Preach the Word ... no matter what
Paul’s second letter to his co-worker Timothy is one of the pastoral epistles. Along with 1 Timothy and Titus Paul wrote these three letters or books to instruct these men on how to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in an effective and God-pleasing way. Rightly so, sections of this epistle reading are often used for ordination or installation services of pastors. So in the next couple of months we can expect to hear these words acclaimed and proclaimed from pulpits throughout our synod. Use them to remind parishioners how God gives ministers the tools of law and gospel to work saving faith.
Our epistle lesson for this Sunday is from 2 Timothy 3:10-4:5. Confirmation students are often asked to commit several verses from this reading to memory. Our ministries would be aided to have 2 Timothy 3:15-17 and 2 Timothy 4:2-3 firm in our mind.
“… and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:2-3).
The purpose of the Holy Scriptures is vitally important for our Christian faith. Only the source of the Holy Scriptures makes us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Knowing that every word of the Bible is verbally inspired by God assures us of its authenticity and its usefulness. God’s Word can and should be used for teaching, rebuking, disciplining and training in holiness, for the purpose of completely equipping the man of God, pastor, minister or professor for every situation in life.
Paul directs Timothy and other readers to preach the Word continually. Be prepared to use the Word of God in every situation. Use it to patiently correct, loving rebuke and strongly encourage with great perseverance and careful instruction. Certainly the time has come when people are not interested in learning about correct teaching and the important truths of God’s Word. Members of many mainline churches stress “deeds, not creeds.” (By the way, that’s Pietism.) People, even God’s people, are tempted and influenced by the secular, unbelieving world. Today many people are shopping for a church that teaches what they want God to say or what they want to hear. (By the way, that’s Rationalism.) “Itching ears” are not ears that need to be scratched physically because of some irritation, but that want to be scratched by words in keeping with a person’s evil desires.
Notice the verbs in these verses. In verse 14 Paul directs Timothy to “continue” or “remain” in what he has learned and been assured of. In 4:2 Paul urges pastors to persist, to “preach the Word,” or proclaim it as a herald. Despite what the world is promoting (such as homosexual or transsexual rights) as God’s sentinels, your pastor continues to stand at his post and be at the task of teaching and preaching God’s Word to God’s people.