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Paul’s Last Will & Testament

October 13, 2013

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Proper 23 (Pentecost 21)                                  Trinity Lutheran Church

13 October 2013                                                  Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

2 Timothy 2:1-13

 

What’s this?  Did you hear about it?  It’s horrible!  Evangelist and preacher Paul has been arrested.  He’s a prisoner.  Jailed in Rome he is.  Yes, it’s true.  Incarcerated for some time he’s been

 

Really?  Why?  Paul’s an apostle!  He’s a Roman citizen with rights.  How can this be?

 

Well, preacher Paul dared to open up his mouth in public!  He used his mouth to preach in public.  He boldly and categorically preached the good news that Jesus is the all-authority-in-heaven and on earth LORD AND GOD who gave His life into death for the salvation of sinners.  Preacher Paul wouldn’t quit.  For preaching Jesus as LORD and GOD and Jesus as the Savior of His sinners — he was arrested and thrown into the Roman slammer.

 

Paul wasn’t born yesterday.  He knows, humanly speaking, that the antichristian Roman establishment, its authorities, and PC police will not acquit him and set him free.  After all, he used to be part of the establishment and helped hunt down Christians, jail them, and even gave his approval to their deaths, like Stephen in Acts 7.  Peter and the other apostles were thrown in jail for preaching Jesus (Acts 5).  Apostle and Evangelist John would be exiled and imprisoned on the island of Patmos for confessing Christ.

 

The Roman Governor Pilate didn’t set Jesus free.  So why should Paul expect anything else?  He knows the end is near.  He has only a short time left to preach the gospel.  If the regime will not let him preach publicly, then he’ll proclaim the gospel from behind prison bars.  He’ll preach to his fellow prisoners, the guards, and warden and, yes, even to the rats and cockroaches if they would care to listen.

 

When you know the end of your life is near, you write out your last will and testament.  That’s Paul’s second epistle to a fellow brother in Christ and early church Pastor Timothy.  That’s today’s text.

 

Prisoner Pastor Paul begs Pastor Timothy to preserve the preaching of the Gospel.  To preach it purely.  No additions.  No subtractions.  Any teaching or preaching that diminishes, cheapens or negates the salvation job that Jesus did for sinners on Good Friday and Easter cannot be tolerated in the church.

 

No one can replace Jesus!  Jesus alone is the all-authority-in-heaven-and-on-earth Savior of sinners!  In addition, the church cannot stomach any salvation add-ons to Jesus and His work.  Jesus alone saves sinners.

 

So Timothy is to protect and defend the good news of the Gospel of salvation against those that would attack it by deceptive false teaching.  He tells Timothy to train “reliable men”  — NOTE CAREFULLY – “reliable men as pastors,” NOT WOMEN.  Let me be frank.  Women — no matter how nice, no matter how sensitive, no matter how loquacious — ARE NOT GIVEN TO BE PASTORS.  Only qualified men have been given the vocation of the office of the holy ministry (That’s taught in 1 Cor. 14:33-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-14; and the example of the Lord’s choosing of 12 men to be apostles).

 

So Timothy is to instruct and teach “reliable men” thoroughly so that the Gospel may be preached faithfully to the next generation.  And then Paul tells Timothy that he had better be ready to suffer when he does that.

 

Yes, that’s right.  Teach and preach all-authority-in-heaven-and-on-earth-Jesus who suffered, died, and rose from the dead for the salvation of sinners and you’ll suffer too Pastor Timothy.  Train and unleash a bunch more of preachers who publicly proclaim Christ and well …

 

The first people in the church that the establishment goes after and hunts down – that the devil goes after and hunts down – are the pastors.  First it was Pastor Jesus.  Suffered under Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor of Judea.  Now it’s Pastor Paul.  And soon it will be Pastor Timothy.  Jail them if you can!  And if you get the chance, slit their throats, stone them, throw the to the lions, cut off their heads, crucify them on an upside down cross or burn them!

