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Five Reasons to Preach the Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 30, 2021 3:00 am

Five Reasons to Preach the Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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People today are starving for God's Word, but they don't know it. They realize the vacancies in their life, the hollow places, the shallow places.

They cannot solve the problems and dilemmas of life. They are starving for God's Word and they do not know it and are being offered a lot of substitutes. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur. Well, if you've ever wondered why we chose the slogan, Unleashing God's Truth One Verse At A Time, you'll want to stick around as John shows you why he teaches and why all pastors should teach the Bible and only the Bible. The study he begins today is titled simply, Why I Teach The Bible. John, for that listener who may be new to Grace To You, I think the next several programs are going to be an excellent first exposure to what it is that we do because what they're going to hear is a sort of representative dose of your fundamental philosophy of ministry in concentrated form.

Explain that. Well, yeah, behind everything we do is a driving divine mandate. And it really comes down to what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, preach the Word in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all patience and longsuffering. So we teach the Word because that's exactly what we have been commanded to do.

There are more reasons than just the command and we're going to explore those other reasons. The fact is that the Word is the only agency in the world today that is God's tool for transformation. We're saved by the Word. We're sanctified by the Word. So this is very, very important understanding, backing up what Grace To You has always done.

Now for the next couple of weeks, I just want to let you in on what our programming is going to be. Today through Thursday, we're going to have a series called Why I Teach The Bible, and it goes right to 2 Timothy 3, which talks about the fact that we need to preach the Word. It gets to that in the fourth chapter, but it gives you all the reasons why leading up to that call to preach. We'll look at why you should attend church, the effect the Bible has on our lives, trends in the church that have moved it away from a priority of the Word of God, which is a tragic reality. And we're going to look at five compelling reasons why I do what I do from the pulpit and here on the radio. And I think the study is going to provide food for thought about your own church and how it handles the Word of God and might even help you search for a new church.

So that's through Thursday. And then Friday through next Wednesday, one of my favorite passages in all the Scriptures, Psalm 19, God's own defense of Scripture. Yes, God defends Scripture in that Psalm. So we're going to look at the claim Scripture makes about itself, a powerful defense of its veracity, authority, and ability to transform lives. And then next Thursday and Friday, we're going to look at Matthew 28, 16 to 20, which is the Great Commission Reaching the World, a message that will fortify and motivate you to carry out your God-given responsibility to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. These are very special strengthening days, so make sure you stay with us.

Yes, do stay with us. These are the kinds of messages that will really fortify your trust in God's Word and increase your love for it and your desire to share its truth with others. And so, without further delay, here's John launching his study, Why I Teach the Bible. JOHN KASTORO Preach the Word.

Be ready in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. That brief verse defines biblical ministry in one central command, preach the Word. Along with that, you could add 1 Timothy 3 where pastors and overseers and elders are to be didaktikos in the Greek, skilled in teaching and preaching. We are to preach the Word skillfully. That is our calling. And this verse is definitive as few others of that calling because it speaks so concisely and precisely.

Preach the Word. Now you will notice that the Apostle Paul adds the time and the tone here. The time in season and out of season.

We could debate what that means, but if I can lead you to a very simple conclusion, whatever he may have had in mind specifically about in season and out of season, it is only possible to either be in season or out of season. Therefore, it means all the time. Preach the Word all the time.

There is no time when we change that commission, no time when that method of ministry is set aside for something else. Preaching the Word is to be done all the time. The tone is given also in the verse. There is a negative aspect of reproving and rebuking, and that is we take the truth of the Word of God and we confront error and sin.

And then there is the positive side. We take the truth of God and we exhort with great patience and we instruct. Negatively, we confront error and sin.

Positively, we teach sound doctrine and godly living. We exhort people to be obedient to the Word and we have great patience in allowing them the time to develop maturity in their obedience. Very simple verse. Preach the Word all the time, both with a negative and confrontive aspect by which we confront error and sin and the positive one by which we instruct in sound doctrine and call people to holy obedience. If every Word of God is true and every Word of God is pure, as Scripture says, and every Word of God is food, then every Word of God is to be proclaimed. People today are starving for God's Word, but they don't know it. They're starving, they're hungry, they're reaching out, they're grasping, they realize the vacancies in their life, the hollow places, the shallow places, the lack of insight, the lack of understanding.

They cannot solve the problems and dilemmas of life. They are starving for God's Word and they do not know it and are being offered a lot of substitutes that don't help. God has ordained that His Word be brought to them, that His Word alone can feed them and the delivery method is through preaching. How shall they hear, Paul said, without a preacher? Martin Luther said, the highest worship of God is the preaching of the Word. That's true because God is revealed through His Word, therefore preaching His Word is preaching His character and His will and that defines Him in true terms and exalts Him as He is to be exalted. Our mandate then comes not from the culture, it comes from heaven. It is the God of heaven who has mandated us through the pages of Scripture to preach the Word, to preach every word and to bring to starving souls the only food that feeds and that is the truth of God.

