I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word. Be ready whether it is convenient or not. Correct, rebuke, and encourage, with all patience and teaching. For there will come a time when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, because they have itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in line with their own desires. They will also turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

As for you, keep a clear head in every situation. Bear hardship. Do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

There are things that really amaze us: Some cats are allergic to people!  There are Navy ships 3xs longer than 3 football fields that float.    But, there is something that is way more amazing right here at Holy Word.  It is the amazing power of God’s Word.  God’s Word split the Red Sea and provided manna from heaven.  God’s Word calmed the Sea of Galilee and provides forgiveness of sins when connected to Wafer and Wine!  No wonder the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to Timothy: “Preach God’s Amazing Word!”  Joel, the Holy Spirit has called you called here to Holy Word Lutheran Church to:

Preach The Word!

Because It’s Christ’s Passion

If I’ve calculated this correctly, Joel, your move to Austin is your 10th move in your life—the last 5 moves with Amanda.  People move for various reasons—pursuing a dream, an education, to raise a family or follow a passion.  Your moves have all had one thing in common—they were moves made in order to prepare to or to actually preach the Word.  How important is this?  Paul says, I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word.  How passionate is Jesus about preaching the gospel?  He know what’s at stake!  Judgment Day!  Jesus is either coming back to end the history of the world, or he will dispatch his angels to gather souls for their personal judgment and entrance into eternity.  Souls are at stake!  Therefore preaching the Word is Christ’s passion!

That is why you’ve been called here to Holy Word.  You have been called and will soon take an oath to a solemn charge to Preach the Word as a Confessional Lutheran Pastor. Confessional because you know your preaching and teaching are in line with the Confessions of the Lutheran Church that are in line with Scriptures.  Lutheran because you know Scripture is the “norma normans” (the standard) upon which you take your stand.  It is God’s Word from which you will draw your preaching and teaching with passion, because it is Christ’s passion.  Christ is passionate to have his Word proclaimed in its truth and purity so that in a few minutes you will make a promise to some important questions.

  1. Do you accept all of the Scriptures as the inspired, inerrant Word of God?
  2. Do you accept the Lutheran Confessions (quia) because they are a correct testimony to God’s Word?
  3. Do you pledge that all your preaching and teaching will be in harmony with Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions?

You will answer those questions because you know how passionate Jesus is about his Word!  But, you also know how passionate the devil is to put obstacles in the way of Confessional Lutheran Preaching and Teaching.  This is becomes very practical to you if a Sunday School teacher comes up to you and asks if she can use a great new video she found and wants to use it in her classroom.  Then after you watch it and discover that the video asks the kids to make a decision for Christ, you’ll feel the passion Christ has for his Word and the tension between the promise you make today, the hard work of explaining to the teacher that this may not be the best video to use because it contains false teaching and souls are at stake.  You will feel the passion of Christ when you share what’s God’s Word has to say about the Role of Men and Women in marriage between one man and one woman, about abortion, racism and a god-pleasing life-style. Then you will feel the passion of Christ as you passionately Preach the word.

There will be plenty of times when you will rejoice because you get to see the amazing power of God’s Word at work.  Paul tells us, Be ready whether it is convenient or not. Being ready is being like the angels standing ready in heaven eager to be God’s messengers whether it’s convenient or not.  Politicians get this.  They are eager and ready to tailor their message to the audience. Don’t do that.  Tell the truth.  Love them with God’s Word. Correct, rebuke, and encourage, with all patience and teaching. Correct- bring it to the light, Rebuke- show why it is wrong and condemned by God, Encourage- Invite and draw them to God’s Word with patience and teaching.  There’s a difference between an educator and a teacher.  (Tell the story of the janitor cleaning the mirror in the girl’s rest room that they’ve been kissing, with a toilet brush).  Point – Proclaim God’s Word to people and the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts so they can discover Christ’s passion for them.   

When you serve as a faithful pastor and preach the word with Christ’s passion some will listen, believe and be saved.  Others will push back and even question your orthodoxy.  Some church goers will scrutinize your preaching.  But, Paul tells you to Keep your head in all situations.”  Why?  God is using you to Preach the Word with Christ’s passion to recapture their hearts

Because They Are Christ’s People

 You arrived here during Covid-19.  It’s hard to get to know people when they’re behind masks.  I have good news for you, you don’t have to make every member visits, but already know so much about all of the members here.  You know they were born with inherited sin.  You know they were born children of the devil.  You know their sinful nature still lurks inside them.  You know they are living in a society that has become more and more ungodly and wants us to follow the ways of the world, rather than to follow Christ.  How do I know?  Because I know me and I know you. 

