Monday, February 23, 2015

P12 - Why the Bible must the basis for preaching

2 Timothy 4:1-2 "I solemnly 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."

I have in my office the above picture by artist Ron Dicianni hanging over my desk. When I look at that picture, it captures visually all that is being expressed in the key text of today's post. In this series we have labored to cover as much ground as possible in answer to the question: "why the Bible". We began this series by noting we need the Bible for the perilous times in which we live. We also considered why the Bible is authoritative, why the Bible is trustworthy in its text, why the Bible is God's Word and why the Bible is the foundation for the church and Christian living. 

Today's post will feature 2 Timothy 4:1-5 in which the Apostle Paul is urging young Timothy to "preach the Word". This text has a special meaning to me, since it was the text which God used in calling me to preach His Word over 23 years ago. Today's post is going to deal with the subject: "why the Bible is the basis for preaching". 

1. Divinely Commanded to Preach the Word. 2 Timothy 4:1-2
In 2 Timothy 4:1-2a the Apostle Paul writes: "I solemnly 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: 2 preach the word....". Every pulpit and sanctuary in the world has an invisible balcony wherein the King of Kings is in attendance. The heavenly charge to preach the Word requires a Heavenly book with Divine authority. The preacher charged with this task is like the town crier: "Hear ye, hear ye what His Majesty the King has to say."

1 Timothy 5:20-21 reminds us of the preacher's calling, and how we need to exercise caution: "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in aspirit of partiality. 22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin." Preaching is not man's idea but God's Divine decreed method of calling sinners to repentance and saints to ongoing pursuit of Godliness. How then can the preacher fulfill the assignment placed upon his frail frame. Woe to preachers who rely only upon stories and opinions of the day - since such preaching will be death to the ears before it is every life to the heart. A Divine call demands a Divine Book - and that Book is the Bible. Everything that has been labored forth in this series has laid out the character, nature, inspiration, inerrancy and authority of the scriptures. The Divine command to preach the Word is the first reason why the Bible is the basis for preaching, but notice secondly....

2. Discernment necessary in preaching the Word. 2 Timothy 4:2
In 2 Timothy 4:2 Paul tells Timothy to preach the Word and to be ready in season and out of season. What is he saying? In effect, he is expressing the need to be ready all the time and more than that, to discern what the seasons are and to rely upon the only Book that can shine the appropriate light in otherwise dark places. People need a Word of God. The desperation of preaching is that lest the Spirit attends the preacher, the sermon will fail and fall to the ground. It was said of the prophet Samuel at the end of 1 Samuel 3 that God ensured that not one of his words would fall to the ground. 

In my 23 years of preaching God's Word, I have learned the necessity of discernment in preaching. A well-worn Bible that is marked from Genesis to Revelation is the sign that the preacher is equipped to bring God's mind to bear on any subject. The scriptures afterall are the only thing that can pierce soul and spirit and joints and marrow, thus discerning the innermost reaches of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) Biblical-based preaching must dig deeper before it can ever hope of reaching higher than the preacher's personality. My life experience is but a ladle used by God to dip out the unsounded riches and wisdom of God's Word. The Bible must be the basis for preaching because preaching is Divinely commanded and discernment is needed and...

3. Dangerous times need Biblical preaching. 2 Timothy 4:3
Paul writes these words in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 which aptly describes our day and age - "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." What makes this age of ours so dangerous is how much in mass the church is selling-out in the name of being relevant and popular. I won't name the man nor the subject matter, but the other day I was watching a well-known preacher discussing how the church in America must stop relying upon 2,000 year old letter lest she become irrelevant. I know this man's message and have read his books and in as much as he had abandoned sound doctrine long ago, to abandon the Bible reveals how he is able to justify many of the positions he holds. 

The need of the age is not for less preaching, but more. However there is only one type of preaching that will effectively shine light through the thick darkness of our time - preaching based upon God's Book - the Bible. I write these words as a preacher who in many ways has only begun to preach. We need sermons with more, not less scripture and more, not less Christ. 

I recall years ago hearing a preacher state that the greatest danger faced by Noah in the Ark was not the storms on the outside but the woodpeckers on the inside! In our churches and pulpits is a cancer called Biblical illiteracy and an abandonment of Biblically based, Spirit-led preaching. Dangerous times need the pulpit to be the anchor of the ship, the rudder of the vessel that is not blown around by fads, fashion and fear. Notice one more reason why the Bible needs to be the basis for preaching...

4. Enduring ministries center on Biblical preaching. 2 Timothy 4:5
Notice what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:5 "But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." Why would any preacher want to base their ministry on untested foundations when the one foundation that has endured millenia of scrutiny and countless attacks has been the Bible? The Bible is an anvil upon which uncounted hammers of doubt, criticism and opposition have bent and broken. Anyone who spends any length of time preaching God's Word knows first hand how high of a commodity endurance is to the man of God. Youthful enthusiasm and ambition runs out of fuel lately and just as soon one adopts the latest fad, it is already obsolete. Yet the Bible never fails!

Closing thoughts:
Today's post was all about answering the question: why the Bible must be the basis for preaching. In this post we discovered four such reasons from 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

1. Divine Command to Preach the Word. 2 Timothy 4:1-2

2. Discernment necessary in preaching the Word. 2 Timothy 4:2

3. Dangerous times need Biblical preaching. 2 Timothy 4:3

4. Enduring ministries center on Biblical preaching. 2 Timothy 4:5

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