Paul’s first charge is this: “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2).
As pastors, we are called to be faithful to preach—and not to preach just anything; the content of our preaching is “the word.”
Timothy would recognize this as yet another reference to Scripture in general (3:16–17) and the gospel in particular (1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:8). Paul does not need to further specify or clarify for Timothy. The “deposit,” “sound teaching,” “the truth,” or “the faith”—these are all references to the gospel: “the trustworthy saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
The charge is to be faithful to preach the gospel. The content of our teaching, of each sermon, should be informed by this specific charge.
- We must never assume that those in our churches have sufficient knowledge of the gospel, or have exhausted their need for the gospel.
- We must never address a topic isolated from the gospel.
- We must never exhort anyone to obedience apart from the gospel.
- We must never preach more passionately about any topic other than the gospel.
You and I have been entrusted with the old, old story. We must not alter, adjust, or add to that story. Instead, we must faithfully proclaim it.
Preach the Word
We will be tempted to stray from this story.
If you haven’t been tempted already, you will before long. Straying from this story is sometimes an effective way to gain applause, or win personal approval, or satisfy those Paul describes in verses 3–4: “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.”
But regardless of the temptations, We must be faithful to preach the Word!
This post is part of a series entitled “Ordinary Pastors” and is adapted from a message I preached at T4G 2010, which was published in a compilation of sermons from that conference entitled The Unadjusted Gospel (Crossway, 2012. Used by permission.)