Why Preach the Bible? Part 5
5-8-16 2 Timothy4:1 Lesson 31
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to 2 Timothy, which is right after 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:1. As we continue on in our series through 2 Timothy and specifically a series within the series entitled Why Preach the Bible. And of course, a very happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers, we have several ladies in the church that have for whatever reason, sovereignty of God, haven’t been able to have their own children but it’s interesting that in the Bible you can have spiritual children, so Mother’s Day is just as much a celebration for you as anybody else.
In fact, speaking of spiritual children Paul had a spiritual child named Timothy. Timothy, of course, is the pastor of the church at Ephesus, and like most people when God calls them to a task it gets difficult. We have a tendency to think because God called us to do something it’s easy and there’s always the question mark in our minds, maybe I should just throw in the towel when difficulty comes, maybe I didn’t follow God’s leading correctly, am I sure God wants me to do this. And Paul writes this book, really to get Timothy… it’s not to get him saved, there’s no doubt that he’s saved, it’s to get him to continue on in his task. This is not a salvation book, it’s a task book.
And chapter 1 has been a general faithful call to endurance. Chapter 2 is really a description of what endurance looks like in the form of about ten word pictures. And then beginning in chapter 3 he begins to describe something which is sort or eerie when you begin to read what he says. He begins to describe something that’s coming into the life of the church in the last days; in fact, I believe Paul indicated in Acts 20 that this would occur right after the death of the apostles. And it would get worse as the church age progresses. And that’s something called the apostasy which essentially means a departure from truth. This is not talking about conditions in the world; it’s not a statement about the stock market or the White House or the economy. It’s a statement about the spiritual condition of the church; as the church age progresses it will have a tendency to move away from truth, which always makes it difficult upon the person who wants to stand for the truth. And that’s when throwing in the towel becomes very tempting. You start to think to yourself well, all these people disagree with me, I must be doing something wrong. And no doubt Timothy had a lot of those insecurities.
So Paul, to prepare Timothy, and us as God’s servants, for that time period describes the apostasy with its evil and its examples. And then one of the things I love about Paul is he doesn’t just give you the problem that’s coming, he gives you the solution. He doesn’t say here’s how to stop the apostasy, because I don’t think it can be stopped; what he says is here’s how you as a man of God, as a woman of God, are to react to it once it comes.
Number 1, you need to follow my example and my character, Paul says to Timothy. And then, number 2, you need to stick with the Scripture. In fact, you need to up the ante in terms of absorbing and publicly teaching, and as we’ll see today public proclaiming the Scripture. So what you have in chapter 3, verse 14, all the way through chapter 4, verse 8, is one of the most fantastic treatments you have anywhere in the Bible concerning the priority that the Scripture should have in our lives but specifically here in our churches.
And what the apostle does for this young man, Timothy, is he lays out about nine reasons why the Scripture is so important. These Scriptures impacted Paul, verse 14 of chapter 3. These Scriptures lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ, chapter 3, verse 15. These Scriptures are of divine origin; this is God’s book Paul says. God inspired the Scripture. And we’ve talked about what that means. The Scripture just doesn’t lead you to Christ, it helps you grow in Christ, verse 16, the second half of the book, a process we call progressive sanctification. Last week we saw verse 17, that the Scriptures actually have the capacity to equip you for how many good works? Every good work, at the statement there about the sufficiency of the Scripture.
And now Paul continues on with this list as we find ourselves finally in chapter 4, heading down the home stretch here, where Paul gives a couple of more reasons why Timothy is to preach the Scripture. First of all, we’ll look at Paul’s charge to Timothy. And then secondly today we will look at Timothy’s evaluation that’s coming because you see, there’s a performance appraisal on the horizon for Timothy, and quite frankly, for all of us. And Paul brings that to Timothy’s remembrance.
But notice first of all this charge he gives to Timothy. Notice if you will chapter 4 and verse 1, Paul says, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, … and by His appearing and His kingdom:” verse 2, to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”
First of all, notice if you will the charge. He reveals the charge at the beginning of verse 1 and he continues with the thought into verse 2 as we will see. But notice this charge. Paul says, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ….” Notice this expression, “charge,” “I charge” you something, I task you with something. This word “charge” is very interesting in the Greek, it’s marturomai, where we get the word martyr incidentally, and it speaks of a charge or of a command at the highest level of intensity. In fact, that’s why the New American Standard Bible translates this as “I solemnly charge,” charge in and of itself wouldn’t be strong enough a word so the English translation adds the word “solemnly” but these are both English words derived from the single word marturomai.
