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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 sound teaching, 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. 



Gospel Positioning System

Tuesday of Pentecost 8

5 August 2014

How do we know that the Holy Spirit is making in our hearts that unspeakable sigh that reaches the throne of God (Gal 4:6)? What is unspeakable cannot be heard by us. How then can we be sure of these petitions? If we search our own hearts for the evidence of such things we shall see in our hearts and find in them nothing but sin and death. "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gn 6:5). Our Lord Jesus, who knew what was in man (Jn 2:25), reiterated this dire judgment in His earthly ministry (Mk 7:21-23). So those who find their own certainty in themselves find a very uncertain source of certainty. The person who tries to navigate through a new city without reference to the global positioning system (GPS) installed in his rental car, working on his own instinct for where he is and where he is going, has this kind of certainty. Working with our own internal resources, we humans are quite famous for going in circles! So it is for the spiritually self-absorbed. If you are your own spiritual navigation system, you are just repeatedly going in circles. Those who cast the searching upon the spiritual resources of their own hearts, are dooming those who do so to a deadly and hopeless search for what cannot be found in the human heart.


But someone who uses the GPS knows where he is and where he is going, because there is a source of local reference outside himself in the global positioning satellite that is orbiting our planet. The GPS enables a much more accurate knowledge of location than can come from the human mind and heart. The gospel message is the GPS of the Christian. I know for a certainty where I stand spiritually, because the gospel testifies to my blessed standing in the sight of God. What is outside me tells me what God has worked in me. What is external to me tells me what is inside. The content of the external Word speaks of what cannot be uttered or rightly experienced. It assures of what cannot be seen or proven by introspection.

The monster of uncertainty is not merely an uncertainty about ourselves (which is just the truth), but the true monstrosity is when our uncertainty is attributed to God. We are denying the revealed divine truth by setting ourselves upon a quest for self-salvation. Do-it-yourself salvation has the same outcome as most do-it-yourself projects: you wish you had hired a professional. That professional is none other than God's own precious Son, the High Priest of the Church, the true Savior of poor sinners. His Word is turning us out of ourselves to Him. I know that the Spirit is interceding for me because His Word of promise assures me that He is doing it. This is the gospel positioning system because it navigates me back to the cross again and again and makes me certain.


Martin Luther


"We should thank God, therefore, that we have been delivered from this monster of uncertainty and that now we can certainly believe that the Holy Spirit is crying and issuing that unutterable sigh in our hearts. And this is our foundation: the gospel commands us to look, not at our own good deeds or perfection but at God Himself as He promises, and at Christ himself, the Mediator.


"By contrast the pope commands us to look, not at God as He promises, not at Christ our High Priest, but at our own works and merits. From the latter course, doubt and despair necessarily follow; but from the former, certainty and the joy of the Spirit. For I am clinging to God, who cannot lie. He says: 'I am giving My own Son into death, so that by His blood He might redeem you from sin and death.' Here I cannot have any doubts, unless I want to deny God altogether. And this is the reason why our theology is certain: it snatches us away from ourselves and places us outside ourselves, so that we do not depend on our own strength, conscience, experience, person, or works but depend on that which is outside ourselves, that is, on the promise and truth of God that cannot deceive." 


Martin Luther,
Lectures on Galatians, 4.6

Lord Christ, keep us firmly anchored in Your Word, that we might not find our spiritual certainty in ourselves. Hinder and impede all those who push the poor of the church upon their own heartfelt poverty, and recover all, both teachers and hearers, for the riches of Your divine speech. Turn us out of ourselves through the preaching of the gospel that we might certainly know Your gracious will toward us. Amen.


For those who are suffering inclement weather, that they might be blessed with good and healthful weather and the fruits of the earth as divine gifts


For the new workers' conference in the Texas District, that the Lord of the church would lead His people


For the blessing of good neighbors, that those who live in community might live in harmony
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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