ďFiguring out the Triune GodĒ
May 22, 2005
the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom
be glory forever. Amen.Ē
once knew a little boy who was asked by his Sunday school teacher what
he would say to someone who didnít believe in God. He answered his teacher, ďIíd say: ĎLook at that tree!
Somebody had to make it.í
Then, if he didnít believe me, Iíd push him down.Ē
Isnít that typical of boys, thinking that violence is the
solution to every problem? But
while we donít endorse pushing people down because they donít
believe in God, the first part of the answer was good.
ďLook at that tree. Somebody
had to make it.Ē Thatís
right. Someone had to make it.
The world didnít create itself.
In Hebrews we read: ďFor every house is built by someone, but
He who built all things is God.Ē (Hebrews 3:4)
The Bible teaches that people know by nature that God exists.
They have a natural knowledge of God.
Without having read a word of the Bible or ever having heard of
Jesus people know certain things about God.
St. Paul writes in Romans 1:19-20,
. . what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it
to them. For since the
creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being
understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and
is no reasonable way to explain the existence of the orderly world and
universe in which we live without appealing to the existence of an
intelligent Being who created it. The
creation points to the Creator. As
the psalmist said, ďThe heavens declare the glory of God; and the
firmament shows His handiwork.Ē
to know that God exists and that He is wise and all knowing and almighty
is not to know God. It is
know things about Him. Knowing
things about God is not the same as knowing God.
To know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent is to know eternal
life. You cannot know the
Father apart from the Son. You
cannot know the Son except by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
This is why you must be born from above. You must be born again.
You must have a new birth, a spiritual birth. God Himself brings this birth about by means of Holy Baptism.
As Jesus said,
Most assuredly, I say to
you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the
kingdom of God. That which
is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit. (John 3:5-6)
It is the height of presumption for us to believe
that we can figure God out. Part
of our text for this morning is taken from the words of Isaiah chapter
40 where we read:
wisdom and knowledge of God are too rich and too deep for us to plumb
their depths. When God
speaks we tremble at His word because He calls into being what was not
and He governs all that exists by His holy will.
He is not accountable to us.
We are accountable to Him. He
does not answer to us. We
answer to Him. We donít advise Him, counsel Him, command Him, or instruct
Him. He is God and we are
sinners who can see in their sin their spiritual poverty and
helplessness are fit to receive Godís grace in Christ.
In St. Paulís Epistle to the Romans the doctrine of Godís
grace in Christ is laid out more thoroughly than anywhere else in the
Bible. St. Paul teaches
with crystal clarity two fundamental Christian truths: First, all people
are disobedient sinners who deserve Godís eternal punishment.
Second, Godís grace in Christ is the only hope for any sinner.
At no point may we appeal to anything good in us when we stand
before God. We must rely
solely on Godís grace in Christ.
We may not begin with our works and then proceed to rely on
Godís grace to finish our salvation.
We may not begin with Godís grace and then proceed to rely on
our works. If we live by
faith and die in the faith we live and we die by Godís grace in Christ
grace is Godís goodwill toward us.
It is revealed to us in Christís suffering and death.
The Son of man must be lifted up.
In His suffering on the cross we see Godís grace.
Those who presumed to stand in judgment of God and Moses received
their just punishment when snakes bit them and injected poison into
their bodies. Their sin
called for their death. But
God was gracious. If they
looked to the snake uplifted on the pole they would live.
God is always gracious. Those
who look to Jesus lifted up on the cross to take away their sin also
live. But they live by
grace and by grace alone. The crucifixion of Jesus is where the Father reveals His
love. The crucifixion of
Jesus is where the Holy Spirit reveals His power.
The crucifixion of Jesus Ė where the Son of man is lifted up
Ė is where the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God
are to be found.
words of our text form a doxology to God to conclude the apostleís
discussion of Israel. Those
who were Israel by blood rejected the gospel and relied on their works
instead. Therefore they
were cut off from Godís grace. God
used their disobedience to be gracious to the Gentiles who became part
of Israel by faith. But
they could not regard themselves as any better than the Israel according
to the flesh that was rejected. After
all, the law condemns everyone alike and we stand by grace alone.
The verse immediately before our text reads, ďFor God has
committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy upon
donít make deals with God. You
donít give Him something for which He must repay you.
He doesnít think like a man.
His ways are pure and holy.
Yet as it has always been, is now, and will be until the end of
the word the creature stands in judgment of his Creator!
He subjects God to human standards and then finds Him wanting.
Without true knowledge or true wisdom He judges the knowledge and
the wisdom of God. C. S.
Lewis called this putting God in the dock, as if God, not we, are on
blinded by their own sin and limited by their own finitude toss out
challenges to God and question His wisdom. Sin is laid at His door, as if the Holy God is to blame for
the brutality, murder, and violence of those who turn their backs on
Him! The blame for the ruin
we in our sins have brought upon Godís perfect world is assigned to
God as sinners accuse the holy God of wrongdoing!
Suffering, death, disaster, and every kind of calamity that sin
has brought into this world is blamed on God.
is only one way to escape the delusion that so blinds people that they
would blame the holy God for the sins of sinners.
That way is through the new birth.
It is through holy baptism.
It is through dying and rising.
It is through faith in Christ as we who were bound in slavery to
our own disobedience receive Godís promised mercy in Christ.
Then we learn to know and confess the true God.
We learn to know and to confess the Father, from whom are all
things, for He created us in His image and loved us even after we
forsook Him. We learn to
know and to confess the Son, through whose merits and mediation we
receive all good things God has to give. We learn to know and to confess the Holy Spirit, by whose
holy inspiration we are enabled to trust in God and to give to Him all
that we are and have. As we
look to Jesus lifted up on the cross for us all, taking upon Himself all
our sins in order to remove them from us as far as the East is from the
West, we see our Triune God of whom and through whom and to whom are all
things. We not only know
things about God. We know
God. We know the Holy
Trinity to whom be glory forever.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus