July 26, 2020

Online Worship for Trinity Seven, Sunday July 26, 2020

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Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-6
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Sermon for Trinity Seven – Sunday July 26, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1 Timothy 2:1-6
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

In the Name of Jesus the Christ,
Who desires that every human trust Him,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –

It would be easy for us to look down on the Prophet Jonah. After all, Jonah was called by the LORD God and sent to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, a growing world power. He was sent to warn the city and the nation of the seriousness of their sins, to call upon them to sorrow over their sins and look to Jehovah for mercy. It was a last ditch effort to turn God’s judgment away.

Jonah boarded a boat headed in the opposite direction. He blatantly disobeyed the LORD, refusing even to go to Nineveh. The LORD had every right to be angry with Jonah and judge him…yet even after his sin was revealed and his boat mates heaved him over the rail into the sea, the LORD had mercy on Jonah. He delivered him from death by means of a great sea creature and then called him a second time to go to Nineveh.

So Jonah finally did what the LORD wanted him to do. He warned the city of Nineveh of the Judgment of God and called upon them to sorrow over their sins and look to Jehovah for mercy.

In a miracle of divine grace, the entire city – from the least to the greatest – was moved to repent and Jehovah stayed His anger and His Judgment.

Now we might expect that Jonah would be happy or at least find in Nineveh’s penitence a measure of fulfillment. But Jonah wasn’t happy about Nineveh’s penitence…He was angry. He complained to the LORD. He revealed his unloving heart, saying essentially, “See, that’s why I didn’t want to go to Nineveh in the first place…I just knew you would go and have mercy on them (cf. Jonah 4:2).”

Well, not exactly prophet material in my book. I dare say that Jonah would ultimately be branded a racist in our day.

So yes, it would be an easy thing to look down our noses at Jonah…but before we do so perhaps we should put on his sandals for a moment, eh?

The LORD God sent Jonah to Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria (located in modern day Iraq) which already had a reputation for cruelty. Assyria was growing into a world power and threatening to descend and carry away the Kingdom of Israel into captivity – and Jonah lived in Israel (Gath Hepher, in Galilee). Jonah was called to go to the enemy and call upon the enemy to repent.

How would you feel if the LORD God called you to go and proclaim peace through Christ to Osama Bin Laden after the attacks of 9-11? How would you feel about preaching peace to those bent on destroying your home and carrying away your family?

This is what the LORD sent Jonah to do – to preach repentance and faith to a godless foreign nation! Neither Jonah nor we would ever think of doing such a thing! This alone shows that we are corrupt sinners in need of forgiveness and of loving hearts. We would never think of it, but our LORD earnestly desires that everyone be saved through faith in Christ and come to know the Truth of God’s Love.

Now we may never have opportunity to proclaim Law (to convict of sin) and Gospel (peace and forgiveness through Christ) to our enemies, but there is something we can and should do for them… pray for them. After all this Scripture plainly teaches us to pray for all men and why we ought to do so. We are reminded that God seeks salvation for each and every human being – not only for those we know and love.

We therefore ask that God the Holy Spirit bless us and change our loveless attitudes through His Word. So we pray, “Sanctify us by your Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.

++++++

We sometimes put certain people on pedestals…especially the ‘Heroes of Faith’ we find in the Bible. We imagine that the Apostle Paul was far above us, always a bold and fearless herald of Salvation in Christ. We may picture the other prophets as men sure of their place in life and of their standing before God.

The truth is that God’s prophets and spokesmen were sinful human beings with faults and foibles just like ours. This truth is evident to those who read the Scriptures. The Prophet Jeremiah tried to shirk his God-given responsibility to proclaim God’s Word of Truth by pointing to the fact that he was young (cf. Jeremiah 1:6-7). The Prophet Jonah flat out disobeyed the LORD God and then complained about His mercy.

Why are we surprised when we exhibit similar attitudes?

We are followers of Jesus and as such we are called upon to fight the good fight of faith. This not only means knowing the Scriptures and fighting against false teaching, it also means being constant in prayer. So did the Spirit of God instruct Timothy and instructs us –

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

If this were the classroom, I would ask you to get out your pens and pencils. Since you probably don’t have a highlighter with you this morning, let me ‘highlight’ something that occurs three times in these six verses. In verse one, four and six -- all people – the entire human race (past, present and future) are mentioned.

In this first verse, the Holy Spirit told Pastor Timothy urge the people under his care to do something for all people…to offer up supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings. The Holy Spirit is also speaking to us, urging us to offer up supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for all people.

Supplications are prayers driven by need. When we are aware of our need or someone else’s need and come to God as the one who alone can grant our needs we offer up supplication. When a death or tragedy or serious sickness upsets the life of someone we know – whether a believer or someone whose faith is unknown – we may come to the LORD on their behalf and offer up supplication for them…and for ourselves.

Prayers are humble requests to GOD. This is the general word used for a ‘heart to heart talk with God.’ The word emphasizes our coming before God humbly and respectfully, as to a superior not a peer.

