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The Big Test

Studies in Second Timothy

(Please read 2 Timothy 1:1-7)

Since Christ’s Ascension, millions of people have died for His sake, and thousands of people throughout the world become martyrs in His Name every year.

But it sure is easy to be a Christian in our land–even in our Lutheran congregations.

Is there something wrong with that? We can find out. Be sure to re-read the above passage.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth 2 Timothy 1:1-7

If you were baptized and grew up in Lutheranism, chances are you were helped and guided in one way or another by parents or a grandparent or by some dear, close friend, just as Timothy experienced.

It was easy to go through Sunday School and to enroll in Confirmation Class. You thought you had some real work then–memorizing the chief parts of the Small Catechism, dozens of Bible passages, a bunch of hymns, reading several books of the Bible, learning many historical facts, and so on.

As Confirmation Day approached, you knew you had a test to pass. Maybe it was an oral exam by the Board of Elders, and then another one in front of the congregation. And lo and behold–whew!–you made it! (You learned that pretty well everyone makes it.)

And looking back, it really wasn’t too hard. And from here on out, well, it was going to be easy to be Lutheran.

But look out! You may well be losing the Key to your Christian existence!

So here’s another test–the BIG one. You might need some guidance. Take three sheets of paper. Leave a few lines at the top of each sheet for the names, addresses, and perhaps a few details, on three people–preferably weak, lapsed fellow-members or some outright unbelievers. Remind yourself that a large percentage of your congregation desperately needs the gospel through personal communication; and that many suffer the malady of lack of assurance in Christ and His promises.

And using the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you through the gospel (love, spiritual strength, self-control), you are now to do all you can to bring Christ to these three people.

Don’t argue with them. You do not have to convert them–that’s God’s work; just make sure they know the gospel.  There’s no mad hurry either; take a few months; get to know and love them.

Examine your results and notes. What will you have learned?

It Takes Pains…

Among many good things, you may learn that you are the dumbest, the most self-centered, thoughtless, Biblically-illiterate, shallow-faithed person you ever met. Good! For if you learned at least that much, you will probably be on your knees, saying with Paul that you are “chief of sinners” (as he went about bringing the gospel to people).

You will understand something of what Martin Luther went through in order to convince friend and foe of the gospel. And now you may understand what Confession and Absolution are. And how to go to the Sacrament for more of the love of God in Christ, more strength, self-control, patience, and lots of other virtues.

You learn that it takes pains (efforts) to witness, and that you will receive, often with tears, many pains and wounds for your troubles and prayers.

You will have an idea of what Paul was saying to Timothy here. And rejoice! You have found the Key again. For now Christianity is not just a matter of being “easy”–not just “academic”–for now it is purely Christ! He is the gift of God that resides in you, and by His Spirit He supplies you with real life.

And you learn that the more you must explain Him to others, the more you retain Him for yourself.

You are now ready for three more sheets.

By the way, this article is not just written for young people. Some of you older ones have been taking it just too easy! So stir up the gift of God that is in you! Take the BIG test yourself!

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