Purchase the CD of this sermon.
God is not silent, neither should the church be. Its preachers and its pastors need to thunder forth the message of creation, fall, redemption, consummation, God's speech, makes our speech necessary. It's breathed out, inspired. It's a sovereign, saving, sufficient word to the world. If God has breathed out his word for the world, it's got to be communicated to the world. Preach the Word. Both precisely and plainly. Do it when it's convenient. Do it when it's comfortable. Also, do it when it's inconvenient. Do it when it's uncomfortable. Timothy persistently preached across his lifetime, which is the whole counsel of God and the Gospel of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. In this passage we have Timothy exhorting his young protege, Paul, to have a God-centered vision, a Christ-centered motive and a judgment centered perspective. In this passage we see the charge, the contrast and the continuity. If you're going to be an expository of God's Word, you're going to labor in the Word and doctrine. “I charge you therefore before God”, that is his primary audience. The preacher ought to be marked by a fear of God. God loves the man or the woman who trembles at His word. Where is that trembling in the pulpit? Where is that seriousness? Where is that weightiness? Because one of the things that the devil loves to do is to smuggle into the soul of the Pastor or into the life of the ministry, a sense of familiarity. A sense of formalady where we become accustomed to holy things, to the handling of God's Word and we have lost the wonder of it and we've lost the weightiness of it. The charge is simple. Preach the word. Be ready in season and night of season, convince, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and teaching for the time will come when they will not endure the Word.
More From This Series
Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to second Timothy 4. Just to give you the heads up, I’m going to preach two messages on this passage, this month and next month. I think this is a important, pivotal, defining passage on the supremacy of God’s word and the priority of preaching. And as I believe everything rises and falls in church life with regards to the strength or weakness of the pulpit. And so we’re going to look at this wonderful passage together. If you’re with us for the first time, we are in a series of consecutive studies in the letter to Timothy. Paul’s last letter, his second letter to Timothy. But his last letter, he will be martyred after the writing of this. And what we have here is a bold challenge to a young minister and a man of God to live without apology. One of the key words in second Timothy is unashamed ,and we have challenged ourselves with that regard.
In fact, the whole series has been called “Without Apology”. And I hope that you and I will live lives without apology. Lives committed to the gospel, lives unendingly loyal to the Glory and the person of Jesus Christ. So follow along. Second Timothy 4:1-5 will make a start this morning on a message I’ve called. Stay on message. Stay on message. I charge you, (Timothy), therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. Preach the word, be ratty in season and night of season, convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering on teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure signed doctrine. But according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers. And they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned to side to feebles.
But you, (Timothy), be watchful in all things. Endure afflictions. Do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry. So reads God’s word. While running for governor of the state of Texas, George W. Bush in 1994 proved to be a relentlessly disciplined candidate. He ran on four issues and four issues only. Like a carpenter with a hammer in his hand, he hit those nails repeatedly. He pounded his fourfold message with every opportunity he could get. In fact, years later, those on both sides of the political spectrum can remember those four platforms. They were education reform, welfare reform, juvenile justice reform, and tort reform. In fact, so persistent was his messaging that he drove the press corps crazy. In fact, on one occasion an exasperated reporter asked Bush what was his fifth goal if he became governor, to which he replied, “To pass the first four.”
Now that’s a man on message. As he sought to persuade the electorate in Texas to elect him governor, no one could dissuade him from his message. He pounded it relentlessly. He had four things he wanted to do and the fifth thing was to get the first four things done. I love it. And you know what? It paid off. Because in 1994, he beat the incumbent on Richards and became the governor of Texas. And little did we know as an issue that was the first step on the path to the White House. Now as we turn to second Timothy 4:1-5 the apostle Paul speaks to his young protege in the [inaudible 00:04:33] Timothy and he urges him to stay on message. What does he say? Preach the Word. Do it when it’s convenient. Do it when it’s comfortable. Also do it when it’s inconvenient. Do it when it’s uncomfortable.