And it’s interesting, when you track this word through the New Testament it occurs in Luke 16:28. You remember the man who died without faith and went into Hades, and in Hades, he pleaded that Abram, Abraham, would ask God and God and Abraham would send forth people who could warn his brothers. Have Lazarus come back from the dead and warn my brothers who are on the same path of unbelief that I am on and then they won’t come to this terrible place of torment.
Luke 16:28 says, “for I have five brothers– in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Now in Luke 16:28 the English word translated “warn” is the same word, or verb, marturomai. It’s a warning of intensity. I want you to go warn my brothers, I want you to charge my brothers, I want you to explain something to my brothers that if they die in unbelief they’re going to come into this place of torment that I find myself in.
Paul uses that identical very, marturomai, to charge Timothy with the task of preaching the Word of God. Of all of the tasks you should be giving yourself to, Timothy, the most intense task I can assign to you, with the most aggressive Greek verb that I know how to express, this task is to preach and teach the Word of God.
Now when we come back to verse 2 in just a moment we’re going to be getting an in depth explanation of what that charge entails. But before Paul gets into that he completes verse 1 and he begins to talk about Timothy’s evaluation that is on the horizon, his performance appraisal that is coming. And notice what Paul says towards the end there of verse 1, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, by His appearing and His kingdom.”
Notice this expression here, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus.” He is making a reference there to two members of the Trinity; generically he’s making a reference to the Triune God, the Godhead. We believe, of course, in one God but He has expressed Himself in three separate personages: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting he describes here two of those members of the Trinity, “in the presence of God,” that would be a reference to the Father, “and of Christ,” that would be a reference to God the Son.
What he is saying to Timothy is God is watching what you’re doing. God, who is omnipresent, everywhere at once, is present with you; you may feel like you’re by yourself but God is with you, God is present with you and He’s carefully observing what you are doing. He is carefully observing how you are carrying out this particular command to preach the Word.
And he makes a reference here to the coming judgment because he describes the Triune God as one who is going “to judge the living and the dead.” It’s interesting that every person alive today, the six to seven billion people on planet earth, are going to be judged. This life ends in judgment. It does not end in unconsciousness, it does not end in nirvana, it does not end in us being reincarnated into some other life form. The biblical worldview says this life ends in judgment; every person that’s alive today will be judged.
Now you say well, I’m a Christian, I’m not going to be judged am I? Yes you will be; you will be judged just as Timothy is going to be judged. For the believer it’s not a judgment to determine heaven or hell, it’s an evaluation to determine rewards or authority once one arrives in heaven and the kingdom. It’s something that we call, that the Greek text calls, the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. So Timothy I want you to think about, not necessarily your numerical count at church. I don’t want you necessarily to think about how money is coming into the offering. I don’t want you to think about how popular your message is, or how gifted people think you are in terms of your oratorical style. I don’t want you to think about any of that stuff.
What I want you to think about is your future performance appraisal, because as living beings God will judge you and He will also judge the dead. Isn’t it interesting that the dead are awaiting the judgment of God. Even that man that died in unbelief in Luke 16, that went to that terrible place of Hades, he was there in that place of torment awaiting a future judgment. And a Christian who dies, absent from the body is to be what? Present with the Lord. The Christian who dies is in a place of bliss but they are still awaiting a future judgment for the believer; a judgment of rewards.
Isn’t it interesting how we work differently when we know a performance appraisal is on the horizon? I remember in classes I had in college when the professor only gave a final but he never gave a midterm; I had a tendency to slack off during the first half of the semester, but I didn’t have that tendency in classes where there was not just the final but also a midterm because knowledge of an imminent evaluation, where I would be accountable for displaying my knowledge (or lack thereof) motivated me in the present. And you see, this is what the Christian worldview does for the believer. If you understand that as a Christian “we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” we prioritize our lives; we do things differently. [2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”]
If you don’t think about the future judgment, you don’t think about your future performance appraisal our lives can get very, very sloppy and lackadaisical. Thus, Timothy, I want you to understand that Jesus is coming “to judge the living and the dead.” And let me tell you something; this is a thought that I think about probably almost every day, this thought enters my mind: the teachers in the body of Christ, those that are in formal teaching positions are judged to a higher standard, not only in terms of what they communicate and say but what they don’t communicate and say. And it’s beyond just words, is there a lifestyle that consistently backs up the words?
