Pentecost 15

Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-15

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.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you’re here? I mean, sitting right here, right now. Why do you keep coming back? Why did you come in the first place? It is because of no other reason than that you are the church. But what is the church? According to Augsburg Confession Article VII, “It is also taught that at all times there must be and remain one holy, Christian church. It is the assembly of all believers among whom the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the gospel.” Now that we’ve established who the Church is, now we need to know what the Church does.

Paul writes to young Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” What does the Church do but pray for one another? Look at who Paul identifies: all people. Regardless of who it is, we should pray for them. In other words, we pray for those inside of the Church and for those outside; for our friend and for our enemy alike.

Doing this was going to be an uphill battle for Timothy, this young pastor in Ephesus. The purpose of Paul’s letter to Timothy is to encourage and instruct him as he called the Ephesians to be faithful to God’s Word. The Ephesian church wasn’t going to be the easiest place to pastor in, as false teachers were polluting the doctrine of Christ. What Paul wanted to see in Ephesus and in all places was the truth of Christ be proclaimed. That sounds easy enough since Timothy is dealing with Christians, but if that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re wrong. False doctrine had gone awry and the Church needed to be brought back to its central teaching of Jesus.

How does Paul go about this? He sets forward a very central teaching: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” When Paul speaks these words, he shows why it is so important to come to a knowledge of the truth. There are not numerous gods, each providing truth and salvation. There is one and it is God. Between this God and us human beings, there is only one mediator, the man Christ Jesus, who at the same time is also true God. Who but Jesus could serve as our mediator?

Again, this seems obvious, but it wasn’t to the Ephesian Church. This was what Timothy was going to be facing. This is what the Ephesians were dealing with, because not only was false teaching running rampant in Ephesus, it was also running rampant in the Ephesian Church.

Paul states unequivocally that Jesus is the one mediator, but that wasn’t what was being taught. One answer was Jesus. Another answer was yourself, for the popular belief was that you could atone for your own sins by adhering to the Law of God. You still had the pagan gods of the day in the mix as well, giving people false hope that they would earn for you eternal life. This was problematic because if the Ephesians gave into this false thinking, then they would fail being the Church because their teaching was wrong.

It was time for the Church to be the Church once again. Because of false doctrine, they had deviated from the true teaching of Jesus, but it didn’t mean they couldn’t return to that saving teaching again. That’s what Paul encouraged the Ephesians to do; it’s what he encouraged Timothy to do. It’s what all of Christendom is encouraged to do. Whenever false doctrine is mingled with the true teaching, you will never have true teaching until all of the false doctrine has been purged, just as Paul says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

Given the state of the Church at the time of Paul, this wasn’t always going on in Ephesus. Timothy, as the pastor, was charged to ensure that the Church acted as the Church. Paul’s concern was that we lifted up Holy hands. He was addressing our spiritual condition. There is only one way to get holy hands to lift up, and that is in and through Jesus Christ. Once we possess the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, all of which is by gift and grace though Jesus Christ, we have holy hands. We pray to God for all people, not only because He is the God who creates and preserves everyone, but also because He wants to save all people from the destruction is to come on the Last Day due to our sin. We pray that God would bring the whole world to the saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to what He accomplished for all people on the cross, that is, the forgiveness of sins, salvation from death and the devil, and the gift of eternal life.

All of this has to do with words that Paul speaks earlier to young Timothy: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In the end, that’s what it comes down to, that we would be saved. Now the question is saved from what? Paul throughout his writings mentions what we are to be saved from: sin and death. He says, “For the wages of sin is death.”

St. Paul mentions the fall of Adam and Eve, and what it means for our life in the Spirit. Adam was formed first. Eve was deceived. Both fell headlong into sin and death, and we fell with them. Yes, you and I have inherited Adam’s sin, and we have also participated every time we have reached for the forbidden fruits that God Himself has told us through His commandments “Thou shalt not!” Yet the Church (the Second Eve) will be saved through the single most important birth of them all, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Second Adam). Here is redemption for all of Adam’s descendants, whom Christ, the Second Adam, has delivered and to whom he has sent the Holy Spirit.

We have true peace in Jesus Christ and that is and should always be the central message of the Church. Christ is the one Mediator between God and man, who alone could secure peace with God where no earthly ambassador could. Earthly treaties are broken and peace talks fail. But your Mediator has made perfect peace, because He gave His life as the peace offering for all the world. He gave the ransom price that bought you away from the clutches of God’s enemy. The price was the Son of God, surrendering Himself upon the cross of Calvary. Your sinfulness and the sinfulness of all men demanded a response of war from God, but He turned His warfare only upon the flesh of His dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ. While the Church on earth does not always look or act as the Church should, we know that we always have a Lord who does what is necessary for us so that we would be called the Church and have the gifts that He gives to us so that the will of God would be made manifest in us, His beloved creation. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.