The Word of God Is not Bound
Rev. Charles Westby, Pastor
2 Timothy 2:8-9
October 13, 2019

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

We give thanks today for the work of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. In doing so, a mission theme comes into focus. There is an important mission theme in the reading from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy that was read a few moments ago.

We note that Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy from prison. He was in prison in Rome. He was thinking that the end of his life was near. In his experience of keeping the faith in the midst of suffering for it, he gave encouragement to Timothy. In verses 8-9, Paul tells Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ, who is raised from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my Gospel, for which I suffer even to the point of being bound with chains as an evil doer; but the word of God is not bound.”

The word of God is not bound. This is an important mission theme. Even more than that, it is an important theme for Christian life. God’s word cannot be bound by human beings, by governments. This is because it is God’s word. This is because it is the word of the one who rose from the dead.

They thought they could silence Jesus by death. But they could not. He rose. They thought they could silence the apostles by putting them in prison, by binding them with chains, by putting them to death for the testimony of Jesus. But the word they proclaimed, the Gospel of Jesus, cannot be bound. It is the good news of the One raised from the dead. He is the Son of David as promised by God from of old. God accomplishes His purposes in Christ. The Gospel of this Christ lives on forever.

It carries the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit empowers it. This Gospel creates faith in those who hear. They tell others. It creates faith in them. It spreads like wildfire. This is a faith they will not give up.

Governments try to control it. But they cannot. They are reminded that Jesus is Lord and God is God, and they don’t like that. But they cannot control it because they cannot control Jesus, and they cannot control God. And it is Jesus’s and God’s word and faith in it that they want to control but they cannot. The word of God is not bound. Jesus is risen from the dead. He is Lord.

But isn’t it interesting that Paul’s words here to Timothy present a situation in which persecution and God’s word not being bound go together? We see how God’s word is not bound when people try to bind it.

I did some online research about the rising persecution of Christians around the world. According to groups that are watching this, it has been intensifying in the last few years. A couple of interesting examples are China and Iran, though there are many countries in which Christians are suffering for their faith. Such suffering involves real loss of social standing, imprisonment and hindrance of Christian activities, and sometimes even physical violence and death.

Many organizations track this. I found one called OpenDoors. You can find them online. They have a persecution watch list. It lists 50 countries in which Christians are suffering real persecution for their faith. These countries are generally in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

But China and Iran are interesting examples because of the threat they perceive in Christianity to their governments. So, Christians, most often pastors, get arrested. Crosses get removed. Churches get shut down. Christians get threatened with government sanction. But the faith is spreading in China. It is also doing so in Iran.

China is trying to reel in the growth of Christian faith among its people by coming up with their own, government sponsored translation of the Scriptures. China wants the state to be God, not Jesus.

But the number of Christians keeps growing. Jesus has risen. The word of God is not bound.

And let us ask this: What state gives itself in sacrifice for its people? What state can boast of having brought life from death? Secularity is bound and trapped in death. Death is a reality that secularity cannot get beyond.

But we proclaim Jesus as God the Son; God, who entered our suffering; God, who gave Himself in Sacrifice for our sins as the royal Son of King David; God, who was rejected by human governments; Governments that think they have sovereignty over faith, over speech, over the heart, over life and death, over God’s Word. But Jesus rose. The worst they could do to Him, the power that they wielded, death, the threat of physical violence, could not contain Him.

But maybe persecution of Christ’s people is something that is only happening in far away lands. It could not possibly be happening here, on the Western slope, could it?

Well, we can give thanks that high school youth had the freedom this past week to gather around the flagpole at Grand Valley High School and pray for Cayden Schaeffer, the student who suffered a very serious head injury in a football game a week ago. We can give thanks that we can gather here in this place without any government officials threatening us and turning us away; shutting us down.

But there are also troubling examples of how Christians suffer for their faith, as well, even around here. I am aware of an instance where a Christian was ridiculed by her classmates on a college campus in our community for her faith and hope in Jesus just recently. She was openly ridiculed for her faith. And it stung.

What gives Christians the strength to go on in the faith, when the ridicule comes; when one is made to feel stupid for their faith and hope in God and Christ? What gives Christians the courage to continue to believe when societies and governments try to stamp out their faith? Why has it been that the more governments try to destroy Christianity by persecuting Christ’s people, that Christianity gets stronger?

The word of God is not bound. We also hear what Paul says to Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.” Think on this reality, he says. Have your mind and your heart full of the joy and triumph, the grace and peace, that Jesus is risen from the dead, having made sacrifice for our sins. It is this reality that keeps Christianity alive, and growing in the face of suffering. It is this reality spoken in word that cannot be bound.

He lives and no power on earth, no human being, can change the fact. And He captures hearts and minds with this living reality and power through the Gospel.

When He captures your heart as the living reality of God’s grace and power of life, you hold fast to this faith, no matter what the world thinks.

This is a living part of our Lutheran tradition. We hear this in the fourth verse of the song “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” that we get to sing with great joy and triumph in our hearts a couple of weeks from today. It says: “God’s Word forever shall abide, No thanks to foes, who fear it; For God Himself fights by our side, With weapons of the Spirit. Were they to take our house, Goods, honor, child, or spouse, Though life be wrenched away, They cannot win the day. The Kingdom’s ours forever.”

Though we are generally blessed with great freedom here in the United States and Colorado, we should also realize that we live in a world that often finds God and Jesus risen as a threat, or as absurd, and so worthy of ridicule. But this does not change the accomplished facts. It does not change our hearts and minds. It does not change the fact that the word of God is not bound. It will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it, and it will accomplish this purpose for you.

Thanks be to God. Amen.


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