“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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 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, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. “
(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)
I am grateful for some thoughtful people in my life who first encouraged, and then made it possible for me to attend the Pastor’s Conference at Moody Bible Institute. I am further grateful to the congregation I currently serve, the Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren, for continuing to make it possible for me to attend this great conference. Year after year, I am encouraged, even exhorted to follow the counsel given to young Timothy, Paul’s son in the Lord, and companion in the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to “Preach the Word”.
In a day when preaching the Word of God has come under fire, and probably become more so in the years to come, given the current cultural shift going on around us, we who have the privilege of serving as pastors, preachers and teachers also bear the responsibility to remain faithful to the inerrant Word of God, as given to us in the Holy Scriptures. One speaker at the conference remarked about this text saying in reference to verse 2, “Preach the Word when it’s popular to do so, and when it’s unpopular to do so.” There are some in the pulpit today who, in an apparent effort to get more people into their churches, are willing to water down the Word of God, to create the image of a god who neither hates sin, nor will he punish anyone for sinning. To many in the world today, sin is such an offensive term, and turns people off, they would suggest that we should use more accepting terms like poor choices or unacceptable behavior.
Paul makes a statement in his first letter to Timothy, in the early part of that letter that is something that all of us can, or at least should identify with. I know I can. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Tim. 1:15-16)
In another letter, Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) There are no exceptions to that save one, and that is Jesus Christ. All of the rest of us are sinners in need of a Savior. Why do we need a Savior? Because without someone else to take the punishment for our sin, which is death—eternal separation and punishment, we will have to face Him one day on our own merits.
We will stand before the most perfect Judge ever, one who knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts—one who knows what no one else can know and that is the condition of our heart. Will we stand on our own, covered in the garbage, filth, and rebelliousness that comes from a life focused on pleasing only ourselves, or will we come before Him dressed in the starkly white clothing of His own goodness and rightness of the perfectly obedient life of Jesus Christ, Himself, because of our complete faith in Him?
As long as He continues to give me breath, a place and an opportunity to share, I promise to continue to “Preach the Word”.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen