Bryan Chapell preaches on 2 Timothy 3:10–4:5 at The Gospel Coalition’s 2009 National Conference.
The following is a lightly edited transcript; please check audio/video before quoting.
And now Paul begins to instruct Timothy. This is what he says, 2 Timothy 3:10,
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all, the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable, for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Let’s continue into 2 Timothy 4:1–5,
I charge you in the presence of God and 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.
Let’s pray together.
Father, none of these could be done by Timothy nor can be done by us, apart from you. Apart from you, we can do nothing, yet you have given us your Word, true guide, the hand that will keep us in all truth, support us when we fall, lift us to do your work. By that same Spirit that gave this Word, would you now come and open our hearts to it that we might be equipped for every good work to what you call us? This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now over a decade ago, Los Angeles was burning. Do you remember? It was the evening of the first Rodney King verdict, the one who said, “Can’t we all just get along?”
The videotape had so clearly caught him being beaten harshly, mercilessly. And yet at the trial, those who did the beating were exonerated. And in frustration, exasperation, and rage, South Central L.A. exploded. Fire, riot, damage done.
The violence, the vengeance indiscriminate. You may remember the video of one man being dragged from his truck, had no involvement in the verdict, but he was dragged from his truck, beaten to the ground. And as he lay on the ground being beaten and kicked, a man whose name is Bennie Newton, a man who will forever honor the office of pastor, entered the mob with nothing but a Bible in his hand to protect him and said to those who were beating the one on the ground, “You must stop this. This man has done nothing wrong. You must stop this.”
And he began to take the blows on his own back until, in exasperation and frustration, they turned away. Bennie Newton, a pastor, entrusted his life, everything he was, to the protection of a book. Well, what did the book mean for him?
Obviously, it was symbolic of his office. But it was symbolic of something else too, of the faith he attests. He was saying, “This is what I believe. This is what I stand for.” And it was the truth of the Word that took him into the violence, that made him willing in life and in death to bank everything on what this book attests.
You’re doing the same. As one who gives his life and eternity to Jesus Christ, you are banking everything on the truth of this book. And if there is erosion in faith, erosion orthodoxy, erosion in the culture of the church, there is one cause.
It is because we forget the nature of the book. So Paul, for Timothy, who also risks much in the face of the opposition in his place of ministry, reminds him of the nature of the book. Why do we bank so much on this?
My focus has to be on 2 Timothy 3:16–17, though we’ll go a bit further afar as we go through these words. Why bank so much on this? Because in this book, we hear the voice of God. Now, hearing the voice of God rests on the foundation of belief in what the Bible says about itself.
It just begins. You know these words at verse 16. “All scripture is breathed out by God…” the theological reference, since I am the seminary professor, the Bible is inspired. Now, because I teach at a theological seminary, occasionally, we have to go through an accreditation process.
And a few years ago, in our accreditation process, the accreditation team came and it was being led by a dean at the University of Wisconsin. And just get to know who we were and so forth, he met with me, the president and he said, “What do you all teach? What do you believe here?” And I said, “Well, the key for us is that the Bible is inspired.” He said, “Oh, that’s great.”
He said, “I think the Bible’s inspiring too.” That’s not quite what I mean. What do I mean? You know, the word is theopneustos. It actually has that notion of the expired breath of God. It’s expiration.
God has breathed out his word as when you speak, consonants and syllables are driven by the breath from your lungs. So, the Bible is contending that this Word that we have is from the very breath of God. That as God breathed life into Adam at creation, he has breathed His Spirit into His Word that we might be a new creation.
The Bible is contending that this Word that we have is from the very breath of God.
That the very breath of God, His Word to His people is here. And the phenomena by which that was accomplished is explained in various places in the Bible, as Peter would say, “Holy men of God spake as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” And the result of the phenomena is such that Paul can say to those at Thessalonica that he commends them because they received the Word of God not as the word of man when it came from Him, but as it is in truth.
The what? The Word of God. Augustine summarized it all so well. He just said, “When the Bible speaks, God speaks.” What we have in these pages, because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit whereby God has given us His Word is the very Word of God.
The reformers picked up on that saying the import of it to hearers as well as to preachers. Luther said it this way, “The church is God’s mouth house.” Isn’t that a great statement? The church is God’s mouth house, so that when the word is proclaimed to the church, God is yet speaking to His people, it’s the house that is His mouth.
Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the word. God speaks to His people. God speaks to His people. The Second Helvetic Confession, that of the Swiss reformers said it in ways that we would find hard ourselves to say in this day and age, their proclamation, “The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.”
That when we proclaim the truth of God’s Word, when we are true to it, God’s Word yet resounds among His people and in His Church, the preaching of the Word to the extent that it is true to the Word is yet the Word of God in His Church.
And by the way, whenever Presbyterians get close to heresy, they quote Calvin. Calvin said it more starkly than anybody. God has so chosen to anoint the lips and the tongues of His speakers that when they speak, the voice of Jesus comes out. Isn’t that amazing?
It’s in the institute’s fourth book, you can look it up. God has so chosen to anoint the lips and the tongues of His servants that, when they speak, the voice of Jesus yet resounds in His church. Sometimes in the hard moments, when the ministry is not going well, when I am doubted, or doubt myself, I play the game in my mind to say, “If only Jesus were here, if only Jesus would speak.”
What is Paul saying to Timothy? He does. Preach the Word and Jesus yet speaks to his people. I’m saying something that I know takes us aback, because I am not contending that when we speak from God’s Word that we are only talking about Jesus, nor that we are only speaking for Jesus.
But that when we speak the truth of the Word of God, we are speaking as Jesus. God has left Himself a witness and the witness is the voice of preachers and teachers, true to the Word in His church, and by them, Jesus yet speaks.
When I graduated seminary, there was a man who graduated with me who went into a youth pastorate. And a couple of years after we had graduated, we met and he told me of something that he had done to try to communicate the significance of the Bible being the inspired Word of God.
So this is what he had done one night. He had invited his young people to a house of one of the kids and they’d gone down to the basement. He had put the chairs in a circle on the perimeter of the basement, put a Bible verse in each of the chairs, and then sat another chair in the center of the circle.
Brought the kids down, had them sit on the perimeter and then said, “We’re going to put one person in the center chair and put a blindfold on them. And then we’re going to ask them some problems that they’re experiencing. And when they express their problem, those of you in the outer circle who have some verse that applies to their problem, you read the answer. And because they’re blindfolded, it will be as though God Himself is speaking to them His Word.”
Now, my friend, the youth pastor, thought this was a really great idea. The kids thought it was really dumb. You know, nobody wanted to participate, nobody wanted to sit in the center circle. Anybody who did would not really mention any serious problem. I mean, the worst problem mentioned was how to get an A on Mrs. Bailey’s math test. And, you know, there wasn’t a real good verse to go with that, you know.
And then a new girl volunteered. “I’ll sit in the chair.” They put the blindfold on her. And the first thing she said was, “I am so miserable. I don’t know if I can stand my life anymore.”
Kids were embarrassed. Some looked down, some looked at their shoelaces. Somebody looked at the verse that was in their lap. And to this young woman who had just said, “I am so miserable. I do not know if I can stand my life anymore,” someone read 1 Corinthians 10:13,
But I am faithful. I will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape so that you can stand up under it.
She said, “Nobody cares about me.” Somebody else read Jeremiah 31:3, “But I have loved you with an everlasting love. And I have called you with loving-kindness.” In rage she said, “You do not understand.
My parents kicked me out last night and they said, ‘Never come back.'”And somebody else read Hebrews 13:5, “But I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you.” They took the blindfold off of her.
She was crying. And she had a question. “Why doesn’t God really talk to me that way?” What did the youth pastor say? Sweetie, He does.
That was Him. Because this is the inspired Word of God. That was God talking to you. Just that way. We’re so silly at times, even those of us well-schooled, we think it would be better, that we would be comforted if God would somehow write His Word in the clouds or speak on the thunder.
But if He were to write in the clouds, it would blow away. If He were to speak in the thunder, it would fade away. And so he said, “Would you mind if I just wrote it down and I’ll put it in your lap or you can take it wherever you go.” It is the greater miracle. It is how God comes to His people in His church and He has committed to us His Word that we might have because it is inspired.
And we have it. Now because it is the inspired Word of God, it is the voice of Jesus, yet to His people when it is truly spoken. There are expectations that accompany the preaching of the Word. And Paul has made those clear to Timothy. One expectation is that there would be purity.
Expectation of Purity
In 2 Timothy 3:10, he writes
You, Timothy, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, and in 2 Timothy 3:14, he goes on by saying, “but as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.” This Word of God is the Word of God.
It’s the very voice of Jesus, but it can either be a clear channel or we can add static to it. The static comes when either in life or expression. There is not that which commends Jesus to his people. There is a requirement of godliness. I mean, Paul makes it so clear when he simply identifies the proclaimer in 2 Timothy 3:17.
“This is so that the man of God might be competent, equipped for every good work.” God is requiring you to consider what you say and how you live. Dare I say it, what would Jesus do? It’s his voice that you have stewardship of. It is his care for His people.
If you did not just perceive yourself as one who was trying to get people to listen to things about Jesus, if you actually believed you were Jesus speaking, then how would he conduct himself? What would his words be? What would his attitude be? There is the expectation of purity if the voice of Jesus is yet among his people.
And there is the expectation of persecution. 2 Timothy 3:11, not only does Paul say to Timothy, “You have followed me in steadfastness, but in persecutions and sufferings that have happened to me at Antioch, and at Iconium, and at Lystra.”
Those are the places, by the way, of riots and rocks. He’s been stoned. We think, “Well, you know, if it were Jesus here, everything would be okay.” Do you read that part about the cross? Yes. If Jesus were here, he would face persecution too. And there is the expectation that if there is a clear channel to the Word of God, it will have opposition necessarily arise.
But not just opposition, power. There is the expectation of purity, there is the expectation of persecution, but ultimately, power. Chapter 4 and verse 1, “I charge you,” says Paul to Timothy, “in the presence of God and of Chris Jesus.”
Now, that’s an amazing thought in itself with what we already know. Paul is saying to Timothy, “I’m charging you to be faithful to this Word of God.And I’m charging you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus.” It’s common for us in reform circles to talk about God being the audience, the true audience of our preaching.
We don’t often think He’s also the speaker. Jesus is both speaker and audience. And so when we read now, Paul said to Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God, who is here because you are speaking in your speaking.” God has arrived. He is here with His people by His Word.
His voice resounds in the church. God isn’t waiting for people to remember your sermon somewhere down the road for Him to show up and be present in their lives. By the proclamation of the Word, God is here acting for His people, encountering them, being here for them.
They know He is present. Do we remember it? By the proclamation of His Word. And it’s more than just the power of His presence. He is the one who is, verse 1 again, “to judge the living and the dead.” How will he do that? Well, he will resurrect them.
How can he do that? By his appearance and his kingdom. He was on a cross, he died, but he’s coming again. The same Jesus who gives his word and now is present in the proclamation of it is saying to his people, “If you truly are true to my word, the resurrection power of Christ is present here.”
Preach the Word
And that is why, of course, you can, 2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word,” and, “be ready in season out of season and reprove and rebuke and exhort.” There can be authority in what you say. I mean, I so relish the preaching I’ve heard already here.
Don’t you? That men speak unashamedly, unabashedly. There is courage in them. You think, “Well, why is that? Is it because of their position? I will assure you that there are times that because of their position, they are more vulnerable than you are. But something in them resonates with the understanding that I am speaking with power, with authority, not because I have a better opinion, or a better style, better place, but ultimately, I’m speaking as Jesus himself would speak to his people, and therefore, I have the right of speaking with authority.
I can reprove, I can rebuke, I can exhort, but also with complete patience and teaching. Isn’t it interesting that right with these words about courageous preaching are words about compassionate preaching? Be patient with people.
If you have the power of the resurrection behind you, it doesn’t all rest on you. You can have such strength that you can afford to be tender because ultimately, it’s not residing on you. Your passion, it’s not residing on you. Your persuasion is not residing on you. Your force, it’s God who’s working. When you know that there is the confidence that can give you a settled patience with people, even as you speak with authority, all of this, all of this, because when we speak, believing that the Word of God is inspired, we know that ultimately, all we are doing is communicating the voice of Jesus to his people.
His voice is not all that is present, but his hand as well. The nature of the book, which we take full advantage of when we truly understand what is claiming about itself is not only telling us that by their proclamation of the word is the voice of Jesus present, but the hand of Jesus as well.