Paul urges Timothy to consistently preach what Paul has persistently preached across his lifetime, which is the whole council of God and the Gospel of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Paul’s death is imminent. Let’s remind ourselves. This is Paul’s last letter he writing to his young son in the fifth Timothy. Paul’s in Rome, Timothy’s in Ethesis. This is Paul’s last will and testament. We’re around about AD67. Paul will be shortly martyred. After 30 years of faithful and fruitful laboring for Jesus Christ. He’s about to hand the baton off. What we have here is a kind of changing of the guard. And Paul desperately wants to know before his death that Timothy will stay on message. That he will remain without apology, a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul’s death is eminent and he needs to be comforted by a knowledge of the commitment of this young man to proclaim the gospel faithfully.
This is Paul’s dying wish. Now let me say two things by way of further introduction. Number one, this section Second Timothy 4:1-5 constitutes the emotional climax of the book. Remember, Paul is only a few steps away from the gallows, so to speak. And so you can imagine the emotive nature of his writing here. His martyrdom is impending, the gospel’s continuity is at stake. So these words are fleeted with emotion, solemnity and wit. It exceeds all previous exertions to that regard. I mean Timothy’s heard many things from Paul, but nothing equals this. I’m about to depart, I’ve run the risks, I’ve capped the fifth. Now tell me, will you? Maybe this has been your experience because what you’ve got here in terms of a picture is a father lying on a deathbed with his sons around the bed. And at some point that old man reaches out his hand and grips the hand of one of his sons and says, “Take care of mother. Run the business. Take care of your sisters.”
It’s that emotional. It’s Paul gripping the hand of Timothy at his death bed and saying, “Preach the word.” This is the emotional climax of the book. It’s the emotional climax of Paul’s life. And secondly, it’s the centerpiece of the letter. That’s why we’re going to spend two weeks on it. Because here Paul presses home with passion, a desire to see Timothy commit himself to the preaching of God’s Word. This call to preach the Word is one of a few passages that directly addresses this issue. And yet among those few passages, it’s without rivalry in terms of explicit instruction. Fundamentally, Timothy, you’re to form and shape your pastoral ministry around the preaching of the word. It’s not just that, but fundamentally it is that. It’s what Jesus said to Peter. In his dying [inaudible 00:08:37] on the earth, “Feed the sheep.” So preeminently young Timothy as a pastor is to give himself as we would read in Acts 6:4 to the Word and to prayer, this is to be a consuming task.
He’s already said, hasn’t he? In his first letter in chapter four, “Give yourself completely to these things. The reading of the Word and its exposition, the study of the text, the shepherding of the flock.” Preaching is a consuming task. It requires exhaustive study, prayer, personal obedience and compelling communication, and it’s all here. So let’s begin to look at the text. And you know what? Well, it has direct application to the preacher, to guys like me and our elders and our pastors and those who teach the word in our different venues here at Kendrick Community Church. Indirectly it has something to say to you because, it will help you define your expectation for any pastor. It will help a church choose its leaders and call its pastors. And thirdly, it will rebuke many contemporary pastors who do not see themselves as preachers. So hang in with me, if not for your sake, for my sake. Because this is my job description.
In fact, when I was at Shepherds this week, the panel was Dr. MacArthur and Mark Dever and Al Moden and Ligan Duncan. And one particular point, Austin Duncan asked them, “How would you promote preaching in the life of the church?” To which Mark Dever replied, “Well, I’d say to every pastor, don’t be frightened to preach your job description.” It was so heartening because I knew I was coming to a passage that had direct application to me and every pastor and elder on our team. Maybe an indirect application to you, but bear with me this month and next month as I justify my existence. I’m going to preach my job description and let that be a standard you hold me to, let that be what you keep in mind when there is a changing of the guard anywhere in our ministry. These are the kind of men we’re looking for.
