This morning ended with Voddie Baucham preaching his second message to us. In this message he wanted to ask Why do we preach what we preach? Why should we remain committed to preaching the gospel? Why should we make up our minds that this is all we will preach? There are so many other things that people are turning to. Why shouldn’t we turn to some of these other things? He turned again to 2 Timothy 4 and showed that the exhortation in verse 2 is simple: Preach the word. There are many who claim to preach the word—many who use the Bible but who don’t actually preach the word. We are talking here about biblical exposition which involves applying the truths of a particular passage first to the speaker and only then to the hearer. Even in the practice of preparing to preach the gospel we need to preach the gospel to ourselves. We are hearers before we become proclaimers. The last thing he passes along to young Timothy before he turns to the personal portion of the letter is “preach the word.”
Why do we make this commitment to be preachers of the gospel? Here Voddie provided several answers:
It is the standard by which we will be judged. Paul could have said many different things instead of this. What he said was that he charged Timothy because the one who judges will judge according to whether or not you do it and do it accurately. Preachers need to come before the Word trembling—to come on their knees with a holy and healthy fear of God.
Because no matter the occasion, it is the answer. In season or out of season this is the answer. There is nothing to which we will be called for which the gospel is inappropriate. The idea is not just that whatever the occasion we preach the gospel, but that we do the kind of preparation necessary so that whether or not we expect it, we are ready to preach the gospel. You need to stay ready so you do not need to get that way. We need to be prepared with a gospel answer for every thing that may arise. We have a tendency to believe that the gospel is for lost sinners—something you graduate from—but we also have this issue that the gospel is for life within the confines of Christian community but not other areas of our lives. We tend to believe that the gospel is appropriate for small problems but that we need other solutions for serious problems. This passage addresses this issue by telling us to be always ready for the gospel. We need to think through how the gospel applies to all the various and sundry areas of life. There is no area of life where the proclaimer of the gospel should feel inferior because of his commitment and allegiance to the gospel.
There is great moral authority for the proclaimer of the gospel. This authority is not his own but rather authority that comes from the Word. We proclaim it in all of its power, proclaiming the beauties and mercies of Christ. It is not because of our own moral authority but because we are proclaiming faithfully what the Lord has communicated. And all of this because we have proclaimed them first to ourselves.
Because people will wander off into myths. There are two reasons this is important. First, we must preach the gospel clearly so people can identify these myths. In the current culture we believe it is wrong to identify particular individuals who are false teachers yet we see Paul, in verse 14, pointing to a particular person who did him great harm. Paul exposed him but did not ask others to repay him. He exposed error, identified falsehood and in this case it required him to be specific. Second, if we are not careful we will do whatever it takes to draw a crowd. In our culture we see a whole lot of echoes but no voices. We see men who do what they can but their ministries are based around what works in other contexts and implementing that in their areas. This is especially harmful when success is defined primarily in numerical terms. We will often reject the myth but take the outer edges and drag it over into our context, superimpose it onto the gospel, and believe that since we haven’t messed with the core, everything is alright. We justify what we do by saying, “Look how the Lord has blessed.” But not all growth is good growth. We are after gospel growth.
“As for you…” As for the person who will not succumb to myths and who will be a faithful preacher, he will fulfill his ministry. Proclaim the gospel to yourself over and over and over again. Endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist.
The exhortation of Timothy is this: Fulfill your ministry. There are two groups of people in this world, those whose lives are opposed to the gospel and those who lives are marked by it. He wants Timothy to be the kind of person whose life is marked by the gospel. He wants Timothy to preserve and proclaim it and just watch God bring people to Himself. He warns against the tendencies and weaknesses that, if left unchecked, will carry him away. But he tells Timothy always to remind himself of his old friend Paul and to remember that while he sat waiting to be executed, he had done what he was called to do. He continued to do what he was called to do until he was called to be with Jesus.
Is it worth it to turn away? As you are about to face the righteous judge, what could possibly be worth turning away? What are you facing in your life or ministry that is even causing you to turn away? Is it bigger than a dead Jesus? If God can raise Jesus from the dead, He can overcome anything I can face. Our goal should be to live faithfully to the gospel and die faithfully to the gospel so that even if they take our lives, the last thing they hear from us will be the gospel message…