With tears in her eyes, a woman asked her pastor, “Pastor, how do I convince him? How do I make the difference for him?” She was lamenting over her unbelieving son. In a loving way, the pastor had to remind her that she wasn’t the convincer or the difference maker. She was the proclaimer.
Do you understand the distinction?
Peter reminded everyone on Pentecost and reminds us as well, that the Lord has poured out his Spirit on all of us to prophesy. The most basic definition of prophecy is “to proclaim,” and in this context, it means proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. It doesn’t mean to convince or make a difference. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.
You will never be the cause of anyone’s confessing faith in Christ. Paul reminds us, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The Holy Spirit is the convincer, and the good news of salvation in Christ is the difference maker. And yet the Lord uses you to proclaim the Word that makes the eternal difference. What a humbling honor!
Are you prepared to do that, to proclaim God’s truth? Your initial reaction probably is no. And it has nothing to do with ability. It has everything to do with sin. How can you tell someone how sinful he or she is when you are just as sinful? I understand the hesitance. One can easily relate to the Pharisees who were quick to condemn the adulterous woman but had no guts to cast the first stone. None of us is without sin.
But there was no hesitance on Jesus’ part to declare to that adulterous woman, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11); just as there was no hesitance on Jesus’ part to be the lamb led to the slaughter for your sins, and no hesitance for him to say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
You are more prepared to proclaim the truth to others than you realize. Knowing your sins, you are prepared with humility. Knowing your Savior, you are prepared with the good news that is both convincing and difference-making: The Holy Spirit has enlightened you to know these things and has equipped you to share them, just as he did with the disciples on Pentecost. Don’t be timid. Just proclaim.
(for Father’s Day)
Pew Internet Research survey reports that 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are online. As of September 2012, 78% of teens have a cell phone and 47% own a smartphone. The average American teen spends about 20 hours a week watching TV. 9% of TV programs include some sexual content involving teens, up from 3% just 2 years before. 60% of twenty-somethings say that they were involved in church as a teenager, but no longer are.
These statistics appeared in our WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry report earlier this year. They highlight reasons why CYFM wants to continue its important work. These statistics also highlight the important responsibility of Christian fathers communicating the truths of the Bible to their children. Father’s Day is coming the 3rd Sunday in June. Besides just getting old Dad a gift, Father’s Day should also be a reminder to fathers about their purpose.
God tells us what that purpose is in Ephesians 6:4. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” More important than “bringing home the bacon” or teaching your son or daughter to drive a car, teaching your child to know and follow Jesus is by far the most crucial part of a Christian father’s job description. It is also the most rewarding. What a pleasure and treasure to see your child sing and pray to Jesus in their childhood; to see and hear them confess that faith at Confirmation; to see their confidence and maturity in the Lord and His Word lead them through young adulthood, and even to see them teach their own children about Jesus, too.
And what a heritage for fathers to leave their children by bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord! Christian fathers know then that their children are prepared for life and death. They have life everlasting as their inheritance through faith in their loving Lord.
Much of Ephesians 6 is about the “armor of God,” the weapons believers have in their arsenal to fight for God against the devil, the world, and sinful nature. How fitting that fathers should be included in the same chapter. Christian fathers truly are part of God’s arsenal to protect His children. God bless Christian fathers as you communicate Christ to your child in words and actions.
By Pastor Alois Schmitzer III