Twelfth Sun. aft. Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
(Today there is much misunderstanding regarding the nature of the Church. Some have seen the church as an institutional evil that has corrupted the true faith of Christianity. Others have tried to make a case for the elimination of the pastoral office in favor of lay leadership. Still others have abandoned the Church altogether in favor of home churches, and Bible study groups without spiritual leadership. What does the Bible say about such things? What is it that God has established and ordained that the Church ought to be. Our text today speaks volumes about this issue. Let us learn and grow through a clearer understanding of God's design for His people and their service to Him.)
I. GOD HAS PROVIDED ESSENTIAL GIFTS TO HIS CHURCH.
A. While all of us have received gifts, talents and abilities from God to be used for His Kingdom, He has created an essential ministry of Word and Sacrament in His Church.
1. This office of Word and Sacrament is not superior to the vocation of any one.
a. All the activities of God's people are made sacred because it is His people who occupy them, and Christ who motivates them where they are.
b. There is not higher spiritual estate for those who occupy this office of Word and Sacrament.
2. The Church is established by God and is not of human design.
a. ILLUS: During the early 70's, the Church came to be seen by some as the religious "establishment"...
b. This is a clearly unbiblical view of the Church.
c. There has developed out of that view an attitude that religion is just between me and Jesus....also totally unbiblical!
d. Additionally, attitudes now reflect the concept that people come to the Church to assist them with their felt needs...only one aspect of life in Christ and a selfish one at that!
3. Paul wrote to Titus, (1:5), to instruct him concerning a lack of pastoral leadership in the congregations he had formed in Crete.
a. The Pastoral Office is divinely ordained by Christ to preach the Word, and administer the Sacraments of God publicly on behalf of the congregation.
b. It is not an optional part of congregational life.
B. Within the congregational framework, God has richly given to His Church all that it needs for the carrying out of our mission.
1. To get the New Testament started, He provided Apostles...the twelve chosen by Christ to be the initiators of the Church.
a. Here is a great lesson: God can do amazing things with His people.
b. What have those who occupied the office of apostleship accomplished?
c. Over 1.5 billion people world-wide call Christ Lord and Savior.
d. Our very presence in this church bears testimony to what the Lord accomplished through these men.
2. To advance the faith God gives the gift of prophesy to some in His Church.
a. This may not be what your think it is:
1.) Prophesy, in it's most common Biblical use, is simply speaking on behalf of God.
2.) Only in a very limited and secondary sense is this term used to describe a foretelling of future events.
b. If anything is clear of the early Church, God's people were clearly engaged in "gossiping the Gospel" to virtually anyone who would give them an audience!...They were prophets!
3. To augment the Church the gift given to some was that of evangelists:
a. These are people who's special ability is to reach out to unbelievers with the hope that is ours in Christ.
b. This does NOT mean that the rest of us are excused, but that here is a special gift.
4. Finally, but most fundamentally there is the office of pastor/teacher.
a. This is the office that was essential in every congregation that Titus was to appoint in Crete.
b. This is the office of Pastor in our modern day setting.
c. Pastors are not called by a congregation, but are called by God through a congregational instrument.
d. ILLUS: Read Call Document
5. The Church, in fulfilling her call to Teach the Word and administer the Sacraments alsoestablishes other offices to fulfill this one, divinely instituted office.
a. We, for instance, also call teachers for our Lutheran School.
b. While they do not hold the full office of Word and Sacrament, they are working together, under the auspices of the Pastor to carryout the pastor's duties.
c. In Acts 6, the duties of the apostles were, in the same way, subdivided by the calling of deacons to do what the apostles were unable to do.
II. WHY DOES GOD GIVE HIS CHURCH THESE SPECIAL GIFTS?
A. They are NOT given so that the members of a congregation may delegate all duties to those who are called to these special ministries.
1. The text is exceptionally clear in this regard.
a. Pastor/teachers are to "prepare God's people for works of service..." (v. 12)
b. Gone is any indication that the Church is only here to feed the flock.
c. The feeding has a specific end in mind....service.
2. The question is has our faith been simply one-dimensional?
a. Have we been receptive Christians only and not engaged in service?
b. Have we failed to even be adequately fed so that we can serve?
c. Where is your faith taking you...only to yourself, or to others?
B. Let us remember the Lord whom we serve.
1. In Him rested all the power, glory and authority of the Living God because He was God in the flesh...but what did Hid do with it?
a. Everything He was and had was selflessly dedicated to service on behalf of others.
b. There was no obstacle that would prevent Him from giving Himself away:
1.) Not the ridicule and scorn of the Pharisees and Scribes.
2.) Not the rejection of His own people.
3.) Not the injustice of a "Kangaroo Trial" before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate.
4.) Not the scourging, the insults, the beatings.
5.) Not even the suffering of our hell on the cross.
6.) Not even death itself would stop His service to us!
C. We are given all these gifts so that we can build one another up and be sent out.
1. The work of the ministry is the object of the equipping you are receiving today and everyday from those called to serve you.
a. There is no copping out for any of us.
b. If there is a soul who is hurting, yes, call the Pastor, but go and help yourself.
c. If someone is straying from Word and Sacrament, speak to them.
d. If you have a neighbor who is lost, don't call the Evangelism Committee, share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
2. Yes, come, be fed, be filled, be strengthened, grow strong in your faith...SO THAT YOU, WE, ALL OF US MAY SERVE THE SAVIOR WHO HAVE LOVED US AND SERVED US!
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