In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul gives parting words to Timothy concerning preaching and teaching God’s Word:
“I charge you 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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Faithful gospel ministers know this text well. Paul is a “shot in the arm” for ministers to keep pressing on in gospel proclamation and to keep preaching and teaching truth when people do not want to hear it. Thus, Paul’s offered his encouragement to “always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Though this text is often quoted and read, I want to draw attention to verses one and two. Often overlooked, theses first two verses teach two truths of which pastors, preachers, missionaries, and evangelists need to be reminded.
1. Preaching Is a Supernatural Event
Preaching is not merely a natural event; preaching is a supernatural event. Paul’s charge is “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus.” Though not mentioned explicitly, Paul’s apostolic charge to Timothy is a call to war. Elsewhere, Paul reminds churches that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). This passage from Ephesians is true for all believers, but it is especially true for preachers and teachers of God’s Word. To herald the Bible is to make war on false teaching and unholy spiritual forces. Preachers, like military soldiers, should be ready and willing to go to spiritual war. That is why Paul grounds his charge in the very presence of the Triune God. Yahweh is our great general, and he will win the battle on the Last Day!
2. Preaching Prepares for the Last Day
Dear brother preacher, we preach to prepare men and women, boys and girls for the Day of Judgement. We preach with the end in mind. On that Day, you and I shall give an account for how well we have stewarded the privilege of preaching. Are we faithful to proclaim the whole council of Yahweh God? Do we preach faithfully the good news of Christ Jesus? Your faithful preaching, teaching, and evangelism has eternal results. Sinners are saved, and the saints are edified. Be encouraged!
Furthermore, 2 Timothy 4 is a sobering reminder that eternal souls will be judged. False teachers and their teachings do not and cannot prepare souls for Judgement Day. Do you remind yourself that heaven and hell are eternal realities? Again, to engage in the act of Bible proclamation is to declare war on the hosts of hell and fight for eternal souls.
The preaching of the Bible is a supernatural event that prepares eternal souls for the Day of Judgement. Sound preaching matters eternally. Do not lose heart, brother preacher! God is using your faithful labors. Keep on preaching until you see your Savior face-to-face!