daily biblical sermons

We are all justly condemned to eternal death for our sins, but God has given us one way of escape, faith in his Son
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the Most Holy Trinity (Trinity Sunday), June 07, 2020
Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9, Daniel 3, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, John 3:16-18


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).



Not everyone will be saved. The New Testament does not teach universalism, the heresy that everyone will eventually be saved. In fact, everyone is justly condemned to eternal death because of their sins. But God in his love did not want to simply give us what we deserve for our sins, so he has provided one way of escape from the just judgment that will be decreed against us when we die. That one way is faith in the Savior of the world, God’s own Son, incarnate as a man, namely Jesus Christ who would die for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Why would Christ die for our sins? He would die for our sins because we deserve to die in just punishment for them, and he was sent to us by God as our substitute to die in our place, instead of us, in punishment for our sins so that we would not have to die for them if only we put our faith in him. To put our faith in Christ means to believe that he really is the Savior that God has sent to the world and to trust in him for our salvation from our just sentence for our sins, which we would otherwise suffer, a sentence of eternal death in hell.



Today is Trinity Sunday, a day on which we reflect on the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. God lived from all eternity as a Trinity of distinct persons so perfectly united together that they literally have between them only one mind and one will. Sometimes people speak of a perfect marriage as being two people with one mind and will, but this is only a metaphor. In God it is a reality. The three persons are united in love together, and there is literally only one divine mind and one divine will between them, in which they all share and by which they each know and love the others as persons distinct from themselves.



They have lived this way from all eternity. God is not alone. God is love. And to love you have to have someone to love. You can’t just love yourself. In God there are three distinct persons that love each other. Even though they only have one common divine mind and will between them, they nonetheless use that one mind to perceive the other two persons as distinct from themselves, and they use their one common will to love the other two persons as distinct from themselves. Who can understand this? No human being can understand it! This is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity that we celebrate today.



In Jesus there is one person (a divine person) but there are two natures (a divine nature and a human nature). Jesus has a human mind and a human will, which pertain to his human nature, for he has no human person to which they could pertain, since Jesus has only one person, which is divine. Therefore mind and will must pertain to one’s nature, not to one’s person. Hence Christ’s divine mind and divine will must also pertain to his divine nature, not to his divine person. So if this is true of the second person of the Blessed Trinity (the Son), it must also be true of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Each of these persons has a divine mind and a divine will that has to pertain to their one common divine nature, since in God there is only one nature but three persons. So in God there are three divine persons with only one common divine mind and one common divine will, pertaining to their one common divine nature, but they all share in this one common divine mind and divine will.



God also works as a Trinity of persons in the redemption of fallen mankind. Since God is all just he must punish eternally all human beings, since they have all sinned gravely and deserve eternal death in hell for their sins (Matthew 25:31-46). But God is also all merciful and wants to save all human beings, even though they have sinned. But if he does that, he violates his perfect justice and is no longer an all-just God. And since God cannot contradict his nature as all just, he cannot mercifully forgive human beings for their sins and save them from eternal damnation.



God solves this problem as a Trinity of persons by the Father sending the Son into the world as a man, but remaining God the Son; and this Son takes our place and suffers our death sentence for our sins for us so that God can forgive us without violating his perfect justice, since our sins have been duly and justly punished in the flesh of his own Son on the cross (Romans 8:3-4).



So this brings us to our gospel reading for today, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This well-loved verse tells how we can escape the just sentence of eternal death for our sins, namely by accepting with faith the Savior from eternal punishment that God has sent us, his Son Jesus Christ.



Why does faith in God’s Son save us from eternal death and give us eternal life? It does so because the Son suffered our death sentence for our sins for us on the cross, and so since our sins have been duly and justly punished in the flesh of the Son of God on the cross (Romans 8:3-4; Isaiah 53:5-6), God in all justice can acquit us of our sins.



So whoever believes in the Son will escape from his otherwise inevitable eternal punishment for his sins. There is no other way of escaping it, for God is just and must otherwise punish us, but he provides this one door to us to escape hell when we die. Christ’s death on the cross “was ordained from all eternity to be the great propitiation and satisfaction for man’s sin. It was the payment, by an Almighty Substitute and Representative, of man’s enormous debt to God. When Christ died upon the cross, our many sins were laid upon Him. He was made ‘sin’ for us. He was made ‘a curse’ for us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). By His death He purchased pardon and complete redemption for sinners” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900).



“The truth before us is the very foundation-stone of the Christian religion. Christ’s death is the Christian’s life. Christ’s cross is the Christian’s title to heaven. Christ ‘lifted up’ and put to shame on Calvary is the ladder by which Christians ‘enter into the holiest,’ and are at length landed in glory. It is true that we are sinners – but Christ has suffered for us. It is true that we deserve death – but Christ has died for us. It is true that we are guilty debtors – but Christ has paid our debts with His own blood. This is the real Gospel! This is the good news! On this let us lean while we live. To this let us cling when we die. Christ has been ‘lifted up’ on the cross, and has thrown open the gates of heaven to all believers” (JC Ryle).



But what is our part in this? Our part is faith. Justifying faith includes genuine repentance, meaning that we firmly resolve to immediately amend our life and abandon our grave sins. So when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and intend to immediately amend our life, God justifies us, that is, he declares us ungodly sinners righteous and reckons to us his own righteousness (Romans 4:5) so that we shine not with a man-made righteousness of law keeping but with the righteousness of God himself, which is a gift that he gives us through our faith in Christ, because of what he did for us on the cross.



Faith in Christ is the only way that this salvation can become available to us and we can benefit from it. “Faith in the Lord Jesus is the very key of salvation. He that has it has life, and he that has it not has not life. Nothing whatever beside this faith is necessary to our complete justification; but nothing whatever, except this faith, will give us an interest in Christ. We may fast and mourn for sin, and do many things that are right, and use religious ordinances, and give all our goods to feed the poor, and yet remain unpardoned, and lose our souls. But if we will only come to Christ as guilty sinners, and believe on Him, our sins shall at once be forgiven, and our iniquities shall be entirely put away. Without faith there is no salvation; but through faith in Jesus, the vilest sinner may be saved” (JC Ryle, emphasis in the text).



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