Two Sermon Transcripts and Audio on 2 Timothy 4:1-2
- Click here for the corresponding sermon audio - the transcript has been lightly edited.
Good morning. My name is Bruce Hurt. I am 73 and I was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9+) at age 39 as I was reading the Minor Prophets in Bible Study Fellowship. The Spirit of God performed a miracle just as He did with Lydia in Acts 16:14, when He opened my heart to respond to the things spoken about Jesus in the Old Testament. Yes JESUS is alive and well in the Minor Prophets! As J Vernon McGee said “I believe He is on every page of Scripture if only we have eyes to see Him
I have the wonderful privilege to preach a message at the installation of your new teaching pastor Jason Peters who I have discipled for the past 7 years. Let me say at the outset that the words of the apostle John in 3 John 4 are apropos
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)
And so for the past 7 years I have been passing the baton to Jason, my Timothy. And this is in one sense my final pass as I echo Paul’s words to his young Timothy…
You therefore, my son, be strong (present imperative) in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust (aorist imperative) these to faithful men (and women) who will be able to teach (didasko) others also. (2 Timothy 2:1-2+)
Notice the four generations of disciples Paul describes - himself, Timothy, faithful men and women and others also. You who will be listening to Jason are the third generation and Jesus has left you with His last command (last words should always be lasting words) which begs the question (under grace not law) are you obeying His command? Here it is...
Go therefore and make disciples (matheteuo in the aorist imperative just like "entrust" in the verse above) of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching (didasko - present tense) them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20+).
So let me ask again "Are you actively, intentionally making disciples of Jesus?" In my humble opinion, the "great evangelical disaster" is the failure of the church in America (there are exceptions) to obey Jesus' command to actively make disciples. The "Great Commission" has become the "Great Omission!" We have paid more attention to the first word "Go" to the neglect of the one command in the commission to make disciples. Where are the older Pauls and Paulettes who are making learners (literal meaning of disciples) of the Timothys and Timotheas in their midst? I was born again and immediately began attending a Bible church but much to my dismay and chagrin, I was unable to find an older man (I was 39 at the time) to meet with me and teach me how to follow Jesus. And I even made this request of several of the leading pastors in the church and they could not give me a name to contact! They did give me a book from Campus Crusades on how to become a disciple! Let me encourage you, that if you want fullness of joy (3 John 4), you will experience it when you begin to obey Jesus' last command!
Well, let’s jump in – A preacher was rushed to the hospital and an inexperienced nurse was assigned to him. She put a barometer in his mouth instead of a thermometer and it read, “Dry and windy.” My first charge is Jason don't ever let them put a barometer in your mouth in the ER! My prayer is may you never be dry and windy but dynamic and wind driven, continually filled with God’s Word and God’s Spirit (pneuma - wind). "May the wind be always at your back." Amen.
We will read 2 Timothy 4:1-2 but first let’s set the context – This is Paul’s last letter for in 2 Timothy 4:6+ he tells Timothy
Paul is in prison (2 Ti 2:9+ I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal). He is condemned to die and these are His last words. If you have ever heard anyone speak their last words, you know that it is a sacred time, for if they are believers they are not going to speak about trivial matters. So that fact alone makes the words in 2 Timothy some of the most important words Paul ever spoke.
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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Prayer - May the Spirit of God enable me to preach this most blessed portion of God’s Word for the glory of God and renown of Christ Jesus our soon returning King of kings. Amen
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 Ti 4:1+)
My contention is that Paul's emphasis on "Future Focus" should serve to continually stimulate every believer's "Present Priority" to preach the Word!
Solemnly charge (Greek = diamarturomai) is a word used in Paul’s day in a court setting. It is as if Paul is issuing Timothy a subpoena to appear in court. Anyone ever received a subpoena? If so you are beginning to get in Timothy’s sandals!
- What is the implication? – Timothy you have a future court date!
- What is the question the Judge will ask – “Did you faithfully preach the Word?”
Solemnly charge is in the present tense which seems strange for this tense generally speaks of continuous action and yet Paul will soon depart. This gives me the picture of that this solemn charge is to be continuously “ringing” in Timothy’s ears. I would call it “divine tinnitus.”
Jason, this is Paul’s charge to you. But it is not only to Jason but to all of us because we are all in one way or another preaching the Word. The little poem says it well…
You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day;
By things that you do; By things you say.
Others read that gospel, whether faithless or true!
Say! What is the Gospel According To You?
You might be saying to yourself, “That’s a cute poem but I’m not a preacher and I don't have a pulpit.” I beg to differ. You do have a "pulpit" and it is wherever God's hand of providence has placed you! In defense of this contention consider Paul's present "pulpit" is a dank, dark, dreary prison cell in Rome and yet he himself says "the Word of God is not imprisoned" and so he "preaches a sermon" with his pen! Beloved, you have a pulpit and it has not been given you by accident but by purposeful providence! And not only do you have a pulpit, you have a charge to "preach" from your pulpit. Listen to Jesus’ charge (not a suggestion but a command from the General to His soldiers on the field) to all His followers…
(Explanatory Note: Supernatural commands cannot be obeyed in our natural strength. Try it and you will fail, become frustrated, and may even fall into legalism by trying to carry this "burden" that only Jesus can carry - read the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands or "How to Keep All 1642 Commandments in the New Testament!")
Do you understand what Jesus is commanding? He is saying that by your supernatural good ("good" with an "o" knocked out! = "God works") works (works not readily explained naturally) others will see this demonstration of divine power in and through your life (and lips) and will in turn receive a proper presentation of God the Father. In other words, the visible things they see point to and give a proper opinion of the invisible God we cannot see. Does that make sense? If so you understand that you do not have to be "ordained" to preach the Word, but you do have to be willing to do so. Are you willing? Hopefully, a genuine understanding of Paul's Future Focus in 2 Timothy 4:1 will be used by the Holy Spirit to energize your desire to "preach the Word" wherever and whenever He gives you a "pulpit."
APPLICATION - So beloved, DON’T CHECK OUT ON ME (thinking I am just exhorting the new pastor to be installed today) BECAUSE WE ARE ALL PREACHING A GOSPEL TO THE both the lost and the saved. The question we all need to ask ourselves is what "Gospel" am I preaching in my "pulpit"? WHAT WAS MY SERMON LIKE LAST WEEK – DRY AND WINDY OR WIND DRIVEN BY THE SPIRIT? Am I letting my Gospel light shine like a city on a hill or a lamp on the lampstand or am I putting it "under a basket" (Mt 5:14-15+)? Or let me ask it another way so that you don't get caught trying to live by a list of do's and don'ts (subtle, grace suffocating "legalism"). Regarding whatever I am doing, ask yourself will it enhance God's reputation? Will those who watch me know that I know God from my behavior? Or will I have to apologize to them later? Ruth Graham defined a "saint" as "someone who makes it easy to believe in Jesus!" (Are you as convicted as I am?)
(Explanatory Note - If you need a push to let your light shine listen to this old kid's song - This Little Light of Mine!)
THINK ABOUT THIS -- Paul could have stopped with a solemn charge = “I solemnly charge you…preach the Word.” That would have gotten Timothy's (and our) attention. But remembering that SOLEMNLY CHARGE is a courtroom term, it is as if Paul like a master prosecutor proceeds to call “4 WITNESSES” to the stand to substantiate his SOLEMN WARNING. Therefore it behooves us to not pass over these 4 truths too quickly.
(1) In the presence of God and Christ Jesus
Presence (Gk - enopion) = in the face of, in the eye of. Latin phrase Coram Deo, “Before the face of God.” I have a plague someone gave me after my first teaching 34 years ago and the words still ring in my ears (I place it above my desk as I write commentaries)...
- Tempus fugit - time flies (click picture to enlarge). The Bible "quantifies" our life with several powerful pictures - a breath (Ps 39:5, 144:4, Job 7:6-7), a vapor (James 4:14), a shadow...grass (Ps 102:11; Ps 37:2, 103:15, Ps 40:6-8)!
- Carpe Diem - Seize the Day. Making the most of the time for the days are evil (Eph 5:16+ see Redeem the Time). (Play great song "Redeem the Time")
- Coram Deo - living ALL of my life with a sense of "acute" God consciousness, in essence "practicing the presence of God"
So remember that when we are preaching the Gospel, letting Gospel light shine through us, be it in a literal pulpit or in our daily lives (our "providential pulpit"), we are doing it in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, CORAM DEO. In effect we have an audience of ONE! It is God and Christ Jesus we are to please, not men. (cf Ps 19:14NIV+, Pr 29:25, Eph 5:10+, Ro 14:18NET+, Php 4:18+, 1 Ti 2:3ESV)
APPLICATION - What if we really believed that everything we did was in the sight of God (because it is)? Would that make any difference in the choices I make this week, the words that fly out my mouth, the things I allow before my eyes? And be encouraged that the same eyes that see and assess our actions are the same eyes that supply grace…
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
(2) Who is to judge the living and the dead
Who refers in context to JESUS. So Jesus is to Judge the living and the dead. Not the Father but Jesus for in John 5:22 Jesus said “not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” (cf Acts 17:31+, Jn 5:27) So the Judge is Jesus. And the living and the dead takes care of just about everyone ever born, those who have believed the Gospel and those who have not believed in Jesus!
Notice the little verb “IS” which in English does not convey that much meaning. But in the original Greek the little verb “IS” (mello) actually means something is at the point of occurring. We might say it is imminent. It is looming. The Latin word that gives rise to "imminent" is imminere which means "overhanging." Do you get a sense of the picture Paul is painting? Paul as saying “Jesus is about to come to Judge everyone and this judgement is imminent.”
