Sermon Date: June 11, 2017
Sermon By: Pastor Dale Raether
Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20
Free of Doubt and Fear May We Ever Worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
And now, notice in this verse what the Holy Spirit is doing. Since there’s no sun yet, the Holy Spirit is keeping the earth mass warm, until God would form the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day. But which person of the Trinity did the forming? John chapter one tells us it was God the Son, and that He did all the forming by just speaking a word. And so, whenever you see the words “God said” in Genesis 1, it’s referring to Jesus. But, then, where does God the Father fit in? The Father was the architect. The Son carried out His plans; and the Spirit was the giver of light and life.
But why? Why did the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit create the world? Why did they create man? God created man out of love, so that we in turn could experience the joy of having a loving relationship with Him. This is why God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over … all the earth… - Genesis 1:26 We don’t look like God, because God is a spirit. Being in His image means that Adam and Eve were as holy and loving as the Father. They were as trusting and obedient as the Son. And they were as spiritually alive as the Holy Spirit.
And now let’s put ourselves in Adam and Eve’s place. They’re looking at this beautiful, perfect world for the first time. There was not yet any sin or consequences of sin. Also, as Adam and Eve are looking around, they’re seeing everything through the filter of feeling God’s love and joyfully, freely loving Him in return. So, why would Eve listen to Satan’s lies and doubt God’s love for them? And why would Adam willfully choose to rebel against God? This doesn’t make sense!
Well this doesn’t answer that, but it helps explains. Man was created, and Jesus was born, not understanding or knowing a lot, but they did have the built-in desire to learn, to explore and even to question. So, what happens when a person learns, explores and questions? It depends on HOW he goes about it. If he listens to good sources, he’ll grow. If he listens to bad sources, he’ll be misled. In Adam and Eve’s case they choose to listen to Satan. As a result, they began to doubt God’s love, and so they sinned, and in sinning their very thought processes and desires became corrupted.
Nevertheless, learning, exploring, and asking questions isn’t wrong. We were made to do this. And Jesus even commissioned us just before ascending into heaven to teach everything He has taught us. When He is our teacher, even though we live in this sinful world and sin now lives in us, we will keep growing to become more and more like God, until we do become LIKE Him in the life to come.
So now let’s jump ahead to our Gospel reading. We read: The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. – Matthew 28:16-17 The eleven weren’t the only ones, who were there. Paul tells us in I Corinthians that there were over 500 people with them, plus, I strongly suspect, so were the Old Testament believers, who were raised from the dead of Good Friday, and had appeared to many. Anyway, some of these 500, it says, did not worship Jesus, because they were doubting.
How could they doubt? Their doubting was even dumber than Eve’s doubting in the Garden of Eden! I mean, they had the Word of God, which foretold everything that had just witnessed. Also, they were seeing Jesus in the flesh, who had been crucified, stabbed and buried. So, what was there to doubt? Everything, and here’s why! Because we’re people, we still have the desire to learn, explore, and question. But because we’re sinners, we still tend to listen to Satan’s whisperings, and take pride in our own corrupted abilities to figure everything out.
As a result, if we don’t doubt that all of His Word is true, we may still doubt that all of it is true for us and that our sins are paid for. Or, if we don’t doubt that all our sins are paid for, we may still doubt God’s going to keep all His promises to us, for example, to care for us and to work in all things for our good. Or, maybe we don’t doubt those things, but we’ll doubt our ability to do the things God’s given us to do. Do you see how dumb all this doubting is? Since God created the world by speaking the Word, since God reconciled all sinners to Himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, and now since the Son commands us tell everyone these things, with the promise that His life-giving Spirit is working through that Word, why do we sometimes think that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will leave us hanging? Yet we’ll do that, because of the sin that lives in us, and because we stop listening to His Word.
Let’s read on in our text to see what Jesus’ response: Jesus approached and spoke to them saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. – Matthew 28:18 At creation the Father was the planner, and the Son carried out the His plan. Now, the Son, Jesus, our brother, is fully in charge of everything in the entire universe, right down to helping you find your keys, because you couldn’t find your keys and you prayed about it. So, again, our minds might say, “This or that situation can’t work out. Or, this or that problem can’t be solved.” Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.”
Reading on in our text: Therefore go and gather disciples from all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to keep all the instructions I have given you - Matthew 28:19-20a There are a couple of things here. Notice Jesus sends all, because He doesn’t wait till a person has all his doubts worked out before He sends them, otherwise He’d never send anyone. As long as we are sinners, we’ll continue having our doubts, but Jesus continues to call us and send us to make others disciples, because through His merits, we are as trusting and obedient in our Father’s eyes as He is. Furthermore, by driving us into the Word as we’re gathering and teaching, what’s the Spirit doing to our own doubts? He’s smashing them, and He’s directing us to His truth, which results in OUR growth, not to mention many more people are hearing Word.
So, let’s say we understand God’s Word much better now than when we were younger. And let’s say we’ve even had the privilege of seeing people we shared Jesus with growing in their faith. Does this mean our doubting days are over? We wish! But here’s how Jesus keeps on helping us with our doubts over the long haul. He says: Surely, I am with you always until the end of the age. – Matthew 28:20 Jesus is with us, for example, even if we repeat the same sin again, like Peter did. Or, Jesus is with us, even if we fail again to follow through on things we had promised we would do. And, Jesus is with us, even though we may be seeing now seeing the horrible consequences to our sins and failures. Especially, Jesus is with us, when our years are advancing and our time is getting shorter, and Satan keeps asking us, “What if none of this is true? Or, “What if God is angry with you, because you didn’t share the Gospel with someone, when you could have, and now that person has died?”
Don’t listen when the devil hits you with questions like these? They will fill us with doubt. They will put us on a vicious circle of doubt, and fear and more sin and more failures! Instead, listen to Jesus! Then know that Jesus is with you, because through your baptism you are in the care of the Father, you are in the forgiveness of the Son, and you are in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. Also, know that Jesus is with you in a special way through the Lord’s Supper. Together with the bread and the wine, His very body and blood are truly present, the body and blood He gave on the cross to pay for our sins.
Shouldn’t all these assurances, then, fill us with peace and make us eager to worship Him, and to help with the gathering of new disciples from all nations? It should and it does! But what if it seems like others aren’t listening? Given our own track record, why should that surprise us? On the other hand, through the Word, the life-giving Spirit is hovering over them, just like He’s hovering over us. And finally, just like the Spirit working in us to get us through all of our doubts and to help us grow, so He’s working in others too. But there’s one condition in all this, a condition that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit insist on. It’s that we keep for ourselves and keep on teaching everything Jesus has taught us.
But is this a burden or a privilege? It’s a privilege, which is why Trinity Sunday is a celebration! We’re celebrating the blessings of our Triune God. We’re also celebrating today being able to share these blessings with others through our Church and Academy, and through Giving Thanks 2017. Please join us at our celebration dinner after the 10:30 service. And God grant that we may keep on celebrating without any doubt or fear all our days, until we get to celebrate in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net