Sunday, July 8, 2012

“Sent to Speak the Truth!” (Ezekiel 2:3-4)

S-1326 6SAP/3B 7/08/12 Hymns: (O) #3; (S) #506; L.S. #307; #376; #199 (C) #508

Text: Ezekiel 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Mark 6:1-13

Theme: “Sent to Speak the Truth!” (Ezekiel 2:3-4)

Question: “Which is easier to speak the truth or a lie?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O. T. lesson: “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against Me. They and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them,’ “Thus says the Lord God”’ (Ezekiel 2:3-4).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father, life’s experience has taught us that not all people at all times tell us the truth. We have learned that everything we read in newspapers and magazines, and everything we hear on the radio and watch on TV is not always true. We, have, on numerous occasions listened to the candidates running for the White House declaring things to be true, only to discover a sound bite that it is a lie. Even journalists’ take a statement out of context to paint the candidate in a demeaning way, but eventually the truth comes out.

Today’s text is not taken out of context or being misconstrued. Instead, God has chosen a candidate to be His messenger of truth. Ezekiel, whose name means “God is my strength”, was called by God to be His spokesperson to His people and bring the message of truth that will bring horror to their guilty hearts and peace to the their troubled hearts.

Israel, God’s “Segula,”(Hebrew for) His own precious possessions had disobeyed and dishonored His will and command. Israel had begun to serve foreign gods which are not gods at all. They disregarded His decrees and statutes and because of this SIN, Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C and the people were shipped to Babylon. Ezekiel is among the thousands of inhabitants who are captured and taken back to Babylon. During this time God comes to Ezekiel and commissions him to speak both repentance and hope. He tells him to go and speak directly to the people the truth that they have sinned against God and this captivity is the consequence of their sin.

Ezekiel was sent to speak only the truth and not some kind of mushy good feeling message. He was told by God to tell it like it is—even if it hurts the hearer or don’t like what they hear. God didn’t send Him to the house of Israel to start a new evangelism program or to hold a meeting to consider what they need to do to get their lives back on the right track. NO! God told Him to go in His name, armed with the ONE thing that will change lives—His Word of truth. And furthermore, Ezekiel is not responsible for the outcome; He is only a messenger of God. The Lord said: “And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” The outcome does not matter Ezekiel – speak the Word I give you. The truth of this text is the faithful preaching and proclamation of God’s mighty, powerful and eternal Word. PAUSE.

And so it is today. We, who have been called into the fellowship of the Gospel-whether pastor or people have one message to the world—speak the truth in love. This church for over 71 years has been teaching the whole of Scripture. For over 71 years many pastors have stood before you and proclaimed salvation is found ONLY in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. For years to come, others will follow and they will occupy this pulpit and they will speak the truth to you that you are a poor miserable sinner in need of a Savior and that you have a Savior, His name is Jesus.

One of the sad things that I hear against LCMS Pastors is that we are condemning, accusing, uncaring and loveless men who ignore the Savior’s command to not judge and condemn. Because we strictly adhere to pure doctrine we are labeled with different names. But it is THE Word of God that we are called to preach that makes it necessary for us to call sin just what it is. We are not allowed to soft peddle sin. Because of this, we are called all sorts of names. The preaching of the truth gets us labeled old fashioned and bigots. Because we won’t bend to the ideas of the world, we are called loveless.

Like the prophet Ezekiel of old, the prophets of today, have been called by God to speak the truth in its totality. To do this is Scripture’s clearest command given to all of Christ’s servants repeatedly in God’s Word. Christ told His servants to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is bap­tized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be con­demned” (Mark 16:15-16). Again, in the Gospel lesson for today from Mark 6 Jesus sends the Apostles to carry the Word of repentance into the surrounding towns. And He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And He said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them’ (7-11). They were not sent to be popular or successful. They were only sent to be faithful and proclaim the TRUTH of God’s Word!

This applies not only to preachers but also to you the laity. You, too, my brothers and sisters in Christ should confidently reject and condemn false doc­trine and all godless life and practice. The Lord Himself says to all Christians, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s cloth­ing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). How could the hearers beware of false prophets if they are not per­mitted to judge, reject, and condemn their false doctrine? Even more, Christ says that the members of the congrega­tion should regard as heathens and tax collectors those who despise all their admonitions of His truth. Indeed, we can’t be silent when it comes to speaking the truth that God has told us to share with others. Saint Paul, also wrote, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We are not called to be living only to ourselves and ignoring the truth, but must with joy and patience teach God’s eternal truth even when we are disliked or looked down upon. PAUSE.

Precious saints in Christ, our Lord and Savior Jesus, the prophets and apostles, and the early Christians provide us with examples to imitate. Christ many times pro­nounced woes upon the Pharisees and Scribes, those false teachers and even the city of Jerusalem! Throughout all of Scripture we are told again and again the truth that Christ is the heaven-sent Savior. We are told that in Him there is life and salvation and apart from Him there is only death and damnation.

Today by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been brought into this house, to hear the truth and learn the truth. Jesus Himself on numerous occasions has taught the truth to all who would listen. He even stated, “I Am the TRUTH” {emphasis mine} John 14:6). He doesn’t say look there for the truth, but look to Me for I Am this Truth. He is the truth that leads to eternal life. He is the truth that forgives our sins. He is the truth that opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers. He is the truth that will guide our footsteps into the paradise of heaven.

We dare not change a syllable of God’s message. It is eternal and forever true. Paul, that great preacher and missionary to the Gentiles put it this way: “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). Paul, is saying there is only one message—Christ is the gift of heaven, by His sacrificial death on Calvary’s cross we have been redeemed, forgiven and adopted into His family of faith.

Today, this truth has been taught among you—That God in mercy has a way to make us right with Him (Romans 3:21). How vital that we embrace this truth. God’s highest dream is not to make us rich, not to make us successful, popular or famous. God’s dream is to make us right with Him through His Son’s bloodshed on Calvary’s cross. And for this reason this house of worship exists for the proclamation of the truth, and nothing but the whole truth.

Today, you will know the truth of being made God’s children in the waters of Baptism. Today, you will taste this truth offered in His body and blood on this altar. And today, the Holy Spirit equips you with the words of truth to speak to the world about Your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As Ezekiel was faithful in His mission and ministry in proclaiming the truth of God’s Word; we pray likewise, that we would be sent in His name to speak only the TRUTH found in Holy Scripture—for the benefit of our neighbor and the glory of God. Amen.

Now the peace…


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