Sept. 11, 2016 – Christian Education Rally Sunday Text: 2 Peter 3:14-18
Dear Friends in Christ,
There was a little elementary school child who took a test on human anatomy and failed it. She was the only one in the class who failed the examination. This is how her test read: “The human body is composed of three parts: the branium, the borax, and the abominable cavity. The branium contains the brain. The borax contains the lungs, the liver, and the living things. The abominable cavity contains the bowels, of which there are five: a, e, i, o, and u.”
If this child is planning to be a doctor, a scientist, or a biology teacher the foundation is simply not there. With this knowledge the goal is not going to be reached. Our goal as Christians is our heavenly home. Until this permanent stop in eternity we are learning more about the faith we possess. The Lord is giving us the time, what are we doing with it? Today is Christian Education Rally Sunday and the question is put before you – are you . . .
‘TWISTING IN THE WIND OR GROWING IN KNOWLEDGE?”
Somehow, we have this idea that our Christianity has no real relation to the realities of living. Many approach gaining in knowledge of Scripture like the little girl who said “the abominable cavity contains the bowels, of which there are five: a, e, i, o, and u.”
God is not impressed if we demonstrate that His Word is not important to us. The most important literature in all the world is the Holy Bible, where God gives us the record of His mighty deeds in Christ, and where He further tells us how to live as His people down here. One Lutheran Pastor said it this way:
“Our life is divinely planned. God still rules the world today, just as He has guided the events of the world in all past centuries. We cannot teach our children about the world without teaching about Him! We dare not teach them how to live without taking His will into account. It is wrong to give them a goal and purpose in life without giving them at the same time a knowledge of their final goal in heaven.”
During Peter’s time the people were twisting the Scripture by their misunderstanding of God’s grace. They thought they could sin boldly because this would give further opportunities for the grace of God to be demonstrated. Today the twisting is done by not believing in sin and certainly the fact that no one needs a Savior. Sin boldly is still the moniker – even when sin is hidden from their eyes. We can buy into both paths of damnation. “I am going to do this because Christ will understand and forgive.” Or it becomes, “I don’t want to go to worship and Bible Class and hear Pastor talking about that sin, because I don’t think it’s wrong.” There is the sin, it has become about you. Your mind triumphs over God’s mind and what He had the sacred writers put down on paper. Congratulations you have just made yourself God – have fun with that!
All of this leaves us twisting in the wind, not sure where we are being carried. This reminds me of a phone call I was once received from a member upset about something they had read. This member rarely came to worship and never to Bible Class. I brought them in off the ledge and reminded them we talk about the issue before them and many others in our service and Bible studies. Unfortunately, their patterned continued. We can’t grow in knowledge if we don’t plant ourselves where the knowledge is being dispensed. It is not a hard concept.
The only sure way to remain on guard in the stability of salvation is to remain in all of God’s Word. Believers keep themselves fortified in and by God’s Word so that they will not fall away. A student once asked the president of his school if there was a course he could take that was shorter than the one prescribed, “Oh yes,” replied the president, “but it depends on what you want to be. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, it only takes six months.”
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (v. 18a) Martin Luther wrote on this verse: “This teaching is not learned all at once, nor can it be understood speculatively. It must be learned by daily use and exercise amid the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh, amid despair, distrust, and innumerable horrible other things. And without these exercises it cannot be kept. Foolish people, therefore, are taken in. After reading one or more pages of Holy Scripture and hearing maybe one sermon, they think they have already learned this teaching of Christianity completely. They can see that in other, lesser arts we do not immediately become masters. Much less it can happen in this greatest teaching of all, that we immediately trust in God from the heart and despise all the perils of the world, death, and the devil. These things cannot be learned in one day, but practice and immense exercise and a singular gift of God are required.”
You can exercise your faith here at Good Shepherd. You are growing from the ten-minute sermons and the worship itself. That growth of knowledge can be substantial when you add an extra hour of in-depth Bible study. We have Sunday School, Small Group Bible study, Ladies Bible study, and this fall an Adult Instruction class for those wanting to join or as a refresher in Lutheran doctrine. All of these opportunities help us to stand against those twisting God’s Holy Word. Our added knowledge given through the Holy Spirit allows us to stand faithfully for the truth of God’s Word. They help us to “take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people” as Peter reminds us in our text. We bear witness to the Word through our lips and our lives.
Our Lord is patient and giving us time to repent. Do we use the time allotted to us to take sin and salvation seriously? Do we twist in the wind by neglecting growth in God’s Word? Daily repentance is what we need. The patient Lord is working through Word and Sacrament to restore fallen sinners and to strengthen them in the stability of their salvation. “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” (v. 18b)