2 Timothy 4:1–2 (NKJV)
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
This morning witnesses the happy confluence of several different streams. First, as you know I am returning to preaching today following my month out of the pulpit in July – and it is good to be back. Second, as you have no doubt noticed, we are blessed to have a new pulpit up front. This is the fruit of much urging and planning and craftsmanship and we are grateful to dedicate it to the Lord’s service. Finally, today happens to be the 10th anniversary of my full-time preaching at Trinity Church. Ten years ago this Sunday I began preaching in Coeur d’Alene. Today’s sermon is around number 435.
So the elders thought it fitting that the exhortation this morning (1) remind us why we place such emphasis on preaching the Word and (2) summon us to a renewed commitment to the Word. So why do we devote such attention to preaching and learning the Word? Quite simply because Paul commands it. Note his exhortation to Timothy: Preach the Word! The imperative here is not a one-time duty but a perpetual obligation; not the, “Pick up that towel!” of your mom who saw your towel on the bathroom floor, but the, “Stand up straight!” of your dad who saw you slouching. Do it now and keep doing it!
Paul commands Timothy, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.” Preach the Word in the times of Nehemiah when the people are rejoicing to do the will and work of God – those are the “in season” times. Thankfully, I can report that at Trinity Church we have experienced years of this “in season.” You have joyfully listened to the Word of God and routinely asked for more pointed application of the Word to your specific situations. Praise God!
But Paul called Timothy to preach not only in the times of Nehemiah but in the times of Jeremiah – times when the people are hard-hearted and uninterested in the Word of God. Unfortunately, preaching the Word is “out of season” in our broader culture, even within our broader Christian culture. Rather than receive God’s Word preached in faith, kneeling before Him as our rightful Lord and endeavoring to implement His precepts, we raise our fists and declare that God and His Christ will not reign over us. “You can’t preach that,” we say. So we accumulate to ourselves preachers who tickle our ears rather than challenge our hearts.
And so we pray this morning that this pulpit may ever be used for the faithful preaching of the Word of God. May the Spirit of God so move those who preach behind it with a reverence for God and His Christ, that no syllable be expressed save that which fosters the worship of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May the Word preached from this pulpit soften hardened hearts, comfort afflicted souls, and enlighten darkened minds that the glory of God may be displayed to our entire community. And may this pulpit’s stain fade away, its wood rot, and its seams burst should it become an instrument of advocating falsehood.
Reminded this morning of our calling to preach and to listen to the Word of God with reverence, let us confess that we have often hardened our hearts, closed our ears, and handed our pulpits over to false teachers rather than listen to the voice of the Sovereign Lord. And as we confess, let us kneel together as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.