"Preach the Word"

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Last week, we talked in detail about what the work of the Word was, in relation to its own identity. This week, I want to move on to the next passage and see how the work of the Bible in its relation to the proclaimer of it. Contextually, we must see that Paul is writing this from prison, awaiting his own death. These are really the final words of Paul to Timothy. Because of this, there is great solemnity in it. The importance of these words come at a time when Paul is about to see his life end, and his desire is that his young protege, the man he has mentored in ministry, carry on the work of the Bible. Yes, this has great application to the preacher in ministry, but I think this holds great value to every SS teacher and every believer themselves. These principles, these commands, are for every Christian!

I. The Charge and Who Holds us Accountable (1)

First, we must see whom we are held accountable. This charge is given that the Lord’s presence will be our motivation. Our motivation is to honor Christ, the Word himself, and honoring the Scriptures that proclaim him. The motivation is three-fold.
1 Peter 5:2 ESV
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
The Judgment of Jesus: Jesus comes to bring judgment one day. That should motivate our message and give it some gravitas. All three of these things also give this charge urgency. Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead, all people. The question for every believer is this, what did I do to proclaim the Word, the Bible, to the world? The disciple of the Lord Jesus will also face judgment for the Word that they preached.
The Appearing of Jesus: The second motivation behind this charge is that Jesus will come again. Though related to the previous, is that Jesus is coming again! This should inspire our preaching, that one day the one whom we preach about will appear in all His glory. Are we preaching Him or ourselves?
The Kingdom of Jesus: And that coming kingdom, how have we prepared people to be a part of it? Have we preached the Gospel? Have we discipled people in the kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of men?

II. The Charge Itself (2)

Urgency! Get to it! There is no hesitation here. There isn’t a sense that he wants Timothy to wait. Preach now, even when it doesn’t feel natural or when it is unpopular. Preach! Example: I know many of you may not believe it, but it would be easy for me to hole up and study. I have to fight that temptation. I am naturally an introvert. I have to force myself to engage with people sometimes. But as a pastor, my call is urgent. You got to get up and proclaim the Word! I must give myself to the public proclamation of this Word.
Preach the Word! Its simple enough, but something that we must be reminded of daily. Preach the Bible. Preach nothing else! We don’t preach about ourselves. We don’t preach about other people. We don’t preach about being more moral people or how great a particular nation is. We don’t preach our story. We preach the Bible, the Gospel. Let the Word do the work, and leave the results up to God. As Clarence Macartney once said to his brother as he was leaving his house to go preach at a church: Put all the Bible you can into it.
Be ready! Even when you aren’t feeling it. Even when the struggle is real. Even when you feel like you are on cloud nine or having a down week. Preach the Word. I know that in my own life, that there are times where I feel like I am ready and excited to deliver a message, that it’s going to be awesome and it’s gonna change the church. And then it falls like a lead balloon. And then there are weeks where the text is difficult, my thoughts are scattered, and then the preaching event comes and it didn’t feel like it went well at all, and then God uses it powerfully in someone’s life. Leave the work and results up to God. Be ready, not matter how you feel, to proclaim the Bible and let it do its work.
The Triple Ministry of the Word:
Reprove: giving sound arguments from the Word, to ease doubts and show why this is the way it is.
Rebuke: Sometimes the Word will be rough on us and on the people we proclaim it to. It won’t be popular, and it may cause some to get angry. But the Word will do that sometimes. It’s part of its work, as we saw last week. The Bible isn’t just a bunch of nice sayings we put on a bumper sticker and put in our courthouses to show we are Christian. The Bible is living and reveals the thoughts and intents of our heart, and shows us not how moral we are, but how much we need a Savior.
Exhort: Yet there are those times when the word encourages. When it tells us that we have done well, and the preacher/proclaimer of it should do the same. Use the word to encourage God’s people when necessary, especially when the need for grace and mercy is evident!

III. The Reason for the Charge (3-4)

The reality of the world we live in, and even within Christian circles, is that there will come a day when people will not endure the sound teaching of the Word. No, they will have itching ears. And this happens on all ends of the spectrum. We have those that want to hear nothing but love and no mention of sin and judgment. There are those that love to hear the hellfire and brimstone, judgment without grace. There are those that love to hear the moralism of the Bible so we make good Christian citizens, rather than sacrificial ones that put Christ first before all things, including our citizenship in this world.
And the reality is, that their itching ears will be toward accumulating those that they want to hear. That’s easy to do nowadays. We have pastors and preachers, now more than ever, we can select from and say “oh, I really like that guy. I’ll listen to him. He makes me feel good. He preaches on that pet sin I don’t like that other people do. He preaches on what I like to hear, not challenging me with the whole counsel of God.”
Here is the truth that Timothy and all of us need to mind: We must preach all of the Scriptures, the encouraging parts and the parts that cut us. We must do it with patience and teaching. We must preach all the truth, not just parts I like and ignoring parts I don’t.
The Work of the Word is all encompassing in its desire to change us. The question remains: Will we preach the whole counsel of God, even when it makes us unpopular?

IV. The Charge to Keep Enduring

Unlike the self-seeking people he just spoke about, may we be sober-minded, knowing the need for the whole of the Word. Endure suffering. Do the work of the evangelist. Fulfill your ministry. That’s good words hear when the going gets tough. When things are going well, remind yourself to keep your mind on the task at hand. When things are going terribly, keep you mind on the task at hand.
1 and 2 Timothy and Titus—To Guard the Deposit The Charge—Its Necessities (v. 5)

Late one afternoon Alistair Begg was meeting with a number of pastors, including myself. He wistfully quoted this very verse, then said, “I increasingly find that verse to be the anchor point for all of my days. I wake up on a Monday, and say, ‘well, what will I do now?’ Then I say, ‘Well, I think I’ll try to keep my head, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and discharge all the duties of my ministry.’ And when I am lifted up by a little encouragement, which sometimes comes, I say to myself, ‘Well, what shall I do?’ The answer is keep your head, endure hardship, and so on.”

He paused, then went on, “And when the waves beat on me and I feel just like running away to the hills somewhere, what should I do? ‘Well, Alistair, just keep your head, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and discharge all the duties of your ministry.’ ”

Then he concluded, “So, that’s a word in season for us to take away and think of.”

I love what Kent Hughes says about his verse as well:
You and I will change with those years. But God’s call will never change.
Preach the Word!
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