…Before All Worlds

Text: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Date: The Holy Trinity + 5/26/13

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, the King “begotten of His Father before all worlds.” As on Pentecost Sunday the center of attention was not on God the Holy Spirit but on Him to whom the Spirit always points, the King, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, so on this celebration of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the center of attention is not on the mystery of the three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but on Him who was sent and glorified by the Father, the One who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary and was made man.

In the Nicene Creed we confess Jesus Christ according to both His Divine and Human natures. First, of His Divine nature three times we emphasize that He is “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds…begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom (that is, the Son) all things were made.” In the Athanasian Creed we confess that the Son of God is “one person,” “uncreated,” “infinite,” “eternal,” “almighty God.” Then, as we emphasized in the Nicene Creed, we say, “The Son is neither made nor created, but begotten of the Father alone,” “begotten from the substance of the Father before all ages.” The word “begotten” serves to clarify any confusion with being “born” merely as human beings of His creation are. We might ask ourselves today, therefore, “So you really think you know Jesus?”

The Church has always seen the doctrine of the Son of God, “the pre-incarnate Christ,” in the words of Proverbs chapter 8. “Wisdom” is a metaphor for the Son of God. The graphic on your ordo or service folder is less accurate as it says, “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work.” Much better are our more recent translations, “The Lord possessed me,” or “brought me forth,” to speak of His distinct divinity and not confuse Him as part of the creation with the rest of the universe.

On this Trinity Sunday, then, with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, the Holy Church throughout the world confesses the whole, entire Christ, especially His Divine nature. In the words of the New Testament, St. Paul wrote, “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:21-24).

St. John testified to this clearly in the beginning of his Gospel that this “wisdom,” the Christ is “the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

Again St. Paul describes the mystery of the eternal, incarnate Christ when he writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:15-16). And a little later on in the same letter to the Colossians, “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:1-3).

Finally, in the Book of Revelation we hear Christ describe Himself when He says, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation’” (Rev 3:14).

His adversaries did not believe Jesus when He blatantly claimed to be God, saying, “before Abraham was, I AM,” “so they picked up stones to throw at him” (John 8:58-59). But can you stone God? These were among the first to deny Jesus’ Divine nature. Many would follow, however, saying that though Christ may have had the Spirit after His baptism, he was not pre-existent, or (worse) that Christ was the first and highest created being.

Then there are other proponents of the opposite idea, that while being truly divine, Jesus was not really human but only appeared to be human—an illusion. St. Peter, however, attests that “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). We have a crucified God! St. John testified in his first epistle, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:1-3).

So do we sing: “Beautiful Savior, King of creation, Son of God and Son of Man!” (LSB 537). God the Father sent His only-begotten Son into our flesh so that He might, as one of us, as our representative, as our substitute, faithfully fulfill all of God’s Law and yet offer Himself as the one and only perfect sacrifice for all sin. “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Now God the Holy Spirit points to and preaches Jesus Christ as Savior of the world, and so do we! Now Christ is “exalted at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33), “who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). God the Father says of Jesus, “Listen to Him!” (Mt 17:5). God the Holy Spirit says nothing “on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:2-5).

Salvation unto us has come
By God’s free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom,
They help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,
Who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer. (LSB 555)