If we really believe that Jesus’ return to Judge the living and the dead is imminent ("right at the door") and could occur at any time, it would stir in our hearts a sense of URGENCY and NECESSITY TO PREACH THE WORD while there is still time. Even Jesus alluded to this sense of urgency when He declared “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4)
(S Lewis Johnson adds John 9:4 is "a good text for us who are believers [and still breathing]! It’s important for us to remember, whether young or old, that we have just one opportunity to be faithful to our Lord, to accomplish things for Him. And it is NOW. This is our opportunity. And incidentally, if your life is almost up humanly speaking, He still has a purpose for you. You’re here for a purpose, and the purpose is that in your life you may glorify Him. It’s all optimism as long as you’re breathing. God evidently has a distinct purpose for you.")
As Robert Moffatt said “We have all eternity to celebrate our victories but one short hour before sunset in which to win them."
(Addendum quote from missionary Adoniram Judson - "A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity… If it has been a useless life, it can never be improved. Such will stand forever and ever. The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever… Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny (Note: Not in loss of salvation but of rewards - cp 1Co 3:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, Jn 15:5, 2Co 5:10+, cp 1Ti 4:7, 8+). No day will lose its share of influence in determining where shall be our seat in heaven. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It will then be too late to mend its appearance. It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked." (See page 33-34 of A memoir of the life and labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson)
This TRUTH ALSO begs the question - to what Judgment is Paul referring? He does not state specifically but we know there are 3 main judgments –
2 Cor 5:10+ For we must (not optional) all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (bema seat), so that each one (each one individually) may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good (Good Deeds) or bad (phaulos = not sin, just worthless works).” (see also Ro 14:10-13+)
(ii) Judgment of the Sheep and Goats – Takes place at the end of this age, to determine which Gentiles ("sheep") who will enter His Kingdom (read Mt 25:30-46) and which ("goats") will be sent "into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." (Mt 25:41) (More explanation).
THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO PREACH THE WORD.
THE ETERNAL DESTINY OF SOULS IN AT STAKE.
Dear pastor (dear saints) may these truths be RINGING IN YOUR EARS AS (aka "Divine Tinnitus") a constant reminder that your accountability is not primarily to the church or to the elders, but to Christ Jesus Himself to whom you will give an account.
(3) And by His appearing –
To what does Paul refer? While this could be the Rapture (1 Th 4:13-18+), it certainly describes Jesus return as King of kings and Lord of lords in Revelation 19:11-16. The word appearing is epiphaneia which literally means a “shining upon,” and conveys the sense that the appearance will be sudden and unexpected.
Epiphaneia was also used of a Roman emperor’s appearance in a town which would clean up all the trash before the emperor’s arrival.
APPLICATION - Can you see the application to our life? IS THERE ANY TRASH YOU NEED TO CLEAN UP? Jesus is coming back as Judge and it will be sudden and unexpected.
The truth of the Second Coming is mentioned directly or indirectly in 1 in 30 NT passages so clearly the Spirit wants the Second Coming on our “spiritual radar.”
APPLICATION - GOD knows that what we are looking for will (or at least should) impact what we are living for. What would happen if the church began to look expectantly for Jesus’ Return?
QUOTE - The primitive church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death or about heaven. The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. They were watching not for the undertaker but for the Uppertaker. – Alexander Maclaren
The early church was on fire preaching the word – they were fueled by the truth that Jesus might return in their day. They had a secret way of identifying with one another – they would whisper “Maranatha.” (See A Maranatha Mindset; play "Maranatha")
What impact might an expectancy of the imminency of the Second Coming have on our sermons? D L Moody the greatest evangelist of the 19th century testified that "For many years I have never given an address without the consciousness that the Lord may come before I have finished." Do you think he preached the word with Spirit empowered passion and a sense of urgency?
ILLUSTRATION - Many years ago I heard a true story about Shepherd’s Home for children with developmental disabilities where they taught that Jesus would save them and one day heal them of all disabilities. The director said that his biggest problem was dirty windows Because the disabled children would press their hands, noses and lips against the windows always looking to see if today might be the day that Jesus would return for them and take them home where they will be healed of all their disabilities. Talk about having your priorities in the right place! Oh, to have the heart attitude of these precious little children! Amen!
Paul motivates Timothy and us with his second use of epiphaneia in chapter 4. This is made even more poignant because epiphanea is used only 6 times in the NT and here in Paul's last words he uses the word twice! Could his message be any clearer? (Rhetorical question).
2 Timothy 4:8+ “in the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing (epiphaneia).”
APPLICATION - Do you love His appearing? Do you look for His appearing? Do you live your life in light of His appearing? DO YOU HAVE DIRTY WINDOWS (so to speak)? “Dirty Windows” lead to “Clean lives” – read the purifying hope of Christ's imminent return in 1 John 3...
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:2-3+)
Does this sobering truth motivate you to live with an eternal view ("Future Focus") like Jonathan Edwards America's greatest theologian who prayed
“O Lord, please stamp eternity on my eyeballs!”
Jonathan Edwards was saying that he DESIRED that every choice he made WOULD BE ASSESSED IN THE CONTEXT OF ITS POTENTIAL ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES. Dearly beloved, may that be our prayer also. Yes Lord, stamp eternity on our eyeballs. Amen
4) His Kingdom –The 4th truth to motivate us to preach the Word
How or why might the truth of “His kingdom” motivate us to preach the word? What does “Kingdom” imply? A king, correct? And we know Jesus the King is returning at the end of this age to crush His enemies (cf Da 2:35, 45+) and set up His 1000 year reign on the earth.
And guess who is coming with Him when He returns as King of kings and Lord of Lords?
In Revelation 19:14+ John writes that “the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.”
Beloved that is us. We will return with Jesus when He comes to set up His Kingdom as depicted below...
And not only will we return but we will reign with Him for 1000 years…
So we will return and reign with Jesus Christ in His Kingdom. And many think that the rewards we receive at the judgment seat of christ have something to do with what we will reign over in the coming millennial kingdom (read Luke 19:16-19+).
IN CONCLUSION - May Paul’s solemn charge AMPLIFIED WITH THESE 4 POWERFUL TRUTHS (Coram Deo, Judgments of Jesus, His Second Coming and His coming Kingdom) motivate us ALL to earnestly seek to PREACH THE WORD.
Father may we the “divine tinnitus” of these solemn truths be kept vibrant and strong in our hearts and not be dissipated by the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Paul now gives Timothy a series of 5 "staccato-like" commands like a military general ordering his junior officer.
Preach the Word
Preach the Word means preach the Gospel, the word of God, the word of truth (2 Ti 2:15+, James 1:18+), the word of life (Php 2:16+, 1 Jn 1:1+), the word of the Cross which to those who are perishing is foolishness but to us who are being saved in the power (dunamis - supernatural power) of God (1 Cor 1:18), for without preaching the word, sinners cannot be saved and saints cannot be sanctified or grow in Christlikeness (progressive sanctification).
PREACH - Verb is “kerusso” a command in the aorist imperative. You say what’s that? The aorist imperative is what I like to call the “Nike Commercial” command – “Just do it!” Do it now! Don’t delay! Don’t procrastinate! Don’t prevaricate! I picture a town crier going through town crying “Hear ye! Hear ye! “The Word of the Lord!”
And so Preach in the aorist imperative calls for us to preach with a sense of urgency. The image that comes to mind is PAUL REVERE’s midnight ride (pix) to warn of danger - “The British are coming! The British are coming!” Our cry is to be even more urgent - "The Judge is coming! The Judge is coming!" "Eternity is coming! Eternity is coming!" We are to be like Peter who filled with the Spirit cried out “Be saved (aorist imperative) from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40+)
Preach was used of a herald who had personal access to the king and when he heard his message went out in the highways and byways proclaiming the king’s message with the king’s authority and those who heard were to obey. The herald did not change the message.
APPLICATION - Pastor (and this applies to all us) sit expectantly at the feet of our King during the week to hear His message so you can preach His message to His CHURCH. Don’t add to it or subtract from it. Proclaim it boldly without compromise and with the King’s full authority.
PREACH THE WORD – WHAT WORD?
Remember that context is king in interpretation. Most cults are started by craftily taking a text out of context. And remembering that the chapter breaks are not inspired, we see the answer clearly in the preceding context.
2 Timothy 3:15-17+ From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16+ All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
So there it is – the sacred writings (Old Testament) save and the inspired Scripture (Old Testament and what was written of NT) sanctifies. In summary why preach the Word? The Word alone saves sinners and sanctifies saints.
Let me add one more reason to Preach the Word, the whole Word and nothing but the pure milk of the Word, so help you God! Because only the Word of God has the following promise..
Isaiah 55:11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
ILLUSTRATION - Spurgeon was to preach in a huge auditorium and went early in the day to check the acoustics. Standing on the podium he declared “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Unbeknownst to him there were two workmen in the rafters who heard him and one of the men related later that he had been saved when he heard those powerful, piercing words!
ILLUSTRATION - When Martin Luther was asked how he was able to bring about reformation that spread through Europe he responded “I simply taught, preached and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing…the Word did it all.”
I love it! This ought to take the pressure off in one sense – God is not looking for preachers be clever but just be faithful to the text.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF EMPHASIZING THE INHERENT POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD? Clearly God is not asking us to make an eloquent, convincing argument for the Gospel, speaks for
“the Gospel (euaggelion) is the power (dunamis - supernatural power) of God (not our persuasiveness or perfect presentation but God's power inherent and residing in the words of the Gospel) for salvation (soteria) for everyone who believes (pisteuo), to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16+).
Every PULPIT NEEDS a good foundation so that it does not topple over. And since preaching the Word is of central importance let me give you SIX pillars of WORD CENTERED preaching –
We will look at Power, Preparation, Prayer, Passion, Pattern, Purpose, but today only have time for Power.
a) PREACH LIKE JESUS
So it behooves us if we are to preach like Jesus we need to know how Jesus preached. Let’s look at Luke 4 – What is the context? Jesus has just been baptized in the Jordan, the Spirit has come upon Him in bodily form, and the Father has affirmed Him as “My beloved Son.”
