Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Epistle, which was read earlier.
As we grow up and enter the halls of academia, there are the basic things that we learn that serve as the foundation of our education. As we progress up the educational ranks, what we learn is based off of our educational foundation. The higher we go in our educational pursuits, everything is based off of what we have learned previously.
As Paul continues his letter to Timothy, he encourages him to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed….” And so that is why we are here today. We are continuing in what we have learned have firmly believed. We have learned Christ crucified for our sins and firmly believe that on account of Jesus Christ and His life, death, and resurrection, we have eternal life. That is what we have been taught according to the Word of God.
It’s back to basics for the Church. The basics that Paul had learned from Jesus, the basics that Timothy had learned and the basics that you and I have learned come from God Himself through the Scriptures. As Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Paul is not speaking about pagan or philosophical resources. He is attesting the divine origin of the Old Testament, as Peter also does: “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Unlike other writings, these Holy Scriptures are emphatically “useful,” useful for the spiritual growth of those who know them and believe them. They are useful because they tell our story: the story of how God created us in His own image – perfect and without sin. They tell the story of how we sinned and death became a part of our lives. They tell the story of how God promised to send a Savior to redeem us from death. They tell the story of what Jesus did to redeem us sinners – how He lived, died, and rose again on our behalf to restore us as God’s children.
For the Christian, we are charged with one thing: be faithful to the Word of God. Unfortunately, that is something that is rather difficult in today’s day and age. We have the world telling us things that run complete opposite to that of the Word of God. We have the world telling us that the Word of God is archaic and no longer applies to us so it must be changed. We have the world telling us that the God of the Scriptures is the same as other gods, and that even though we call them different names, it really is the same god.
We remain faithful to the Word of God as recorded for us in the Bible. It means holding steadfast to God and the promises that He makes for us through Jesus Christ. That means looking only to Jesus for our forgiveness and salvation, for salvation cannot be found in anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ. However, that is not what the world would have us hear. They would have us hear that one can be saved apart from Jesus Christ. One can be saved through their own merits and that there does not need to be a reliance on a man who lived and died and stayed dead.
That is what we face on a daily basis as Christians. We are reminded of the words of Luther: “Let me tell you this, even though you know God’s Word perfectly and are already a master in all things: you are daily in the devil’s kingdom. He ceases neither day nor night to sneak up on you and to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against these three commandments and all the commandments. Therefore, you must always have God’s Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears.”
What is the point that Luther is making here? St. Paul tells it Timothy: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itchy ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” People will hear the Gospel and appreciate what it says – the story of Jesus and how through His life, death, and resurrection, He gained for us forgiveness and eternal life. But at some point, the Gospel will not be good enough. The people will want to hear those things that sound pleasing to them, even if those things are false. Which sounds better to you: Jesus came to save sinners or Jesus came to save everyone? There is only one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or there are many gods and you can choose? All people will go to heaven, regardless of what they believe or only Christians will go to heaven?
The truth is clearly presented before us in God’s Holy Word, and yet, the truth isn’t good enough. The truth must be politically correct, so as not to cause offense. But the truth of the matter is that the Gospel IS offensive! It is offensive to those that think there are many paths to heaven; that there is a god, but he or she has many names; it doesn’t matter what you believe because everyone will go to heaven. The Scriptures are rather clear that there is only one way to heaven and that is Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are rather clear that there is only one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are rather clear that it does matter what one believes, because those who do not believe and trust in God and His Word will not inherit eternal life.
For that reason, that is why Paul impresses upon Timothy the need to remain steadfast in the faith. For that reason, it is impressed upon the Church today to remain steadfast in the faith. St. Peter writes, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith….” What is at stake is not mere child’s play; it is your eternal salvation. Because of this saving message of Jesus Christ and what it means for all who believe, we are left with one thing to do: be faithful to the Word. We are faithful to the Word that promises forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. We are faithful to the Word because it does what it says it does. We are faithful to the Word because it “is breathed out by God.” We are faithful to the Word because God is and always will be faithful to us. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.
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