Return to Sermons | Home

“Keep the Faith—Share the Faith”
2 Timothy 1:13-14


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost—October 3, 2010

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

The book of 2nd Timothy is considered to be the last epistle, or letter, written by the Apostle Paul.  Tradition says that Paul was martyred for his Christian faith, by being beheaded in the year 64 A.D.  Just before his death, Paul is writing to his close friend and co-worker, Timothy, who would take over as an important church leader after he is gone.  So, the book of 2nd Timothy is like Paul’s spiritual Last Will and Testament.  His farewell advice to Timothy is summed up in these words from today’s Epistle Reading:

“What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.”

Paul’s final advice to Timothy is also his advice for you: “Keep the Faith—Share the Faith.”

A few moments ago we confessed in the Nicene Creed that we believe in “one holy Christian and apostolic Church.”  What does the phrase “apostolic Church” mean?  It means we follow the doctrine of the Apostles, as presented to us in their writings in Holy Scripture.  As Paul says, “What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching.”

What is this “pattern of sound teaching,” handed down and entrusted to us from the Apostles?  There are three main points to sound, Scriptural doctrine, which we are to keep and guard.

First, all people are sinners.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Paul writes in Romans.  “The Scriptures declare that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,” he says in Galatians.  “If we say that we have no sin,” the Apostle John writes, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  “Therefore confess your sins,” the Apostle James says.

That is the first point of the sound, Scriptural doctrine handed down and entrusted to us from the Apostles, which Paul urges Timothy, and us, to keep and guard: all people are sinners.

Secondly, because of this sin we all deserve the punishment of eternal death and damnation in hell.  As the book of Hebrews says, “Man is destined once to die, and after that to face the judgment.”  “For the wages of sin is death,” Paul says in Romans.

But, the third point of the sound, Scriptural doctrine handed down and entrusted to us from the Apostles is the Good News of God’s love for us in his Son, Jesus Christ.  As the Apostle Peter says in Acts, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Paul puts it this way in 2nd Corinthians: “For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”  Peter says, “You were redeemed . . . with the precious blood of Christ.”  And Hebrews explains, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.”

The most important point of the sound, Scriptural doctrine handed down and entrusted to us from the Apostles is this Good News, that because Christ sacrificed himself to pay for our sins, your sins are all forgiven and you are at peace.  Paul puts it this way in Romans:  “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.”  Why the great concern to guard this doctrine and keep it pure?  Because, it is a matter of life and death, eternal life and death.

God has revealed to us in his Word the one way to heaven.  “For my Father’s will,” Jesus says, “is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life . . .  I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The true, pure doctrines of the Bible are like a map, showing us the way, the way to eternal life.  If we allow that map to get messed up, distorted, confused, we won’t know how to show others the way, and it won’t be long before we no longer know the way ourselves.

The eternal salvation of our souls and others is at stake.  That is why Paul in his Last Will and Testament has such a strong concern for pure doctrine; that is why we also must hold on to the true teachings of God’s Word.  “What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.”

But, it is not enough for us to “Keep the Faith.”  We must also “Share the Faith.”  The pure doctrines of the Bible are indeed a great treasure, but that doesn’t mean we keep them to ourselves.

Many wealthy women have jewelry so fabulous that they’re afraid to wear it.  So they keep it in a vault locked up and hidden away.

That’s the point of the Parable of the Talents, which Jesus told.  Two men used what they were entrusted with to gain even more.  But, one man buried and hid away the treasure with which his master entrusted him.

God wants us to “Keep the Faith,” but not to keep it to ourselves.  Pure doctrine is not a treasure to be buried or hidden away.  Pure doctrine must living and active and visible in the lives of Christ’ followers, living and active and visible, in your life.  The purpose of Christ’s Church is not only toe “Keep the Faith” but also to “Share the Faith.”

Jesus put it this way: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and praise your Father in heaven.”

What is the purpose of your life?  What is the purpose of Holy Cross Lutheran Church?  Why are we are?  To show forth in our lives the precious treasure of the Good News of forgiveness in Christ, which God has entrusted to us.

“What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.”

“Keep the Faith—Share the Faith.”

Amen.

  Return to Top | Return to Sermons | Home | Email Pastor Vogts