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You’re Not All That!

October 20, 2013

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Proper 24 (Pentecost 22)                                  Trinity Lutheran Church

20 October 2013                                                   Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5


Paul’s not serious, is he?  I mean, really?


Aren’t we in charge?  Don’t we have the say-so?  No matter what the topic?  Subject?  Issue?  Or subject matter?


Don’t we give meaning to our lives?  Aren’t we in charge of reaching our potential?  Seriously?  When push comes to shove, aren’t we the ones giving the orders?  In command and control of our lives?  There’s no higher authority in the universe than what comes from our brains and our hearts, right?  Of course!


Well, that’s precisely the problem.  And Paul goes right to the heart of it.  “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”


That time has come.  You’re living in it.  Big time!  And the biggest myth of all is that you are THE AUTHORITY of your life.  That YOU are in charge.  The big cheese.  The all-knowing expert.  The omniscient specialist.  You look deep inside yourself in order to have the say-so – the final say-so – ABOUT EVERYTHING – including what is religious, spiritual, moral or salvific.  All truth is what you say it is!  What you determine it to be.


Yes, your problem is that you believe in a mythical creature, a unicorn, a Bigfoot, or a Loch Ness monster.  The imaginary, fairy tale beastie that you believe in with all your heart is:  YOURSELF!  You’re the end all!  All judgment, all authority, all everything resides within you!  Everything comes under your say-so.  The whole lot of life must knuckle under to your approval, consent or blessing.  You are like Zeus on Mount Olympus declaring 24-7-365:  “I can pull an Adrian Peterson – Baby Momma after Baby Momma and no one can critique me!  I determine what life means to me!  I say what is good!  I say what is evil!”  Why?  Because you’re all that!  You’re the final authority.


So it’s time (to use the language of the text) for a heavy dose of, “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”  You must die to such nonsense.  You must turn from your autonomous idolatry, return to the Lord and live from your Baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection.  Seriously!  Really!  Paul can’t be anymore earnest.  Me too!


THERE IS AN AUTHORITY THAT STANDS ABOVE YOU!  Really there is!  There is someone else who has the say-so.  There is someone else who gives meaning to your life.  And who might that be?  Yes, that’s right – the LORD who speaks to His creatures – to you and me – through “THE HOLY SCRIPTURES!”


“Holy,” the Bible is, because it belongs to the Lord.  It’s His Word.  He’s the author of it.  “God-breathed.”


So when your ears are hearing “the holy God-breathed Scriptures,” you’re hearing the Lord.  The all authority-in-heaven-and-on-earth Lord!  He has the say-so!


Doesn’t this just blow you away?  It does, doesn’t it?  Thanks be to God!


Let me do a little more blowing you away.  I just can’t help myself.  I will not be an itching ears preacher.  I want you to hear the truth. I want you to turn aside and to put away, once and for all, your infantile and idolatrous belief in the unicornian or Sasquatchian myth that you’re the end all.  Are you ready?  All right.  Here goes!


You do not interpret the Word of God!  You do not give meaning to God’s Word!  As if you’re in charge.  As if you stand above the Holy Scriptures in some small group Bible study and declare:  “This is what it means to me!”  If I had $100.00 for every time I’ve heard that, I could retire to the French Riviera, sunbathe every day on the beach, and drive around in a Rolls Royce Phantom!


“This is what it means to me.”  Really?  What does that saying really mean?  It means this:  “I’m the Lord here!  I’ve decided a priori how I want to live my life.  I’ve determined ahead of time what I believe about everything. So when I come to a verse in the Bible that doesn’t fit with my life matrix or with my goal setting to reach my potential, I’ll either ignore it and replace it with my own words that I consider to be divine or I’ll twist or spin the text so that it says what I want it to say!”


Well, I’ve got news for you folks!  Hang on to your hats!  Fasten your seat belts.  You’d better get ready to get blown away again!  I’m in that kind of mood today as your preacher.


The God-breathed holy Scriptures … INTERPRET YOU!  The Bible critiques you!  The Holy Scriptures alter you!  The Holy Scriptures transform you!  The Word of God draws you into itself and into it’s own divine powers!  YOU DO NOT GIVE SELF-AWARENESS to yourself!  YOU DO NOT AUTHENTICATE YOURSELF!  You are not in charge!


The Lord is!  Incredibly, He goes to work on you through His Word!  Listen!  “And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, WHICH ARE ABLE TO MAKE YOU WISE FOR SALVATION THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.”  Did you hear that?  God’s Word delivers the promise of salvation that Jesus won for you on the cross!  The heart and center of the holy Scriptures is that Jesus died for you, that you are forgiven, and that you have life and salvation only in Him.


And that’s why Jesus puts only qualified men into the office of the holy ministry.  Pastors are to “Preach the Word … [and to] discharge the duties of [their] ministry.”   The red-hot core of preaching is to proclaim the promise that Jesus is the Savior of sinners.  Pastors discharge their duties when they baptize sinners, absolve sinners, and feed sinners with the Lord’s body and blood according to the Lord’s mandate and institution.


You don’t speak these words to yourself.  You don’t give gifts like these to yourself.  The Lord does that.  You are given to hear an external – outside-of-yourselves – Word.  A certain and most sure Word because it’s from the Lord – not from you.  Your ears are the gates through which the Lord’s Word enters your hearts so that as Scriptures declares:  “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ,” (Romans 10:17)!


This is huge!  Faith itself is a divine gift given to you by God through His promissory Word!  Faith doesn’t have it’s origin in you!  Faith is not a personal achievement!  Remembering the Sabbath Day (Third Commandment), then, is primarily letting God speak to you through His Word!  Consequently, He creates faith.  He sustains faith.  Faith, then, holds God’s Word sacred and gladly hears and learns it (Small Catechism) as God’s address to you.  And so pastors, whether he’s a Paul, a Timothy, at Titus, a John, or a Kuhlman are to use the God-breathed holy Scriptures in the church for the creation of new creatures – a new creation – BELIEVERS – spelled

F-A-I-T-H — in Jesus!


In addition,  “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”  That’s what I’ve been up to in today’s sermon.  A little bit of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.  I hope you’ve had ears to hear.  Why?  Well, “so that the man of God [that’s you] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”


You’ve been died for by the Lord.  You are redeemed.  You are forgiven.  You are saved.  Now, He has good use for you.  He would use you to do good works.


Works are good only in God’s sight when they flow from faith in Jesus and are done according to God’s Word.  One of the biggie works that faith in Jesus produces is prayer.  Jesus had the say-so about that, didn’t He?  He told the story about the persistent widow to show you, “that you should always pray and not give up,” (Luke 18:1).  And He gives you the very words to use in your praying:  The Lord’s Prayer.


As you pray the Lord’s Prayer you’re like Jacob.  Wrestling with God.  Faith boldly and confidently hangs on to Jesus – not letting go of Him – until He gives you exactly what He has promised.  And what’s that?  He’s promised to holy your life with His name, to give you His kingdom, to do His will in your life, to give you daily bread, to forgive you your sins, to rescue you from temptation and to deliver you from Satan himself!


Even your praying doesn’t come from inside you.  His Words fuel your praying.  His Words determine your life and your salvation.


Happy hearing and believing the God-breathed holy Scriptures that give you salvation, that teach you, rebuke you, correct you, and train you when you need it so that you receive His promise of salvation through faith and then live like a little Christ in the world serving others in sacrificial love.


In the Name of Jesus.

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