Sunday, June 15, 2008

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Yes, God does want us to think on, believe in, and call upon Him as our dear heavenly Father, who gives us, His children every good and needful blessing and gift that we may live forever with Him in heaven. [SC Introduction to the Lord's Prayer]

And as we observe and celebrate Father’’s Day, He wants us also to know and look upon our earthly fathers as a gift from Him.

In truth, though, fathers are not always appreciated, to say the least -- until maybe later in life when we have experienced the same things and are raising our own children and have experienced some of the same concerns, fears and desires for our own children and the formidable task of raising them to adulthood and teaching them the faith once delivered to us.

In Eph 6:1-4 Paul says of the 4TH Commandment: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (NKJ)

That is all well and good, howevcer there is that little complicating factor of sin -- both of the father and of the child -- that makes it difficult to see the father/child relationship as gift. It is a reflection of Adam and Eve’’s original sin, in which they perceived God as keeping something good from them rather than protecting them from evil.

Now, since we all partake of that sin, not only do we have a problem seeing things as blessings and gifts, the very things and people that are meant to be blessings and gifts at times do indeed cause us harm.

The result, evidenced in surveys, is that a significant number of people are challenged in their faith because they have severe difficulty in thinking of God as their Father, as well as a problem with being obedient to their fathers, i.e. pastors and teachers, in the faith.

But you see the office or authority of father --whether earthly or spiritual fathers -- is not the problem. Sinners who abuse the office are the problem. Adam was not a good pastor as he did not speak up but stood by and watched to see what happened when Eve picked and ate the fruit. And ever since, people have had an excuse to reject and ignore fathers, mothers, teachers, earthly rulers and law enforcement officials – and pastors.

The same is true with virtually every gift of God.
  • Marriage
  • Government/other earthly authorities
  • Work
  • Baptism
  • Lord’s Supper
  • Church
  • Pastors/Pastoral Authority

Sin sees these gifts as burdens to bear, obligations to fulfill, or even curses to avoid. And one of the greatest difficulties is that the only way to overcome such rejection and unbelief is by the preaching and teaching of God’s Word – by one of those sinners.

But look what our Lord says and does in our Gospel lesson today:
I. Moved with Compassion
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

II. Power Over Unclean Spirits
And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

III. Go Rather to the Unclean Sheep
These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.

IV. Whoever Will not Receive You
"Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

V. Do Not Worry
"But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Matthew 9:35-10:20, NKJ

Moved with compassion for you and all sinners, our Lord continues to send laborers into the harvest field of this world to seek out the lost, call them to repentance, forgive the sins of those who listen, and open the kingdom of heaven to all who believe their report.

For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:11-17 NKJ)

Will your fathers, mothers, teachers, earthly rulers and law enforcement officials – and pastors – be sinners, will they err and at times seek to be served rather than to serve. Certainly. However this does not give us the excuse or permission to be disobedient and ignore the authority these people bear. God always has and always will – to the end of this age – use sinners to accomplish his purposes here in this world. After all, it’s all there is to work with. And don’t forget that you too have your own realm of authority, in which you are bound to err and seek to be served rather than to serve. So please remember that what you perceive as sin and offense is not always so. Faithfulness to God’s Word and the work He gives us to do is contrary to our sin stained hearts and minds so it is often very difficult to hear, let alone do.

You may have difficulty listening to and obeying your father and mother, or your teacher, or a government official, or a law enforcement officer, or a boss who may be keeping you from doing something you want to do, or telling you to do something you do not want to do.
Rom 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (NKJ)

And in the church, He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head__ Christ__from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16 NKJ)

So of this office, Walther posits:
A. To the ministry there is due respect as well as
unconditional obedience when the pastor uses God’s Word.
B. The minister must not tyrannize the church. He has no authority to introduce new laws or arbitrarily to establish adiaphora or ceremonies.
C. The minister has no right to inflict and carry out excommunication without his having first informed the whole congregation.

Again the Apostle Paul tells the pastor in 1 Tim 4:16: Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (NKJ)

This is every pastor's call and solemn responsibility to God our Father, and to you His dear children. For, moved with compassion, in these things God works to open the kingdom of heaven and give you eternal life – as He forgives you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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