Bishop Rt. Rev. Lu Guan Hoe
Prepare for the Lord’s Use
Jeremiah 15:19-21 Therefore this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, over the years, we have been concerned about the shortage of pastors. This is not only a concern of the Lutheran Church in Singapore, but also a common concern of other denominational churches. What kind of congregation members should we encourage to respond to God’s call to serve God full-time? Are we to encourage new school graduates, or young adults who have been working for some time and have some experience in ministry to come out and shepherd his flock? What kind of training will best prepare them to serve the Lord and His church in public ministry? These aspects are still in discussion.
But in the Old Testament Jeremiah 15, the Lord tells us through the prophet Jeremiah what is the best preparation for those who are going to serve God and preach the gospel in his name? His concern was to solve some of the more fundamental problems. These words are valuable not only to Jeremiah, not only to those of us in public ministry, but also to Christians who are willing to dedicate themselves to full-time ministry, especially at a time of great pastoral scarcity today. Let’s see how God prepares those who will serve Him.
First, we need to recognize who we are and have a repentant heart. Each of us is born in sin, and as long as we do not acknowledge this fact, sin will dominate us in our lives, as the Apostle John wrote in 1 John and in the liturgy of the Sunday service: ” If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. ” (1 John 1:8 NIV). He who denies that he is a sinner is living in a lie. Therefore, any attempt by him to serve the Lord will likewise lack integrity. Whether we like it or not, sin – mine, yours, and others’ sins – has been committed against the holy and righteous God. We can’t just cover up these sins and expect this righteous God to pretend not to be aware of them. If we want to be used by the Lord in His kingdom, we must confess and deal with our sins.
We all know that it is not easy to confess our sin or transgression, but it is much easier than dealing with it. As Christians, we don’t have much difficulty confessing our sin (especially when we are confronted with evidence), but neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can solve it perfectly. We can try to hide it, we can make a lot of excuses for it, and we’re good at blaming it on other people or things. But no matter what we do, we can’t get rid of it. Only God Himself can do this – He has done it in the birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ, God Himself has put our sins behind us, as Psalm 103:12 says: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” This enables us to be used by Him, to serve Him, and to serve our brothers and sisters. We and our efforts to please God are accepted only by Him in His redemption through His accomplishment in Christ. With the completion of the work of salvation, the greatest obstacles to our worship and ministry are removed.
Second, we need to recognize the truth of the message. When we preach God’s good news for man, the message of sin and grace, we need to know what God’s message is. The content of the message we share with others, in the name of Jesus, is far more important than how skillfully we can speak eloquently to others. In the circles of the church, there are all kinds of preachers who preach all kinds of religious messages. Many of them sound great and resonate with a lot of people. But that’s not our whole purpose. This is not what we are called to do. If our message is just what we ourselves wanted to say, nothing more, then we might as well keep it and just say it to ourselves. Because all these are just “worthless” words. We cannot provide people with what they really need on our own.
The only valuable message we must share is God’s message – the message He conveys to us in His Word – what Jeremiah calls a “worthy” message in the scriptures. This is the double message of the Law and the Gospel – a message that exposes us as sinners, condemns our sins, but at the same time declares us “innocent” because our Savior, Jesus Christ, bore the punishment we deserve for us. It’s an ancient message that never gets outmoded or obsolete – it’s always relevant – because wherever there are people, there is sin and guilt, and therefore his pardon and forgiveness are needed. Although the situation may vary from person to person, or from time to time or situation, and the specific application may vary, the problem is ultimately sin, and the only solution is to rely on Jesus. If we are willing to serve God, then we need to recognize this.
Finally, we need to recognize the call of the mission, “Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.” That is, as we strive to preach and witness to others, we must be vigilant so that the message we preach can impact the world, not let the world influence us. Are we preaching a message that panders to what others want to hear, or is it preaching a message that God wants them to hear? When we tell people something they don’t want to hear, it’s not easy to get their approval and support. In fact, it’s an impossible thing to do. That’s why God has given us the Holy Spirit so that He can do through us that we can’t do on our own. By the power of the same Holy Spirit, we can move boldly in the Savior’s name because we know that by recognizing ourselves, recognizing our message, and recognizing our mission, He has properly prepared us for the ministry in His kingdom.
May our brothers and sisters respond to the Lord’s call to devote themselves to full-time ministry, to become the mouth of God, to proclaim the good news of his redemption, and to turn people’s hearts from all unrighteousness to a righteous and loving Lord. It is true that the road of ministry is not easy, especially full-time ministry, but we want to thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to be with us and to strengthen us to overcome our enemies. God promises us, saying, “I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you.” (Jeremiah 15:20-21)
Brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit always be with you all. Amen.
首先，我们要认清自己的身份，有一颗悔改的心。我们每个人都是在罪孽里生的，只要我们不承认这一事实，罪孽就会在我们的生活中辖制我们，正如使徒约翰在约翰一书中所写的，以及我们在主日礼拜的礼仪中所说的那样：“我们若说自己无罪，便是自欺，真理不在我们心里了”（约翰一书 1:8 和合本）。否认自己是罪人的人就是生活在谎言中。因此，他事奉主的任何尝试同样会缺乏正直。不管我们喜欢与否，罪–我的、你的和其他人的罪–都得罪了圣洁公义的上帝。我们不能只是把这些罪给掩盖起来，指望这位公义的上帝假装没有意识到。如果我们想在主的国度里为他所用，就必须承认并处理我们的罪。