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God Loved the World
John 3:1-17
Dan Christ

Trinity may be a concept that is hard for us to understand. We say that God is one but that while there is but one God and One Name, yet there are three “persons” or three “aspects” of that One Name. We don’t baptize in the Names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit but in the Name. SO if there is but one name and one God, why then must we say there is an aspect of God which is three?

From the revelation of God himself and the Christian church’s experience of that God. How do you tell a man who has never been in love what that is like. How can you talk about the life of farming unless you have done it, or been in combat, unless you have been there. Sometimes experience is the best and perhaps the only teacher and when it comes to God, God’s people experienced God in such a way that they recognized this was not merely their tri-fold experience but a revelation of the three -ness of God himself.

Israel had come to understand God as Lord and had even called God as “Father”. But when Jesus disciples had seen him alive after his resurrection and after they had realized what was true about him, they came to confess like St Thomas did, “My Lord and my God.” He was not just a man, not just a great man, not just a resurrected man, but he was and is the Son of God as Peter confessed him )Mark 8) and as Paul says the early church confessed him (Romans 10).

So that concept of God as Father whose Son was and is Jesus Christ could be accepted -- not easily since in Judaism, there was only One God and God was transcendent and Spirit, while Jesus was a man -- finite and mortal. Yet the Christian community realized that this Jesus was both God and man and that God must be both Father and Son. Now as hard as that was to accept, it was finally believed and confessed, for it was the experience of the early Christians who knew and experienced that Jesus was their Lord and brother and that God was their Creator and Father.

Adopted by baptism, Christians became children of God with Christ, his Son.

But Where and how could God be three? It was not explicit but implicit in Scripture. And it was again from the experience of the Christian community, that believers came to see that the Risen Christ was present among them by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit was Jesus’ alter ego. Recall he had said, “Unless I go away the Spirit or Advocate will not come., but if I do go away he will come and teach the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment....” (John 14)

Think about it for a moment. When we are gathered, isn’t there something else going on than merely another meeting? Say you go to a party or a political rally, isn't there a certain mood or feeling or atmosphere iu in that context?. Certainly there is a mood in a crowd. You go to a tightly fought baseket ball game and the people in the room all shout and scream, or weep and sigh. Isn’t there a certain mood or spirit in that place and among those people?

That is what was going on, only more so when the apostles gathered on Pentecost in the upper room and the mood and feeling that was so overpowering was not merely a mob mentality, it was God’s holy Spirit guiding, inspiring, propelling these men who had been frighten fugitives a few days earlier into becoming fearless and bold preacher of the gospel, proclaimers of God’s might y deed of salvation in Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior.

And that Spirit, that mood and feeling in the crowd was so contagious that then thousands of them not only listened in their own language b ut listened intently and believed God’s promise that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. SO three thousand believed and trusted the promise in Jesus Christ and were baptized that Pentecost.

Maybe we have a feeling or a mood as we gather on June 18th -- Father’s Day -- in Bethany Home Chapel. It may be more subdued and perhaps refined and genteel, but none the less, there is a Spirit at work -- not our own-- to make us into hearers and believers in God’s great promise. “God so loved the world he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

In that connection I share with you this story called , The Old Man & The Sea

After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's pastor once again slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and gave a very brief introduction of his childhood friend. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit to speak, "A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast," he began, "when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean." The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. He continued, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his which boy he would throw the other end of the line. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian,& he also knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. As the father yelled out, 'I love you, son!' he threw the line to his son's friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered."

By this time, the two teenagers were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words to come out of the old man's mouth. "The father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son. How great is the love of God that He should do the same for us." With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side. "That was a nice story," politely started one of the boys, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian."

"Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face,& he once again looked up at the boys & said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me."

"You see....I was the son's friend."