We understand that command. But I don't want to just leave it at that because surrounding this verse is a potent portion of Scripture that gives us five compelling reasons why we must obey this divine mandate, five compelling reasons why we must obey this divine mandate. Let's go back to chapter 3 verse 1 and identify the first of these five. The concise and clear, unmistakable, unequivocal command to preach the Word is supported by five compelling realities that become for us strong motivation.

And each of these five is very potent. Each of them could stand alone in being enough motivation for a man to preach the Word of God. Together they provide a formidable set of motivations like no other text of Scripture. Chapter 1, we are to preach the Word because of the danger of the seasons, because of the danger of the seasons. Chapter 3 verse 1, but realize this, Paul tells Timothy, that in the last days and the last days began when the Messiah came the first time, my little children John said, it is the last time. Christ appeared once in the end of the age. It is the end of the age, it is the last days.

They began when Jesus came and in the last days difficult times will come. Difficult times is the phrase that I want you to grasp for a moment. Actually it could be translated seasons rather than times.

It's not clock time and it's not calendar time, it's the Greek word kairos which means seasons or epics or movements. And the word difficult is really the word dangerous. It could even be translated and is savage.

Savage seasons will come. Dangerous times will come. Perilous times, as some translations have translated it. They threaten the truth. They threaten the gospel. They threaten the church. And according to verse 13, if you'll drop down to verse 13, they will increase in severity because evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived. From the beginning of the last days until Jesus comes, there will be an escalating severity and an escalating frequency of these dangerous epics.

We're talking about movements here, epics. They began when Jesus came and started the church in relation to the preaching of the gospel and they have continued and continued cumulatively. They don't come and go, they come and stay and then more come and stay and more come and more come and so there is greater danger now than there's ever been in the sense of having accumulated these damnable epics. They define for us the danger that threatens the life of the church and threatens the truth.

Let me just suggest some of these to you. The first and most prominent great epoch of danger that was thrust upon the church began in the fourth century, began with the development of the Holy Roman Empire and Constantine and all of that and eventually developed into the danger called sacramentalism. Sacramentalism was the development of the Roman Catholic system.

Salvation was by automatic ritual. The church became a surrogate Christ and you connected to the church and the system rather than a personal relationship with Christ. And sacramentalism became the enemy of the true gospel and the enemy of grace and faith and was the instrument of persecution and execution of true believers. It wasn't really until the Reformation in the sixteenth century that the back of sacramentalism began to be broken. But it wasn't long after the Reformation you come into the eighteenth century and you have the development of the second great epoch in the church and that's the epoch of rationalism. Out of the Renaissance and out of the Industrial Revolution and even out of the Reformation, once the back of this great monolithic institution was broken and man got his own identity back in his own life and began to think for himself and as he began to discover things and invent things and develop things and feel his freedom, he began to worship his own mind. And human reason became God and Thomas Paine wrote The Age of Reason in which he debunked the Bible and affirmed that the human mind is God. And so the Bible became a slave to rationalism and rationalists assaulted Scripture and denied its miracles and denied its inspiration and denied the deity of Christ and denied the gospel of grace in the name of scholarship and human reason.

That didn't go away either. We still have sacramental religions in the world. We still have rationalism. It destroyed every seminary in Europe.

All the educational institutions of any history across the world have been infested with rationalism, which discredits the Bible. Never forget being in St. Andrews, Scotland and going to the St. Salvator's Chapel at the University of St. Andrews and standing in the pulpit where John Knox launched the Scottish Reformation. Rome was in power. John Knox came and preached the gospel of grace and faith in the midst of that works system. He really took his stand against this massive powerful system. He stood in this wooden pulpit. I stood in the very pulpit from which he launched the Scottish Reformation.

He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nearby that pulpit, outside that little chapel in the cobblestone streets, there are some initials. Three sets of initials are there. They're the names of three young students who were in their late teens who heard the preaching of John Knox and believed the gospel and turned to Jesus Christ by faith and embraced Christ and were burned at the stake on that spot by the church, burned there for their faith in Christ. And as a tribute to them, there was a great martyr's memorial placed right down by the St. Andrews golf course, right by the first tee, by the clubhouse.

You can see it in the background. But on that spot where they actually were burned, their initials are in the street. Right across from that, across the street is the theological college of the St. Andrews University where there's not one person who believes the Bible is the Word of God or believes the gospel. And every day the theological faculty walk from there to the pub across the street, stepping across the initials of the martyrs who died for the truth that they reject. That's rationalism. That's worshiping the God of human intellect and denying the veracity of Scripture. That's a dangerous season.

