First Sunday After Epiphany, January 12, 2020 (Matthew 3:13-17)
As the number of cults increase and as paganism is displacing Christianity in many lands, preachers must be more consciously persistent about preaching the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Not that most sermons need be expositions of this essential doctrine, but pastors would do well to point out the frequent references to the True God—one essence with three distinct persons—permeating the Scriptures.
At the Baptism of our Lord the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is quite apparent. In this most wonderful account we observe the only occasion where the Holy Spirit takes upon himself a form—that of a dove. From this temporary morphing of the Spirit we observe him to be separate from the Son and the Father. Then from the voice that acclaims Jesus to be My beloved Son, we hear the voice of the Father, again a distinctly separate third person in the one God. There are three distinct God-persons, but one God.
Consider now how the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is echoed in various New Testament Baptism texts.
Of course the foundational Baptism text—Matthew 28: 19, 20—reveals that disciples are made as they are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The word name is singular, as there is but one divine essence, and yet there are three distinct persons, each possessing this name.
Consider then the first application of Christian Baptism as recorded in Acts 2:38,39: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise belongs to you and your children and to all who are far off—to all whom the Lord our God will call to Himself. Again we see the name noted in Matthew 28:19 as owned 100% by each God-person, and the three persons are again identified: Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Lord our God (God the Father). Clearly the work of the Holy Trinity explains Holy Baptism.
Observe the doctrine of the Holy Trinity linked to Baptism in 1 Corinthians 6:11. St. Paul explains to those who had been caught up in the filthiness of sin, that in Holy Baptism they were wonderfully washed: But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Observe again the name possessed by all three persons, and recognize all three persons compactly identified: Lord Jesus Christ, Spirit of our God [the Father].
Paul identifies two persons of the Trinity as he writes an apparent Baptism concept in Galatians 3:5: Does God lavish His Spirit on you and work miracles among you because you practice the law, or because you hear and believe? The Apostle then in verses 26, 27, identifies two persons of the Holy Trinity as he links faith and sonship with Baptism: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. The true God is clear: God (the Father) lavishes His Spirit (uniquely in Baptism) and we are sons of God (the Father) as we are clothed with Christ Jesus (the Son of God) in Baptism. One need only go a few verses further to find a condensed mentioning of each person of the Holy Trinity, relating our sonship established in Baptism: And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Look up also Ephesians 1:13,14 (Baptism is the seal of the Spirit); Titus 3:5-8; John 3:1-16. Each text speaks of Baptism, explaining such talk by referencing the three persons of the Holy Trinity. Pastors, preach then the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and proclaim its unique connection to Holy Baptism.