The book of James, chapter 3 and verse 1 says, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren,” now when says “my brethren” it’s very clear he’s talking to believers. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” Notice that there’s a judgment for the brother in Christ who is a teacher, or the sister in Christ who is a teacher. And if I’m reading my Bible correctly that judgment is actually more strict or severe; there’s a higher standard than for others in the body of Christ.
The prophet, Ezekiel, is probably one of my favorite Old Testament prophets; he prophesied during the days of the Babylonian exile. He writes a 48 chapter book recording the visions that the Lord gave him and the prophet Ezekiel was commissioned by God, not once but twice; once in chapter 3, once again in chapter 33. You say why is he commissioned twice? Because the book of Ezekiel has two parts to it. The first part of the book is judgment that’s coming upon Judah. The second part of the book is about restoration. So Ezekiel, part of your ministry is going to be preaching about coming judgment and then part of your ministry is going to be preaching about coming restoration. And Ezekiel, for both sections of his ministry, was commissioned by God in each instance.
Notice Ezekiel 3:17-19, commissioning number 1, “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.”
Ezekiel, I have put you in a position as the watchman on the wall and I want you to reveal to the people everything I tell you. And if you reveal everything I tell you to reveal and they won’t listen to you then it’s their own fault. If they die in their wicked way they’ve got no one to blame but themselves. But conversely if I tell you to say something and you withhold it and the people die as a result of a lack of knowledge, God says to Ezekiel, Ezekiel, I’m coming after you; their blood I’m requiring at your expense. Wow! The office of the teacher. It’s so interesting that God says the identical thing in the chapter where Ezekiel is commissioned to preach restoration, Ezekiel 33:7-9, you’ll see exactly the same language.
Ezekiel 22:7, “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.  But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.”
You say well, that’s all Old Testament stuff, I’m glad we don’t have to worry about that. Notice Acts 20:26-27, the last time I checked the book of Acts was in which Testament? The New Testament. Notice what Paul says as he is speaking to the Ephesian elders. “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”
The origin of Paul’s thoughts is not found in any other source other than the prophet Ezekiel. Paul says as I stand before you spiritual leaders today, having completed my ministry, I am innocent of the blood of all men because I revealed to you everything that God said. And consequently I have delivered myself and so if you move off into sin and disobedience you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. Now on the other hand, if I hadn’t told you everything and you died in your sin or wandered off in your sin, then God would hold me accountable.
See, the way I look at Ezekiel 3 and Ezekiel 33 and Acts 10 and James 3 and now to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4, is a commissioning from God as a teacher at the highest level. There is a sin of commission saying something wrong, and equally true there is a sin of omission, avoiding something because you think it might inhibit church growth, it might hurt somebody’s feelings, it might upset the applecart. And to the extent that we are evaluated, not based on what we say but what we don’t say, as I began to understand this I became committed to the verse by verse method of teaching. Because you see, verse by verse forces me to interact and declare everything in the Bible. And so I’ve got my defense all planned actually, Lord I was at Sugar Land Bible Church and I went verse by verse through and I can name the books. Now He might say well, you only covered 10% of it so maybe we’ll have to move faster at some point, but you see, this is a very serious thing that God is saying here.
There’s a reason why back in 3 Timothy 3;16 he says “All Scripture is inspired by God….” Why would he say “All Scripture is inspired by God” and then tell Timothy to preach part of the Scripture? That would make no sense. And it is just so disturbing to me to see ministry after ministry after ministry soft-pedaling the Word of God, watering down the Word of God, avoiding certain subjects or topics in the Word of God. And I’m wondering, do all of these so-called spiritual leaders and teachers, do they not understand, do they not see this commission that God has given us? And so at the end of the day I’m far more afraid of God than I am people.
Now people can be intimidating; people want their ways, they want their ears tickled. People in a nanosecond, if you part your hair on the wrong side of your head will pick up and move to another church that does it like I want it done. That’s the fickle, market demanding mentality of the American consumer today. That’s how people to church, they look at it like a shopping mall where they have this and that, this and that in terms of activities or ministries, and if they’re not there then I’m out the door.