That's a formidable foe. And then that was followed by orthodoxism even in Europe, the dead, cold, indifferent orthodoxy. In the 19th century, mass printing came in and Bibles were mass printed and people got the Bible in their hands, but it didn't seem to matter. Their orthodoxy was dead and cold. They lacked zeal. Their spirituality was either nonexistent or shallow.

We still have that. We still have dead orthodoxy. Then came politicism where the church became preoccupied with political power. The church became politicized and developed the social gospel and reconstruction and liberation theology. And then we come into the 20th century and we come to the 1950s and the next dangerous season was ecumenism. And that was really big when I was a student and they were talking about unity and let's set aside dogma and let's all be one and let's not divide over these doctrinal issues and let's get sentimental. Sentimentality became the issue.

There was a new hermeneutic for interpreting Scripture called the Jesus ethic and they determined Jesus was a nice guy and never would have said anything that was bad, so we'll take all the bad part out, all the judgment, all the retribution. They began to tolerate evil disdain doctrine and the legacy of that was a lack of discernment. In the 1960s came the dangerous season of experientialism. Truth comes from feeling.

Truth comes from intuition. Truth comes from visions or prophecies or special revelations and you no longer look to the objective Word of God but you look to some subjective intuition to determine truth and that has posed an immense danger to the church and drawn people away from the Word of God. And then in the 1980s came subjectivism when psychology captured the church and we all got into narcissistic naval watching and we were all concerned about whether we could bump ourselves up the comfort ladder a little bit and get more successful and make more money. And we developed a man-centered theology, a needs-based theology and personal comfort became the goal. Then in the 90s came mysticism where you could believe in absolutely anything, didn't really matter. You could believe whatever you wanted to believe. Also in the 90s came pragmatism and pragmatism basically says appropriate means for ministry are defined by the people.

Give them what they want, do a survey, they'll tell you what they want, you give them what they want. Truth is the servant of what works. And preaching was then viewed, expository preaching was then viewed, of course, as a pony express method of delivery in a computer age to a lot of folks who didn't want it in the first place.

The church decided that the key to effective ministry was image or style rather than content. And then later in the 90s came syncretism, all religions that are monotheistic, all worship the same God and all monotheists are going to heaven. And one man wrote a book about it, he took a trip to heaven and he met Confucius there and he met Buddha there and he met Mohammed there and he met Orthodox Jews there and he met atheists who were seeking truth there because truth is God and they didn't know they were seeking God but they were seeking God and all monotheists are there and that's syncretism. And so it goes, it's one dangerous epic after another. They never come and leave, they just come and stay and come and stay and we accumulate and accumulate and accumulate. Let me tell you something, folks, this is a formidable war out there, a formidable set of fortresses according to the terminology of 2 Corinthians 10, we're for the destruction of fortresses. These are very, very well designed strong fortifications, ideological fortifications that must come smashing down.

In order to do that, it takes some very skilled men. It's not easy to be discerning in our time. It's not easy to understand the issues that face us. It's not easy to bring the appropriate portion of Scripture to bear upon these imminent dangers all around us. And most of Christianity really doesn't care, but we do. All of these dangers accumulating, mingling, worsening and with it a lack of discernment in the church and a disdain for discernment and a growing disdain for doctrine.

Now Paul starting in verse 2 defines a little bit more about these dangerous seasons in general descriptions of the people that are behind them and the people that get involved in them. They are lovers of self, they are lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Now if you stood up and applied that list to anybody today, it would be seriously politically incorrect, wouldn't it?

I mean way beyond that. Can you imagine someone confronting someone in error and just going through that list? It reminds me of Jesus' approach.

How well would it work today? He went up to the religious leaders of His day who were in error and He said, you snakes, you vipers, you dogs, you filthy stinking wretched tombs painted white, pretty direct stuff. These dangerous people are described here as to the absence of any virtue or character. They are the instruments of Satan that produce these great dangers. Verse 5 sort of sums up they have a form of godliness, the outward form, the face that they want to portray is of godliness.

But what is absent is power. They don't have the power of God because they don't know God. You avoid those kinds of people. They come into households and they get in there today through media means and as well as personally and they target women who are designed by God to be protected by faithful men. They captivate those weak women weighed down with sins led on by various impulses and they teach them and they're always learning but they never come to know what? The truth. Just like Janus and Jambres, two of the magicians in Egypt opposed Moses, these men opposed the truth.

They are men of depraved mind and they should be rejected. There's Paul's description of the people who are behind these dangerous seasons and the people who get caught up in them, dangerous seasons, men of corrupt mind, opposers of the truth. Beloved, we need men who can go into the fray, men who can go into the battle who understand the Word of God clearly.