Luke 4:1 “Jesus full of the Spirit returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.” (cf Gal 5:18+, Ro 8:14+)
Luke 4:14 “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power ( dunamis) of the Spirit.” (cf Acts 1:8+)
Luke 4:15 “He began teaching in their synagogues.”
Lk 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He appointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim (kerusso) release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those are oppressed.”
What do we learn from Luke’s description? It is clear that Jesus began His 3 year ministry in reliance upon the power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing He gave us the perfect example to imitate.
Empowered by the Spirit pastor, and you and I (even right this moment) must preach not in our own strength but in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
b) PREACH LIKE PAUL
Paul said be imitators of me as I imitate Christ. We have seen how Jesus preached. Now we need to see how Paul preached, how he imitated Jesus. Specifically we want to discover what was the Source of Paul’s power in preaching? In his first letter to the church at Corinth he makes it very clear…
My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (1 Cor 2:4)
ILLUSTRATION - The Prince of preachers C H Surgeon understood this vital need in his life. In the huge Metropolitan Tabernacle Spurgeon would sing the hymns down at floor level and then he would mount the 14 steps to the elevated pulpit and with every step he took he would utter “I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
APPLICATION - In summary, pastor, imitate Paul who imitated Jesus. Rely on the Holy Spirit to empower your preaching. Preach the Word in the power of the Spirit.
ONE FINAL ILLUSTRATION - to emphasize why we must preach the Word.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon once described his adolescence “I was years and years upon the brink of hell—I mean in my own feeling. I was unhappy, I was desponding, I was despairing. I dreamed of hell. My life was full of sorrow and wretchedness, believing that I was lost.”
In God’s amazing providence, He sent a fierce snowstorm, so violent that the 15-year-old Spurgeon’s path to church was diverted down a side street. For shelter, he ducked into the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Artillery Street. And because the storm forced the pastor to stay home, from among the 12 or so who were there that day an unknown layman stood up and opened the word and read.
Isaiah 45:22 “Look to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. (NKJV)
Spurgeon writes “He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus:--'
'My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, 'Look.' Now lookin' don't take a deal of pains. It ain't liftin' your foot or your finger; it is just, 'Look.' Well, a man needn't go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, 'Look unto Me.' Ay! ....''Many of ye are lookin' to yourselves, but it's no use lookin' there. You'll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, 'Look unto Me.' Some on ye say, 'We must wait for the Spirit's workin'.' You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, 'Look unto Me.' ''
Then the good man followed up his text in this way:-- (AND IT IS POSSIBLE THIS UNKNOWN PREACHER HAS A WORD FOR SOMEONE HERE TODAY. IF SO DON’T RESIST THE SPIRIT’S WORK IN YOUR HEART AND IF HE WORKS COME TALK TO ME AFTER THE SERVICE).
''Look unto Me; I am sweatin' great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin' on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin' at the Father's right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!''
When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said,
''Young man, you look very miserable.''
Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home.
''and you always will be miserable--miserable in life, and miserable in death,--if you don't obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.''
Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do,
''You man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin' to do but to look and live.''
I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,--I did not take much notice of it -- I was so possessed with that one thought.” (See C.H.Spurgeon's Testimony)
AND AS THEY SAY, THE REST IS HISTORY AS SPURGEON BECAME THE MOST POWERFUL PREACHER SINCE THE TIME OF JESUS AND PAUL.
My prayer for each person hearing my voice is…
Father motivated by the truth of Paul’s solemn warning continually ringing like “divine tinnitus” in our ears and empowered by Your Holy Spirit, may we all seek to daily preach the Gospel with our life and our lips, so that we too might be able to confidently say with our last words “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” and then to hear those blessed words from Jesus, “Well done my Good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.” Let it be so Lord. In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our soon coming King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen
Disclaimer - As I am still learning how to preach, once again this sermon was much like drinking water out of a fire hose, thus the picture! The following notes include additional related material used to prepare the sermon but not preached because of time constraints. To listen to the 51 minute audio click here.
FUTURE FOCUS –
2 Timothy 4:1+ 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 (NOTE: "+" SIGN INDICATES COMMENTARY AVAILABLE)
SOLEMN CHARGE - Last words should be lasting words. I solemnly charge you as in a law court
FOUR MOTIVATIONS TO LIVE WITH AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE:
(1) IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND OF CHRIST JESUS - Everything we do every day is before the eyes of God and Christ Jesus (cf Pr 15:3, 2 Chr 16:9). What difference would it make in my words, my actions, my choices, etc, if I really believed that Holy eyes beheld it all?
(2) WHO IS TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD - Jesus is about to judge everyone ever born (Jn 5:22-24) – this judgment is imminent (cf James 5:9b). Are you ready? If you are not ready, then today is your heaven and is as good as it will ever get. If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then today is as bad as it is ever going to get. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31+, Acts 4:12+) and stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10+) and not the Great White Throne judgment reserved for unbelievers (Rev 20:11-15+).
(3) AND BY HIS APPEARING - By His return as King of kings. Believers in Christ will return with Him. (Rev 19:16+).
THOUGHT ON APPEARING - It was used for the manifest intervention of some god; and it was specially used in connection with the Roman Emperor. His accession to the throne was his epiphaneia; and - it was used of his visit to any province or town. Obviously when the Emperor was due to visit any place, everything was put in perfect order. The streets were swept and garnished and all work was brought up-to-date so that the town might be fit for epiphaneia. So Paul says to Timothy: “You know what happens when any town is expecting the epiphaneia of the Emperor; you are expecting the epiphaneia of Jesus Christ. Do your work in such a way that all things will be ready whenever he appears.” So we should so order our life that at any moment we are ready for the coming of Christ.
It is interesting to consider that at the time of 2 Timothy’s writing, Paul had been preaching for over thirty years and his earliest letters, like 1 and 2 Thessalonians, mention Christ’s second coming. Over thirty years later, Paul still believed in Christ’s second coming and was anxiously waiting for it. Are you? Those who are no longer motivated by Christ’s coming and his kingdom will not be faithful when He comes (Ponder John's exhortation to us as God's children in 1 Jn 2:28+ where "abide" is meno in the present imperative = make this your lifestyle, something only possible as we let the Word richly dwell within us the the Spirit fill and control us!). Are you (am I) living in view of Christ’s imminent return (see note), His judgment, and His kingdom?
(4) AND HIS KINGDOM - And by His coming Messianic kingdom. Believers in Christ will reign with Him, in his 1000 year earthly kingdom.
REVELATION 22 - Finally as I was preparing this message I was reading the last chapter of the Bible and saw something I in Revelation 22 I had never seen before – three powerful promises from our Bridegroom Jesus Christ to His expectant Bride, the Church:
- Rev 22:7+ “And behold (idou - a command), I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
- Rev 22:12+ “Behold (idou - a command), I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." (cf 2 Cor 5:10+)
- Rev 22:20+ He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (cf Maranatha)
And Paul in the last chapter of his last words refers to the Second Coming of Jesus twice, first in 2 Timothy 4:1 and then again in 2 Timothy 4:8+ declaring that
“In the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing (epiphaneia - same word Paul used in 2 Ti 4:1 = "appearing")."
Doctrine of the SECOND COMING of Jesus Christ
- 260 chapters in NT have 300 references to Lord’s return
- 2nd Coming = mentioned once every 30 NT verses
- For every mention of the 1st Coming in NT there are 8 prophecies of the 2nd Coming
C S LEWIS- "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot. in the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark one Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in.'"
APPLICATION: I am asking these questions of myself! (4 fingers are always pointing back at me!)
- Do I love His appearing?
- Am I looking for His appearing?
- Am I living in light of His imminent return?
PRESENT PRIORITY – 2 Ti 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Note that the verbs in red are commands in the aorist imperative, which I refer to as the "Nike Commercial" commands because this verb tense conveys the idea of "Just do it!" It conveys a sense of urgency. "Don't delay" for this is important!
ILLUSTRATION- The story is told about an older Native American who attended a church service one Sunday morning. The preacher's message lacked real spiritual food, so he did a lot of shouting and pulpit pounding to cover up his lack of preparation. In fact, as it is sometimes said, he "preached up quite a storm." After the service, someone asked the elderly Native American, who was a Christian, what he thought of the minister's message. Thinking for a moment, he summed up his opinion in six words: "High wind. Big thunder. No rain."
WHY DO WE PREACH THE WORD?
2 Ti 4:3-4 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, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Amos 8:11-12 Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.
While Paul is speaking mainly to Timothy who is to preach the word, he is speaking to all of us for in one way or another we are all commissioned to preach the Word. For some of us our pulpit may be in front of the congregation, but for others our pulpit is our workplace, our school, and our home.
ILLUSTRATION - Lyman Beecher of Boston Church was once asked how he was able to accomplish so much in his church. He replied: “Oh, I preach Sundays, and 400 of my church members preach every day.”
THIS IS WHY THIS MESSAGE IS FOR YOU! Don’t check out on me!
PREACH THE WORD JUST DO IT! - A command in the aorist imperative.
ILLUSTRATION - A preacher once asked a class what they did with the commands of Scripture. An older lady raised her hand and said, “I underline them in blue.” That’s nice, but the point is not to get people to underline their Bibles or fill their notebooks. Biblical preaching is not to make us smarter sinners but to make us more like the Savior.
WHAT DO WE PREACH? THE “WORD” WHICH IS THE GREEK WORD logos. So a better question to ask is WHO do we preach?
Our message is Jesus. He is the Good News the souls spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins desperately need to hear and heed by believing in His death for them and in their place. Amazing grace indeed!.
- 1 Cor 1:23 we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
- 1 Cor 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
- 2 Cor 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord
Why the Word? God promises to bless the preaching of His Word - think of it as a "Divine Boomerang," as the Word flies out, it returns, but it never returns void or empty of having accomplished God's holy purposes! That is promise worth "claiming" and clinging to beloved!
