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The Word of God is not Bound!

Here, with these few words, St. Paul encourages his son Timothy to take courage, to endure hardship, to keep doing what God has called him to do.

For even though Paul himself is in chains and bound, God’s Word is not bound.

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4)

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul had told Timothy to Remain in Ephesus, that he commandsome that they teach no other doctrine.

2Tim2.1-13, Pentecost 20, 2010C.pdf

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Certainty in Christ!

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me

Galatians 1:1-2

Certainty is a blessed thing.  St. John writes, “If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21).  Such confidence before God you find in Jesus, not in yourself.  Of course, some exist who try to find surety in themselves or in other things other than God’s Son.  And for a time, that surety may remain, but then it is soon taken away in a blink of eye, a fleeting thought, always temporary and not lasting.

Confidence in self or man-made things, teachings, activities, etc. do not give lasting confidence before God.  But the work and word of Christ do give such confidence, such hope—the hope that cannot be ungiven or undone, for Jesus Christ died and is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18).  The word and Word of Christ cannot be undone.  It is already.  And it’s for you.

Nothing surpasses the certainty of God’s favor in Christ Jesus.

So St. Paul writes, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11).

Such certainty Paul had because of Jesus.  Such certainty also do you have—in Jesus.

And such certainty does the Lord give by means of His  faithfully preached Word, that you also continue in such certainty—that you continue in Christ.  Amen.

Luther

Therefore let the preacher of the Gospel be sure that his calling is from God.  It is perfectly proper that he should follow Paul’s example and exalt this calling of his, so that he may gain credence and authority among the people.  To glory this way is not vain but necessary; for he does not glory in himself but in the king who has sent him and whose authority he seeks to have honored and elevated. (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p16)

Prayer: Dear Lord, bless our pastor with faithfulness to Your Holy Word, and give us ears to hear, that we, too, would have such confidence as You Yourself give in Your Word, and have such certainty of your favor and kindness toward us on account of Jesus Your Son.  Amen.

Reflections on a Christian Funeral

Just recently, one of the members of the congregation died.  He died.  He didn’t just ‘pass away.’  He died.  He stopped breathing.  His heart ceased.  And during the funeral, the casket being closed, laid the body of a loved one, friend, and saint of God.

Arnie was his name.  He has transferred from the ‘church militant’ to the ‘church triumphant.’  He was an active member, attending regularly unless physically unable.

Just about a week or two prior to his death, he confessed his sins by answering in the affirmative to questions I had asked him while using the ‘commendation of the dying’ section in one of our service books (Pastoral Care  Companion).  He later received the Lord’s Supper.  I reminded him of his baptism.

Arnie had confessed the faith.  He had run the race (Hebrews 12:1).  He had been baptized.  He heard the Word.  He received Christ’s body and blood.

All of the above point to what God had done, what He was doing, what He still does for us who remain living on earth.  All of the above, Word and Sacrament, emphasize God’s work—not man’s—for our salvation.  They point out our sure hope, our certain confidence.  Not by what we do, but by what God does in Christ Jesus, are you called a saint, a holy one of God.

On the day of Arnie’s funeral, there was indeed sorrow.  But there was also that sure confidence of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to His Word does the Lord declare it to be so:

16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:16-23)

We gave thanks to the Lord for the life and for the faith God had given to His beloved child.  And we give thanks now for the life and for the faith God has given us, that we believe, and so live.

We were reminded of our own mortality that day in a most sublime way.  Arnie was not getting up.  But this didn’t mean that eternal life was not his, or that He was not with the Lord.

We walk by faith, not by sight, St. Paul the apostle says—by faith in the Lord’s abiding and true Word (2 Corinthians 5:7).  He doesn’t lie.  He says how it is.  He says that there is life, even in death.  And this we know to be true, all because of Jesus, the Living One, who conquered sin and death and the devil, and through whom we have life, eternal life.

Prayer:  Dear Father in Heaven, give us sure confidence in Your Word, that even as we sorrow and grieve, seeing the death of others and reflecting on our own mortality, we not lose hope, but look ever to You and Your Son Jesus Christ, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame.  Grant that we too look to our promised inheritance, setting our minds on things above, not on things of the earth; and meditating on what is good and noble and true.  Amen.

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