These are the kind of men we’re sitting under. Preachers of the Word. And it is a rebuke to many contemporary pastors because they do not see themselves as preachers or expositors. I think there’s a whole lot factors into that, which is a sermon in itself maybe more appropriate to seminary context. But I think there’s confusion among pastors as to their role. That church today is being led by men who are working off a more worldly model for ministry than a pastoral model from the epistles. I think there’s bone laziness as a factor too, because this is an all consuming task. And if you’re going to be an expository of God’s Word, you’re going to labor in the Word and doctrine. Just some guys don’t want to give themselves to that. Or to be fair to some guys, their church doesn’t give them the time to do that, has them doing deacon work instead of the calling of a pastor and elder.
I think there’s also an absence of good preaching. So some guys don’t even know what it looks like. Or they have an idea of what preaching is, which really is just a big ramp. Worldliness is a factor, because as we’ll see next month, there is an element of the church [inaudible 00:12:35] and the church [inaudible 00:12:35] that just want to heap to themselves feel good preachers. And that undermines the pulpit. I think there’s a fear of being seen as authoritarian. Our culture has an allergic reaction to anything that’s treated with authority. That’s a commanding words what Al Moden calls “logophobia”, a fear of a commanding word. And you know what? You better get over that fear as a pastor because you’re told to preach, declare herald the Word of the King on a [inaudible 00:13:12]. So there’s all kinds of factors that may be playing into the diminishing of the pulpit in the life of the church, but here is the job description of any faithful pastor.
And by God’s grace I have committed myself to living this and I will commit myself. When I was at Emmanuel Baptist Church, there was one old soul. Every Sunday morning he would greet me. It was the same every Sunday morning. “How’s the preacher this morning?” I love that. You’re right. I’m here to preach the Word. “How’s the preacher this morning?” I wore that with a badge of honor. That’s good. Paul is calling Timothy too here. So let’s look at the text. We’re going to cover a couple of things. If you want a nightline over this study in the next study, there’s the coming, there’s the charge, there’s the contrast and there’s the continuity. Let’s look at the coming, verse one, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing.” That’s the coming, the second appearing of Jesus Christ.
And when he appears so will his Kingdom. That’s a pre-millennial text, by the way. If you’re thinking out your eschatology. I don’t believe we’re in the Kingdom. I don’t believe the church brings the Kingdom. I believe the Kingdom will come when the King comes. And that seems to be the implication here. His return will be pre-millennial. He will come before the Kingdom and when He comes, He’ll set up the Kingdom. Just a word for my amillennial friends. I charge you therefore before God in the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living on the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom. So here’s the backdrop to preaching. Here’s the backdrop to the pulpit. God’s holy throne under coming of Jesus Christ in glorious power at the end of the tribulation with His sins, to set up his kingdom, to judge the nations. That’s the stage that Paul sets for Timothy to preach.
So what’s the implication guys? Timothy’s preaching was to have a God-centered vision, a Christ-centered motive and a judgment centered perspective. I love what Elijah says before the wicked king Ahab. He comes with a message and he says, I’m not really standing before you. I’m declaring the word of God before whom I stand. Elijah preached with a God-centered vision and a judgment centered perspective. That’s why [inaudible 00:16:09] will warn his raiders and us not to be quick to take up the mantle of teacher because the teacher will be doubly judged. Hebrews 13:17, the elder will give an account for those souls under his charge. That’s the language of the New Testament. Every sermon ought to begin right here, the throne of God, the coming of Jesus Christ. Judgment, accountability, eternity, weary things, a sense of God and eternity should indeed mark the preaching of the scriptures.
The triune God will be at the foreground and eternity and judgment, heaven and hell will be at the background. And I think that’s a challenge and it’s a rebuke, because it seems when it comes to books on preaching and conferences on preaching, there’s a fixation today in the contemporary church with the horizontal. Audience receptivity. We are to connect with the audience. Communication techniques that will allow you to open hearts and minds. And you know what? I’m not against that whole seal. There’s some good things to be said and some good things to be heard, but I’m concerned that there’s a fixation about this, where man is the primary audience. Where the seeker is the fixation of the preacher. That’s not Paul’s fixation. He doesn’t mention man as the primary audience. I charge you therefore before God. That’s his primary audience. The preacher ought to be marked by a fear of God.
