Before he was put to death, the apostle Paul charged his young co-worker, Timothy, with these words, “I solemnly exhort 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; correct, rebuke, and exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim 4:1, 2, NASB).
We live in a time when many churches have abandoned the preaching of the Word. So it is of critical importance that we understand Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4 and make certain that our congregation, many of which are still small, never veer from them.
The main benchmark in searching for a pastor of a Christian congregation, especially in our Reformed and Presbyterian churches, would always be that he faithfully preaches God’s Word.
A few decades ago, the seeker church movement has minimized and softened biblical preaching so as to attract “seekers” to the services. If the potential “customers” want upbeat, pragmatic twenty-minute messages, the customer is king! Give them what they want so that they will keep coming! If they prefer drama and touching stories above doctrine, give them drama and stories.
In recent years, the emergent church has moved away from the seeker church, tailoring the message for a postmodern culture that does not accept the idea of absolute truth. The emphasis is more on having a self-satisfying spiritual experience in a completely non-judgmental atmosphere.
This is definitely not what the apostle wants to happen in the church of Jesus Christ. Paul’s final charge to Timothy just before his execution is to “preach the Word.” He senses that the time of his departure has come. He is therefore handing off the baton to his younger fellow minister.
Inspired by the Spirit of God, Paul realized that Satan would relentlessly attack God’s Word. Having just emphasized the trustworthy nature of that Word and its vital importance (2 Tim. 3:16-17), he now charges Timothy (and every pastor after him) to be faithful in preaching the Word, no matter what the opposition or hardship may be.
But preaching is a two-way street. So Paul’s words are not only a solemn charge to preachers. They are also a serious call to all believers to welcome biblical preaching. Preaching God’s Word is of the utmost importance in view of the coming of Christ.
As one preacher has pointed out, “If Paul had said, ‘I solemnly charge you, preach the Word,’ it would have been a strong exhortation. If he had said, ‘I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, preach the Word,’ it would have been a really strong exhortation.
“If he had said, ‘I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead,’ we’re off the charts on strong exhortations. But when he says, ‘I solemnly 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,’ it is hard to imagine how he could have said it any more emphatically!”
Many Christians and Christian churches may no longer be interested in textual and expository preaching. But if the Church of Christ were to remain faithful to her Lord and King she simply can’t ignore this solemn command of Christ’s leading apostle and replace preaching with another method, no matter how motivational or funny or practical the message may be, no matter how pleasing it might be to the ears of the hearers.
There’s just no substitute for preaching in the Church of our Lord Jesus! May He raise more godly and competent heralds of the Word in our time and the generations to come!
We hope you enjoyed this post from the “Pearls of the Orient” blog series by Rev. Vic Bernales. Rev. Bernales is an ordained minister in the Pearl of the Orient Covenant Reformed Church. He pastors the Davao Covenant Reformed Church in Davao City, Philippines. He earned his Master of Divinity at Mid-America Reformed Seminary at Dyer, Indiana, U.S.A.