Intercessions are prayers on behalf of others. An intercessor is a go-between. As those who have been reconciled to God, we may go to the Father on behalf of those who are His children by faith…and those who aren’t. We have an open line to GOD and thus a tremendous opportunity to come to God – especially on behalf of those who do not believe and have no access to God. For (Psalm 34:15):

“The eyes of the LORD are on the Righteous and His ears are open to their cry.”

Thanksgivings are prayers of thanksgiving. We are not only to bring our needs to the LORD on behalf of others, but when He graciously provides them we are to give thanks to Him…for them.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t here reveal what we should pray for but he does say for whom we should pray. We shouldn’t only pray for things, we should also pray for people, for all people…especially those in authority.

2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Almighty God is no party politician. He urges us to pray for kings and all who are in positions of authority…whether democrat, republican, tea party or whatever. He doesn’t only tell us to pray for them but why we should pray for them. We should pray for our rulers (whether we like them personally or agree with them), so that we might spend our lives in quiet and peacefulness, worshipping the True God regularly and honestly from the heart. We should pray that the LORD would grant us an environment in which we can be about His work without fear of persecution.

We pray for our rulers and the rulers of other nations so that the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection may not be hindered, but proclaimed widely across the face of the earth speeding the glorious return of the Lord Jesus (cf. Matthew 24:14).

This prayer is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, because He desires not only that we pray for all men, but that all men be saved and come to knowledge of the Truth.

This isn’t my opinion…it’s what He says:

3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We learn in passages like these that it is God’s earnest desire that all people be saved and come to know the Truth…that Salvation is obtained alone by faith in Christ Jesus. This desire of GOD is no ‘wishy-washy’ ‘Oh, I hope everyone believes.’ It is His earnest desire that (and here is the second reference to the entire human race) all people be saved.

God sent the Prophet Jonah to an unbelieving nation…because He desires that all people be saved and come to know the truth. Jonah’s mission trip is yet another proof that Jehovah earnestly wants proponents of false religions to turn from their idols and trust in Him through His Word.

God sent the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles tromping all over the ancient world to proclaim good news in Christ to people who worshipped idols…because He desires that all people be saved and come to know the Truth. The same LORD God still enlists His people today to take the good news with them wherever they go and to whomever they speak. While some Christians today contradict these words and suggest that God really doesn’t want some people to believe – we know that the fault lies – not with God – but with those who hear and dismiss the message that Christ is humankind’s one savior.

There is no question that our God wants all people to be rescued through faith in His Son, Jesus the Christ. So…do we want the same…is that our earnest desire? We sometimes have trouble getting along with and forgiving fellow Christians…what about our enemies? What about that irritating boss, that annoying neighbor, that arrogant politician? What about those Islamic terrorists in the Middle East?

Our Heavenly Father wants to call them His Children even as He calls you His Child and Heir.

We should therefore pray for ourselves – “Lord, enable me to want what you want.” For unless the LORD softens our hearts and fills us with His Love, we will like the world around us and will only love those who love us and hate those who hate us. If Jonah, a man called to be a Prophet of the LORD, opposed the will of God to save the Assyrians…then we too should earnestly pray that Christ fill us with His Love.

If we see no reason for such a prayer then may God help us to remember that it was His mercy – not our deserving kindness or goodness – that moved Him to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus Christ. It was God’s mercy that determined to make us children of God through Word and Sacrament though we were born enemies of God and agents of Satan.

Now as Children of God we have been given testimony to give to all…because it concerns all people.

5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Jonah knew it to be true and so do you.

It may not be politically correct…but it is Biblically accurate…there is only one real God. While there are countless deities professed across the face of the earth, the God who reveals and defines Himself in the 66 books of the Bible is the True God, the three-in-one God. It is He who declares (Psalm 96:5):

For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.

Furthermore…there is one mediator between God and men. While some seek God by praying to dead ancestors or to the Sun, Moon and Stars; and others seek God’s favor by praying to dead Christians, we have come to know that there is only one go-between, the God-man Jesus Christ. He, who is the eternal Son, has opened the Father’s ears to our prayers through His reconciling sacrifice.

Finally…there is one redeemer who gave himself as the one ransom for all people. While the world around us declares that if we are good people ‘god’ will accept us…the Scriptures declare that the price paid to set us free from Satan, sin and death was offered once for all by Jesus Christ.

God asks of us no further payment, no additional ransom. There is no longer a need of our offering sacrifices to appease God. He has been forever satisfied, as it is written (Hebrews 9:12 ):

12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Now is the time of salvation. Now the eternal God has given you His Word and will give you opportunities to declare this testimony of God at the proper time.

May our merciful God move us by His love…
…to pray for all people…knowing it is the will of God.
…to desire the rescue of all people…because it is the will of God.
…to offer the testimony of Christ to all people…because it is the will of God.

May the Spirit also bless that testimony and grant salvation through it.

Amen.