The fact of the matter is, I am not accountable to you; I’m accountable to an elder board but ultimately the moment I put myself in the position of teacher, the moment I responded to what I felt was the call of God on my life, teach the Bible, is the moment I’m totally accountable to God and I will have to give an account one day. Just keep that in mind when you get a little bit anxiety-ridden about the slow pace I’m moving through a book. Just sort of keep that in mind when the sermon goes a little longer than it should. I would love to make everybody content and happy but the fact of the matter is, at the end of the day it is God who is to judge the living and the dead.
Now when will this judgment take place? He tells us here as we move into the end of verse 1, He is, “to judge the living and the dead,” well, when is this going to happen, “by His appearing and His kingdom.” You’ll notice that Paul says the judgment is yet future. It’s connected with Christ appearing. The Greek word translated “appearing” is where we get the English word “epiphany,” the revelation of the appearance of God. So this is a reference to the Second Advent of Christ. It’s not speaking of the rapture here, but the return of Jesus Christ at the end of the seven year tribulation period, to establish his long-awaited kingdom on planet earth.
And notice this word “kingdom, “by His appearing and His kingdom”, the Greek word for kingdom here is basileia. I have just completed a 363 page book on the kingdom. It’s part of my sabbatical project that I contracted with, the College of Biblical Studies, yeah, you can have a couple of semesters off but we need to see you produce something; this is what I’ve been enmeshed in, immersed in. I’ve been studying the kingdom for the last several months relentlessly and what you’ll discover here is that the word “kingdom” is not defined. He doesn’t explain what kingdom or what kind of kingdom it is. And people come into a verse like this and they apply their own thinking on what the kingdom is. Well, the kingdom is Jesus reigning in the church; Jesus reigning in our hearts, the gospel going out to the earth. The fact of the matter is every time you see a reference to kingdom in the New Testament, basileia, it’s always undefined.
So since the word is undefined how am I supposed to understand what he’s talking about when he talks about a kingdom? The answer is the Old Testament. He is expecting Timothy, a Jew, to have a working knowledge of the kingdom from Old Testament Scriptures. We don’t come to this word “kingdom” and assign any meaning we want to it because it’s undefined. We have to develop our definition of the kingdom from the Old Testament.
You know, if you were to go home today and you were to read about six or seven verses, Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:6-9, you would learn so much about the kingdom just from those verses. What is the kingdom? The kingdom is the time in history when Jerusalem will be the center of world, spiritual and political authority. That’s what those verses say.
[Isaiah 2:1-4, “The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
 Now it will come about that in the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
 And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
 And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.
Isaiah 11:6-9, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
 Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
There’s coming a time in history where things are not going to be run from Washington D.C. any more (and AMEN to that); they’re not going to be run from Brussels or any other Gentile city. The whole thing is going to be headquartered in Jerusalem. It’s a time in history where there’ll be perfect justice. You know, we cry out today because of injustice. And God is saying of course there’s injustice today, you’re not in the kingdom yet. But there’s coming a time in history where everything will be made completely right and perfect justice will break out upon the earth.
There’s coming a time in history of world peace, where the nations won’t know what to do with weapons anymore and they’ll beat their swords into plowshares because Jesus will be ruling and reigning over the earth from David’s throne in the city of Jerusalem. It’s even a time in history where a little child will be able to put their hand in the cobra’s nest and not be injured; where wolf and lamb will lie down together. It’s a time in history where there will be universal spiritual knowledge, where you won’t go up to people and say do you know about Jesus; let me evangelize, because everybody will say oh, yeah, Jesus, I know about that, the Bible, I know about that, Scripture, I know about that, because knowledge of God will break out all over the world. There will be a time in history of perfect prosperity.
You know, we have these layoffs today, inflation, economic insecurity, our 401K’s are not 201K’s, what’s in the social security trust fund? Nothing! The governments of the earth running the printing presses as if there’s no tomorrow. And yet in the kingdom there is no such thing as economic lack or economic want. I say Lord, I’m ready.
But are we ready? Because you see, in the kingdom there will be the evaluations given; we are evaluated, first of all whether we trusted Christ as Savior and secondly as Christians we’re evaluated based on whether and how we prioritized our lives in God. We, at this church, do not teach that we are now in the kingdom. If we are in the kingdom I must be living in the ghetto section of town because kingdom conditions don’t exist today.