In fact, this word “charge” is a legal term. It’s to make an oath in a courtroom and in a very dramatic fashion. It’s like Paul is grabbing Timothy by the scruff and neck, hauling him before the judgment throne of God and saying, “I make the promise that you will preach the word, because ultimately this is where you’re going to give an account for your ministry.” People won’t have the final judgment on the worth and value and impact of your ministry. God will. You know what? My early experiences as a preacher at my home church hit Rothko Baptist in Belfast. Before you get up to preach, out to preach, you sat in what we called the vestry, which was a little adjacent room just off the pulpit area. And often couple of the deacons would gather and we’d pray before the service and then ultimately they’d go out and you were left in there with your thoughts, and your sermon notes, and the ticking clock coming up to the seven o’clock R in the evening service.
And you started to think about what you were about to do, and to help you think about what you were about to do there in that little room that was just white walls, bare, and one text on the wall would be the words from the book of Genesis, Thou God seest me. Now that’s a verse out of the story of Abraham and Hagar, but it was put there purposely, as you were about to open the door, turn left and go up the four stairs into the pulpit of Rothko Baptist, you went out with this idea, Thou God seest me. You see my preparation, you see my notes and how they comport to the text of scripture. You see my motive. You see my lack of love or love for your people or the loss that might be in that congregation, Thou God seest me, that pulls you up straight, I can tell you.
Makes you take a second look at your notes that makes you go back over the week in your preparation and your heart and your walk in the spirit. Thou God seest me. That’s a sobering and searching thing and it’s the right thing, it’s their right text, it’s the right note to send to the heart of the preacher before they open the Book. Because that’s what Paul’s doing here. Therefore before God I charge you. Oh we need to fear a sense of familiarity in the pulpit. What does Isaiah 66:2 say? That God loves the man or the woman who trembles at his word. Where is that trembling? Where is that seriousness? Where is that weariness? Because one of the things that devil loves to do is to smuggle into the soul of the pastor or into the life of the ministry, a sense of familiarity. A sense of for malady where we become accustomed to holy things to the handling of God’s Word and we have lost the wonder of it and we’ve lost the weariness of it.
I fear the day. And you ought to fear the day that dawns in the life of a minister, when he can speak of great things and make them small. And he can speak of God and make him seem as nothing. That’s the unforgivable sin. Cheapening Christ, and trivializing the gospel, and whispering about the great truths of heaven and hell and the judgment to come. Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones said this, “I can forgive a man a bad sermon. I can forgive the preacher almost anything, if he gives me a sense of God and if he gives me something for my soul. If he gives me the sense that though he is inadequate in himself, he is handling something which is very great and glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty, of the glory of God and the love of Christ, my savior and the magnificence of the gospel, if he does that, I am in his debt and I am profoundly grateful.”
That’s a beautiful quote. I can forgive a man almost anything if he gives me a sense of God. That’s what Paul was asking of Timothy in this charge that comes in the light of the word here. That Timothy, as you mount the stairs to the pulpit, realize that God sees you and you’re going to give an account for your sermon and for the souls and the spirit with which you preach the word. That’s to the background and to the foreground is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moment by moment getting nearer and nearer, the Kingdom;s coming, the curtain’s coming down. The glories of heaven, the rewards of faithful service. Let that far the pulpit. So that’s the coming. What about the charge? The charge? Well the charge is simple. Preach the word. Be ready in season and night of season, convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching for the time will come when they will not endure the Word.
Timothy was to be an impenitent, expositor. Unrepentant, unapologetic. Among the things he must pursue as a pastor of priority is this pursuit of laboring in the word and doctrine. Preach the word. Let your ministry be shaped by that. Preaching the Word is how you fulfill the ministry primarily. In fact, even if you look at the other statements about being watchful and enduring afflictions and doing the work of evangelism, it’s all tied into the word because he’s got to watch over his own soul before he preaches. Paul has said that on several occasions, take heed to yourself. And by the way, good preaching, Christ exalted preaching, God centered preaching will bring affliction. Faithful ministers of the gospel will suffer. What is evangelism but preaching the Word? So you want to fulfill your ministry, Timothy? Preach the Word. That’s what you’ve got to give yourself to, from head to toe.
