Introduction: Two weeks ago Brandi reminded us that we must continue to run our race even though we will endure all kinds of hardship in this world. The Lord protected Paul and delivered him repeatedly. We need to remember the Bible tells us all believers will face persecution (in some way, at some point) but the Lord is sovereign and faithful in the midst of it. God’s Word provides what we need so we will be “thoroughly equipped” to live out God’s will in our lives, even in the face of suffering.
This week Paul gives Timothy his marching orders. These instructions are not just for Timothy. They have implications for us all.
“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. For the time will come when people 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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.”
Observation – what does the passage say?:
-Paul is giving Timothy his final encouragement soberly, in the presence of God and Christ Jesus
-Paul charges Timothy to: preach the word, be prepared, correct, rebuke, encourage
-Timothy is to do these things with great patience and careful instruction
-Paul gives warnings by revealing the consequences of turning from the truth:
1) people will not put up with sound doctrine (truth)
2) people will want to suit their own desires
3) people will gather teachers around them who tell them what they want to hear
4) people will turn away from truth and turn towards myths (false teaching)
-Timothy is to also: keep his head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist and perform his ministry duties
-Paul concludes, knowing his life will end soon
Interpretation – what does the passage mean?:
Throughout II Timothy, Paul repeatedly reminds Timothy of the need to remain faithful by clinging to the truth because the world preaches a false gospel. His letter culminates at the beginning of chapter 4 where he gives Timothy a clear charge (verses 2, 5):
- Preach the word– Timothy is exhorted to publicly proclaim the truth of God’s Word. This is important whether the hearers readily accept the message or not.
- Be ready “in season and out of season”– There are times when it is not particularly convenient or ideal to share the truth. Paul reminds Timothy that the Gospel must take priority above comfort and ease.
- Correct, rebuke and encourage (with great patience and careful instruction)- Truth does all of these things. It corrects, rebukes and encourages. II Tim. 3:16 tells us God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Timothy is charged with using God’s Word to show people the right way to live and ways they need to change. All of this must be done carefully and with great patience. If the truth is not preached in love, it always falls on death ears.
- Keep his head in all situations– It is obvious that Timothy’s message would not be accepted by all. Many would reject the message, argue and rebel. Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is to stay level-headed in the midst of heated dialogue, rejection and antagonism.
- Endure hardship– Timothy was certain to face all kinds of difficulties as he carried out his duties. Paul’s encouragement is to endure all kinds of trials for the sake of the Gospel.
- Do the work of an evangelist– Timothy is not just to proclaim the truth but to urge his listeners to believe and live according to the truth, accepting Jesus as Savior. Timothy’s hearers must know a decision is required to follow Jesus.
- Discharge all duties of his ministry– Timothy is to continue to do all the work entrusted to Him in order to fulfill his duties.
In between Timothy’s imperatives, Paul reveals the consequences of the heart of man without the Gospel in verses 3-4. Those who reject Christ will turn to others who will tell them what they want to hear. Many will walk away from truth when things get difficult but Paul is reminding Timothy there is no truth outside of Christ.
Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?:
You may not see yourself as a preacher. That is understandable. Paul and Timothy were both called by God specifically to preach the Gospel. However, whether we feel comfortable with the idea or not, we are all called to preach the Gospel (Matt. 28:18-20, 2 Cor. 5:18-20). This happens in many ways. It happens when we stand for truth when it is uncomfortable. It happens when we reach out to neighbors in need. It happens when we engage in conversations about the real meaning of life. In the midst of all of this, we must all be able to articulate clearly the Gospel by spelling out the salvation Christ offers because of His death and resurrection. We are all called to preach the Gospel. While this may be intimidating, we can know the Lord is one in charge of converting souls, not us. Our job is to share the Good News and leave the results up to the Lord.
The world then and now wants to believe that purpose, satisfaction and peace can be found outside of Christ. This is evident today with a multitude of resources written by influential individuals who center their teaching around self-help through podcasts, books and articles. While some of the information may be helpful, there is simply no substitute for the life-changing truth of the Gospel. The Gospel does not give us what our itching ears want to hear. The Gospel offends our pride, self-sufficiency and arrogance and reveals our desperate need for a hope outside of ourselves. None of us can save ourselves. Salvation is found in Christ alone.
Lately, I’ve wondered what it looks like to “preach the Gospel” in this season of my life. Currently our family is still out of our home since we are rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey. We are living in a condominium complex in close proximity to many older neighbors, most of whom are single. How can my family preach the Gospel? I’ve been burdened for one neighbor in particular and have prayed for ways to bless her. The Lord has opened a few doors for us to serve her and I’m praying for more. Perhaps in the remaining months we will be here there will be more. I need to remain prayerful for opportunities for conversations about the Gospel. I need to be “ready in season and out of season”–when it is convenient and when it isn’t.
Who needs the Gospel around you? Perhaps it is a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor? How has the Lord nudged you recently to “preach the Gospel” to this person. Pray for opportunities to point them to the truth found in Jesus. The Lord goes before us and we do not need to fear. He is the one who transforms lives. Our job is to share the Good News that changed our lives. Let’s pray for each other as we seek to point others to the life-changing truth of the Gospel.