Isaiah 55:11 – So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
ILLUSTRATION A dying woman testified that she was saved by reading a piece of wrapping paper in a package from Australia. The crumpled pages contained a sermon by British pastor Charles H. Spurgeon. The sermon, first preached in England, printed in America, shipped to Australia, and then sent back to England as wrapping paper, was the means of converting a precious soul in London where the sermon was first preached! That is the power of the Word!
Personal Illustration of Isaiah 55:11 - So why the Word? I once was teaching a course on the Revelation and unbeknownst to me God used the words in Revelation to save a man who had come from another church which did not preach the Word of God. The fascinating aspect was that also unbeknownst to me this man who was a successful executive in his late 40’s had just had a recurrence of his malignant melanoma which had been in remission. He was unable to finish the year long course because he died with a couple of months left. I remember him always sitting in the back of the room and never answering a question – what God showed me was the truth of Isaiah 55:11 – God’s desire was for this man to be saved before he met Jesus. I will never forget as I went over to his house to give him private lessons because he was unable to get out of bed – and I will never forget his asking me what will happen when I die? And I explained you will immediately be absent from the body and present with the Lord. You should have seen the joy on his face. And when he died all of his unsaved coworkers of which there were many came to his funeral and I was able to tell them what God’s Word had done in his life. Who knows which of them may one day also be saved. All unsaved men and women have a terminal illness, it is a deadly virus called sin and unless they are saved by God’s grace and His gospel, they will not have the joy that this man had on his face. Bob would have me say without compromise and with full authority that you must “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” And so this is why you are preach the Word. And now as I share Christ, one of the things I leave them with (most of whom I will never see again in this short life) is when you get home read through the Gospel of John because I believe in Isaiah 55:11. I encourage you to do the same dear shy saint.
APPLICATION - Be encouraged by this illustration. No you are not Spurgeon, but it was not Spurgeon on wrapping paper that saved this woman's soul! It was the living and active word which saved her! So remember that when you give out the Word of God, whether it be in a formal setting (church pulpit) or informal setting (your day to day encounters), God's Word will not return void without accomplishing what God intended (Isaiah 55:11). You may not see immediate "fruit" as you give out the Word, but you can be confident that God will use your faithfulness to speak forth the Gospel of His Son! And remember that the Gospel is not dependent on your persuasion or eloquence, but is dependent on God's mighty power for as Paul wrote "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power (dunamis) of God (Whose power?) for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Ro 1:16+). The Gospel has intrinsic "dunamis." (cf Heb 4:12+, Jer 23:29) This begs the question - What is our job, our privilege? It is simply to be faithful to proclaim the Word of Truth and Life and Light to those who are deceived by lies and living in spiritual darkness, in bondage to their own sinful nature and to the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2+), that God's Truth energized by God's Spirit might open their hearts (Acts 16:14+) and set them free to be free indeed (Jn 8:31-35, 36).
We are all "preachers" in the sense that we are to be God's ambassadors from Heaven to Earth even as Paul wrote the saints at Corinth (in the midst of a very immoral, corrupt, decadent society!)
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.(2 Cor 5:20+)
Why are we to preach the Word?
"THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. (Ed: Note the order!) Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is given you in life and will be opened in the judgment and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents." — Anonymous - found on the flyleaf of an old Bible
J. I. Packer said,
"Certainty about the great issues of the Christian faith and conduct is lacking all along the line. The outside observer sees us staggering on from gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog, not knowing at all where we are or which way we should be going. - Preaching is hazy; heads are muddled; hearts fret; doubts drain strength; uncertainty paralyzes action....Unlike the first Christians who in three centuries won the Roman world, and those later Christians who pioneered the Reformation, and the Puritan awakening and the Evangelical revival, and the great missionary movement of the last century, we lack certainty. Why is this? We blame the external pressures of modern secularism, but this is like Eve blaming the serpent. The real truth is that we have grieved the Spirit...we stand under divine judgment. For two generations our churches have suffered from a famine of hearing the words of the Lord."
J. Dwight Pentecost, past professor of Bible exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, was once asked what advice he would give seminary graduates going into the pastorate. He gave an answer that needs to be carefully heeded, not only by young men entering the ministry, but also by seasoned preachers and experienced teachers:
The great need across evangelicalism is exposition of the Scriptures. I sense there is a departure from that, even among some of our own grads, who are entertaining the people, giving the people what they want, whereas we are called to teach the Word. It is the Word that is the power of God to salvation, it is the Word that is the power for Christian living, and I would want them to make the Word of God the center of their ministry. It may not be popular, it may not build mega-churches, but it will fulfill that to which they are called upon to do in ministry.
Those who enter the pulpit to preach, Kaiser admonished, should always be pointing to a text of Scripture. When a man preaches, he should never remove his finger from the Scriptures, Walter Kaiser charged in 2000 at the commencement address at Dallas Theological Seminary. If he is gesturing with his right hand, he should keep his left hand’s finger on the text. If he reverses hands for gesturing, then he should also reverse hands for holding his spot in the text. He should always be pointing to the Scriptures. Do you get the point???
All of these "pillars" are based on truth found in 2 Timothy.
Paul's point to Timothy the pastor at Ephesus is you have what you need to preach with power.
1 Corinthians 2:4 My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (dunamis)
Power is dunamis (dynamic, dynamo, dynamite) which in simple terms means "Intrinsic (or inherent) ability (power) for accomplishing supernaturally that which cannot be accomplished naturally." It is used over 110 times in the NT and is often translated miracle.
Note the association of the Spirit and power in 1 Cor 2:4. The Spirit is the "Energizer" Who enables supernatural preaching and supernatural Christian living.
Compare Spirit and power in 1 Thes 1:5+ where Pau writes to the believers at Thessalonica "our gospel did not come to you in word only (OUR HUMAN VOICES SPEAKING FORTH GOD'S WORDS), but also in power and in the Holy Spirit." (cf power and the Spirit in Acts 1:8+).
- See in depth study of dunamis
Testimony from John Piper regarding our need for supernatural power - How utterly dependent we are on the Holy Spirit in the work of preaching! All genuine preaching is rooted in a feeling of desperation. You wake up on Sunday morning and you can smell the smoke of hell on one side and feel the crisp breezes of heaven on the other. You go to your study and look down at your pitiful manuscript, and you kneel down and cry, “O God, this is so weak! Who do I think I am? What audacity to think that in three hours my words will be the odor of death to death and the fragrance of life to life (2 Cor. 2:16). My God, who is sufficient for these things?” (The Supremacy of God in Preaching)
Remember the WWJD bracelets? While that is a great grid through which to filter our daily choices there is another bracelet I would like to manufacture – it is HDJD. How Did Jesus Do it? This is the key not only to powerful preaching but power filled Christian living.
(From Jensen's Survey of the New Testament)
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Background - Jesus emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives when He was born a Man. His dynamic 3 year ministry was inaugurated when He was baptized by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit. Immediately the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days. After His temptation He began His dynamic teaching and preaching ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is How Jesus Did it! See Scriptures below support this premise.
The Holy Spirit in Jesus' Baptism - (Note "Trinity)
Mt 3:13-17 Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
Lk 3:19-23+ But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done, 20 Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison. 21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” 23 When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli,
The Spirit in Jesus' Temptation
Mt 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Mark 1:12 Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.
Luke 4:1+ Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness
The Spirit in Jesus ministries of Teaching and Preaching
Luke 4:14+ And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.
Luke 4:18+ “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED
Summary Statement of Jesus' ministry and the role of the Holy Spirit and Power
Acts 10:37-38+ you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Just so you don’t think I am making this up here is Dr John MacArthur’s explanation -
So, answer to the question, “How did Jesus do the will of God, the work of God in the way that God did it? How did He render perfect love toward God, perfect obedience toward God?” The answer, “By the power of the Holy Spirit.” The very person who empowered the perfect obedience of Christ is the very person that takes up residence in our lives as believers. So Jesus obeyed the word of God perfectly in the power of the Holy Spirit. 1 John 2:6 says “The one who says he abides in Him (in Christ) ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” If you say you abide in Christ you ought to walk as He walked. How did He walk? He walked in the Spirit; He walked in the power of the Spirit.” (Read his excellent analysis of Jesus' life The Perfect Model of a Spirit-Empowered Life).
So if the answer to HDJD is that Jesus was continually filled with the power of the Spirit, how does that relate to powerful preaching and practically to our Christian life? Let's examine a few more passages....
Paul commanded us
John exhorted us as to how we were to live our Christian life...
“The one who says he abides in Him (in Christ) ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:6+)
So how did Paul imitate Jesus and "walk like Jesus" (realizing of course that Jesus was still capable of miracles like walking on water that were not done in dependence on the Holy Spirit's power)? Paul answers in his letter to the Ephesians in one of the most important passages in the Scripture for those who are already believers/followers of Jesus.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18+)
Be filled is the verb pleroo in the present imperative and passive voice. The idea is to be being continually filled (allowing yourself to be filled, placing yourself in such a condition as to be a recipient of filling). And the idea of filled is that of control. What fills you controls you. If it is the Spirit (and Word - see below), than it is supernatural. If it is the "wine" of this world (and the flesh), then it is natural and powerless to bring about spiritual life. Jesus said "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (Jn 6:63).
Dr MacArthur agrees with the vital importance of this passage writing
Be filled translates the present passive imperative of plēroō, and is more literally rendered as “be being kept filled.” It is a command that includes the idea of conscious continuation. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not an option for believers but a mandate. No Christian can fulfill God’s will for his life apart from being filled with His Spirit. If we do not obey this command, we cannot obey any other—simply because we cannot do any of God’s will apart from God’s Spirit. Outside of the command for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, there is no more practical and necessary command in Scripture than the one for believers to be filled with the Spirit. (MacArthur NT Commentary - Ephesians - page 248, notes on Ephesians 5:18b)
Charles Swindoll adds...