And you know what? This isn’t isolated. This is throughout the pastoral epistles of first and second Timothy and Titus. You go back to chapter four of his first letter. I quoted it earlier, “Give yourself to reading and to exaltation.” And let your progress in the Word and in sanctification be known to all. First Peter 5:17, elders that are worthy of double honor are those who labor, toil, work hard at the word on doctrine. They don’t download someone else’s sermon and preach it. They do their own work certainly with the help and insight of godly men, but they labor, they work hard. They’re workmen in the Word that need not be ashamed. In fact, that’s why Paul here, in calling him to this, preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season earlier. Gave him a kick in the pants in chapter one, verse six.
Because he needed to stir up the gift that was in him. Given to him by the laying on of hands of the elders. And that gift was the preaching gift, teaching gift. And Timothy actually was going backwards a little rather than forwards. And so this whole letter stirs him up to a pulpit centered ministry. Now let’s not disconnect chapter 4:1-5 from the earlier verses of chapter 3. Let’s not disconnect that this section from the proceeding section. All scripture is given by inspiration of God and it’s profitable for doctrine, for to proof, for correction, for instruction and righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good word. So after saying that, you know what, don’t forget the chapter. Divisions are not inspired, they’re not even there. And immediately he goes on, “Therefore I charge you. Preach the word.”
Having given him the doctrine of the nature of scripture, having talked about its nature and its ability, it leads to Christ that reveals the mind of God. It matures the church. It’s breathed out, inspired. It’s a sovereign, saving, sufficient word to the world. If God has breathed out his word for the world, it’s got to be communicated to the world. So Timothy, preach it. You got to understand that connection. I love what John Stark says on preaching, “Preaching is indispensable to Christianity because Christianity is based on the truth that God chose to use words to reveal himself to humanity.” Then he says this, every preacher needs to write this down, “God’s speech makes our speech necessary.” What’s the preacher’s task? I can tell you it simply and I remind myself that often it’s my task to speak what God has spoken. Artur Suria at the shepherd’s conference said this week, “Do you know what your task is guys? To retalk God’s talk. He’s the chef, you’re the butler. Just deliver the food without messing it up or dropping the plate.”
Retalk God’s talk, because you see God’s speech makes our speech necessary. You want to justify preaching, I’m going to justify preaching. I’m preaching my job description. I preach the word, I give myself wholly to it. I take it seriously. I love it. It’s a passion. It’s a glory, it’s a privilege. Because God is not silent. God speaks through the creation, God speaks through the conscience. But in these last days He has spoken through His Son. And we have the record of His Son in the writings of the apostles. And you know what the prophets spoke of the coming of the Son. So we have in the Old Testament prophets, and the New Testament apostles, the very word of the living God [inaudible 00:29:12] inspired in errand. And God’s speech makes my speech necessary.
You want to know God. Well let’s go to the book and allow, His spirit in tandem with the scriptures to show us what God is like, what is the purpose of creation, and most of all the necessity of you and I coming to know Him by coming know His Son Jesus Christ to meet Him knowing and to split His love on a cross, dying for our sins and taking our punishment. Oh God is not silent, neither should the church be. Its preachers and its pastors need to thunder forth the message of creation, fall, redemption, consummation, God’s speech, makes our speech necessary. Now there’s a couple of things just wrap this up and kind of build the bridge into next month. Let’s begin the look at this charge. There’s several elements to this preaching call. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom, preach the Word.
Let’s stop there. The word preach is a Greek word, Caruso. It carries the idea of herald. A herald. Paul is calling Timothy to herald the word. That’s a very interesting word. A herald was a messenger sent by the king, an ambassador or a messenger who would go forth from the court of the king, with the authority of the king, with a word from the king. He would either go to a foreign court and declare it or he would go out among the villages and among the cities of the kingdom and he would declare perhaps a holiday. He would declare a great victory. He would declare a new tax. I don’t know what it was, but he would go and herald the word of the king. And he would do it with authority. And he would do it accurately because he wasn’t going with his own message.
