Preach the gospel – Four truths about the urgency of our proclamation!

There are some situations in life that help us to value the right things and that will bring our priorities into check. I’ve had two episodes that have woken me up to this reality. One was a bus accident where many people died, including my friend, and the other was when some surgery that I had went badly, and I ended up passing through a difficult time because of that. On both occasions I just wanted to speak to those I loved to say how grateful I was to have them by my side, and that God had blessed me by allowing me to spend life with them.

In situations where we know that we might not have much time, the urgency and seriousness of what’s important comes to the surface, and people avoid wasting time on things that aren’t critically important in their lives.

This is exactly the situation that the Apostle Paul was going through as he wrote to Timothy. He was a prisoner in a dungeon, knowing that he would die very soon. In that moment, when he knew that he didn’t have much time left on this earth, he wrote this:

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. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing”. 2 Timothy 4.1-8 NIV

In this part of the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he affirms four truths about the urgency of our proclamation:

1. Preach the word

Paul is very clear on his command and in his choice of words. His expression charges Timothy with the task of preaching the message of the gospel. That was important and that’s what mattered. The word used to give the task was “diamarturomai” (Διαμαρτύρομαι), which literally has the meaning: to give solemn evidence, to testify (declare) solemnly. The word was also used in tribunals when a witness was called to testify and give evidence in order to save someone from an accusation.

It’s powerful to know that the bible urges us to preach, because the message will save people’s lives, not just here on this earth, but for all eternity.

Paul was not defending or pointing to any particular form of preaching, but rather, to the meaning and essence that we all have the privilege to experience,

The gospel is God’s summons, through the act of preaching, to the listener to make a decision which will usher him into a new dimension of Existence” Michael Green.

2. Preach the word in season and out of season

The second truth that Paul shared with Timothy is that he should preach even when it was neither convenient nor favourable to do so. He should preach when things were calm and victory was at hand, but also when things were difficult, and it might seem that nothing was working.

The power of the message lies in Christ, and in the action of the Holy Spirit; we proclaim, but the one who convinces, is the Holy Spirit. Timothy received the command to preach when there was extreme persecution and things were hard, but he also received the reminder that the one who created the world was at work in him and through him while he preached.

This truth changes our perception of the dark times that we may face as preachers of the word.

Your eyes will not see anything which seems impossible, or the sufferings which may follow, but only the light of faith, and in that light, everything is possible; and remember that God never lays greater burdens on us than we can bear”.

Catherine of Siena

3. Preach sound doctrine

The third truth was to remind Timothy that he wasn’t called to share his opinion or a culturally acceptable message (which told people what they wanted to hear), but rather, the truth of the word of God.

One of the blessings of our time is technology, but alongside that blessing we are presented with an enormous challenge; now, everyone can find a teacher or preacher online, or in a podcast, who will say whatever they want to hear. Just as Paul’s words challenged Timothy to preach faithfully, we too are challenged by the same text, to be faithful to the word of God and to preach it truthfully.

The spiritual power in the gospel is denied when we augment or adjust the gospel into no gospel at all. When we doubt the message alone is the power of God for salvation we start adding or subtracting, trusting our own powers of persuasion or presentation”. Matt Chandler

4. Fulfil your ministry – Preach

The fourth truth about the urgency of the proclamation, is the reminder to fulfil the call of the Lord that every Christian must share the gospel. I’m not saying that everyone is called to preach from a platform or from the front of a church, but that the gospel message of salvation demands communication. The communication can flow in a variety of ways, including preaching from a platform, through music and arts, drama, writings, individual conversations, and through many other forms, but the meaning is still the same – preach the word.

Every believer is an ambassador for God’s Kingdom, and every believer is called to share the virtues of the One who called us from darkness to light. Let’s fulfil our ministry and preach the word in our jobs, families, universities, churches, and wherever else the Lord sends us.

The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless”. Billy Graham