I don’t know of a more important verse in the New Testament for the Christian than Ephesians 5:18—honest, no exaggeration. This verse tells the believer how to live an authentic, empowered life: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” It begins with a negative command: “Don’t get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation” (which means excess, existing hopelessly out of control). When you’re drunk with alcohol, you lose control. You also lose self-respect and the respect of others. “Don’t get drunk.” A positive command follows: “But be filled with the Spirit.”...This is a command, not a suggestion. It’s an urgent imperative, not a casual option...“Be filled” is a command, which means I play a part in it. For example, I cannot be filled with the Spirit while I have unconfessed sin within me. I cannot be filled with the Spirit while at the same time conducting my life in the energy of the flesh. I cannot be filled with the Spirit while I am resisting God’s will and relying only on myself. I need to be sure that I have taken care of the sins that have emerged in my life, that I have not ignored the wrong that I have done before God and to others. I need to walk in conscious dependence on the Lord on a daily basis. Many a morning I begin my day by sitting on the side of the bed, saying:
This is your day, Lord. I want to be at Your disposal. I have no idea what these next twenty-four hours will contain. But before I sip my first cup of coffee, and even before I get dressed, I want You to know that from this moment on throughout this day, I’m Yours, Lord. Help me to lean on You, to draw strength from You, and to have You fill my mind and my thoughts. Take control of my senses so that I am literally filled with Your presence and empowered with Your energy. I want to be Your tool, Your vessel today. I can’t make it happen. And so I’m saying, Lord, fill me with Your Spirit today.
I challenge you to begin every day with a similar prayer. “Lord, today, enable me to live out the authentic Christian life for Your glory.” Customize it with your own details depending on what may be the needs of that particular day. (Embraced by the Spirit: the Untold Blessings of Intimacy with God)
3 simple thoughts on how to be filled, how not to be filled and how to tell if you are filled...
(1) Drink wine to be physically drunk and drink the Word to be spiritually "drunk." See Colossians 3:16+ and notice how the effects of being filled with the Word are almost identical to the effects of being filled with the Spirit.
(2) Sin quenches (1 Th 5:19+) and grieves (Eph 4:30+) the Spirit - Keep "short accounts!" Confess 1 Jn 1:9+ quickly.
(3) Check His fruit in your life (Gal 5:22-23+) and remember it is a filling not a feeling! Another good "barometer" to assess whether you are filled with the Spirit is to check your tongue. The very first word after Paul commands us to be being filled with the Spirit is
- The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked! - Much more in depth discussion of the preceding which is only an abbreviated summary.
- Discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands or "How to Keep All 1642 Commandments in the New Testament!"
ADDENDUM - POWER FOR PREACHING (AND LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE)
Adrian Rogers was preaching a sermon entitled The Man of God and speaking of Elisha's desire to have power like his mentor Elijah (read 2 Ki 2:1-10, especially 2 Ki 2:9 = “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”), Pastor Rogers said the following which relates to every believer today and our Christian walk...
I wonder, are you really determined to have the power of God upon you life? Are you really? I honestly believe, and I'm checking my statement mentally, and it is not a glib statement, I honestly believe, I would rather die than to preach without power. I really believe that. And I guess if I could sum everything that I want, more than anything else, I want the power of God upon my life. I want it. I need that. And you need it. But you see, so many people do not have a determination. They do not say, this one thing I do (Php 3:13, cf Lk 10:42). They have a take it or leave it attitude towards spiritual power. They think it would be nice if they were divinely anointed, but not necessarily. And in a prayer meeting they may give a request for more power, easily uttered and soon forgotten, as soon as they get back home and turn on the television. They do not have a burning, blistering, thirst that will not take "no" for and answer. I don't know how much of the power of God you have but I am persuaded that you have all, you want. And if you don't have more power, it is because you do not want more power. It is not God's fault that you don't have any power in you life, it is your own fault. Sometimes we act like God is the tyrant, and we are the heroes. "Mean old God," if we could only persuade God and tell God how desperately we need to be anointed with power, perhaps we could talk Him into doing what we need. Here was man who was determined, determined he was, he had, dear friend, a sheer determination (TO BE FILLED WITH SPIRITUAL POWER).
We all need to have the desire and determination of Elisha when he realized that his mentor Elijah was soon to depart and cried out to him (2 King 2:9) “When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
Colossians and Ephesians are parallel epistles in a number of respects and Ephesians 5:18-6:9 presents a very interesting parallel with Colossians 3:16-4:1 as summarized in the following table (NAS77). First, take a few minutes to pray (Ps 119:18+, Eph 1:17, 18, 19+) and read through both sections of Scripture, especially observing the similarities (Ps 119:130+). Then go through the following chart to see if you agree with the parallel comparisons.
THOUGHT - Ask yourself, what parallel truths is God teaching us in these two great sections of Scripture? Which of my interpersonal relationships do these passages address? How can we apply these truths to our personal life, our marriage, our family, our workplace, etc? What might transpire in each of those points of application? Then read the explanatory notes that follow.
|Ephesians 5:18-6:9||Colossians 3:16-4:1|
WORD OF CHRIST
|Teaching & Admonishing
and SPIRITUAL SONGS
and SPIRITUAL SONGS
|SINGING and making melody
with YOUR HEART
to the Lord
|SINGING with thankfulness
in YOUR HEARTS
|Always GIVING THANKS for ALL things
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
to God, even the Father
|Do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus,
GIVING THANKS through Him
to God the Father
to your own husbands
to your husbands
LOVE your wives
LOVE your wives
OBEY your parents
in the Lord
to your parents
DO NOT PROVOKE
your children to anger
BRING THEM UP
in discipline & instruction of the Lord
DO NOT EXASPERATE
BE OBEDIENT to those
who are your masters
according to the flesh
in all things OBEY those
who are your masters
DO the same thing to them (slaves)
Give up threatening
knowing that both their Master & yours
is in heaven
& there is no partiality with Him
GRANT to your slaves
justice and fairness
knowing that you too
have a Master
Note that every verb in red font signifies imperative mood (commands, not good suggestions) and all are in the present tense (continuous action, habitual practice, as one's "lifestyle", speaks of our general "direction," not perfection!). Now stop for a moment and ask yourself - can I keep even ONE of these commands in my own strength? If you think you can, just try it the next time your spouse "verbally insults/assaults" your intelligence! None of us can keep these commands in our strength and to try to do so is to fall into the trap of self reliance and legalism. Here is the key that unlocks the door to supernatural living...
THE HUMAN SPIRIT FAILS UNLESS
THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLS
Too often we read Paul's long list of commands and forget to examine the context, which is critical for accurate interpretation and in this case crucial for real-life practical application! The context in this case clearly gives us the answer regarding how we can carry out the commands. These "holy" actions can only be energized or enabled by the Holy Spirit Who dwells in each saint. If we are filled with or controlled by Him, yielded to Him, depending on Him, casting off any semblance of self-reliance, then, and only then, can we successfully keep these commands. And as we do so, we are in effect also fulfilling Paul's (present imperative) command to walk by the Spirit which effectively prevents us from carrying out the desires of the flesh (cp Gal 5:16+, cf Ro 8:13+).
Notice that Spirit filling SHOULD RADICALLY AFFECT ALL of our relationships - wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves (think "employee" today), masters (think "employer" today)! Every vital social interaction is to be impacted by the Holy Spirit! So let me ask you a rhetorical (for effect primarily) question --
"How important is obedience to Paul's command that we be continually filled with/controlled by the Holy Spirit? And can you even obey his command without the help of the Helper Who fills you (and enables you. We need Him to enable us. To say we need His help implies we just need a little "push" which is not the case. We need His life lived out wholly in and through us.)? Meditate on that thought today! And then, as Ray Pritchard puts it do what you do when you go to full service gas station (yes you younger folks, there once was such a fabled entity!)...Cry out " Fill me up! " expressing your deep desire for and desperate dependence on the Spirit's enabling power to carry out God's commands which are not burdensome (1Jn 5:3+)!
As an aside, it is interesting that we see so many Christian marriages and families in various states of disturbance, dissonance (lack of agreement) and/or even imminent dissolution. Paul was written us a "prescription", so to speak, for the "balm" (a soothing restorative agent) that can bring healing to families and marriages in dire (dismal, dreadful) straits! But like any medicine, the doctor can prescribe the best remedy, but the pill still has to be swallowed in order to effect a cure. What would happen to marriages and families that made an intentional effort (initiated by and energized by the Spirit of Grace-Heb 10:29b) to study and meditate on Paul's prescription in these passages and related cross references? In Psalm 107 the Spirit says that when the disobedient and distressed children of Israel "cried out to the LORD in their trouble, He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." (Psalm 107:19, 20). Beloved, His Name is Jehovah Rapha (Jehovah Rophe) The LORD our Healer and He is the same yesterday, today and forever and His Word is able to bring hope and healing to the hopeless and broken hearted!
Notice that the "variable" in these parallel passages is God's Holy Spirit in Ephesians and God's Holy Word in Colossians. The effects of being filled with the Spirit and the commands to be carried out by Spirit filled saints are virtually identical to those seen in saints who are in a sense "filled" with the Word of God! And so how can we discern if a person is filled with the Spirit as described in Ephesians? He or she is joyful and thankful. How can we tell if a believer is filled with the Word of God as described in Colossians? He or she is joyful and thankful!
So clearly, one of the keys to the Spirit filled life, is to marinate our mind with the Word of life (Php 2:16+, 1Jn 1:1+), the Word of truth by which we are set apart (Jn 17:17) and walk (in the Spirit's enabling power) in obedience to the Truth we have learned. The result will be a growing understanding and experiencing of the eminently practical Spirit filled life. So let me ask you - How's your "appetite?" Are you eating His Word daily? (Observe how important Jesus thinks this is in Mt 4:4) Notice that the question is not are you reading your daily devotional, but are you spending time with Jesus, Who is the Word (Jn 1:1+) letting His living and active Word dwell in your richly? (Cp Heb 4:12,13+, 1Pe 1:23, 24, 25+, 1Pe 2:2+)? If not, then you need to decrease your "dietary intake" of devotionals, Christian books, etc, and replace them with intake of solid meat (Heb 5:14+) and the pure (unadulterated, no additives) milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (1Pe 2:2+, 2Pe 3:18+).
Warren Wiersbe alludes to the filling of the Spirit in reminding us of a vital truth if we are to live and minister as more than conquerors -
"Jesus performed His ministry on earth in the power of the Spirit (Lk 4:1 = "full of the Holy Spirit", Lk 4:14 = "in the power of the Holy Spirit", Acts 10:38 = "God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power") and this (Ed: I would say "He" referring to the Person of the Spirit) is the only resource we have for Christian living (Ed: and ministry) today. As you read the Book of Acts, you see the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church, for there are some fifty-nine references to the Spirit in the book, or one fourth of the total references found in the New Testament. Someone has said, “If God took the Holy Spirit out of this world, most of what we Christians are doing would go right on—and nobody would know the difference!” Sad, but true. The power of the Spirit is given to us “according to the riches of His glory” (Eph. 3:16+). Christ returned to glory and sent the Spirit from heaven to indwell and empower His people. It is not necessary for us to “work something up.” The power has to be sent down. How marvelous that God does not give the Spirit’s power to us “out of His riches” but “according to”—which is a far greater thing. If I am a billionaire and I give you ten dollars, I have given you out of my riches; but if I give you a million dollars, I have given to you according to my riches. The first is a portion; the second is a proportion. This power is available for “the inner man.” This means the spiritual part of man where God dwells and works. The inner man of the lost sinner is dead (Eph. 2:1), but it becomes alive when Christ is invited in. The inner man can see (Ps. 119:18), hear (Mt 13:9), taste (Ps. 34:8), and feel (Acts 17:27+); and he must be “exercised” (1 Ti 4:7, 8+). He also must be cleansed (Ps. 51:7) and fed (Mt 4:4). The outer man is perishing, but the inner man can be renewed spiritually in spite of outward physical decay (2 Cor. 4:16-18). It is this inner power that makes him succeed. What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit empower the inner man? It means that our spiritual faculties are controlled by God, and we are exercising them and growing in the Word (Heb. 5:12–14+). It is only when we yield to the Spirit and let Him control the inner man that we succeed in living to the glory of God. This means feeding the inner man the Word of God, praying and worshiping, keeping clean, and exercising the senses by loving obedience. " (Bible Exposition Commentary - Comments on Ephesians 3:16). (Bolding and italics added)
IN SUMMARY - A Word-filled Christian is a Spirit-filled Christian, a believer who is so controlled by the Word of God that it dominates his or her entire life. Their life demonstrates that they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 1:3+ I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,
Note the number's "44" and "8" on either side of the image above. They are the prayers of Paul respectfully for the saints and the saints for Paul. Prayers going both "directions" (so to speak)! This is dynamic prayer in a church and God will honor it with His presence and His power!
Spurgeon’s illustration - Five college students visited Spurgeon’s church and were asked “Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” The young men were taken downstairs, the door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.” What they saw was 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. As he closed the door, the man introduced himself. It was none other than C H Spurgeon.
On another occasion, Spurgeon was asked, ‘Mr. Spurgeon, what is your secret?’ he replied without hesitation, ‘My people pray for me.’ Note - Not his brilliance, not his preparation, etc, but the people's prayers! Do we really understand (and believe) the power that God would unleash (cf Eph 3:20+) in response to praying His Word for our pastor and the saints? I think too often the answer is "No."
I surveyed all of the prayers in Paul’s 13 epistles and found a fascinating pattern, which I will call “Divine Equilibrium”. LET ME EXPLAIN…
2 Thes 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for US that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you
Prayers for Paul, Silas and Timothy - 8 prayers for Paul et al are in Paul's epistles
2 Thes 3:5 May the Lord direct YOUR hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
Prayers of Paul for the Church. - 44 prayers for Paul et al are in Paul's epistles. So not only is Paul praying for "Pastor Timothy" (2 Ti 1:3), but he is praying of the saints in all of the churches
And so there is a "divine equilibrium" in that the prayers are "balanced," some for Paul and some for the Church. Both need and benefit from these prayers. a "mutually beneficial" fellowship!
PERSONAL TESTIMONY TO POWER OF PRAYER IN MINISTRY (my full personal testimony of God's grace) - Story of Louise who prayed 20 years for me to meet Jesus, which happened at age 39. And then shortly after that my father died but we stayed in touch (she was his second wife) and she began to pray Colossians 1:9-14 for me night and day for the next 10 years. And I have little doubt that my decision to retire from medical practice at age 59 and go into full time ministry for Jesus is largely a result of her persistent prayer of Colossians 1:9-14+. Think about your prayers as if you are throwing a rock in a pond – what happens? Ripples come forth one after another and go ever outward. I can testify I am where I am because of the "ripple effect" of prayers prayed for me 20 years ago by Louise. I have been praying this same prayer for Jason and for every member of OHBC congregation daily for the last 30 days. Is it wrong to let others know you are praying for them? Note that Paul himself let Timothy know that he was praying for him night and day, so clearly it is not wrong to let the pastor know you are praying for him without ceasing (cf 1 Th 5:17+). When others are persistently praying the Words of God to the God of the Word on our behalf we will always be encouraged and motivated to press on toward the goal!
Colossians 1:9-14+ - This is a "LARGE PETITION."
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened (dunamoo in the present tense = continually empowered = this is the supernatural enabling by the Holy Spirit) with all (not a fraction of power but all) power (dunamis), according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness (hupomone) and patience (makrothumia - the very attitude Paul instructs Timothy to have in 2 Ti 4:2b where patience = makrothumia); joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
"Large Petitions" are such that they are sure to "hit the target!"
Regarding "large petitions," I love the words of John Newton’s hymn we will be singing. If you are not yet believer in Jesus listen to the words and I pray the Spirit enables you to sing them honestly Come My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare (Play Matt Foreman's beautiful version) and bring "large petitions" to the King of kings. Amen!
Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay;
Therefore will not say thee nay.
Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much;
None can ever ask too much.
With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let Thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt;
Set my conscience free from guilt.
Lord, I come to Thee for rest,
Take possession of my breast;
There Thy blood bought right maintain,
And without a rival reign;
And without a rival reign.
While I am a pilgrim here,
Let Thy love my spirit cheer;
As my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,
Lead me to my journey’s end;
Lead me to my journey’s end.
Show me what I have to do,
Every hour my strength renew:
Let me live a life of faith,
Let me die Thy people’s death;
Let me die Thy people’s death.
And what happens when we pray God’s Word back to His throne of Grace? John tells us…
1 John 5:14-15+ This is the confidence (boldness) which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will (this is the key - according to His will! And where is that? Always most safely found in His Word!), He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
Warren Wiersbe - Blessed are those pastors whose ministry is faithfully supported in prayer by their people! A praying congregation believes that God’s power still works today and they assemble, expecting the Holy Spirit to work. In my own itinerant ministry, it’s been refreshing in church after church to have groups of laymen lay hands on me and pray earnestly for God’s help, and then stay together during the entire service, interceding for God’s blessing....When the church is made up of praying people, the preacher can sense it in the study, during his personal pastoral ministry, and especially in the pulpit when he proclaims the Word. “My house will be called a house of prayer,” said Jesus, quoting Isaiah the prophet (Mt 21:13; Isa. 56:7); and when it’s a house of prayer, it will also be a house of Spirit-empowered preaching.”
C H Spurgeon adds "The sinew of the minister’s strength under God is the supplication of his church. We can do anything and everything IF we have a praying people around us. But when our dear friends and fellow helpers cease to pray the Holy Ghost hastens to depart, and ‘Ichabod’ is written on the place of assembly….What can we do without your prayers? They link us with the omnipotence of God. Like the lightning rod, they pierce the clouds and bring down the mighty and mysterious power from on high.…The Lord give me a dozen importunate pleaders and lovers of souls, and by his grace we will shake all London from end-to-end.”
APPLICATION – If you want Spirit empowered preaching, pray “large petitions” (like Col 1:9-12) for the pastor. And pastor if you want Spirit enabled listening and obeying, pray “large petitions” for every person at OHBC.
ILLUSTRATION OF "RIPPLE EFFECT" OF OUR PRAYERS - Prayers answered at last - During a long course of years, even to the closing fortnight of his life, in his last sickness, Adoniram Judson lamented that all his efforts in behalf of the Jews had been a failure. He was departing from the world saddened with that thought. Then, at last, there came a gleam of light that thrilled his heart with grateful joy. Mrs. Judson was sitting by his side while he was in a state of great languor, with a copy of the Watchman and Reflector in her hand. She read to her husband one of Dr. Hague’s letters from Constantinople. That letter contained some items of information that filled him with wonder. At a meeting of missionaries at Constantinople, Mr. Schauffler stated that a little book had been published in Germany giving an account of Dr. Judson’s life and labours; that it had fallen into the hands of some Jews; and had been the means of their conversion; that a Jew had translated it for a community of Jews on the borders of the Euxine, and that a message had arrived in Constantinople asking that a teacher might be sent to show them the way of life. When Dr. Judson heard this his eyes were filled with tears, a look of almost unearthly solemnity came over him, and, clinging fast to his wife’s hand as if to assure himself of being really in the world, he said, “Love, this frightens me, I do not know what to make of it.” “To make of what? “ said Mrs. Judson. “Why, what you have just been reading, I never was deeply interested in any object, I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything, but it came (ED: In other words he had never prayed sincerely and earnestly in futility, for in time God answered in some way as in the present example of the Jews); at some time--no matter how distant the day--somehow, in some shape, probably the last I should have devised, it came! “ What a testimony this great saint gave us - It lingered on the lips of the dying Judson; it was embalmed with grateful tears, and it is worthy to be transmitted as a legacy to the coming generation. The desire of the righteous shall be granted (Pr 10:24, cf Ps 37:4, Ps 145:19). Pray and wait. The answer to all true prayer will come. In Judson’s case the news of the answer came before he died, but it was answered long before. So we may know of the results of prayers and toils even while we sojourn here; but if not, what sweet surprises shall await us in the great beyond!
Paul’s prayers for the church –
Ro 1:8-10 (Saints he had never seen); Ro 15:5-6; , Ro 16:20, 24, 25-27, 1 Cor 1:3, 1:4-9; 1 Cor 16:23-24; 2 Cor 1:2, 2 Cor 1:11; 2 Cor 13:7,9; 2 Cor 13:14; Gal 1:3-5; Gal 6:16; Gal 6:18; Eph 1:2; Eph 1:15-23; Eph 3:14-21; Eph 6:23-24; Php 1:2-11; Php 4:23; Col 1:2; Col 1:3-14; 1 Th 1:1, 3-10; 1 Th 2:13; 1 Th 3:9-13; 1 Th 5:23-24; 1 Th 5:28; 2 Th 1:3-12; 2 Th 2:13; 2 Th 3:5, 2 Th 3:16; 1 Ti 1:2, 1 Ti 6:21; 2 Ti 1:2, 3-5; 2 Ti 1:16, 18; 2 Ti 4:22; Titus 1:4, Titus 3:15; Philemon 1:3; 4-7; Philemon 1:25
Paul’s request for prayers –
Ro 15:30-33; Eph 6:18-20; Php 1:19; Col 4:2-4; Col 4:18; 1 Th 5:25; 2 Th 3:1, Philemon 1:22
Other Prayers by Paul -
Prayer Inspired by the Spirit (Ro 8:15, 23, 26, 27), Ro 10:1; Ro 11:33-36; Ro 12:12, Ro 16:20; 1 Cor 1:14, 2 Cor 12:8; 2 Cor 1:23; 1 Cor 7:5, 1 Cor 15:57; 2 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 4:15; 2 Cor 8:16; 2 Cor 9:11-15; Gal 1:6-9; Gal 1:24; Gal 4:6; Eph 1:3-14; Eph 5:20; Php 4:6-7; Php 4:20; Col 3:15-17; Col 4:12-13; 1 Th 5:17-18; 1 Ti 1:12; 1 Ti 6:15-16; 2 Ti 4:16, 18;
Be diligent is the "Nike" command, the aorist imperative, which speaks of urgency and necessity - Just do it! And how can any one obey this supernatural command? Only possible by relying on supernatural Source, filling with and empowerment by the Spirit!
Amplified Version (Classic) - Study and be eager and do your utmost (Ed: "Do your utmost for His highest!" - O. Chambers) to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
Three examples of diligent men… (Read, Study, Dream) - I would not advise relying on the third method from the anecdotal story of the Prince of Preachers, C H Spurgeon.
- G Campbell Morgan – read book 40-50x as he diligently prepared for his Friday night Bible studies which were attended by 1000’s of people.
- John MacArthur – ask for 30 hours study time condition before he would accept the position of pastor at his current church. And we all know the amazing ministry the Lord as given him because he was diligent to rightly divide the Word of Truth!e
- Susannah Spurgeon, CHS’ dream on Saturday night – was the very message he preached Sunday AM
One very remarkable incident happened about this time. On a certain Saturday evening C. H. Spurgeon found himself quite unable to get any light upon the text from which he believed he ought to preach on the following morning. Commentaries were consulted, but in vain, and his wife could not help him. The rest of the story shall be told in Mrs. Spurgeon’s own words.
“He sat up very late and was utterly worn out and dispirited, for all his efforts to get at the heart of the text were unavailing. I advised him to retire to rest and soothed him by suggesting that if he would try to sleep then, he would probably in the morning feel quite refreshed and able to study to better purpose. ‘If I go to sleep now, wifey, will you wake me very early so that I may have plenty of time to prepare? ‘With my loving assurance that I would watch the time for him and call him soon enough, he was satisfied; and, like a trusting, tired child, he laid his head upon the pillow and slept soundly and sweetly at once. “By-and-by a wonderful thing happened. During the first dawning hours of the Sabbath, I heard him talking in his sleep, and roused myself to listen attentively. Soon I realized that he was going over the subject of the verse which had been so obscure to him, and was giving a clear and distinct exposition of its :meaning with much force and freshness. I set myself with almost trembling joy to understand and follow all that he was saying, for I knew that if I could but seize and remember the salient points of the discourse he would have no difficulty in developing and enlarging upon them. Never preacher had a more eager and anxious hearer! What if I should let the precious words slip? I had no means at hand of ‘taking notes,’ so, like Nehemiah, ‘I prayed to the God of Heaven,’ and asked that I might receive and retain the thoughts which He had given to His servant in his sleep, and which were so, singularly’ entrusted to my keeping. As I lay repeating over and over again the chief points I wished to remember, my happiness was very great in anticipation of his surprise and delight on awaking; but I had kept vigil so long, cherishing my joy, that I must have been overcome with slumber just ‘when the usual time for rising came, for he awoke with a frightened start, and seeing the tell-tale clock, said, ‘Oh, wifey, you said you would wake me very early, and now see the time! Oh, why did you let me sleep? What shall I do? What shall I do?’ ‘Listen, beloved,’ I answered; and I told him all I had heard. ‘Why! that’s just what I wanted,’ he: exclaimed; ‘that is the true explanation of the whole verse! And you say I preached it in my sleep?’ ‘It is wonderful,’ he repeated again and again, and we both praised the Lord for so remarkable a manifestation of His power and love.” (From Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon A biography of Susannah Spurgeon by Charles Ray 1905)
Prepare like Ezra – Ezra was an OT Scribe who was used by the Spirit to ignite a great revival after the Jews returned to Jerusalem from 70 years captivity in Babylon. And how did Ezra facilitate revival (See discussion of the revival)? HE PREACHED THE WORD! But before he preached, he prepared.
Ezra 7:9-10+ (NOTE: "+" SIGN INDICATES COMMENTARY AVAILABLE) For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because (term of explanation) the good hand of his God was upon him. 10 For (term of explanation) Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
Comment - Notice the strategic term of explanation, especially the one at the beginning of verse 10. Why was the good hand of the LORD on Ezra enabling him to successfully lead many captives from Babylon to Jerusalem and later to bring about a revival among the people? His heart attitude was the beginning of it all. It was like the headwaters of a great river, that begins in a small stream high in the mountains and flows down to become a mighty rushing river. His "heart inclination" led to his intense study, motivated his immediate obedience (practice) which empowered his Spirit energized message of revival.
After I have eaten, Lord,
And on Your Word have fed,
Help me share with others from
Your precious, living bread.
The prepared pastor Knows the way Goes the way and Shows the way. The result? The good hand of the Lord was not only on the pastor but the people and they experienced Revival. By God's grace would this be true at OHBC as the pastor sets his heart to "eat" the Word, live out the Word and then preach the Word. The pastor and the people will experience the good hand of the Lord and could experience revival.
All biblical preachers and teachers would do well to follow this pattern of Ezra’s ministry, which involved knowing (“study”), being (“practice”), and doing (“teach”). These three aspects of his Word-oriented ministry—learn it, live it, and let it out
Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, “Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.” And ours should be too. That is what it means to rely on the gift of the Spirit’s Word.
APPLICATION – For Jason and for all of us beloved may we be diligent like Ezra or like John Wesley and cry to God "O give me that Book! At any price give me that Book!" And so little wonder he was called a "man of one book." And God used him mightily in the First Great Awakening. O, to be a man or woman of ONE BOOK! Let it be so in this place and in the hearts of all who hear me. Amen.
Let God's Word (and Spirit)
fill your mind,
rule your heart,
and guide your steps
ADDENDUM - MEMORIZATION - Tradition also tells us that Ezra had memorized the entire Old Testament. Whether that was true or not, clearly he was a WORD SATURATED preacher. Ezra mastered the Word and the Word mastered him. I have been memorizing Scripture for 34 years and can say without any hesitation that it is the single most important Spiritual Discipline I have ever practiced.
All of God's commandments come pre-packaged with all necessary components because His commandment always includes His enablement. The only way redeemed but still fallen men and women can keep the command continually (which is what the present tense calls for) is by continual yielding to and dependence on the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is God's provision of enablement for every commandment! May our Father grant each of us to continually walk in the freedom and power that found only in the Spirit of Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen
Here is one of the most poignant and convicting illustrations of treasuring the Word I have ever read...
The first requirement for keeping that TREASURE is to recognize that it is a TREASURE. A beautiful and touching story is told of a young French girl who had been born blind. After she learned to read by touch, a friend gave her a Braille copy of Mark’s gospel. She read it so much that her fingers became calloused and insensitive. In an effort to regain her feeling, she cut the skin from the ends of her fingers. Tragically, however, her calluses were replaced by permanent and even more insensitive scars. She sobbingly gave the book a goodbye kiss, saying, “FAREWELL, FAREWELL, SWEET WORD OF MY HEAVENLY FATHER.” In doing so, she discovered that her lips were even more sensitive than her fingers had been, and she spent the rest of her life reading her great treasure with her lips. Would that every Christian had such an appetite for the Word of God!
The practice of Jesus Himself is ample testimony to the value of Scripture memorization. Jesus said Thus saith the Lord or God said or It is written or Have you not read that it was said 92 times! Clearly our Lord Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man, left an example (hupogrammos) for (us) to follow in His steps (1Pe 2:21+). As Paul commanded the saints at Ephesus we should be imitators (mimetes) of God, as beloved children (Ep 5:1)
Dr. Howard Hendricks has made the statement (and I paraphrase) that if it were his decision, every student graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary would be required to learn 1000 verses word perfect before they received their degree. May his tribe increase!
Well known Bible teacher Dr. Chuck Swindoll has written:
"I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture...No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified." (from Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life) And you are far more likely to be filled with the Holy Spirit when you filled with the Holy Word.
As someone has well said sin will keep you from the Bible or the Bible will keep you from sin. Bibles that are "falling apart" usually belong to people who are not.
Billy Graham once said "I am convinced that one of the greatest things we can do is to memorize Scripture."