He had a scroll. And when he got to a village or a town, he would simply unroll the scroll and he would go, maybe not in old Elizabethan English, but it kind of makes the point, “Hear ye, hear ye” and the people would gather and he would herald the king’s edict. This would remind us number one, to preach precisely, preach precisely. It’s the herald’s job to communicate the king’s word exactly as it was written and accurately as he finds it. Bottom line, the pastor, preacher, the biblical expository must be biblical. He mustn’t read a text, close the Bible and then dribble on for 40 minutes with some pop psychology, some political issue, some contemporary trend of the day. No, as Walter Kaiser teaches, he must preach with his finger on the text. And he must keep coming back to the text to justify what he’s saying or else he’s getting no justification to say what he’s saying.
Certainly no authority. The tax must be the foundation of what he needs to say, not a springboard for what he wants to say. He must expose the meaning of the text in its original context and he must then accurately and contemporarily apply it to his people. So what’s Paul calling Timothy to exposition of the text. What’s he tell him not to do? Imposition on the text, using the Bible to say what you want to say. It’s our job to retalk God’s talk. It’s our job to speak what God has spoken and let the text speak. Preachers not to preach himself. Second Corinthians 4:5, Paul says, “We preach not ourselves, but the Lord Jesus.” Run from preachers that talk about themselves a lot. Preachers not to preach himself, the preachers not to preach error. He’s the rightly divide the word of truth so they need not be a ashamed. That’s steered in the context of false teaching. That was affecting the church at [inaudible 00:33:46] second Timothy 2:15. He’s not the preach felt needs. Paul will address this next time we’re together, for the time will come when they will not endure signed doctrine.
This is the church, not the world, the church. They will not endure signed doctrine, but listen intensely by their votes and by their feet. They will elect man who indeed will speak to their desires. But according to their own desires, they have itching years and they will heap up for themselves. Teachers that will speak to those felt needs, and those desires, and those wishes and ambitions. And they will turn their ears away from the truth.
But you Timothy, fulfill the ministry. The preacher’s not to preach hobby horses either. Acts 20:27, Paul says, as he leaves Ethesis, “I preach to you and declared to you the whole council of God.” There wasn’t one or two strings on his bow. And there was a symphony of biblical doctrine that was balanced and took you from Genesis, the revelation Old Testament to the New Testament. Worked its way through the different dispensations of God within world history. Now he is to preach the word, not himself, not error, not felt needs, not hobby horses. Listen guys, we’ll move to a second thought and wrap this up. The expository is not a free man. He is bound by scripture. He labors under the magnificent tyranny of the gospel. The script is set. His task is to speak what God has spoken, nothing more and nothing less.
Well, he can work on his communication. He needs to think through his introduction. He needs to think through his conclusion. He needs to think through the logic of his exposition. But it’s all in the surface of making the text clear. Hey, credit where credit’s due, we just buried him, but credit where credit’s due, old Billy Graham, when he preached, he would hold his Bible up into every second or third sentence. What would he famously say? The Bible says. What’s the calling of the preacher? When I was taking my church in Santa Clarita, Classarita Baptist Church, I had the immense privilege of having Dr. John MacArthur preach on my installation.
He spoke from the pastoral epistles from Timothy and Titus concentrating on Timothy. And in the course of his message he challenged me to preach the word and be faithful to the text. And he told a story of how in his early days there at Grace Community in Los Angeles. He was approached by Otis Chandler, who was the owner of the LA Times. John had a growing congregation, a voice that was not being heard across the country on the radio. And John wasn’t one to kind of just address every trend within society, every new news headline.
And so Otis Chandler took him out for lunch and during the conversation he said, “John, you’ve got a voice. You’ve got a platform. Should you not address the issues of the day?” To which John MacArthur replied, he said this, “Otis, I have one task and that is to make the voice of God audible through preaching. You really don’t want to hear another opinion. Cause if I get off from the book, I’m giving you an opinion. When I get into the book, I’m giving you the truth.” Preach precisely, preach plainly. We’ll wrap it up with this and pick up next month.
