Preached Scripture (Part 2)
How we look at the Word determines how we look at preaching. Christ designed a way for His inspired, authoritative, sufficient Word to be presented. Verbal, declarative, instruc- tional, applicable, demanding, clear preaching is that way.
This passage is not just the property of pastors, however, with application only for how they communicate. These words ground our corporate commitment to preaching that is from the Word. It shows us all how preaching is connected to our high view of the Word. It sets our expectation for what preaching is. It explains why the vast majority of our time on Sunday mornings is given to preaching. It gives us a value system for the verbal proclamation of the Word. It puts demands on us all. And it thrills our hearts to know how we can please the ultimate judge and live in light of His kingdom. But Paul had to charge Timothy (and us) to this logical application. And there’s a very fundamental reason we need to be told to preach: sinful human nature.
Paul had to command Timothy to preach because the day was coming when people wouldn’t put up with sound teaching. Timothy would be tempted to abandon his preaching ministry because his listeners wouldn’t want the Word; instead, they’d insist on a message tailored to their own wants. In fact, they would gather as many of these pleasing kind of teachers as they could. The only one in short supply would be Timothy, unpopular and unappealing. Paul guarantees that these self-pleasing listeners will swerve sharply away from the truth and wander off the path into fabricated religion, while Timothy would need to be all the more diligent in faithful ministry.
Paul’s warning to Timothy was not about some distant time. The time that “is coming” in verse 3 did indeed come, and faithful preaching has been under attack from that day until now. Instead of creating a martyr’s complex, these words about preaching should strengthen our resolve to do, value and hear sound teaching. They should prepare us that preaching the Word will not be easy or unchallenged, and they should motivate us to pursue it all the more faithfully. The Word itself demands this insistence on sound doctrine definitely declared.