In fact, the United Nations, which the nation of Israel calls the UN the United Nothing, is one of the most godless, arrogant organizations on planet earth today because on their building in New York City they have inscribed there, Isaiah 2:1-4, which was one of the verses I alluded to earlier describing the kingdom. What they have done is they have ascribed to themselves a Messianic priority that only God can fulfill. They believe that they are actually bringing in, through political and global government, the kingdom of God.
The fact of the matter is, if that’s the standard they are miserable failures because there have been more wars after the founding of the United Nations than there were beforehand. I understand, we’re in the political season, everybody is nervous about this and that, but I hope this much for you–that your hope for this earth is not in a bunch of fallen men and women to supposedly fix things up. To me the more these people try to fix things the worse it gets. I am not looking to a political candidate or a political party or a political platform or a set of rulers… now I believe in voting and all of that. That’s just stewardship and being salt and light.
The fact of the matter is, my hope is not in any of those things. I’m looking for the kingdom of God, because you see, if you believe that man is somehow going to bring in these ideal conditions then there will be a ruler that will show up one day and tell you exactly what you want to hear. He’s called the antichrist. The hope of the world will be placed in this antichrist, just like people in this country placed their hope in a certain political candidate a few years ago. Just like people today are placing their hope in today yet another political candidate. The fact of the matter is these candidates, most of them don’t even know where their car keys are half the time. Are they going to solve this world’s problems, particularly with the advent of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, the capacity that we have to blow ourselves off the planet several times? Are you looking to man to somehow fix these things? These things can’t be fixed other than through Christ.
So Timothy, I want you to think about, as the apostasy rolls on, this coming kingdom of God. Suddenly the prayers of Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:10, how He taught us to pray start making sense. How are we to pray? “Thy kingdom” what? “come.” Acts 14:22 says, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’” You mean we’re not in the kingdom now? No, we’re not!
Well, what’s happening now? Many tribulations. Amen! The norm today is not the kingdom, it is many tribulations. If you want a fancy-dancy name for this we call this premillennialism; pre means before, millennium means a thousand years. Millennium comes from two Latin words, mille, a thousand, annum years, we believe in premillennialism. What does that mean? Jesus comes back first, and then the kingdom comes. What a deception of statements to delude us into thinking that we, as the church, are going to set up the kingdom for Christ so that Jesus can come back in apple-pie order. That’s called amillennialism, some call it postmillennialism, but it is a deception of the devil. Do you know why it’s a deception? Because it moves us away from what we ought to be doing, which is reach and teach, evangelize and disciple. That’s the primary calling of the church. You move off into kingdom now theology and suddenly the church’s priority shifts into changing the social structures of society, into bringing what everybody is calling social justice, whatever that means; that’s the buzzword today.
Social justice in its truest sense will never be fulfilled on planet earth. We can make little differences, perhaps, here and there, but generally speaking it is a losing battle, it is a losing proposition because water flows downhill. We are in an era and a season of many tribulations. Why waste the few hours, weeks, days, months, years we have left trying to do something that only Jesus Himself can do. You see, theology matters, doesn’t it? What you believe about the kingdom will influence what you think the church should be doing.
Take a look at this issue as you get ready to support different ministries. One of the questions we have on our questionnaire at Sugar Land Bible Church for missionaries is we want to know what you believe about the kingdom. Why would you ask them an arcane question like that? What is this, Bible trivia? It is an illuminating question; it is an informed question, it is an enlightened question because tell me what you believe about the kingdom and I will tell you almost every other area of your theology.
And then following this evaluation at the Bema Seat Judgment he gets back to the subject of the charge; he fills out what the charge is and you’ll see it there in verse 2. What’s the charge? “Preach the word; “ the kingdom’s future so what do you do in the meantime. “Preach the word; be ready in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.” What you’ll discover in verse 2 are five imperatives. An imperative is a verb mood where the verb is a command. All of these things I have on the screen, five of them, are five commands. [Preach, Be ready, Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort] These are not options, suggestions, try this and see if it works sort of thing. These are commands from the Apostle Paul, first of all they are commands from God to the Apostle Paul, to Timothy and by extension to every spiritual leader that reads this book. These are direct commands from heaven itself. It is what we are to occupy ourselves with in the life of the church while the kingdom is in a state of abeyance or postponement.
