"Preach the Word"
Last year I had the privilege of walking Summit through the letter of 2nd Timothy on Sunday evenings. Of course it is such a rich and full letter. It is written by the Apostle Paul to the pastor of the church at Ephesus, Timothy. And as you come to the end of the letter you find a most wonderful expression made by Paul in chapter 4 verse 2 when he writes “Preach the Word”.
This is a command that every preacher in God’s church needs to abide by. This is not a suggestion by Paul but a command. “Preach the Word”. Preach scripture, stick with scripture when you stand before your people. That is what Paul was saying to Timothy and that is what Paul is saying to the church today.
You wonder why Paul even had to say that. As you read through 2nd Timothy you get the impression that Timothy was beginning to waiver. We know that he had a timid streak about him. If you read both letters written by Paul to Timothy, 1st and 2nd Timothy, you find that the false teachers were coming into the church at Ephesus and they were constantly seeking to intimidate Timothy. Also the persecution of the Christian church was peaking during this time. So one tends to get the impression that Timothy was backing off from the Word of God, maybe not standing firm in the preaching of the Word, maybe giving in to the pressures that surrounded him.
As you read the opening section of 2nd Timothy Paul writes to Timothy saying “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…” (2nd Timothy 1:8) Again why would Paul write something like that to Timothy unless Timothy was beginning to falter a bit. Maybe at this point in his ministry he was giving in to the philosophies of the world and the false teachers of the world. So by the end of the letter then Paul says “Preach the Word Timothy. Don’t waiver, don’t falter, don’t cave to the pressure to preach something else.”
Let me say that preachers today in many of the Christian churches throughout the land are not following this command. It has become more and more evident to me over the years. You ask “Well how do you know this, why do you say this with some gravity of confidence?” And my response is “Because of what I have been told and what I have experienced personally”.
For example our church recently received a young husband and wife into our membership. And when I spoke with them about joining Summit I asked if they would describe for me their experiences as they visited a number of churches in the area before deciding that God was leading them to us. The account that they gave is one that in recent years I tend to hear more and more. The young man began by saying that it was very rare to hear the words “Open your Bibles” in the churches that his wife and he visited. This gentleman went on to say that it was rare to have a lesson taught from the Scriptures on a Sunday morning.
Another example I will always remember is when a lady and her children were attending our church and on the second Sunday that she was with us this lady came up to me after the service and said “Pastor I want you to know that for the past several years I have attended a church in the area and during those years never once did the pastor teach from the Bible.” What a heartbreaking statement. And yet I could go on and on with testimonies and accounts like these but I’ll stop here. This is a very sad commentary regarding the church today and it should not be this way.
Paul said “Preach the Word of God”. He didn’t say “Stand up and share antidotes and stories with your church.” He said “Tell your church to open their Bibles, turn to a text, and get ready to be taught what God has to say”.
Let me say if you are a preacher reading this message my prayer is that you can say “I preach the Word”. If you are a member of a church and you are out in the congregation Sunday after Sunday my prayer is you can say “My pastor preaches the Word”. If he doesn’t then you need to keep him accountable. It is that simple.
Now let me end by stating why the preaching of the Word of God is so important and needs to be followed in the church.
First the Word of God needs to be preached so that God can be heard. If God’s Word is never opened in the church, if the preacher never takes it and teaches from it then don’t expect to hear from God.
Second we must understand that the Word of God is our only source of spiritual truth. Nothing else speaks to us about God, nothing else speaks to us regarding the ways of God, nothing else speaks to us about God’s expectations, nothing else speaks to us about the truth of our condition and our need for Christ. And without the Word of God being preached then spiritual truth will never be revealed.
And then finally the Word of God must be preached so that the church will become more like Jesus. Without the preaching of the word the church will stagnate, the church will remain immature, the church will live immorally, and the church will continually blend in with the world. The apostle Peter wrote in 1st Peter 2:2 “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation…” You show me Christians who are becoming more like Jesus and I will show you a church where the Word of God is preached. You show me Christians who are spiritually weak, immoral, and immature in their walk with Jesus and I will show you a church where, more than likely, God’s Word is not preached.
Paul’s command was a serious call to the church and needs to be followed. Now will there be pressure to preach something other than the Word? The answer is “Of course there will be”. But preacher don’t you give in to the pressure. You raise up the Word. You do as Paul instructed Timothy to do in 2nd Timothy 1:14 when Paul said “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
May preachers simply preach the Word and as they do the result will be a church that looks more and more like Jesus.
David Carns, Pastor
Summit Baptist Church