However, you have a story to tell to Christ’s people.  It is a story of God’s holiness that is so serious it damns people to hell.  A story of God’s love that is so serious, that he loved the world so deeply that he sent his Son to save the world.  Your story is not, “This is all yours if…..” but rather, “This is all yours period!”  Let me share a very practical story.  Covid-19, no worship, live-stream and Facebook.  Bob, a Lutheran who grew up in Wyoming, was on hospice.  The nurse called and asked if I would come talk to Bob.  What did I know as a confessional Lutheran pastor?  Christ died for Bob.  Through faith in Jesus the benefits (FED) would be his.   What had Bob come to know on his deathbed?  There was nothing he could.  This is what Bob heard.  There was nothing he had to do.  Nothing he could do.  And I read one passage: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this not from yourselves.  It is a gift of God.”  That’s it?  Yes, that’s it.  Only God can see the heart, but from his confession of faith in Jesus Christ, I’m confident Bob is in heaven with Jesus today.  You have a story to tell—a story that saves Christ’s people!

Joel, here at Holy Word you are preaching to Christ’s people.  These are people who have been instructed in God’s Word, received the forgiveness of sins through the miracles of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  These are people for whom Jesus died and rose again.  These are people who no longer identify with their sinful nature and Satan, but their identity is in Christ.  They are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  There are Christ’s people!

However, Paul also knows how the hearts and minds of people work.  So he gives this warning: For there will come a time when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, because they have itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in line with their own desires. They will also turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside to myths.  While you are serving God’s people, you are also serving people that Satan hates and will work hard to turn against God and against you and God’s leaders here at Holy Word.  When history repeats itself, and it will, because Paul said, The time will come,” when the devil will use people to stir up trouble, strife, dissension and envy.  They may even be tempted to turn away from the truth and follow their desires.  The word Paul uses means they will be sucked in, ground up and spit out.  It sounds like this: I just don’t feel like my soul is being fed God’s Word here.  Or  I sure wish the church would be more practical for my life.  Or  I sure am itching for something more exciting from my religion, to get with the times when talking about the role of men and women, evolution, racism, abortion, freedom of life-style and they will look for the itching ears to be scratched by false doctrine and emotionally high, intense preachers.  But, these are Christ’s people.  This is why Paul encourages you, Bear hardship. Do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry. (Aorist Imperatives).  Do it!  Preach the Word because Christ’s people will always be in need of Christ’s rescue.  Through the preaching of God’s Word through you God is turning his face of grace toward his people.

Dear people of Christ at Holy Word, I hope you recognize that in all these encouragements you see how important it is to hear God’s Word proclaimed. Everything you face and deal with comes back to God who so loved you that he sent Jesus for you.  That through Christ’s death and resurrection God has declared you not guilty.  That through faith in Jesus Christ, you, his people, have received forgiveness for sins, eternal life and deliverance from the devil.  Are you willing to listen to God’s Word faithfully?  I pray it is so!  For this is how the Holy Spirit works.  It is truly amazing!  God Works through the preaching of his Word!

There are plenty of things that amaze us.  For instance, did you know that 10% of all pictures taken in the world have been taken in the past year?  Did you know that if you earn $20,000 a year you are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world (worldweathcalculator.org)?  Did you know that if you dug a hole through the earth and jumped into it, you’d pop out the other side in 42 minutes?  Amazing!  But pretty worthless.  You have here what is really amazing!  That is the partnership in gospel ministry between staff and members here at Holy Word.  You know it is by the grace of God that you rest secure in the palm of his hand.  But, let put things into perspective.  You have two full time pastors, staff minister, local pastors and retired pastors doing gospel ministry.  Let’s say your full time staff was are able to make 10 calls a week to the homes in this area.  That’s 30 visits a week times 52 weeks 1,500 homes!  Do you know how long it is going to take them to visit every home in the 78753 area code?  13 years!  But, there are things that really amaze us.  That’s when you join in the work together with your called staff to build each other up in God’s Word, and proclaim it together.  Let’s be amazed together.  Proclaim God’s Word with Christ’s passion because you love Christ’s people, both inside and outside the walls of this church.  Let’s continue to be amazed as we watch the Lord bless your ministry at Holy Word! Amen!