What do we do in the interim; the first verb, first imperative is preach. The English word “preach” is a translation of the Greek word kērussō, which means to proclaim, to herald, to announce. One of the things that I get very frustrated with is Christian education, so-called Christian education because I hear this quite a bit from so-called Christian educators and church consultants. What they’ll say is God only has requirements regarding content, how the content is communicated is flexible. The rules of God just relate to the content but how you disseminate the content, that’s up to you.
Does the philosophy make any sense in light of this verb, kērussō? God is not making a statement simply about content; He is making a statement about method. God has something to say, not only on content but He has something to say on the issue of method, how it’s done; kērussō he says, proclaim, herald. Preaching is God’s method. I didn’t invent it, this is God’s method. And what you’ll discover in the Scripture is people are preaching all the way through the New Testament. John the Baptist, Matthew 3:1, “Now in the days John the Baptist came preaching,” kērussō. Do you know Jesus was a preacher? Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach,” kērussō. The disciples were preachers, Matthew 10:7, “As you go, preach,” kērussō, same verb. Do you know there’s going to be a lot of preachers after the rapture. Matthew 24;14 says, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world…” kērussō. The early church went around preaching. Mark 16:20 says, “And they went out and preached everywhere,” kērussō. The deacons were preachers. Maybe we should ask that on our candidates list—are you ready to preach?
Acts 8:5 says this, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria” Philip being a deacon, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them,” kērussō. Paul was a preacher, Acts 9:20, “and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,” kērussō. Jesus, in between His crucifixion and resurrection descended to where some of the demons are imprisoned and He gave them a sermon. 1 Peter 3:19 says “…He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,” kērussō. And angels are preachers, Revelation 5:2, “I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,” kērussō.
Okay, so God has something to say about method, what do we preach? Paul says I’m glad you asked, here comes the content. Ready? “Preach the” what? “the Word.” The Greek word “Word” is in the accusative, it’s receiving the action, it’s ton logon, or the word logos, it’s typically used in the Bible of the Scripture. Galatians 6:6 says, “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” The word “word” is logos there. In other words, if you’re being fed through a ministry you ought to get behind that ministry financially. This is not a plea for money either, it’s basic Bible teaching and instruction.
In fact, the school that I graduated from, what’s the motto of the school? Kērussō ton logon, taken right out of 1 Timothy 4:2, which is to “Preach the Word.” Don’t forget the word “all” back in verse 16 of chapter 3, “Preach the Word,” if all Scripture is God-breathed “Preach the Word,” all of the Word. Don’t get involved in dialogue, don’t get involved in telling the students how to bring in social justice, don’t get involved with getting your name into print by publishing a bunch of academic articles, not that those things in and of themselves are wrong when they’re properly focused but that’s not the focus. The focus is this institution is going to be training people to preach the whole counsel of the Word of God. Everything else is something that takes place on the side. That’s not the spotlight; the spotlight is the open proclamation of the Word of God.
Well, how do we do that? Lewis Sperry Chafer said I’m glad you asked that question, let’s set up an institution to train people how to do it. That’s Dallas Seminary, that’s how it started. J. Vernon McGee, I love his synopses and things; he writes, “We are not to preach about the Word or from the Word of God, but we are to preach the Word of God itself.” We, at Sugar Land Bible Church, are not a church that tells you about the Bible. God forbid if we limit our vision to telling people about the Bible. We are to give them the Bible itself. There are many, many preachers today that stand up and refer to the Bible, like as a footnote, alludes to the Bible, maybe summarize or paraphrases something in the Bible. That is not the command of God, it is to “preach the Bible.”
The first verb, “preach,” the Word of God. Second verb, “be ready,” notice what he says, “preach the word; be ready” watch this now, “in season and out of season;” you know, I can’t just go to the store, I found this out living at my parent’s house when I was younger, I just can’t go out to the store in California and buy strawberries any time I darn well want strawberries. I went to the store one time and I said mom, there weren’t any strawberries there. She said of course knucklehead, they’re out of season right now. In season, out of season, you buy strawberries when they’re in season; you can’t buy strawberries when they’re out of season.