Let me tell you something. Satan's deceptions are not without subtlety. Do you understand that?

It's not always obvious on the surface what's really going on. It takes formidable men. It takes men who understand the Word of God clearly, carefully.

It takes men who understand the issues of their time. And it takes men who have a holy courage, who are willing to step into the battle and identify the enemy and assault the enemy graciously but assault the enemy relentlessly with the truth. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10, our job is to smash fortresses, ideological fortresses, and to bring everybody captive there into obedience to Christ.

We want to set free the captives held in the fortresses that these dangerous epics have erected. We're called to guard the truth. We're called to preach the truth.

We can't do either if we don't understand the truth. There's a second reason why they must preach the Word, not only because of the danger of the seasons and the Word is the only thing that cuts through the error, but secondly because of the devotion of the saints, because of the devotion of the saints. Go down to verse 10, "'But you followed My teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions and sufferings. Timothy, you followed Me, you were My disciple and I went through the patterns of ministry for you. You saw My ministry duty and what was My ministry duty?

Teaching and living. You saw how I taught it and I lived it.'" That's integrity. And then he says in verse 10, "'And you saw My purpose, My focus.'" The man was focused, relentlessly focused on the responsibility he had to proclaim the truth. "'And you saw My faith, better faithfulness, faithful to that purpose and patient to see it fulfilled and loving toward the people and toward God and persevering in the face of persecution and suffering. You saw how I ministered.'" Paul said, "'You saw the way I did it. I did it with love.

I did it with focus. I did it relentlessly. I did it patiently.

I did it lovingly. I took the flack. I took the pain. I took the suffering. I took the hardship. I took the imprisonments.

I took the beatings, the whippings, the stonings. You saw it. You were there at Antioch and Iconium and Lystra. You saw it.

Lystra is where I was stoned and left for dead. You saw it.'" Then verse 14, "'You, however, continue in the things you've learned and become convinced of knowing from whom you've learned them.'"

Who? From me. What is he saying to Timothy? Timothy, you just do exactly what I told you to do. Just do exactly what I told you to do. You know, that's so important. Everybody today wants to reinvent ministry.

Have you noticed? Paul just says, will you do it just exactly the way I told you to do it? Down in verse 17, he calls Timothy the man of God.

That's a technical term. Used only twice in the New Testament, both times of Timothy. Used over 70 times in the Old Testament, every time it means a preacher.

Every time it's used, it means a preacher. Timothy, look, you're just another man of God. There's a long, long line of these men of God, series of men called by God, gifted by God to proclaim His truth. You're just one in the long line.

You can't get out of step. You can't go your way, invent your own approach. You're just one in the long line of men who are called to preach the Word. That's what you do. So we bring God to people through His Word.

That's the only way we can do it. People are starving for the knowledge of God, as I said. They just don't know it.

But when we start delivering, they find out. It was said of Martin Lloyd Jones, I think by Jim Packer, he brought more of the sense of God than any other man. What a commendation. Join me in prayer. Father, what a glorious, wonderful occasion this is, and we thank You for it. We thank You that we don't need to wander in some fog about the direction of life and ministry.

We thank You that You have clarified it to us. We thank You that You are raising up these men. We thank You, Father, for their devotion and commitment to the fulfillment of this command. Oh, Lord, grant them power and faithfulness and integrity of life and effectiveness as they endeavor to serve You, to carry out this commission. Continue, Father, to raise them up, and we'll give You all the glory in Christ's name. Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for tuning in today. Today's lesson looked at five reasons to preach the Word. It's part of John's study titled, Why I Teach the Bible. And you know, friend, even if you love God's Word, read it regularly and want to know exactly what it means that can be challenging without the right tools. For help with that, let me remind you about the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series.

It's a 34-volume set that gives you an in-depth explanation for every verse in the New Testament, clearing up confusing passages and helping you go deeper into your favorite chapters. To place your order, contact us today. Call toll-free 800-55-GRACE or visit our website, gty.org.

You will enjoy a significant discount if you order the entire 34-volume set all at once, which includes a helpful index of the entire series. Also, we recommend you place your order very soon if you want to use our free shipping option and still receive your books before Christmas. Again, to order the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series, call 800-55-GRACE or shop online at gty.org. And when you visit our website, gty.org, make sure to take advantage of all of the opportunities you have to study God's Word. You can supplement your personal Bible study with daily devotionals written by John, or read articles on hot-button issues facing the church on the Grace To You blog, or watch Grace To You television, and download any of John's more than 3500 sermons. All of that Bible teaching and more is available free of charge at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John looks at how to use biblical truth to lovingly confront people who are trapped in error. Join us for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-16 03:59:40 / 2023-07-16 04:10:11 / 11

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