Preach plainly and here I’m doubling back and doubling down on the idea of the herald, that’s the Greek word for preach. Herald. There’s several words that the New Testament writers use to express what preaching is, but Caruso the herald, the messenger of the king who declares the edict of the king accurately. That’s our image. And so we need to preach precisely, but if you go back to that image, we need to preach plainly because you can be sure of this, that knowing that this was the word of the king, the herald didn’t stutter and didn’t stammer because he had the authority of the king. He knew that this had come straight from the hand and the heart of the sovereign, himself. And that gave him some authority that gave him some boldness to preach. He didn’t tip toe through the announcement. “Well folks, I hope you’ll give me a hearing today.
I know you have many things you could be listening to. I hope you’ll make some room for this.” No. “Hear ye hear ye. This is the word of the sovereign, the king.” And the people’s ears perked up. And you know what? That’s a message to the preacher to herald the Bible with clarity and conviction. Now, that’s not to seem as arrogance, but clarity and conviction. Preaching should be done in a similar manner to heralding. I’m certainly thinking many situations, preaching is monological not dialogical. And we can strike up a conversation after I’ve declared the word, which is monological. I’m bringing you the word of the king, and then we could talk about that afterwards, but it’s not a conversation until it’s an exposition. I love what we read of the Lord Jesus in Mark 12:37 and I take an inference from it, “The common people heard him gladly.”
Now you got to keep it simple for the common people. It’s got to be plea, it’s got to be direct, it’s got to be bold, and it was all of that and the common people heard him gladly. What does Paul say in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2, “Brethren, when I came to you, I didn’t come with excellency of speech or wisdom declaring you the testimony of God. I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He was with you in weakness and fear and in much trembling, listen, and my speech in my preaching we’re not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the demonstration of the spirit and of power that your faith should not be in the wisdom of man but in the power of God.” He didn’t use Greek rhetoric. He plainly declared the gospel of the crucified savior.
Get a similar thought, don’t you? In second Corinthians 3:12, where he declares the manner in which he spoke to them. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use grit, boldness of speech, plainness, directness, boldness of speech. One last text, First Thessalonians 2:5, Paul’s defending himself here. His integrity is under attack. That’s why he will say repeatedly and First Thessalonians two, “You know, you know, you know. You know me. Remember how I preach, remember how I acted? Now you’re listening to these guys. Come on. You know.” And as he defends his integrity, he defends the integrity of his ministry and he says this, but as verse four, “We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak not as pleasing man, but God.” There we are, guys, I charge you before God. This is the apostolic sense of what preaching is and who you’re preaching to.
[NEW_PARAGRAPH]”Not as pleasing man but God who tests our hearts for neither at any time did we use flattering words. As you know, not a cloak for covetousness. God is our witness, nor did we seek glory from men either from you or from others that we might make demands as the apostles of Christ.” Just again, guys, you know, I didn’t come to flatter. There was no flash. I had one ambition, to share Christ. And I did it plainly and I did it directly and I did it faithfully. The preacher should not whimper in fear of man or demons, nor should he obstruct the message of the text with obscure words or laborious sentences. I’m always up for that after dinner discussion with my daughters on a Sunday, they’ll say, “Dad, you didn’t explain that big word.” That’s a good word for a preacher. It’s not “Stop using.” They didn’t say, “Stop using it”, they just said, “Dad, explain it”.
Make it plain. Make it understandable. That the simplest person can grasp it. That’s your job, dad. You’re the butler. Don’t drop the plate, don’t mess the dinner up. Serve it well. Listen, people may question what the preacher says, but by the time he is finished his exposition, they should never question what he said because he made a plan. Understandable. Exposition should never be hazy, dim, foggy or indistinct. I never want anyone to leave the sermon on a Sunday morning and saying, “You know what? That sure was a good sermon. I didn’t understand any of it.” And there’s just that sense. “Well, that was good, God’s word, but I didn’t get it”. Well then I failed. It’s not apostolic preaching. Apostolic preachers preach and speak with boldness, clarity, plainness, directness. There’s no substitute for that. Guys, as we wrap up, I say this to myself, to young emerging preachers, to Bible leaders, Bible group discussion leaders also, don’t try and sneak up on people with God’s word.
