2021 – The Others
Paul’s Last Letter 7
Preach the Word, Be the Word
Throughout this year we have been studying the Others. We have been exploring the other books… the ones I haven’t preached, yet. We are looking for principles of how we relate to “Other” people. I have been preaching in 2 Timothy, lately. Today, we come to the… last sermon in the last letter of Paul. Double last. And, the 12th principle of how to relate to the Others. The 12thmay be my favorite… may be the most important… may be the heart of our interaction with “Others”!
The Twelfth principle of interrelating to the others… Preach the Word! Be the Word!
Let’s read the last paragraph, we have not yet studied, in 2 Timothy…
2 Timothy 4:1-5 I 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, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
As Paul is in jail, in Rome, awaiting his execution for his allegiance to Jesus, having been deserted by most of his companions, Paul pleads with his protégée; Timothy, to preach the word and be the word.
These five verses are tightly written.
--They are packed with emotion; packed with power;
--They chunked full of energy; and motivation.
--These last five verses reveal the calling we all have, as Christians, to preach the word and… be the word.
Let’s break these verses down. One verse at a time. Let’s absorb the power, feel the energy, be challenged to… preach the word and be the word.
2 Timothy 4:1 I 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…
The scene is a courtroom; a large courtroom. A courtroom where all the living… those alive at the Return of Jesus AND all those who have ever lived; the dead. As I said, a large courtroom. There, in the large courtroom sit two judges; or is it one… God and Christ Jesus. They/He is judging the all; the dead and the living. All are gathered before God the judge. Jesus has inaugurated his kingdom on the earth. On the verge of the restoration of all things, there is judgment. In this scene, at that future moment, before God/Jesus, Paul steps up to testify. Paul raises his right hand to swear in. Paul in the large courtroom issues a challenge… to Timothy…
Paul speaks, “I charge you before these witnesses, God, Jesus and all who have ever lived, fulfill your ministry. Preach the word. Be the Word!”
“Wow, Tim, that was pretty heavy.” It is. Paul wants Timothy to understand the importance of his calling to preach the word.
--The coming kingdom is all about preaching the word.
--Those who will stand before the judgement seat of Christ need the Word.
--Timothy, himself, will answer, before the judge, for fulfilling his ministry.
Let’s bring it from Timothy to us. When we sign up to be a Christian, in our baptism, we enter a covenant with Christ to preach the word and be the word. We, as Christians, are charged to fulfill our ministry. Each of us are covenanted to Preach! All of us don’t stand behind a pulpit to preach. That’s not the point. All of us are commissioned to use our gifts, to advance the Gospel. All of us are gifted by the Spirit to have abilities to use to Preach the Word. You are charged to fulfill your ministry. You commit your giftedness to the Others. You be your gifts to the Others.
“I charge you – the Los Alamos Church of Christ - 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 the word.”
That just verse one… four more to go…
2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
--Be ready when people listen. Be ready when people don’t.
--Be ready when it is easy to share the word. Be ready when it’s difficult.
--Be ready when our culture is open to the Word. Be ready when the culture is running against the word.
--Be ready when correcting others is the right thing to do.
--Be ready when we need to stand up and say this is not right.
--Be ready when the others need encouragement.
--Be ready to be patient. “What, that’s an oxymoron, Tim!” Be ready… to wait. Get ready to be patient with others. One of the main qualities of being the word is patience. The Greek here is… every kind of long-suffering. We are called to every kind of continued connection. Be the word… in patience!
And… teaching. We teach… I don’t like the saying… “Preach the Gospel, use words if you have to.” But there is truth in it. Preaching the word is half… being the Word in patience is the other half. One does not do well without the other. We teach in words. We teach in patience.
Be ready to Preach the word by patiently being the word!
