The Work of the Word: Paul’s Charge

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5 ESV)

Preach the Word, Preach the Word, Preach the Word

Paul gives a very specific charge to Timothy and I want you to notice four things about that charge (excerpt from my sermon on 2 Timothy 4:1-5: “To Be the Herald”):

  1. The charge is serious. (v.1)
    1. God is ever present, all knowing and all powerful. He is sending His son Christ to judge the world in the establishment of his kingdom (1 Peter 5:1-4)1 Peter 5:1-4.
    2. The charge is serious because it is a charge given by, and kept track of by God. This is not something I do on my own. Rather, I shepherd the flock of God with care because God cares for his people and is keeping track of how I keep track of you.
  2. The charge is simple (v.2)
    1. Preach the word. What word? The word he just talked about in 3:14-17. The word of God is the only thing worth talking about, and Paul tells Timothy how he is to talk about it:
      1. When it is convenient and when it is inconvenient.
      2. How it is intended to be talked about: look at the parallels between Paul’s list of things he wants Timothy to do with the word and how he has previously described the usage of the word in general. Then he adds, “With all patience and teaching.” The word for teaching means both action and content, so the walk has to match the talk.
    2. The gospel is only found in the Bible, and it is the Bible that equips those who believe the gospel to become mature in Christ. I am not allowed to preach only when it is convenient, nor am I allowed to use the Bible for my own purposes. I must use the Scripture the way it was intended to be used.
    3. I am 32 years old. I know that many of you have socks that are older than I am, and I respect that. And if I was teaching my own opinions here, you would be on good grounds to dismiss me and say that I am a young fool with nothing to teach you. But if it is the word that I am preaching, then my authority comes from the book, which is why the simple charge is given to Timothy to preach the book.
  3. The charge is changeless (v.3-4)
    1. The reason Paul tells Timothy to preach and teach with patience is because the time in which he will be preaching will be a time when people won’t want to listen.
      1. Won’t endure (accept, put up with) sound teaching,
      2. Accumulate teachers to suit their own passions because they have itching ears
      3. Turn away from listening to the truth
      4. Wander (dislocate) into myths.
    2. 2 Kings 18 (Elijah and the prophets of Baal). My job as a pastor is to say to the people of God: Don’t wander between two opinions! Behold your God! How am I to do that? By preaching the word. The culture may turn to Baal, but our God is the God who reigns down from heaven with fire.
  4. The charge is complete (v.4.)
    1. Not just a preaching ministry is mentioned here. Paul calls Timothy to a radically different kind of life:
      1. Sober-minded: clear-headed; singularly focused upon the Scriptures to a degree that the circumstances of the culture don’t sway one’s devotion.
      2. Endure suffering: 3:12.
      3. Do the work of an evangelist: This is a call to gospel-centeredness: I am to point people to Jesus.
        1. If they have never heard of Him before.
        2. If they have been a Christian for 20 years and still don’t treasure Christ above all things.
      4. Fulfill your ministry: Finish the job. Complete your service. This is an eternal task. Preach and teach until I die.
    2. This is a task that Paul implies has to be saturated with the Scriptures. My life as a pastor must be a life focused upon, driven by and governed by the Scriptures. I must have a singular focus upon the word, even in the midst of suffering, being thoroughly gospel-centered to the end, because it is only the Scriptures that change lives by the truth of the gospel, and even when the culture says it’s not popular, the pastor is to be this kind of a person.

 

 

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