"Put on the full armor of God. . . take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:11, 17)
I enjoy reading and studying about history. My favorite is ancient history (the Greeks and the Romans), but I also enjoy learning more about all history. One thing that seems to come up throughout history is warfare. It doesn’t matter if it was 2000+ years ago or today, countries and people have always fought amongst themselves. And whether it was the bow and arrow or sword or machine gun, there have always been weapons that soldiers used to arm themselves.
The apostle Paul in Ephesians 6 talks about Christians being in a spiritual battle and the need to put on the armor of God. Paul is using the picture of the Roman soldier and the equipment he would need to survive and win the battle. As you look at this list of armor, it becomes very apparent that most of the equipment is meant to protect in a defensive way – such as the helmet or breastplate or even the shield. But what is the one offensive weapon that is talked about? It is the sword and as Paul tells us God has given us “the word of God” as our offensive weapon in our spiritual battle on this earth.
Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word or the “sword of the Spirit” in this way, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.” God has placed at our disposal his mighty Word which is “living and active”. What does this mean? It means that God the Holy Spirit is working each and every time that God’s Word is being used – whether spoken in a sermon in church or to a lost soul out on the streets. It also means that we need to realize that we need to use this Word often so that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in the hearts of people.
I’m not a military genius, but I do know that you can’t win most battles by just building a big wall around your city and hoping no one will ever come and destroy it. Eventually a bigger and more powerful enemy will overcome your big walls and destroy your city. In order to defend your city, you will need a combination of a big wall and a big army that can go out and bring the fight to the enemy. Simply put, you need a good offensive and defensive strategy.
In a spiritual sense the same is true. God has given us his Word not just to build up a big wall around ourselves so that sin and the devil never gets in. Yes, we need to use God’s Word to defend ourselves against the many evil attacks of false teachings and the wicked attacks of the devil and this sinful world. But God has also given us the “sword of the Spirit, which is his word” to “go and make disciples of all nations” by preaching and teaching God’s Word to the many lost souls in this world.
At St. John we have done a good job of using God’s Word to build up a defensive wall to keep out the enemy. This is done at St. John as we faithfully preach and teach God’s Word in Worship and in our Bible studies. But as we look at our offensive strategy of reaching out with God's Word, we see that most of us would rather stay behind the security of the wall. But God didn’t give us his “sword of the Spirit” to just sit behind the wall. God commands us to “go and make disciples”. This means that we need to take the Word of God outside of the walls of St. John as we find ways to use God’s Word to reach out to the many lost souls in our community and around the world.
As we do this, we always trust that wherever and whenever we share God’s Word, God promises that the Holy Spirit is working. May God fill us with the desire to use his living and active Word to defend our own faith and to also share the love of God with as many people as possible so God may bring their souls to heaven. Thank you God for giving us your Word to keep us safe and to change sinful hearts.
Pastor Mark Gartner
Summer Sunday Bible Study
We have started our new Summer family type Bible Study which is being held on all non-Communion Sundays this Summer. The study is entitled, “The ABC’s of Worship — Lutheran Customs and Practices.” Our next classes will be August 11th and 18th starting around 9:00 am. The classes have been well attended and many good questions have been asked and answered. Even if you have missed the first lessons, you can still join us. If you would like one of the study booklets, please talk to one of the Pastors
Ladies Bible Study/LWMS
Tuesday August 13 at 1:00 pm all the Ladies are invited to a Bible study and an update on the work of the LWMS.
Save the date! The church picnic will be on Sunday, August 18 at Plamann Park. Plan to join us for food, fun and fellowship. There will be games for the kids and adults. Please sign up on the sheet in the back of church and plan on joining us for an afternoon of fun and fellowship.
The EHV Bibles are here; they are on a table in the entryway. The cost of each Bible is $18. If you ordered a Bible, you may pick it up and pay for it before or after each worship service. A member will be available to assist you and receive your payment.
Every two years, our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) meets in convention to see the many blessings God has granted our synod, but also to plan the ministry for the next two years. Once again, we have seen that God's goodness abounds and that he has blessed our synod very generously -- both spiritually and physically. You can click on the link for a update of some of the major items discussed at this year's convention.