By Johnie P. Edwards
Paul, speaking by inspiration, charged Timothy, an evangelist, to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). The Scriptures furnish us with all the information needed concerning a preacher’s work, his qualifications, and how to do the work of preaching the Word. Let’s notice some things the Scriptures say about preaching the Word.
Have Love, A Pure Heart, And Unfeigned Faith
The Scriptures say, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5). The work of preaching the word requires men who have love from a pure heart and who have a sincere faith. Preachers who don’t love the Lord, His Word, the brethren as they should, and who don’t have a sincere faith, violate the teaching of the Scriptures and do more harm than good.
War A Good Warfare
Those who preach are charged to “war a good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18). We must war the good warfare for Christ! Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:12). Paul was anxious that Timothy should be faithful to his position and his responsibilities. If you are going to preach, “war a good warfare” and “fight a good fight.” Don’t just go about it half way!
It would seem that some have never learned to behave themselves properly in the Lord’s church. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God . . .” (1 Tim. 3:15). This behavior has to do with one’s conduct in the church. Behavior is an every-hour sermon, and reveals what a man is. One of the first responsibilities that every gospel preacher has is to take heed to yourself! Paul said, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16). The Scriptures tell us all how to “behave” ourselves and it behooves us to do what it says!
Be Without Prejudice And Partiality
“I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21).God is no respecter of persons and neither should gospel preachers be. James said, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (Jas. 2:1) and “if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin” (Jas. 2:9). It is vitally important, as preachers of the word, that we do the Lord’s work without prejudice and partiality.
Keep Thyself Pure
We would all do well to heed Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 5:22, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22). The emphasis in this text should be put upon the word “thy-self.” One can only keep himself pure, and keep himself pure he must! One keeps himself pure by not sharing in the sins of others. While others may be guilty of immorality and all sorts of unrighteousness, preaching the word demands that we keep ourselves pure!
Flee The Love Of Money
The Scriptures tell those who preach the Word, as well as all Christians, to flee the love of money and learn to be content. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, 0 man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Tim. 6:6-11). One’s love for money will only entangle him with the affairs of this life (2 Tim. 2:3-4) and will cause him to lose sight of his real work of preaching the Word. Many a good preacher has fallen because he did not flee!
Be Not Ashamed Of The Gospel
Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). We must, instead of being ashamed of the “testimony of the Lord” (2 Tim. 1:8), show that its hopes and promises are our most precious treasure. Those who preach the Word must never be ashamed of that which they preach! It is God’s power to save!
Paul commanded, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). There certainly is no substitute for Bible study. Paul told Timothy, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). Diligence must be given, by those who preach the Word, to rightly divide the word of truth. Time must be given to study God’s Word. I’m afraid that far too many are spending their time studying the wrong source. The Scriptures tell us to study the Word!
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2 Tim. 2:24). While some seem to love “a good fight,” the Scriptures tell those who preach not to strive. We must never engage in bitter strife! Yet, we must “contend for the faith” at the same time (Jude 3). For this reason, we must avoid foolish and unlearned questions (2 Tim. 2:23). These are things that are not taught by God and only breed strife and division.
Preach The Word
The work of an evangelist, in three words is, “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Paul said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” When Paul told Timothy what to preach, he specified the Word. The Word and only the Word is to be preached! Nothing more and nothing less will do! Paul told Titus, an evangelist, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1). The sound doctrine that Titus was to preach, stood in contrast to the false teaching of the misleading teachers of their day. Sound doctrine is doctrine that is true; true to God’s Word. We need preachers who will preach the Scriptures, the Faith, the Truth! Preach it urgently and persistently. Preaching is not a seasonal or convenience activity! “Preach it when they like it and don’t like it!”
Exhort and Rebuke With All Authority
“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority ” (Tit. 2:15). The exhortations and reproofs of all preachers must be characterized by authority. Otherwise, the preaching may be lightly regarded. He must speak with the authority which comes from a knowledge of God’s Word. The Word must be preached without compromise and without keeping anything back. A reminder of the kind of preaching that God told Ezekiel to do may be in order here, “Thus Faith the Lord God; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say . . .” (Ezek. 6:11). Perhaps, only God knows just how desperately we need this kind of preaching today.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 8, p. 6-7
April 21, 1994