Google+ 11/15/12 Preach and Teach!

2 Timothy 4:1-5

 

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus,

Who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: 

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.

Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.

They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them

Whatever their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.

Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. 

 

If we were to sum up the entire gospel message that should be conveyed to all people, our Scripture lesson today would be in David Letterman's "Top Ten Things to tell all Christians."  Paul was able to write this second letter to Timothy while in a dungeon cell, where he spent the rest of his life.  The only contact he had with the outside world was an 18 inch hole in the ceiling of his cell.  It is through this hole in the winter of 67 A.D. that this Scripture was passed, to be delivered to Timothy.  Paul was beheaded in May or June of 68 A.D.  So, these are Paul's last words.  As the person that has written more of the Bible than any other individual, we should cherish these last known words that flowed from the pen of this amazing apostle.  Let's take heed today.  Almost 2000 years ago, Paul told Timothy what we now know to be true today.  People in this world have "itching ears."  They will listen to whomever they choose, looking for the words they want to hear.  Rarely are these words the truth.  Paul encourages Timothy to preach the word and always be prepared.  Paul tells his apprentice that he should fully carry out the ministry of God.  He finishes this passage by reminding Timothy of his calling that God has placed on him.  The part many of us are not going to like in this passage, is Paul admonishing us to "patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching."   In short, Paul says tell the truth in love, but make sure that no one is deceived.  This is hard for us because most of us treat Christianity as a popularity contest.  We are constantly worried we will offend someone.  While we are instructed to "patiently correct and encourage," there is that word "rebuke" (which is in almost every translation) which means to criticize, reprove sharply or reprimand.  What I believe Paul is trying to tell us is be as nice and loving as possible, but don't let a lie go unchallenged.  The reason for this is the stakes are very high.  We are literally playing with people's salvation opportunity.  If "our people" do not hear the truth, but rather accept a lie because it is what their "itching ears" wish to hear, they may miss Jesus and His salvation message altogether.  If Jesus is not our first love, the opportunity to have a false salvation experience based on faulty information greatly increases.  Finally, notice that Paul tells Timothy that "they will reject the truth and chase myths."  So, if "our people" have "itching ears" and "will reject the truth and chase myths," we better work at telling the Good news and carry out our ministry that God has called us to do.  Remember, Paul slipped YOU this letter through an 18 inch hole in his prison cell.  He was not afraid to suffer for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He was not afraid to tell the truth.  Let's go preach and teach today, loving each other and rebuking when necessary! likng