How much of the Bible is inspired? Let’s look at 2 Timothy 3:16. How much? All. Now, I know and you know that when Paul is writing when he says all Scripture is inspired, he’s referring to the Old Testament. But that means he’s got a certain perception of what that Old Testament writing is.
It is that it is an inerrant guide to what God says to His people. It’s infallible in its expression. Therefore, it is God’s sure guide, His unfaltering hand to His people to guide them on their way. You want to see it? I think Psalm 19 is the best place I know to go to think about what God is saying about the perfections of the Word that He has given His people.
If you look at Psalm 19:7–10, there’s a question for you even as you’re turning. I’ve already told you that this portion of Scripture is describing the different aspects of the Word of God. If you didn’t know already that this passage of Scripture was describing the Word of God, what would you think it was describing?
Hear the question? If you didn’t know it was about the Word of God, what would you think was being described? You ready? Psalm 19:7,
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The rules of the Lord are true and altogether righteous, more to be desired are they than gold even than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Now, if you just paid attention to the adjectives, okay, what would you think was being described? Perfect, sure, right, pure, enduring forever, true, righteous, altogether, sweeter than honey.
If you didn’t know it was the Word of God being described, what would you think was being described? God. That’s the point. That that which is inspired by God reflects His nature. And His nature is perfect, pure, true, altogether righteous. To be inspired by Him means it is to reflect His nature.
Now, what I’ve not done to try to prove to you the inerrancy of the word is to bring out all the historical and scientific evidence. And it’s not because I don’t value those, but I remember even how the Westminster Confession of Faith talks about this. That by its many incomparable excellences, the Bible demonstrates itself to be the Word of God.
Yet notwithstanding, our conviction of the infallible truth of the Word has to be accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit, working by and with the Word in our hearts. Here’s why I say that. Sometimes I think that we believe that by pushing back against the attacks on Scripture, whether they are of science or history, that we can prove that the Bible is inerrant.
Now, I believe there’s much sufficient evidence that the Bible is the Word of God. But you have to always be aware somebody may come up with a new argument, something you haven’t thought about, something you haven’t faced yet. It can throw you, but ultimately, the conviction that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God is an act of faith. To believe by faith that God has given us an unfaltering, unerring hand to guide us in life.
Now, I know lots will push back against that, but I at least want you to consider the alternatives. At least 3,000 times, hear that? At least 3,000 times in the Bible, it claims thus saith the Lord in one form or another.
It’s saying about itself, “This is the Word of God.” If that is the case, it is impossible to conclude that this is just a good book for us to pay attention to. You remember the old arguments that lots of us learned about proving the deity of Christ? Remember the old three L’s? Remember those? Jesus claimed to be Lord. What are the only three alternatives?
He claimed to be Lord and knew he wasn’t, in which case he is a liar.
Or he thought he was Lord even though he really wasn’t, in which case he is a lunatic.
The third alternative, he said he was Lord and he really is the Lord. What does the Bible claim about itself?
It is the word of the Lord. It says that at least 3,000 times. This isn’t a little lie if it’s a lie. This is at least 3,000 times. It’s either a lie, or the men wrote thinking that it was the Word of God even though it wasn’t, in which case it’s lunacy.
Please don’t call it a good book. It claims to be the Word of God and it is the Word of God. And if it is the Word of God, it is truly a commitment of faith to say it will then reflect God. It will reflect His nature. Now, listen, we can mess up in our interpretation
Can we all confess? We can mess up. It doesn’t mess up. I mean, you would expect if it was really of God, there might be a few mysteries in it. But that’s far from saying that there are errors. And if there are, it’s not just that we lose confidence in the Word, don’t you recognize if the Bible is full of errors, we lose God?
By the Bible claiming to be the inerrant representation of God’s truth, we are actually rescued from the idolatry and isolation of self. I remember a professor one time telling us as students about getting exasperated with a student who just kept pushing back, pushing back about the Bible being inerrant.
By the Bible claiming to be the inerrant representation of God’s truth, we are actually rescued from the idolatry and isolation of self.