What is he talking about here? There are seasons where the Word of God will be respected. There will be times when it will be in season and everybody will be jumping on the bandwagon and saying yeah, let’s do this; but there will be other times, particularly as the apostasy increases where it will be out of season.
Beloved, I can’t think of a better description of our times than “out of season.” It just is not cutting edge any more, to preach the Bible. It just isn’t relevant. It just isn’t contemporary. It just isn’t authentic. Paul said those times will come and you are to preach it when it’s fashionable, when it’s out of fashion. Isn’t it interesting that these fashions, you go back and you look at something on TV or Youtube in the 1970’s, all these weird fashions that people were into. I mean, those shirts with those massive collars and colors and we say what were they thinking? And yet in that time period that was “cool,” that was “hip.” And people today look at Bible teaching as some kind of archaic practice and yet there was a time in America where if you opened a church and you were known as a Bible-teaching or preaching church, you didn’t even have to be the best orator, you could pack the place out week after week after week. That describes America in the 70’s, perhaps some in the 80’s. That’s not America today. We, by insisting on this paradigm are fighting up hill.
Now don’t let that discourage you, Paul said it would come, “in season and out of season,” it doesn’t matter what the fickle masses think is important. What matters is you are faithful to God because God is your judge at the end of the day, not some survey demonstrating whether a given practice or method is popular or not.
He gives another imperative here and these last three sound a lot like verse 16, which is the work of the word: teaching, reproof, correction, training. He recaps some of those here in these last three. The third imperative is to reprove. [4:2] “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;” notice the next verb, “reprove,” “reprove” who? Those in error. How do you do that? You teach the Bible and the Bible, if you unleash it will start correcting people because that’s the nature of the Bible. Reprove means to feel bad or guilty, it’s an appeal to emotions. If you can sit under the preaching and teaching of the Word of God week after week after week and never sense a twinge of guilt then number 1, you must have arrived at glorification, or number 2, the preacher and teacher is not being faithful in their message, because the Word of God is designed to bring reproof, correction and guilt into our lives.
In fact, Peter preached the opening sermon on the day of Pentecost and Acts 2:37 says this: “Now when they heard this,” now that’s a very biblical sermon he does there in Acts 2, “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart,” that’s reproof, that’s what the Word of God does. And before it comes out of my mouth, believe me, it does a number on my heart as I’m studying, like oh my Lord, have you got the right guy Lord, look at the failures in my life.
I got convicted the other night reading the book of Jonah with my daughter, Sarah. Jonah chapter 3, where a whole city repented and Jonah got mad. In chapter 4 Jonah, you’re happy about this plant that you’re living under that gives you shade, you’re upset when the plant disappears but you could care less about a whole city of people who don’t know morally their right hand from their left. I’m a political conservative, I was very disappointed in Tuesday night, I fought feelings of anger all week long and how the book of Jonah itself, as I’m reading it with my daughter corrected me. Look at how Jonah is mad at a whole city that God loves; the Holy Spirit says to me that’s your attitude towards people: Reprovement, correction, confrontation, that’s what the Scripture does at this job.
And then he moves on, he gives a fourth imperative, he says, “rebuke,” “rebuke” who? Those that are in sin. If “reprove” is an appeal to the emotions, “rebuke” is an appeal to the mind. Your thinking is not right. And then fortunately I like how he lists this one last, “exhort.” I’m much more comfortable with “exhort” than “reprove” and “rebuke.”
He says, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort,” the Greek word translated “exhort” is parakaléō, which means to encourage; encourage through the teaching of the Word of God those that are living in harmony with God’s truth. The Word of God doesn’t just annihilate and tear down, it comforts, it consoles, it builds up. Reprove—an appeal to the emotions; rebuke—an appeal to the mind; parakaléō encouragement—an appeal to the will. Be encouraged in God. Be encouraged in what He’s done in your life. Be encouraged what He’s doing in this church. Be encouraged in what He wants to do.
I like this summary of preaching. What is the goal of preaching? I’m not sure who said this first but I got it from somewhere, it’s floating around: it is to comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable. I love it. What does the Word of God do? What does the open, naked, unadulterated proclamation of the Word of God that is faithful week after week, what does it do? It comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Comforting the afflicted is an exhort; afflicting the comfortable is in reprove and rebuke. You can’t really, in some cases, have good news until you get some bad news. How can a medical expert put you on the path to medical recovery, which is good news, unless he first or she first points out something wrong. We expect this in the world of medicine, good news and bad news. We don’t expect it in the world of spirituality. And yet the same principles hold true as we are examining Paul’s command.
