The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
2 Timothy 2:1-13
Faith’s Foundation: The Word is Not Bound
Proper 23, 10 October 2010, Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
For a Lay Reader
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Timothy 1:2a) Amen.
The message of faith’s foundation is abundantly clear in Paul’s two letters to Timothy. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. We are to pray for all people, especially for their salvation in Christ, and also for our leaders. We choose spiritual leaders, pastors, based on the call document of 1 Timothy 3. Godliness with contentment is great gain. Last week, we were reminded to guard the good deposit of the content of the Christian faith from one generation to another.
This morning’s text from 2 Timothy chapter two is realistic when it comes to suffering in a sinful world, yet encourages us to endure for the sake of eternal glory.
Listen to St. Paul:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Think it over for yourself. You and I get to overhear a very personal letter from Paul to his son in the faith, young Pastor Timothy. There are days that go by when we wonder how we even made it through them. The Christian “survives,” strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. God’s Word is not bound. It delivers the gifts it promises.
Even though he was young, Timothy had important work. Paul’s message had been checked and double-checked to the Scriptures of the Old Testament and his testimony of Christ was confirmed as true. Timothy was to continue teaching this not only to other Christians himself, but he was basically asked to start a seminary! God’s Word is not uses bound. It spreads through faithful preaching and teaching.
And then Paul three comparisons beneficial for Pastors and Christians to consider.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters.” The First commandment is “You shall have no other Gods.” God comes first. Be faithful to the Lord.
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Follow the Word. Aim to conform your life to the Commandments. Be faithful in word and deed.
It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Do the work you have been given to do. Fulfill your ministry. Be faithful to your calling as a Christian and your call as a pastor, Timothy.
Advice is very often law-oriented. That should be no surprise. Yet even in his counsel to guide Timothy, there are remarkable expressions of the Gospel. This law is shared for the sake of the Gospel. There are qualifications for men to meet in order to be pastors for the sake of the Gospel. The Word of God is not bound, but it can fall into disrepute because of the inconsistencies between Christian faith and Christian lives that fall short.
Listen again to Paul:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
Why does Paul do what he does, endure what he must, and suffer as he so often has? For the sake of the elect, saved sinner-saints like Paul and Timothy and all who hear and believe. Paul’s is a message of salvation. Timothy also proclaims the message that leads to eternal glory with Christ.
This letter was preserved by Timothy and copied for others and retained by the Church as part of a “new testament” because of the timeless truth and comfort it is and brings. Remember Jesus Christ! Remember what about Jesus Christ? Remember that Jesus is the promised offspring of King David of old, one who would rule as King of kings forever. Remember that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! The Word of God is not bound. It brings forgiveness, life, and salvation. The Word of God is not bound! It is a Word of Resurrection to Life Eternal! That is Gospel, very good news indeed.
So Paul has hope even while he is in chains. And he has hope to spare and share with Timothy. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. There are blessings to faithfulness and consequences for falling away from Christ.
This morning’s text from 2 Timothy chapter two is realistic when it comes to suffering in a sinful world, yet encourages us to endure for the sake of eternal glory. We will suffer in this life. We have trials and temptations and are burdened with a load of care. We should never be discouraged, but take it to the Lord in prayer, for we have a Friend in Jesus.
The word of God is not bound! Hope remains even on the darkest days. Faithful servants like Paul, Timothy, and pastors today “endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Such is the motivation and goal of faithful teachers, parents, grandparents, congregational leaders, and Christians.
Two more readings from 2 Timothy will teach us more of faith’s foundation: What you have learned, continue. Fight and finish in faith.
The Word is not bound. It is living and active like a double-edged sword calling sinners to repentance and faith for the sake of Christ. Amen.
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. (2 Timothy 4:22) Amen.