 

In 156 AD, Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, and bishop in Smyrna was in his 80s when he was burned alive for his confession of Jesus. Bishop Polycarp was denounced to the government, arrested, and tried on the charge of being a … get a load of this … ON THE CHARGE OF BEING A CHRISTIAN. When the proconsul urged him to save his life by cursing Christ, he replied: “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

 

In 256 AD, the Roman emperor Valerian I targeted certain people as enemies of the state and extremely dangerous to society.  Can you imagine who those folks were?  Yes, that’s right, the Christians.  Christians, especially the clergy, were arrested, jailed and murdered.  Why? For being Christians!  Two bishops in Rome were killed — Stephen and his successor Sixtus.  Two years later in northern Africa in the city of Carthage, another bishop was made shorter by a head.  His name: Cyprian.  Cyprian refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and he firmly confessed Christ only as Lord.

 

Take out the pastors and you take out the rest of the Church.  They’ll compromise.  They’ll fold.  They’ll give up.

 

Hitler tried that in Germany.  Stalin attempted it in the Soviet Union.  Faithful pastors were rounded up by the thousands.  Many were exiled.  Most were murdered.  They demolished the churches or turned them into gyms or museums.  The same thing happens in Communist China today.  And even in the continent of Africa.

 

All of a sudden the pastor disappears.  And then the church building gets bulldozed. Dozens of Christian churches have been destroyed in Egypt and thousands of Christians have been murdered.  So too in Syria.  In Nigeria there isn’t a day that goes by that Christians are persecuted or murdered including and most especially pastors.  And Pastor Timothy, while serving the church at Ephesus, was stoned to death around 97 A.D. for his confession of Christ and his staunch opposition to false Roman gods, especially the Roman goddess Diana.

 

Pastor Timothy could only train and inspire faithful men only if he himself was faithful even in the midst of hardships and immense hard work.  Pastor Timothy is to do his work and endure all kinds of opposition like a marine’s loyalty – semper fi – always faithful.  Pastor Timothy is to do his pastoral work with an athlete’s rigorous self-discipline or a farmer’s strenuous labor.  “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier,” Paul says.  “Like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”  

 

Paul exhorts Timothy and all pastors that would follow him to remain faithful.  And pastors can do this only in the strength that is found in the risen Christ.  “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead.”   

 

The crucified Jesus is the risen Jesus.  He promised He would rise from the grave on the third day.  And He did it!  The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.  What He says is true.  What He promises He gives.  Forgiveness.  Salvation.  For you.  For all.  “God’s Word is not chained,” Paul says.  It still rings out bearing this message:  Jesus suffered.  Jesus died.  Jesus rose again.  And all your sins are forgiven!  Death and the devil are crushed.  They have no power over you!

 

“God’s Word is not chained.”  God sees to that.  He continues to give pastors to the church.  To proclaim the gospel.  Paul’s head was cut off because he dared to preach the gospel publicly.  He wouldn’t stop.  Because the office of the holy ministry doesn’t live or work for itself.  It’s an office of service.  Paul puts it this way:  “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

 

Pastors aren’t in the office of the holy ministry for themselves.  Jesus puts them in the holy office for you.  So that you hear the Gospel and believe it.  That you receive Holy Baptism and live in your Baptism daily by dying to sin and trusting in Jesus.  That you eat and drink the Lord’s body and blood believing His promise that you are forgiven.

 

One of the most extreme hardships that pastors endure these days in America is not incarceration, a “Siberian” exile or a bullet to the head (although it may soon come to that).  It is the apathy and indifference to the preaching of the Gospel and teaching of God’s Word!

 

And yet the pastor must endure it.  Suffer it.  Remain faithful and not give up.  You must pray for me and all pastors who serve in the church.  Pray that they do not despair or become accustomed to pessimism.  Pray that they do not give in to false teaching and compromise God’s Word.  Pray that they preach the Gospel purely.  Pray that they will do the work entrusted to them by the Lord not for themselves but for your benefit.  Pray, trusting that “if we died with Jesus we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”  After all, “God’s Word is not chained.”

 

And that Word to you, His elect, is:  All-authority-in-heaven-and-on-earth-Jesus suffered, died, and rose.  For you.  For your salvation.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

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