Now how do you exhort? Look at this, “preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort,” how “with great patience and instruction.” Focusing just for a minute on “instruction,” that’s the Greek noun didaché and you might recognize a similar sounding word back in 2 Timothy 3:16 where it talks there about how the Scripture is “profitable for teaching.” The Word of God wants to instruct, the Word of God wants to teach, the Word of God wants to lay a right foundation for us. The Word of God wants to correct us when we step out of line. The Word of God wants to encourage us as we submit to the will of God all through instruction. And so many people today are looking for a mystical experience, a condition of the heart.
In the emergent church today they are looking actually for something that bypasses the intellect altogether. As long as it is mystical and spiritual. I talk to many people and I say why do go to church such and such? Because of the way I feel, I like how it makes me feel. Emotion! Feeling! I’m not against emotion and feeling at all, that’s part of being a human being. But let me tell you something, the heart cannot rejoice in what the mind does not comprehend. God is not interested in bypassing the intellect. If anybody tells you that they are preaching something that is foreign to the Scripture.
And how people are bringing Eastern mystical thoughts into Christianity today where they say things like this: empty your mind of everything, and the first thing that comes into your mind, even if it’s a piece of Scripture, that’s God talking to you. Beloved, that’s not God talking to you, that’s the devil talking to you, that’s Satan talking to you, that’s the sin nature talking to you. It’s not God talking to you because God never says empty your mind….ever! That is Eastern mystical thought. It is a concept that you do not find in the pages of God’s Word.
What the Word of God says is meditate on Your Word day and night. [Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”] I’m not emptying my mind of anything. I’m trying to fill it with truth so that way when Satanic or demonic thoughts enter my mind, or fleshly thoughts, I know exactly what they are, I can identify them as such because I have a barometer, I have a standard to compare them to.
And then it’s easy to let this one slip by, but with this we’re finished; “with great patience,” not just patience, but “great patience.” In fact, the Bible translates that word…, patience I think is a poor translation, it really reads this way in the Greek, “all patience,” not just patience but all kinds of patience, every kind of patience. And how easy it is for us to pursue ministries that are in God and yet be impatient with the slow progress of people. That’s why 2 Timothy 2:24-25 says, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,” are you quarrelsome? Are you a fighting-fundy? I can be like that. It’s not of God. “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to” who? “all,” I just want to be kind to the people I like. That’s not what it says, “be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,” whoops, “patient when wronged,” one more time, “patient when wronged,”  “with gentleness correction those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.”
Guthrie, in his commentary on The Pastoral Epistles on this verse says: “Christian reproof without the grace of long-suffering has often lead to a harsh censorious attitude intensely harmful to the cause of Christ. But the other requirement is equally essential, for correction must be intelligently understood and hence based on ‘teaching.’ To rebuke without instruction is to leave the root cause of error untouched.” [Guthrie, pp 166-67]
Focus on instruction, focus on content, focus on method, Guthrie says though but focus on attitude as we do it. It’s very easy to win an argument but lose a heart. I hope God never shows me how many people I alienated from the cause of Christ in the course of my life, not based on what I told them but how I said it. May God help us understand this; the calling is not just fruit. Ephesians 4:15 says preach “the truth in love,” if you don’t have love, Paul tells us in his other epistle, 1 Corinthians 13, you’re just a clanging gong, an out of sync, out of rhythm instrument that’s nothing more than an annoyance. [1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy going or a clanging cymbal.”]
And how many of us are saying the right thing but the world looks at us as just another clanging, irritating going because we’re not monitoring attitude, we’re only monitoring content. “Preach the Word,” very simple. Towner says, “Christian ministry centers on the Word of God.” [Towner, 1-2 Timothy . . . p204.]
God’s own expressions of His will for people whom He desires to bless is God’s Word. If God had not spoken we would not have known about Him, since it is through His Word that He continues to preach and speak to His people. Ministry first and foremost must be the communication of His Word.
Shall we pray. Father, thank You for this 2,000 year old exhortation. Help us to walk these things out better; we want to do better and only You can help us do it. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said….