, that how people look from the outside isn’t always how they are on the inside.

Because God’s old creation is broken and because even God’s children are still sinners, suffering comes. Sometimes we can see causes and effects, where our own sin brings suffering to others and to ourselves. Often, we see through a mirror dimly. We cannot understand why or how such things happened to our dearest ones or to ourselves. The wages of sin is death. This we know. Our narcissism, the vestiges of the old sinner in us who must be drowned daily through repentance… our narcissism easily claims victimization rather than turning to the God who loves us.

St. Paul’s progression from suffering to endurance to character to hope is about the children of the heavenly Father growing through pain. If you have ever made an especially bad or stupid choice in life, you know the pain and suffering that follows. Through our praying and wrestling with God’s Word in those times, the Holy Spirit stretches our faith from childish to childlike. Clinging to the cross of Christ, sometimes with tears, faithfully attending the services of God’s house and receiving the Medicine of Immortality, the Body and Blood of Jesus, even when we are tempted to give up, we grow, we mature, and come to trust our hope in Christ will not be disappointed. For our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness.

Let us adore the Holy Trinity. We praise you, Father. We praise you, Son. We praise you, Holy Spirit. Three in One. One in Three. Blessed Holy Trinity.

For the Joy That Shatters the Darkness with Brilliant Light!

When our first parents rebelled, they lost Paradise, yes, intimacy with God and with each other. My dear friend and late mentor Bob Werberig, a pastor, poet, and artist, used to say that when we fell into sin, the first thing that fell was our imaginations. Far too many people live without wonder or beauty or yearning for union with the one true God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

When you come for worship, imagine that you have entered onto holy ground where there are myriads and myriads of angels surrounding you along with the saints, martyrs, and your dearest friends and loved ones who yearned always to be with the Lord and now they are. If the service is lightly attended, do not think on that but rather on the eternal worship of the Triune God into which you have entered on holy ground. Dip your fingers in the water and make the sign of your Baptism into Christ upon your forehead. If you are not yet baptized, hear the Holy Spirit calling.

As you sing God’s praises, hear your voice blending with the heavenly chorus and find yourself being drawn into their endless joy in the Lord’s presence. When you stand or kneel at the altar as the baptized receive the Lord’s true Body and most precious Blood and as the unbaptized receive a blessing, hear the grace and mercy of God spoken in your ears and know that the Real Presence of Jesus is with you and in you. And let the joy of that moment and this time shatter the darkness that has oppressed you. It has no place here. This is God’s house. The enemy must depart. This is an oasis in the wilderness. This is a place of safety and renewal. The darkness cannot ever win.

Let us adore the Holy Trinity. We praise you, Father. We praise you, Son. We praise you, Holy Spirit. Three in One. One in Three. Blessed Holy Trinity.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

©Samuel David Zumwalt, STS

szumwalt@bellsouth.net

St. Matthew’s Ev. Lutheran Church

Wilmington, North Carolina USA

Bulletin insert

Holy Baptism: Blessed Holy Trinity

Praying

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity. Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Listening

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God… Jesus Christ.”

St. John Chrysostom [Late 4th – early 5th century Patriarch of Constantinople, Turkey]: “What does it mean to have peace? … Paul means here that we should stop sinning and not go back to the way we used to live, for that is to make war with God… It is surely reasonable that we should be able to remain in a state of reconciliation” (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Romans, 127).

Romans 5:2 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…”

St. John Chrysostom: “It is being counted worthy of the knowledge of God, being forced to abandon error, coming to a knowledge of the truth, obtaining all the blessings which come through baptism. For the reason he brought us near in the first place was that we might receive these gifts” (128).

Romans 5:3 “… We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance”

St. Basil the Great [4th century Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca, Turkey]: “For those who are well prepared, tribulations are like certain foods and exercises for athletes which lead the contestant on to the inheritance of glory. When we are reviled, we bless; maligned, we entreat; ill-treated, we give thanks; afflicted, we glory in our afflictions” (129).

Romans 5:4 “… And endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

St. John Chrysostom: “Nothing encourages a man to hope for blessing more than the strength of a good character. No one who has led a good life worries about the future… Does our good really lie in hope? Yes, but not in human hopes, which often vanish and leave only embarrassment behind. Our hope is in God and is therefore sure and immovable” (130).

Romans 5:5 “… God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit… given to us.”

St. Augustine [Late 4th – early 5th century Bishop of Hippo Regius, Algeria]: “That God may be loved, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, not by the free choice whose spring is in ourselves but through the Holy Spirit, who is given to us… It is through love that we are conformed to God, and being so conformed and made like to him, and set apart from the world, we are no longer confounded by those things which should be subject to us. This is the work of the Holy Spirit” (130).

Reflecting

  1. Do I pray daily to the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit?

Learning

Table of Duties

Certain passages of Scripture for Various Holy Orders and Positions, by Which These People Are to Be Admonished, as a Special Lesson, about Their Office and Service

To Husbands

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7).

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Colossians 3:19).

To Wives

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22).

“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3:5-6) (Luther’s Small Catechism).

Doing

  • Pray for every unbaptized child you know and for the child’s parents, too.
  • Pray for your unchurched loved ones and friends. Invite one or more of them to worship.
  • Discuss with your spouse, your family, or a friend the responsibilities of being a husband and a wife. The roles are not interchangeable even though both are children of God and mated for life. If there are children in the household, talk with them about the importance of practicing the Christian faith together: praying daily, worshiping weekly, reading the Bible, et cetera.
  • Set aside time daily, preferably first thing, but when you are able to focus, to hear the Word of God, to reflect upon that Word, and to ask the Holy Spirit to grant you grace to be shaped by and conformed to that Word. See p.189 in the front of the LBW (Year Two, Week of Holy Trinity).
  • If you are interested in learning more about how Lutherans practice the Christian faith, you are invited to attend the next New Disciples Class on Saturday, August 20, from 9am – 12pm. in the church library. To register, please phone 910-791-4582 x 202 or email Donna at dcapozio@stmatthewsch.org.

For Husbands and Wives

Repeat daily: “I (name) take you (name) to be my wedded wife (husband), to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish until death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I pledge you my faith.”