Timothy’s Charge II Tim. 4: 1-5 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
As Paul winds down his letter to Timothy, he gives him a final charge before God and the Lord Jesus Christ. To add gravity to his charge, he reminds Timothy that he will face the Lord and be judged for the quality of his work in the ministry. His judgment, like ours, will be at the judgment seat of Christ. The future judgments, in order, are:
- The judgment seat of Christ – Rom 14:12; 2 Cor 5:10 – takes place at his “appearing,” following the rapture and before the Second Advent.
- The judgment of Israel – takes place at his “appearing,” during the Tribulation [Ezek 18:30-32; Deut 32:35-36].
- The judgment of nations – Matt 25:31-46 – takes place at the beginning of his “kingdom,” right after Jesus sits on the throne of David
- The white throne judgment – Rev 20:11-15 – takes place at the end of his “kingdom,” after his 1,000 year reign.
Preach the word – 2 Tim 4:2 – though he is to be apt to teach [1 Tim 3:2; Eph 4:11], his primary call and responsibility is to preach [Titus 1:3; Acts 8:4]. Notice, that we are to preach “the word,” not our thoughts, opinions, or experiences, not the regurgitated material of our favorite authors or teachers. People must know what God said, not what others had to say about what God said. Quoting others and illustrating by experience are helpful tools, but they will not suffice as substitutes for the words of God.
Be instant – 2 Tim 4:2 – to be instant is to be importunate, urgent. In other words, we are to be persistent in urging people to attend to the words of God being preached. In preaching, unlike teaching, there should be a pressing conviction to do something about what is being preached. Paul said, “in season, out of season.” The season for preaching is a suitable, natural occasion. Funerals, church services and the like are “in season.” We must also preach “out of season,” when it’s not particularly suitable, like street preaching, or among a hostile audience.
Reprove, rebuke, exhort – 2 Tim 4:2 – these are three basic ways to preach. Notice that two of these are negative, rather than positive. And all three require long-suffering [the ability to endure offense and hardship] because folks aren’t going to like to hear what needs to be preached.
- Reprove – to reprove is to scold or correct gently or with kindly intent. Reproof is the work of the Holy Spirit [Jn 16:8-11]. Reproofs of instruction are the way of life [Prov 6:23]. Preaching should get under your skin and bring about change in your life.
- Rebuke – to rebuke is to criticize sharply, reprimand. Rebukes are “harsher” than reproofs. People whose hearts are hard need more than a reproof. They need something that will break their hard heart and loosen their stiff neck.
- Exhort – to exhort is to urge strongly, to incite by argument or advice. Exhortation balances reproof and rebuke. Exhortation encourages folks in the good things they do and must do for the Lord.
Preach doctrine – 2 Tim 4:2 – that is, preaching should be doctrinally sound, true to what the Bible teaches and says. It should come directly from the words of God and should expound and drive home what the Bible says. Thomas McBride Nichols, in his 1904 book entitled Preaching, A Series Of Brief Chapters, said, “The primary object of the sermon is to inculcate [teach by frequent repetitions] truth, divine truth,” [p.9]. This is accomplished in three ways. First, by instruction, making the truth clearly understood by explanation. Second, by illumination, making the truth lucid by illustration. Third, by application, making the truth practical. Nichols said, “The ultimate aim of doctrinal preaching is Christian living,” [p.14].
Today, folks will not endure [accept or tolerate] sound doctrine [2 Tim 4:3]. And they will not endure preaching. Instead, they heap to themselves “teachers.” In other words, the “call” comes from the congregation, not from God. The “pastors” appease the desires of their flock, rather than satisfy the demands of their Savior. Their lessons are written and taught to please the audience, not the Lord; to gratify their itching [filled with restless desire] ears. Most “preaching” today is not preaching; it’s teaching, and it’s not doctrinal. The “sermon” is part of the entertainment and production. It’s emotional, psychological and motivational, with a little Bible thrown in for good measure. It may be helpful, but it is not sound [free from error] doctrinally.
Many in this generation have turned away from the truth [2 Tim 4:4; Is 59:14]. They don’t want to hear the truth in the pulpit or the classroom or the newsroom or the courtroom. They have turned to fables (lies) [Jer 5:30-31; Jer 14:14; Ezek 22:28].
Watch – 2 Tim 4:5 – Paul told Timothy to watch in all things. To watch is to be attentive and vigilant; to keep guard. We must be vigilant because we have an adversary [1 Pet 5:7; Lk 22:31-32; Mat 26:41].
Endure afflictions – 2 Tim 4:5 – preachers constantly face conflict and distress [2 Cor 11:23-30]. We are to remain firm under this suffering without yielding.
Do the work of an evangelist – 2 Tim 4:5 – the work of an evangelist in the New Testament appears to be preaching to the lost from city to city, led by the Spirit. We see this in the life of Philip, the evangelist [Acts 21:8]. Philip preached in the city of Samaria where many were saved [Acts 8:5-12]. Then the Spirit directed him to the Ethiopian eunuch [Acts 8:26-38]. Then the Spirit led him to Azotus, on the Mediterranean Sea coast [Acts 8:40]. From there he preached in all the cities as he traveled north to Caesarea, where he resided [Acts 21:8]. Of course, Paul preached this way [2 Cor 10:14-16] and he encouraged Timothy to do the same thing. This is how the gospel spread and new churches were planted.
Make full proof of thy ministry – 2 Tim 4:5 – proof in this sense is the quality or state of having been tested or tried; unyielding hardness. It’s the quality you find in a battle hardened soldier. In a proven soldier you know that the hardships of war won’t break him [2 Tim 2:3-4].
Conclusion: despite the current trend of turning away from the truth, we must still have more preachers like Timothy. Nichols said, “And if congregations are restless under instruction, if they insist on being entertained rather than enlightened, amused rather than taught, they will ultimately debase the sermon, degrade the pulpit and strip the minister of his most pertinent and essential function. We sometimes tremble for the future of the sermon, when we see how loath the people are to learn,” [p.10]. Remember, he published this in 1904.