Monday, December 03, 2007

Preach the word

Timothy, “Preach the Word” (v2)
Two things: a) Preach b) The Word

Preach To Preach is to herald a message like a town crier, 'Hear Ye! Hear Ye!' Or like Isaiah who called out 'Behold Your God' Announcing the rule of Jesus in all the earth. Some say that we can preach with out words. It's true that actions sometimes speak louder that words, but the actions only have clear meaning when they're explained in words. I remember the dismay of a friend whose neighbour said to him 'there's something different about you, and I've figured out what it is' – he was excited... and then he's friend accounced, 'yes, i've got it – you're a vegetarian'

Actions are essential. But words will always be required. And the Christian preacher has the greatest of words. He doesn't pass on his advice or opinion. If you want advice and opinion you can buy a newspaper or read the internet. A preacher speaks in a different league. We've all heard things that are passed off as preaching that are nothing of the sort. Let us not capitulate to those who say we don't need preaching today – let us strive for excellence.

The Word Timothy's subject matter is set before him. He has no freedom to talk about what he wants to talk about. The scriptures are all he has. To preach them he must first know them. He must be like revival-pastor Jonathan Edwards 1700 years later: resolved to study the scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Or, as Charles Spurgeon spoke of puritan John Bunyan: his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the word of God. No wonder we often feel powerless and overwhelmed. The words of life aren't in our veins. Timothy had watched Paul's ministry - how he could say to the Ephesian elders that he had not shrunk back from preaching the whole counsel of God to them. Now, Timothy must do the same. Again and again re-evangelising the church with God's gospel. The Preacher is not a creative man, he is bound to the word of God. This is Paul's last will and testament to the church. And it is the mandate given by God to every generation. A divine command to preach the glorious gospel that Jesus Christ is Lord.

There are those in the 21st Century who want to say we've moved beyond preaching and into a visual age. If only they would follow their own advice and cut out their tongues and stop preaching their lies to us. They're just repeating a first century mantra. Look at v2: Preach the word at all times. In season and out of season. Which I take it to mean, preach when people will listen and when people will not listen. Timothy is to be faithful, warm and winsome and to keep on speaking. His message contains 'reproof, rebuke, exhortation'. And must be fused with 'complete patience'

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