Welcome to The On Preaching Podcast, the podcast dedicated to helping you preach faithfully, clearly, and better.
- What is preaching?
- What is biblical preaching?
- What does it mean to preach the word?
2 Timothy 4:1-5 answers these questions in a clear, convicting, and challenging way.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, the Apostle Paul issues his final charge to his son in the ministry. He gives this charge “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 Tim. 4:1). Verses 2-5 record nine biblical exhortations on preaching.
What is preaching all about?
Preach the word. This first command is the primary commandment. In a real sense, the remaining eight commandments are an exposition and application of the exhortation to preach the word. It charges us to be heralds of the King. Paul not only tells Timothy that he must preach; he also tells him what he must preach – the word. No preacher has editorial authority over the message he preaches. Christian preaching is biblical preaching.
Be ready in season and out of season. “Be ready” is first a call to preparation. To be ready, you must get ready. Ultimately, it is a call to preservation. “In season” is when people want to hear you and are receptive to your message. “Out of season” is when your preaching seems to bear no fruit. Indeed, there will inevitably be dry seasons of ministry. Don’t waste your life building bigger barns in good seasons. Don’t manufacture artificial fruit in dry seasons. Keep preaching.
Reprove. Many preachers dread saying anything unkind or unpleasant. As a result, they avoid preaching the hard truths that produce soft hearts. But preaching the word will force you to confront sin and call people to repentance. We must plead with sinners to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). How many of your hearers are going the wrong way? Call on them to make a U-turn and run to the cross. Seek the straying sheep with a shepherd’s heart.
Rebuke. Rebuking is a little different than reproving. Reproving seeks to reach the sinner and plead for him to return to God. To rebuke is to simply tell the truth – no matter the hearer’s response. We live in a world where “fake news” has become the norm. The Christian preacher is not allowed to spew his opinion from the pulpit. We must not water down the message to accommodate unbelievers. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Exhort. Although we must reprove and rebuke, our preaching should not be pharisaical, hyper-critical, or fault-finding. We must exhort our hearers to repent, trust, and obey. To “exhort” is to come alongside to help. It is the way the Holy Spirit ministers to believers. So should we. Our preaching should be helpful. It is not the preacher’s job to shout at the darkness. Turn on the lights! Encourage your congregation to say yes to God and no to sin and error.
Always be sober-minded. What is the opposite of sober-mindedness? Druken-mindnedess. It is to be intoxicated with yourself. Preachers must be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, not their fleshly or worldly thinking. Kenneth Wuest states this truth bluntly: “There is no place for clowning in the pulpit of Jesus Christ.” The devoted preacher views himself as a soldier who must remain watchful to seize gospel opportunities and confront spiritual attacks.
Endure suffering. To endure suffering, you must expect suffering. Unfortunately, many enter the ministry foolishly expecting wealth, status, and influence. Just as many quit when the work of ministry brings suffering. Beware, Christian ministry is spiritual warfare. We are to “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:3). Faithfulness does not require that you win every battle. But you must endure suffering in faith, hope, and love.
Do the work of an evangelist. There is no evidence that Timothy was gifted or called to be an evangelist. Yet Paul exhorted him to do the work of an evangelist. Evangelistic work is gospel-driven work. Preachers are not life coaches, motivational speakers, or pulpit entertainers. We are heralds of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our sacred duty and great privilege to preach the gospel to the lost and teach the gospel to the church.
Fulfill your ministry. To “fulfill” is to bring to completion. We celebrate the beginning of a minister’s work. However, the ultimate reward does not come until the minister completes his work. You get no credit for how well you begin the race. Anyone can start fast. Can you finish strong? The man who commits to life to preaching the word will find it a long, lonely, and laborious journey. Keep pressing on until you hear the Master say, “Well done!”
No preacher has editorial authority over the message he preaches. Christian preaching is biblical preaching. – H.B. Charles Jr.