In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Dear children of God, That’s your God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. That’s the God who saves. All three Persons of the Trinity were active, and continue to be active in your salvation. The Father sends the Son, the Son dies and rises again, yet, as important as that is, that’s not the end of the story. The Lord continues to be with you, by His Spirit. The Spirit continues to bring the saving knowledge of Christ, His forgiveness, into your heart, and He continues to keep you in that true faith, by the Word.
God wants us to think of Him as “Father”. Is that not the teaching of the parable of the Prodigal son? The Father in the story is so merciful, so forgiving, that no matter how greatly the son sins against him, when he comes back, in repentance, the Father receives him with open arms. That’s your Father in heaven, children of God. Scripture says, the Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy.
Jesus teaches us to call Him Father in the Lord’s Prayer, Our Father who art in heaven. In the Catechism we learn, “What does this mean? God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may with all boldness and confidence ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”
And above all, what does the Father do for you? He sends His Son, His only-begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The Son becomes our perfect, complete Substitute, bearing all our sin, as the Lamb of God. Bearing our griefs, our pains, carying our sorrows. And the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He that believes on Him is not condemned. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
And just a couple Sundays ago we heard, whatsoever we ask the Father, in Christ’s name, He hears us, because Christ made us acceptable to the Father.
Then there is God’s Spirit. His work is often overlooked. Much of the world knows about Christ, because the world knows about Christmas. And Jesus is that guy that has at least something to do with Christmas – that holiday where we get all the presents.
The Holy Spirit probably isn’t as popular or well-known, because Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, have no where near the popularity that Christmas has.
Yet, without God’s Spirit, there would be no faith. No man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost. Jesus speaks of Him in today’s lesson. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
That which is born of the flesh is flesh. Although we don’t always like to admit it, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We often end up committing the same sins that our parents did, which speaks to the fact that we were, as Scripture says, born and conceived in sin. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity.”
So, Jesus says, we must be born again. We must have the perfect, sinless birth of Christ given to us. That’s why He came, to be born for us. “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law.”
Children of God, that’s what you have in your Baptism, the perfect life of Christ, His victory over all sin and death, given to you freely.
The wisdom of the world says, “we’re just fine the way we are.” And even the religious leaders in Christ’s day, fell for that lie. “We don’t need to change, we’re holy, upright children of Abraham. Look at us saying our long prayers, fasting more than we’re told, donating more than what’s required. We even tithe on our spices. Who is this Jesus telling us we need a new birth?”
By Grace, Nicodemus was growing in understanding, and He came to the right place for the truth, yet, he too, still harbored this lie, at first, that we are just fine the way we are.
How can a man be born a second time?, he says. Surely he knew that we can’t go back into the womb and be born again that way. But he posed the question because this idea of a spiritual rebirth was so contrary to the way of the self-righteous pharisee. The idea of being completely re-made, re-generated, re-born was so foreign to his way of thinking.
Yet, dear Children of God, this is the grace, and the mercy God has granted to you. You have been born again, being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
He has granted you the gift of His Spirit and the gift of faith by baptizing you in the Trinity. It had to be the Triune God, because only the Father sent the Son to die and rise again for us. Only the Holy Spirit brings true faith into our heart by the Gospel.
So much of the news is full of the radical muslims hurting, killing, taking their own lives so that they might take the lives of others. It is a false religion that requires its adherants to sacrifice their own lives to gain eternal life in a so-called “holy war”. Let it be known – theirs is a false god and a false religion.
The true God is so different. The true God does something so different. He lays down the life of His own Son that we may have eternal life. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Yet, God not only gives His Son. He also gives His Spirit, who calls us by the Gospel and grants us the faith to believe. He washed away your sins in Baptism, and grants you a brand new heart of faith, that has new and godly desires. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness...”
The Father sent the Son. The Son died and rose again for us. The Spirit raises us to new life in Christ.
Dear children of God, you’ve been baptized into Triune God, the only true God, the only God who saves.
It is by Grace that we live in a nation that grants us the freedom to worship the only true God. Yet, there will always be the false religions present in our world, and in our own nation. “There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” So let us continue to stand for the truth of the only God who saves, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost that others may come to know Him and be saved. He says, "There is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour."
He will remain with you, by His Word, by His Spirit. He continues to enable us to turn from our sins, and receive full and complete forgiveness for all our sins. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.