Thoughts on Trinity 5

The blessed apostle Peter tells the saints of God to always be prepared to give an apology for the hope that is in you. The Greek word “apology” doesn’t mean to be sorry for; it means to make a defense for something. In our language when you apologize for something you are expressing sorrow over having done or not done something. You’re sorry. But in Greek, and so in theology, when you apologize for something you are defending it. You are arguing for it.

So next time you demand an apology from your husband or wife, be prepared to hear a defense of and reasons for what they did or did not do.

And you, O saints of God, are to be prepared to make an apology – to give reasons – for the hope that is in you. This means two things. It means that you must have the hope within you. And it means you must know why you have such hope.

The hope that is in you is not that God exists. So you don’t need to make a defense for the existence of God. If people want to argue about whether God exists or not, let them. But don’t engage them. It’s futile and you don’t have the proof they’re looking for anyway. Besides, the hope that is in you is not that God exists. Neither is the hope that is in you the belief that all things were created in six days. So you don’t need to make a defense for six-day creation. The hope that is in you is not that the apostle Paul visited this city before that city or wrote this epistle before that epistle. So you don’t need to make an argument for the timeline of Paul’s life and journey’s. The hope that is in you is not that God blesses morally good people and punishes morally bad people. So you don’t need to make a defense as to why having morals is better than not having morals. Besides, a moralistic Christianity is a misunderstood Christianity.

Christ didn’t die to make bad men good; He died to make dead men live. And that is the hope that is within you.

Because you, O man, are dead. You might be walking around breathing air, but you are a dead man. I don’t say this to be morbid or to inflict sadness or even to threaten anyone. It’s no threat. The doctor that must give the news of a terminal illness to his patient isn’t threatening his patient. If it were merely a threat then I would use it as a threat to get you to do something or to live a certain way to stop doing something. And I would say that if you did this or that, then you will not die. Just as a doctor might say to a smoker who’s in relatively good health that if he stops smoking he will live longer. But there’s nothing you or I can do to ward off death. We all know healthy victims of heart attacks. We all know nice people who were killed in accidents. There’s no magic pill. There’s no life style that can ward off death.

So thanks be to God that He sent His only-begotten Son to make dead men live!

That is the hope that is in you. And the defense of it, the apology, is not some convoluted, well-crafted argument of higher reasoning and logic. The defense of the hope that is in you is that Jesus is risen from the dead and that He has caught you in His life-giving net.

Now the doubter will ask, “But can you prove that Jesus rose from the dead? And can you prove that the sacraments are the life-giving net that catches us?” And, yes, we can. We have eyewitness reports and we have been baptized. That’s the proof. If the eyewitness accounts for a person are not enough for them, then they are an unbeliever and the Spirit has not given the gift of faith. But if you believe the eyewitness accounts, the words and deeds of the apostles, then you will seek baptism for you and your children. Because holy Baptism isn’t man’s devotion or promise to God; Baptism is God’s promise and devotion to you and your children.

If I said to you that I have untold wealth that I would like to bequeath to your children, even though they are small and have no use of their reason, and handed you a paper that promised them the untold wealth that is being held on deposit by a bank, would you say thanks but no thanks, come back when they can decide for themselves if they want untold wealth and riches? Of course not! You’d take the paper happily and keep it safe and brag about it and show it to your friends and relatives. And as your children grew older you’d tell them about it and the joyous occasion of it and how it warmed your heart that they received such a blessing and gift.

Not only that, but you’d talk about what it meant. You’d talk about the treasure it promises and the beauty of the future it brings. You’d praise the giver of such good gift because it is a gift, undeserved mercy.

That’s what Baptism is. It is the promise of God that the give of life won by Jesus is yours. It is the promise that because He lives so shall you live. It is the deed to eternal life that the Lord gives to you to keep you safe when doubt assails you; when life overwhelms you; and most especially when death comes to threaten you.

Because for the baptized, death is merely a threat. A toothless lion and a bear with no strength. Death is spent. Its energy and power are gone. It is only a shadow of what it threatens to be. It threatens to be annihilation, the great abyss from which none return. But One has returned. And He promises to bring you with Him. Truly death is merely a sleep, a rest from which the Man from Heaven will wake you. Nothing more.

Christ came to make dead men live. He cast His net, and He has caught you. Do not be afraid. You shall live.