Don’t try and smuggle the gospel into their life. And if you have a public ministry, when you’re up front, be up front with the gospel. I like a story I came across. You remember when Alan Greenspan was the Federal Reserve Board chairman, kind of [inaudible 00:44:48] character, wasn’t he? You know, open the casket, lamb dying. I mean it was that kind of presentation. In fact, he would admit that, and he was often passive and boring to listen to. In fact, it is reported that he once said, “If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said”. Hey, maybe if you’re the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, that’s what you need to be doing. It’s a shell game. It’s obtuse. If people really knew, maybe scare them to death. So let’s just, what if I seem on unduly clear, then you’ve misunderstood what I said.
But that’s death to the preacher. That’s not what you want to hear at the judgment. Hey, it’s always good to quote Spurgeon. So I’ll finish what the quote I came across in a book this week I read, was Tremendous Spurgeon on the Christian Life by Michael Reeves. Highly recommend it. In his day. Spurgeon got exasperated by endless sermons where preachers just trotted out platitudes. It wasn’t direct, it wasn’t biblical, it wasn’t weary. And so he likened these preachers to the Chinese knife throwers. You remember those guys? I remember them seeing them on game shows in Britain and stuff, where they had to take a nice looking girl and spread eagle her out on a board that can either stand still or actually revolved, and then they would throw knives at her to deliberately miss her. In between her [inaudible 00:46:34] in between her legs, boom, boom.
And Spurgeon, this was going on in his, and he likens that to preachers. Come to my church. You can be sure I’m not going to hit you. I have no intention of harming you. I have no intention of getting in your face. This is just going to be entertaining. But no one’s going to get hit with the truth. See him today, Spurgeon would grieve the advertisements that some churches are putting out there, literally in words for all the read, “Come to our church, our pastor won’t preach at you.” Well, what’s he doing there? Because according to the text here, preach the word. Spurgeon said to his pastors in light of that little statement, “We do not go out snowballing on a Sunday. We go fire balling. We ought to hurl grenades into the enemy’s ranks.” I love that. No snowballing in the pulpit. That has preached the word compassionately, yes, with a heart for people, yes, but foremost, a fear of God, a sense of eternity.
A weariness, realizing the glory of God’s glorious Son is bound up in this exercise. So do it precisely and do it plainly. Okay guys, we’ll pick up next month. Let’s pray.
Father, I thank You for these nodding heads. Thank You for these men that love your Word, love their pastor, who come even on a Saturday morning to hear his job description, that has a direct application to me perhaps, but an indirect application to them. May they expect what we’re reading here from every pastor and elder and preacher in our church. May they be the guardians at the door to ensure across the generations that it’s this kind of man that stands at this pulpit. That’s this kind of exposition that’s given to our children and our young people. This is the stuff that our discipleship is made of. Oh God, these are days in which men are tickling ears, massaging hearts rather than striking souls with a call to repent, to prepare.
The judgment is coming. Guard us against it. Help us to be a counterweight to it. We thank You for Your Word. You’ve exalted Your Word above Your name. We thank You, You’ve revealed Yourself. You’ve spoken, spoken lovingly in the gospel to us. You’ve told us the dignity of our lives created in Your image. You’ve told us that our lives are spoiled by sin and in nature that’s rebellious to God. You’ve told us You didn’t abandon us, but sent Your Son to indeed forgive us of our sins. And You’ve sent your spirit to break the dominion of that sin in our lives and bring us back to looking like You. Well, this is a glorious Word. May we preach it, may we listen eagerly. May we seek to understand it. May we live it and obey it. May these men aspire to be preachers of the word, students of the text, theologians of the gospel. I thank You for them, I thank You that they allow me to do my ministry, not with grief, but with joy. And we pray this in Christ name, Amen.