Monday, November 11, 2013

Preach the Word

The importance of the gospel message brought the Apostle Paul to give instruction to those who were taking on the task to "preach the good news."   Such was the context in which Paul wrote to young Timothy, "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:   Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction." 

Notice first of all, Paul, in making this charge to Timothy, establishes they authority by which he is charging Timothy to preach.  Terms like "in the presence of God, "  and  "Christ Jesus, who will be our judge" and the reference to "the eternal kingdom,"  Paul wants Timothy to know the magnitude of importance attributed to preaching. 

Secondly, look again at the charge itself.  "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction."   Here is the old, seasoned preacher, Paul, letting Timothy know he better be prepared in every way for the task ahead of him.   The message may make you popular, or it may make you unpopular.  The recipients of the gospel message may be led to make a spiritual "response,"  while others may not.  The important thing is for Timothy to understand his responsibility to be ready.

The charge to preach involves more.  Timothy is told he is to correct, rebuke and encourage.   This is where things might get a little sticky.  Paul is instructing Timothy that as a messenger of the gospel, he may have to be the one to call for change and correction in the lives of those to which he preaches.  When he detects sin in the lives of his listeners, it falls his lot to rebuke them.  Paul wants Timothy to know his preparation involves more than quoting the right verses and pronouncing all the Old Testament names correctly.  He needs to be prepared to carry out some unpleasant tasks which will hopefully lead to repentance and rightness with God. 

The charge is completed when Paul mentions that Timothy is to "encourage--with great patience and careful instruction."  Encouragement is good medicine when dealing with church folks.  Even some who have had to face correction will appreciate words of encouragement.  It is no mistake that Paul mentions to  "correct, rebuke and encourage" and that is to be done with great patience and careful instruction. 

You do not have to be a preacher to utilize these attributes.  The instruction Paul gave to Timothy is something which will bring success and strengthened relationships within the body of Christ.  In fact, when Paul was writing to the Ephesian Christians concerning their maturity and unity, he says, "speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."  Ephesians 4:15-16

That's the message to you and me.  The gospel is equally important for preachers and for all church members.  Handling Gods truth and the power of the gospel is best accompanied with care, patience, encouragement and love. 


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