And so at some point, he said, he just went to his desk, and he took out a pair of scissors and he handed him and said,
All right, you just cut out everything you think shouldn’t be there. Everything you think is not worthy of being the Word, you just cut it out. But please recognize that by the end of this process, the only word and wisdom that you will have is your own. That’s all you got left, you just got your own wisdom to guide you. You have decided what the Word of God should say. Ultimately, it’s not the Word of God is just your word. It’s just a reflection of you.
In my own mind, when the professor saw that, I kind of viewed those pages having been scissored out as all looking like little paper dolls, each one of them looking like that student, because that’s what they would. They would just reflect him. It would be an idolatry of self. God himself would disappear into an idolatry of personal judgment. We are also rescued not only from the idolatry of self, but the isolation of self.
The danger with believing that, part of the Bible’s true and part of the Bible’s not and we’ll just make our judgment as we go through, is ultimately, there will be that moment of darkness in your life in which you will cry out into the darkness, “Doesn’t somebody have a word of truth for me greater than my own understanding?” And the only voice that will echo back in the darkness is your own. Because you have become the Word of God, the judge of it, and ultimately, the only one supplying wisdom.
God says, “I rescue you from that.” That is why he can say in 2 Timothy 3:16,
All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness, for teaching.
Here is the hand of God guiding you in the path of truth.
For reproof, the Word of God also can knock you from the path of error. For correction, the blessing. It can put you back on the path of truth. And for training in righteousness, it can lead you all the way down the path to the implications of what the truth means, to the application of that truth for your life.
I know it’s just simple language. But if you believe that in the darkness, God is not only saying, “Here’s my voice,” but, “here’s my hand,” you begin to understand what a grace the Bible itself is. I think of one of those strange and old Gothic Tales by John Lorraine who talked about dinner guests one night being invited to a house and learning that if they could put their hand through a set of dining room drapes into a darkened room, they could grab hold of a spirit.
And if they could grasp it, the Spirit would speak to them. It was full of mystery and wonder. But do you recognize what God has done by His Word? He’s reversed the process, saying, we don’t have to somehow grope in the darkness as Paul talked about in the Areopagus. Grope in the darkness as though somehow we can find God, but rather He has reached from heaven through the veil of Earth, and by His Word, given us His hand to guide and His voice to comfort, so that he would always be with us by His word, and we who know that, affirming what the Bible says about itself, have hope, because, by the Word, we have God.
Don’t you see how Paul himself says that in Timothy 3:15? He speaks to Timothy about how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which you’re able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
We, in this Word of God don’t just have His voice and His hand, ultimately, we experience the heart of God. Think of that. If God knows the darkness of this creation, if he knows the void in our hearts, but he says, “Nonetheless, I will come and I will speak to you.” Just think of that.
I mean, I think at times, I could face anything, I could do anything. If I knew God was speaking to me in it and if His hand would come along and touch me and guide me, I could face anything. And here He’s saying, “I will. And I do. And I have supplied that voice and that hand.”
I think that in so many ways, is explaining what 2 Timothy 3:15 is about, because when Paul says to Timothy, “These sacred writings…” And again, by that, we know he has to be referring to the Old Testament. “These sacred writings have made you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” You say, “Well, how did they do that? I mean, Christ hasn’t come yet.” Well, because of what these sacred writings have already revealed.
They have reflected the perfections of God. That’s what these sacred writings have done. They are perfect, true, pure, altogether righteous, sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. But at the same time that they are revealing the perfections of God, what have these same sacred writings revealed?
The imperfections of us. I mean, think how Paul expresses things in warning to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3. “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.”
How do we know the heart of God from that? Because God, who knows the worst about us, past, present, future, even knows how we will wander from His Word nonetheless provided it. He has shown us the greatness of heart in knowing our nature and out of His perfection, yet providing voice and hand to help.
It’s always that path of Christ-centeredness. The way you can always find that redemptive element of Scripture, the grace of God present. If you just ask these basic questions, “As I read this passage, what does this tell me about the nature of God? And as I read this passage, what does this tell me about the nature of me?”
If you ask those questions, just honestly, of every passage, you will always have to come up with a redemptive answer. Because if God is perfect, and I’m not, God’s got to provide an answer. How did the sacred writings make Timothy wise unto salvation? It’s the same path that he would follow that Paul talks about in Galatians. “Remember, that the law was our schoolmaster, our pedagogue, the thing that came alongside to lead us to Christ.” I begin to recognize if I cannot be what a holy God requires, he’s got to make a way.
