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2 Timothy 4:1-8

 

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching 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. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preach the Word

Wednesday of Lent 5

9 April 2014

In the divine plan of self disclosure preachers are important. I remember thinking, before becoming a preacher, that this claim was more than a little self-serving. It seemed a bit like the self perpetuating claims made by government bureaucrats, "Of course you can't diminish our budget or cut our staff, we are doing essential work no one else is doing or even could do." Uh-huh, whatever. It is easy to get puffed up by our self-importance.

 

Maybe preachers should be a bit more insistent about their importance to the divine plan of salvation, not because they themselves are particularly attractive or even useful, but because our gracious heavenly Father has deemed it good and right that such persons are to carry the saving message to the dying world. In sending the divine Word on the lips of lowly preachers the power of the Word and the glory of God are magnified. A Gideon-like clarity is cast upon the power of the Word to save; the preachers are not causing the success, no matter whether they are considered great or insignificant men. This remains the Lord's business, who gives the fruit to His Word when and where it pleases Him. It remains a mystery to us humans why God's Word takes root and grows in this heart and not that. Some things must remain God's. Our acceptance of that fact is a called faith. All will be made clear when finally the servants of God harvest His crop and put it into His barn at the completion of the age (Mt 13:30). Only then will the service of those who have preached the Word be vindicated and fully honored. So be it.

 

Despite their apparent weakness, which they share with their Master, they remain pivotal to the divine plan of salvation. The worldly minded will never recognize these as kings and priests in the holy church. That is to be expected. However at least this should be acknowledged by those who believe that the Lord gives the fruit wherever His Word is proclaimed. A shining glorious light comes to enlighten those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death (Mt 4:16) and this enlightenment is on the lips of our preachers. This word and preaching conveys Christ Himself to Christ's people. He is the light of the world (Jn 8:12) and His word gives the illumination that gives Himself. There can be no faith in the Word without faith in Him and there can be no faith in Him without faith in the Word. This is why preachers are so important. They convey the Word which conveys God Himself to God's people. So preach the Word (2Ti 4:2).

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

"The statement which occurs in the gospel, 'The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world' (Jn 1:9), has this meaning, that no man is illuminated except with that Light of the truth, which is God; so that no person must think that he is enlightened by him to whom he listens as a learner, although that instructor happen to be, I will not say, any great man, but even an angel himself. For the word of truth is applied to man externally by the ministry of a bodily voice, but yet 'neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth' (1Co 3:7). Man indeed hears the one speaking, whether a man or angel, in order that he may perceive and know that what is said is true. His mind is inwardly sprinkled with that light which remains forever, and which shines even in darkness. But just as the sun is not seen by the blind, though they are clothed as it were with its rays, so is the light of truth not understood by the darkness of folly."
 

Augustine, On the Merits of Forgiveness and the Baptism of Infants, 1.37

 

Prayer

Almighty God, You have given the truth to Your church through Your Word. We thank You for the preachers who have proclaimed that Word through the centuries. Help us to love and appreciate the preachers who now proclaim among us. Give them strength to continue to speak for You and so to give You Yourself to those who hear them. Amen.

 

In thanksgiving to God that Juanita Duffala has returned home and that her heavenly Father would grant her complete healing

 

For the members of the Luther Academy board, that the Lord would help them focus on the mission of promoting genuine, confessional Lutheran theology and research

 

For President Rast, the faculty, and staff of Concordia Theological Seminary, whose motto is "Preach the Word," that the Lord would strengthen them in His mission to the world

 

For those who are dying, that they might be comforted with the divine Word of God's mercy for the weak

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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