“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 2:15)
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5
There are about seven billion of us in the world, which means there are also about seven billion religions on the planet created by the spiritual clones of Adam and Eve, people deceived into thinking that they and we are gods. Everyone since then has some kind of religion, even if they don’t know it or deny it. People are gregarious—which means they like to gather, to share their views on things, often religious views, and even to gather for worship.
A world traveler recently counted nine thousand various religious groups in the world. There is even a group—started in Wisconsin several decades ago—called the “ffrf” (Freedom From Religion Foundation). This group is quite militant with its views—almost religiously so!—and have a newspaper, websites, radio broadcasts, conventions, and a billboard in our city of Phoenix! It consists of atheists, agnostics, humanists, non-theists, and freethinkers. To read or listen to their stuff, you could say “they sound very religious to me” (as the late CBS’ Sixty Minutes curmudgeon Andy Rooney might have put it).
Given the mixed-up and diseased world religious situation here and abroad, it is always amazing to witness the penetration and durability of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In our churches we tend to “take it for granted”—which means we think of it as “a given thing.” Here we find faithful proclamation, explanation, and application of the Word of God. We “take for granted” good preaching, good hymns,
good liturgy, good prayers, good Bible versions, good pastoral care, and so on.
Never forget, it is all a gift!
Spread the Vigor!
And that gift does wonders! Twice in this epistle the Apostle Paul refers to word and doctrine as “sound.” Sound word and doctrine is healthy, certainly in itself. It promotes and sustains spiritual health and life in a world that we have just described as having a lot of “sick” religious views—sick unto everlasting death.
The odds have always been stacked against the Word of God, just as they were throughout the Old Testament time period; just as they were against Christ and in the outreach decades that followed. But just as Jesus was restored, after death, to health and robustness, so His words bore and created that same vigor—and they still do!
That health is still transmitted from pastors, teachers, and parishioners to people all around them. Saint Paul, by the Spirit of God, instigated much of this spread. And He charged and encouraged Timothy and others to do the same. And all in the face of problems, detractors, and
despisers of God’s holy Word!
Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, as to himself, was to proclaim the written Word, to be faithful to the divinely inspired teachings. These words give hope and joy; they destroy the influence and advances of the devil, the world, and the sinful nature
(even our own!).
Jesus says that His words shall remain even when heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 24:35). The gospel shall be proclaimed in all the world, and then the end shall come (Matthew 24:14)—which means that His Word will be here to the bitter end. And it will be doing its work right to the end, wherever and whenever it is faithfully spoken.
Our basic work remains—to promote those words, to stay spiritually healthy through Word and Sacrament (the “means of grace”), and to offer eternal life and health to a sin-sick,
The world cannot heal itself. That’s where we come in. Stay healthy in order to spread the vigor. As Paul and Timothy, so
we have a ministry to fulfill!