He’s got to provide an answer. And so Paul says to Timothy, even as he speaks about the glories of the Word of God, “And this has made you wise, about who God is about who you are, so that you will know your salvation is by faith in someone other than you, in Christ Jesus.”
Do you get the big picture? This Word of God is by its very nature revealing the voice and the hand of God to sinful people. And in doing so is necessarily revealing the heart of God. And when you have the voice, and the hand, and the heart of God, who do you have?
You have Jesus. Jesus, by his word, is present to his people by the proclamation of his word. And for a timid Timothy who must endure so much, when he knows that, he can endure anything.
I think how these truths come together, not just in the New Testament, but even in the old. You know, that verse we all love from Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul thirst for thee, O God.” There’s an interesting reflection of that in Psalm 119:131, where the Psalmist says, “I open my mouth and pant for your commandments, O God.
Now think about that. Why would you thirst for commandments? Because God, in His Word, is revealing Himself. His goodness, His nature, His ways, His heart. And when we begin to perceive that, in the same way our hearts thirst for God, that thirst is being slacked, is being helped by the actual presentation of the Word of God that says all about God we need to know and is actually presenting Him to His people.
Then, we recognize our thirst and their thirst is being satisfied by this Word. How do we give them the Word? Preach the Word. That’s what it says. Preach the word and the water of life flows into the church and into the hearts of our people. I don’t think I perceived it so clearly as when a few years ago a friend of mine talked about his conversion.
He’d been a pastor in a denomination that did not accept the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. Still, as a pastor, he decided that he would take a trip to the Holy Land. And so he signed up for a tour and he signed up his girlfriend to go with him. And the two of them went on this tour of the Holy Land, not recognizing that the tour was being conducted by a bunch of evangelical preachers who were there, not with their girlfriends, but with their wives.
He said he and his girlfriend decided that they would be very low key, which meant as they went to the various sites in Israel, you know, their different ministers would, kind of, share each day explaining something, a devotional or something about the site and they would do that.
They were finally at the end of the tour. And they went to that place known as the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, one of the places where it’s reputed that Jesus may have risen from the dead in that place. And as often happens, the group decided to celebrate the Lord’s Supper there in the Garden Tomb. And they want to know who would do it. They said to my friend, “You haven’t done anything yet. Why don’t you celebrate the Lord’s Supper and officiate for us today?”
He broke the bread, poured the wine, said the words, and was overwhelmed with the reality that what he was saying and doing he had not till that moment actually believed, that by these elements you do show forth the death of the Lord Jesus until he comes.
He said, in actually handling the elements. He recognized the importance of all that God had promised that his soul was dependent upon the ministry of his savior. And he believed, for the first time, in the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The rest of the ministers spent part of the afternoon wandering among the beautiful flowers of the garden tomb.
He said he didn’t do any of that. He said, “I went right back to the bus and I sat, desperately waiting for them to come because for the first time in my life, I was thirsty for the Word of God and I knew in my hotel room there would be a Bible. I had to get to God. How would he do that? By getting to His Word.
If you recognize that, that your people are thirsty for God, and the way that you give them Him is by preaching the word, then you understand the glory of knowing what Paul is actually saying here when he says, “I charge you in the presence of God in Christ Jesus, who’s to judge the living and the dead, by his appearing, and by his kingdom.”
Preach the word, because when you do, you give them Jesus. When they are thirsty, give them Jesus. How do you do that? Preach the word. And when they are alone, give them the voice of Jesus. How do you do that?
Preach the word, because when you do, you give them Jesus
Preach the word. And when they are afraid, how do you give them the hand of Jesus? Preach the word. And when they are defiled, and they say, “Give me Jesus,” how do you give them his heart?
Preach the word. The voice, and the hand, and the heart of Jesus will be present again as you preach the word. Pray with me.
Father, for these who gather, all of us, who must learn afresh, the nature of the book, teach us its goodness and grace as it is revelatory not only of a voice of long ago, but a voice yet resounding in the church by those faithful to the truths herein. Father, so work in us that we might delight, take courage and hope in this reality, that when we preach the word, Jesus is present among his people through us to do your work. So work your word on us this day we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.