Bethlehem Lutheran Church & Bethel Lutheran Church, Lebanon and Sweet Home, OR
LWML Sunday – October 1, 2017
Text: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Usually it’s helpful to know ahead of time what to expect. Before you leave on a trip, it’s helpful to know if there’s going to be traffic. But sometimes the news of what to expect can be overwhelming or scary.
- These words tell us what the Church is up against.
- Paul writes this warning to Timothy to prepare him for what he will face, and in some ways what he might already be facing.
- This isn’t earth-shattering news, because this is how it has been in the fallen world between God’s people and the messengers He sends. But like the prophets of old, Timothy is to preach the Word regardless of how people receive it, and to do this with patience and teaching.
- 500 years ago this year, during the time of the Reformation, this was also true. God put His Gospel on the lips of men even though they were persecuted by those who called themselves church.
- It seems to be even more true today, facing a hostile culture and a post-Reformation world where everyone with a Bible and Google thinks they are an expert in God’s Word.
- But pastors can’t and don’t do it alone.
- Spreading the Gospel to thousands across the Mediterranean did not happen overnight, and it did not happen solely through the missionary efforts of Paul. He was helped by other apostles, new pastors like Timothy, couples like Prisca and Aquila, and the support of Christians at various congregations.
- The Reformation was not done by Martin Luther alone, but by other professors, hymnwriters, publishers, and especially by parents using the Small Catechism along with bringing their children to church regularly.
- So it is today that pastors are not the heroes of the Church, single-handedly holding congregations and the Church at large together. They are only one part of many others in whom the Spirit moves. They do it with the prayers and prayerful giving of auxiliaries like the LWML.
- And it succeeds and bears fruit not because of God’s blessing upon the Word preached at the Word believed.
- 75 years ago when the LWML was formed, the women saw the dire need for a world which needs to hear God’s Word and believe in Jesus as Savior. The women knew they themselves weren’t going to become missionaries, but they pledged their support of those who do. They gave their money and pooled it together, and along with their prayers they have been able to help spread and preserve the Gospel to people from all over the world. Such a little thing as change in mite boxes, the Lord uses to do glorious things.
- In 2017, we reflect on all that’s happened since the Reformation, but even while it was spreading like wildfire, Martin Luther noted, “I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer…the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word did it all.” Such a great thing as the Reformation which changed the landscape of the Western Church for centuries, was accomplished by the Word not by human ingenuity,
- The Word of God is at work as it is preached, your hearts just as it was in generations past. It didn’t happen through just one or two people, but as members of a body Christ has been at work. The Gospel which is preached all over the world is God’s work bringing men and women into His Kingdom forever.
- So it is that Bethlehem Lutheran Church would be nothing except that the Word has been at work in you, in parents teaching their children and bringing them to Sunday School and Church. The Spirit has been at work moving men and women to build up this congregation, to come together as a fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ.