March 3, 2023

Preach the Word

By Skip Heitzig

We all have an owner's manual for our car. It's probably stuffed in the back of the glove box, but we usually don't consult it unless something goes wrong. My fear is that many people treat their Bibles like that. It's the manual for our lives, and our manufacturer has given us these instructions. But it's not consulted. It's overlooked.

Now, frankly, a lot of people think more about how they feel about truth, not about truth itself. The prophet Hosea said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). Echoing this, the late James Montgomery Boice said, "We do not have a strong church today, nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace the cause to an acute lack of sound spiritual knowledge."

I think he hit the nail on the head. Ignorance is not bliss, and we are accountable to know truth, to know the truth. Listen to the apostle Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

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: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

There's a string of words in this passage that I want you to notice: "the word" and "teaching" (v. 2), "sound doctrine" (v. 3), "the truth" (v. 4), and "your ministry" (v. 5). They all refer to the same thing. Paul was saying to his young friend Timothy, "Your ministry is to teach people the word, which is sound doctrine."

You see, the word equals the Scriptures, which equals sound doctrine, and they all equal truth. The word doctrine simply means teaching or instruction, and the Greek word for sound means hygienic. That means it's healthy and good, and it promotes life and healing. As Paul also told Timothy, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In contrast, the phrase "itching ears" in verse 3 is a desire for novelty. The Message puts it this way: "There will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy."

The warning in verses 3-4 isn't about unbelievers or the culture at large turning from the truth—it's about believers. Paul was writing about superficial or nominal Christians who join the ranks with true Bible-believing Christians, but eventually reject the plain written truth of God. Sadly, many in the church today, even pastors, do not have a biblical worldview.

So our calling is to know the truth, believe the truth, love the truth, speak the truth, and live the truth. When Paul said to Timothy, "Preach the word," his exhortation was for us as well. We must be ready in season and out of season, when you feel like it and when you don't, when it's convenient or when it's not. Preach the Bible. Not your opinions. Not your politics. Not your culture. Preach God's Word.

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