Dear family of St Paul’s
Greetings in Jesus’ name on this Trinity Sunday!
I greet you all in the very precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour on this Trinity Sunday.
You will not find the word Trinity in the scripture although it is implied. Indeed the early Church, did not celebrate Trinity Sunday at all. It was the Archbishop of Canterbury-Thomas Beckett, who instituted Trinity Sunday into our prayer colander in the 11th century A.D. the Anglican Church was still Catholic at that time.
Many people regarded the Doctrine of the Trinity as some kind of mathematical puzzle. They cannot see how God can be one and also three. God id not three in the same way that He is one. He is not cut up into three portions. I’ll try to explain the Trinity in the simplest of terms.
We talk of an ANC government is divided into different departments. We talk about the department of Justice, Department of Education, of Correctional Service, etc. But it is still one government with different functions. I’ll give you one simple example. Take the sun in the sky as an analogy. We see the sun shining brilliantly in the sky. We experience sunlight by the sun’s rays that reach the earth. If we are standing in the sunlight, we experience heat. Some people even get sunburnt.
If we take God as the sun, and by no means am I referring to the sun as God, but if for an example you take the sun as the God creator: – you then take the sun’s rays that reach the earth as Jesus- God the Son, and finally you take the heat of the sun’s rays as God the Holy Spirit. The sun, sun’s rays and heat. Three in one, God the Father, who created the world, God the Son who redeemed us, and God the Holy Spirit, that sustain, enables and gives us light.
In the Gospel read out here earlier Jesus impressed upon a most religious and moral person named Nicodemus, the absolute necessity for him to be born again, if he would see or enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
About new life, new birth, what does it mean, what is Jesus taking about? Friends, people of St Pauls, there are 3 great musts of all Humanity:
- THE MUST OF DEATH- Hebrews 9:27
- THE MUST OF JUDGEMENT- Rev 20: 11-15
- THE MUST OF REBIRTH- spoken about in this mornings’ gospel.
We all know and accept death as the way of life. We understand a little bit about judgement, because in the bible we have a record of God’s judgement on sinful men. But new birth? What do we know about it? The New Testament records how men and women responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How lives were changed, how people left all behind to follow Jesus.
Throughout the centuries, men have grappled to come to an understanding of what NEW BIRTH is. And because of much ignorance and misunderstanding concerning this initial matte, let us first view it in a negative light, and see what it is not.
READ JOHN 1: 12-13
- IT IS NOT OF NATURAL DESCENT
John 1:13 told us, born not of blood. Though one may be born of Christian parents, this does not make the person a Christian.
- IT IS NOT OF SELF DERMINATION
John 1:13 the same verse. Nor of the will of the flesh. Just as a child cannot will itself to be born physically, so no one can produce new birth by one’s own efforts.
- IT IS NOT OF HUMAN MEDITATION
The last part of John 1:13. Nor of the will of man, but of God. It is only God that can give new birth.
- IT IS NOT A PHYSCIAL CHANGE
Jesus corrected Nicodemus’s understanding as to this, and showed him that it was a spiritual change.
- IT IS NOT A SOCIAL OR GEOGRAPHICAL CHANGE
The born again person is not translated into heaven, but continues to live on earth. But now he lives to please his Lord and Saviour.
- IT IS NOT AN EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS
It is not a gradual development of some kind of germ of spiritual life that is within. Sinners are described in EPH 2:1 as being spiritually dead. Life cannot grow or develop it does not exist.
- IT IS NOT A REFORMATION
New birth is not self-improvement, by which outwardly bad habits are stopped or relinquished. It is not a change of manners, but of a person. And lastly,
- IT IS NOT A RELIGIOUS BELIEF
It is possible to be sincere in one’s religious beliefs, be fully involved in the Church, occupy a Church office, and even be a preacher, without being born again.
The necessity to being born again was stated to one of the most religious, sincere, moral man of his time. NEW BIRTH is a spiritual change that only be brought about by God. At this point it would be quite natural to ask “Why a person must be born again?” We must be born again because of a spiritual nature which humans naturally lack. Because of his sin, Adam acquired a sinful nature, which has been transmitted by birth to each of his descendants. ROMANS 8:7-8 describes the sinful nature as enmity against God. Not subject to or obedient to the laws of God and is incapable of pleasing God. This sinful nature, often referred to as the flesh, can be educated, cultivated and religionised, but its nature remains the unchanged. Also unchangeable is its enmity to God, and we find it incapable of pleasing God.
SECONDLY, we must experience NEW BIRTH because of a spiritual Kingdom that man cannot naturally see or enter. In the gospel read out here earlier, John speaks about the Kingdom of God. What is meant by the Kingdom of God? It is described as a spiritual experience ROM 4:17 tells us, the Kingdom of God is not meat or drink i.e (it is not physical) but righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit. We must experience NEW BIRTH that will introduce into this new realm. Through this birth, we will become possessed of a spiritual, which will equip us to enjoy the spiritual realities of the Kingdom of God.
In reply to Nicodemus’s question “How can those things be?” Jesus used an incident in the Old Testament to illustrate how the NEW BIRTH can be experienced.
JOHN 3: 14, 15 says “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of man be lifted up, and that whoever believes in Him has eternal life” read NUMBERS 21:4-9 summarize the incident in NUMBERS 21; 4-9.
SIN- just as Israel sinned, so has all humanity sinned ROM 3:23
JUDGEMENT- as their sin brought God’s judgement upon them, so God has revealed His wrath on all who sin ROM 6:25
REPENTANCE- Israel realised their sin, confessed and sought pardon for their sin. So God demands the repentance of a sinner.
REVELATION- as God revealed to Moses the way of Salvation for those bitten by snakes, so God has revealed in His scriptures the way of salvation for us.
PROVISION- a serpent of brass was made and lifted up on a pole in full view of the camp.
CONDITION- they had to look, to be saved. The fact that the BRONZE serpent was lifted up, did not in itself save them. The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was lifted up on the cross, does not automatically save us. We must believe in Him as our Saviour.
RESULTS- they lived. The moment a bitten Israelite looked, he received life.
In conclusion: The moment that a lost sinner believes that Jesus died for his sins and accepts Him as Lord and Saviour of his life- he receives eternal life and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and becomes a partaker of Gods divine nature and is born from above.
The blessed Trinity: God the Father in heaven, sent His Son, Jesus Christ to redeem us for our sins and Jesus the redeemer, sends the Holy Spirit to live within us, to guide us and to guard us and keep us true to the God our Father. AMEN.
During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426