I want to add a sidebar here… I hope there is light at the end of the COVID tunnel. I have to hope this. If in the next few months, as we come out of the COVID tunnel, there may be one of those “in seasons”. If hope is contagious; if people want to connect again; if people open up; there may be an opportunity to preach the word; be the word. Our friends and neighbors and acquaintances… may be open to fellowship. To be invited to our picnics, to plug into our worship, to do stuff together. There may be a season of open preaching coming.
The point being… be ready. Just saying… be ready to preach the word, be the word!
Let’s do verse 3-4 together…
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Let’s talk about “the word”. We are to preach The Word… ton logon… The Word.
Listen quickly to what Paul means by “The Word”.
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation…
Philippians 2:16 holding fast to the word of life
Colossians 1:5 Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
The Word is Paul’s shorthand way of saying all the teachings that make up the core of Christianity. It is faith. It is power. It is truth. It is life. It is Good News. It lives in us. It changes us. It changes the world. The Word is from God.
The core of Christianity is this The Word of God.
Here is the point Paul is making with Timothy. He must stay grounded in the actual truths of God’s words and not be seduced into preaching myths. A time is coming, times come, - it seems too often - when people allow their ears to be scratched with not the truth of the Word. Preach the Word… not psychology, not sociology, not being the best social club, not manipulative sales techniques, not politics, not fun stuff that doesn’t matter.
The Word matters. What we preach matters. Our theology matters. We preach The Word. We are The Word!
2 Timothy 4:5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Listen to the same verse from NT Wright…
NTW 2 Timothy 4:5 But as for you, keep your balance in everything! Put up with suffering; do the work of an evangelist; complete the particular task assigned to you.
Keep your balance in everything… the Greek is not be drunk, not be tipsy, not be fish-flopping around. To be the Gospel we need to be steady. Let’s not allow the highs to be too high. Let’s not let the lows be too discouraging. This too shall pass. As Farley would say… Let’s not get wrapped around the axle. The immediate situation always seems the worst. What we are facing now is somehow more terrible than it’s ever been. OR The victory is the greatest achievement. Let’s stay away from hyperbole. Let’s not use words with “st “at the end. It’s not the worst of times, nor is it the best of times. Don’t panic. Be the word by… Always being sober-minded. Steady… Steady…
Endure suffering. “Seriously, I didn’t sign up for suffering.” Actually, you did. We are followers of the one who went to the cross. The power of the Gospel is sacrificial love. It is our power… The way we process suffering is the witness of being the Word. Be the word by enduring everything. Steady… Endure…
Do the work of the Good news. My Life-principle #21 is… Doing the work is doing the work...
--Asking for advice isn't doing the work.
--Studying how other people do the work isn't doing the work.
--Preparing to do the work isn't doing the work.
--Talking about the work isn't doing the work.
There are lots of valuable things we can spend time doing. But none are as valuable as doing the work.
We are called to do the work… Make the prayer quilt. Teach the kid’s class. Connect to the lonely. Write the note of encouragement. Share the Word. Pray the prayers. . Install the equipment. Clean the bathrooms. Fix the meal. Write the song. Paint the painting. Visit the sick. Preach the sermon!
We are called to be Good News… The Word is Good News. The word is God loves His creation. God is going to make all things right. God is going to restore his world! Christ died for ALL. Do the work of the Good News!
Steady… Endure… Work…
Complete the ministry assigned to you. I love finishing a project. There is excitement in starting new ministry. But we are called to finish the jobs we are assigned. Preach the Word… Finish the Word! Finish the ministries you have been commissioned to do! Complete your assignments!
Wow, what a verse. If we could get these four words tattooed across are forearms… Steady… Endure… Work … Finish Up! Wow!
The Twelfth principle of interrelating to the others… Preach the Word! Be the Word!
Let’s go back to that large courtroom. This time you are standing before the judges. All the living and dead are witnessing. The one who makes all thing right; Jesus steps off the throne, walks up to you. You bow before him. Jesus holds out a crown over your head.
Paul continues in the next few verses…
2 Timothy 4:6-8 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth 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.
Preach the word. Be the word. Receive the Crown.
April 25, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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