Nike command in aorist imperative. The only way to obey the command to “BE READY” is what? You guessed it = “BE FILLED” with God’s Spirit and Word. This Greek word was used to describe a military guard at his post alert for threat of enemy infiltration or attack. Practically it describes one as ready to speak the Word of Truth without fear even with a sense of urgency. Our message is vital and should be preached with vitality and urgency. Picture a paramedic unit on call, ready to save someone’s life. Souls are perishing without Christ. Christians are straying from the fold. Proclaim God’s (Gospel) Word whenever and wherever you can! Be a “paramedic” for Jesus!
- Do I have a sense of urgency to share God’s Word?
- Am I ready to boldly share the Word?
HOW? By being filled with the Word and the Spirit Who will give you the supernatural boldness you don’t have naturally. All through the book of Acts we see a church on fire and the reason is they were filled with the Word and filled the Spirit Who gave them holy boldness and holy passion to preach the Word.
1 Peter 3:15+ Sanctify (aorist imperative) Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
In season and out of season = all the time. Think of where Paul is as he writes – in prison modeling for Timothy what it means to be ready in season and out of season. It is Paul’s pattern of persistent preaching! Whether it is convenient or not, what it is welcome or unwelcome, whether the time is favorable or not. Sometimes our offer of the Gospel will not be favorably received and as a mentor of mine used to say “Preach the Word and duck!”
Hebrews 6:12+ - Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises – John Berridge (read short bio of one of my favorite men of God) was such a man, a man of the stature of Wesley and Whitefield but who few saints know…let me take you first to the end of his life to gain a perspective…here is the epitaph he wrote himself. I love it!
Reader art thou born again?
No salvation without new birth.
I was born in sin February 1716
Remained ignorant of my fallen state till 1730
Lived proudly on faith and works for salvation till 1754
Admitted to Everton vicarage 1755
Fled to Jesus alone for refuge 1756
Fell asleep in Christ, 22 January, 1793."
For 37 years Berridge was ready day in and day out with reports of as many as 4000 conversions in one year. He was so READY to preach the Gospel that he was called before the Anglican Bishop (the other pastors were jealous, convicted and complained to the bishop) and reproved for preaching at all hours of the day and on every day of the week period. His reply to the bishop was “My lord, I preach only at 2 times.‘’ The puzzled Bishop pressed him, ”and which are they, Mr Berridge? ‘’ he quickly responded, ‘’in season and out of season, my lord’’ (MAY HIS TRIBE INCREASE)
We will be singing one of John Berridge's hymns. As you sing (or read below) pay close attention to his powerful, convicting phrases! (Play hymn)
1. Jesus cast a look on me,
Give me sweet simplicity
Make me poor and keep me low,
Seeking only Thee to know
2. All that feeds my busy pride,
Cast it evermore aside
Bid my will to Thine submit,
Lay me humbly at Thy feet
3. Make me like a little child,
Of my strength and wisdom spoiled
Seeing only in Thy light,
Walking only in Thy might
4. Leaning on Thy loving breast,
Where a weary soul can rest
Feeling well the peace of God,
Flowing from His precious blood
5. In this posture let me live,
And hosannas daily give
In this temper let me die,
And hosannas ever cry!
To help understand Paul's use of in season, the Greek word eukairos, it is important to understand that the main root word kairos refers to a fixed and definite time, a period possessed of certain characteristics (e.g., in context Paul has alluded to the characteristics of the "last days" - cp 2Ti 3:1, 2ff-note. Kairos does not emphasize a point of time but rather a "time space", a segment of time, filled with all kinds of possibilities/oppurtunities.
To help understand Paul's use of in season, the Greek word eukairos it is important to understand that the main root word kairos refers to a fixed and definite time, a period possessed of certain characteristics (e.g., in context Paul has alluded to the characteristics of the "last days" which will be characterized by "difficult times" where the word for "times" is kairos - 2 Ti 3:1, 2+). Kairos does not emphasize a point of time but rather a "time space", a segment of time, filled with all kinds of possibilities/opportunities.
An ancient Greek statue depicted a man with wings on his feet, a large lock of hair on the front of his head, and no hair at all on the back. Beneath was the inscription:
- Who made thee? Lysippus made me.
- What is thy name? My name is Opportunity.
- Why hast thou wings on thy feet? That I may fly away swiftly.
- Why hast thou a great forelock? That men may seize me when I come.
- Why art thou bald in back? That when I am gone by, none can lay hold of me.
Shakespeare although not using the specific Greek word, alludes to the idea inherent in the word kairos...
There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. (Julius Caesar, 4.3.217)
Napoleon said, "There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point. (cf "Kairos") Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated."
In season and out recalls to mind the advice of "the Preacher" writing
Sow your seed in the morning, and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. (Ec 11:6)
Wuest adds that "The preacher is to proclaim the Word when the time is auspicious, favorable, opportune, and also when the circumstances seem unfavorable. So few times are still available for preaching that the preacher must take every chance he has to preach the Word. There is no closed season for preaching (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans) (Bolding added)
So whether the time is favorable or not (as in the "latter days" Paul warned about in 2Ti 3:1+ when there will be difficult people in the church not outside of the church) we have our orders as good soldiers (cp 2Ti 2:3,4+). One proof that we are in a right relationship with our Lord and Master is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not and whether the Word is welcomed or not. It is easy to make excuses when we ought to be making the most of the opportunity (Col 4:5, 6+).
IVP Bible Background Commentary adds that "Greco-Roman moralists often discussed the “appropriate” time for speech, especially frank speech; Paul says that Timothy should announce his message whether or not people are willing to listen." (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
The dictates of popular culture, tradition, reputation, acceptance, or esteem in the community (or in the church) must never alter the true preacher’s commitment to proclaim God’s Word. Paul addressing the Ephesian elders reminded them that he practiced what he preached -
You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews, how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:18-21+)
Lock adds that this phrase (in season and out of season) refers to "Both whether or not the moment seems to fit your hearers, welcome or not welcome, and whether or not it is convenient to you, on duty or off duty (a soldier in active service is never really "off duty" cf 2 Ti 2:3,4+), in the pulpit or out of it
William Barclay adds "As someone has put it: "Take or make your opportunity." As Theodore of Mospeustia put it: ‘The Christian must count every time an opportunity to speak for Christ.’ It was said of George Morrison of Wellington Church in Glasgow that with him wherever the conversation started, it went straight across country to Christ. (Daily Study Bible Series)
Reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.
All three are “Nike Commercial” commands in the aorist imperative – Just do it! But remember that you cannot "just do it" in your own natural strength but must daily be filled and learn to lean on God's always sufficient supernatural supply of strength to do it.
(1) REPROVE – Word preached shines light on those hidden areas in our heart. It means to convince that one’s behavior is an affront to a Holy God. We don’t have to be “persuasive” but do need to speak the Word of Truth and the Spirit of Truth does the rest as Jesus explained in John 16:8 “the Spirit comes (that was Pentecost for them but now the moment of our new birth for us), He will convict (same verb) the world concerning sin, and righteousness and judgment.”
(2) REBUKE – If reprove means to convince, this verb means to confront. The idea is to express sharp disapproval of one’s sinful behavior. Now the preacher doesn’t look over at Mr Prideful and confront him from the pulpit - he simply preaches the Word which is sharper than a two edged sword and the Word does the work. How many times pastor after a service and ask “You’ve been talking to my wife haven’t you. Otherwise how could you know I was struggling with that sin!”
(3) EXHORT – Comfort the Sinner, the downcast and the despairing. The pictures one who is called alongside another. Put your hand on their shoulder. The man of the book is filled with and controlled by the Spirit and functions as God’s comforting agent.
Notice the balance in reprove, rebuke, exhort – a steady barrage of reproof and rebuke can demoralize and lead to despair. A good coach challenges and corrects but a good coach comforts and encourages.
- Reprove – Convince of sin – Shine the light
- Rebuke – Call out sin – Slap the hand
- Exhort – Comfort – Put your hand on their shoulder
HOW TO REPROVE, REBUKE AND EXHORT – great patience and instruction
(1) Great patience (makrothumia) – literally a long fuse. The picture is he has a long burn before he explodes. The Greek word is part of the fruit of the Spirit, again emphasizing our need to be Spirit filled, Spirit controlled. Spirit enabled, self restraint which does not hastily retaliate to a wrong word or action. (1 Co 13:4 “Love is patient”)
(2) Instruction (didache) - sound (healthy) doctrine teaching in such a way so as to renew minds, changing the way they think.
ADDENDUM - Dwight Edwards adds this note - Paul also gives the manner in which these three forms of communication are to take place: ". . . with all longsuffering and teaching." There is a critical balance given in this last phrase. The servant of Christ must be characterized by CONVICTION ("teaching") and COMPASSION ("long-suffering"). Like Christ, we must strive to be "full of grace and truth" John 1:14, to be GROUNDED IN THE SCRIPTURES, yet GENTLE IN OUR SPIRIT. If we have conviction without compassion then we will be like the rattlesnake -- people will respect us but they won't want to get close to us. We will have a message, but no audience. If, on the other hand, we have compassion without conviction, then people will be drawn to us, but our life will have no cutting edge to significantly help them. We will have an audience but no real message. But conviction coupled with compassion will enable us to "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15) and provide the caring atmosphere in which the word of God can work most effectively. (2 Timothy Notes)
Let me sum it up that we are to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
TWO FINAL SIMPLE APPLICATIONS:
Future focus – Father enabled by Thy Holy Spirit enable us to mediate frequently on eternity and the glories of being in the presence of Christ. Time is short. Eternity is long. And if there are any here today who do not know Jesus Christ, may the Spirit enable them to ponder soberly and honestly an eternity away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
Present Priority – Father we ask you to empower us by Thy Holy Word and Thy Holy Spirit to see every soul we encounter as an eternal being and give us holy boldly to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection that they might believe the Gospel and be saved from the guttermost to the uttermost. In Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen.