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Five Reasons to Preach the Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 1, 2021 3:00 am

Five Reasons to Preach the Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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December 1, 2021 3:00 am

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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 strong fortifications, ideological fortifications that must come smashing down. 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. Martin Luther called it the highest worship of God, that is, preaching God's Word. And today, John MacArthur will show you why he preaches God's Word and why that continues to be his priority even after five decades as a pastor and as the Bible teacher here on Grace to You. The title of his study is simply, Why I Teach the Bible. Now, maybe you're thinking, I'm not a pastor or a Sunday school teacher, so how does this study apply to me? Well, John's lesson today, Five Reasons to Preach the Word, could also be titled, Five Reasons You Need to Heed the Word. You're going to see how to apply God's truth to the decisions you make and its life-changing wisdom to every part of your life. And with that said, here's John. 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 concise and clear, unmistakable, unequivocal command to preach the Word is supported by five compelling realities that become for us strong motivation. Number one, we are to preach the Word because of the danger of the seasons.

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. 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 air, but secondly because of the devotion of the saints, because of the devotion of the saints.

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.

That's how I look at my own life. When I was a little guy, something before my tenth birthday, my grandfather, who was a faithful preacher of the Word of God, all through his ministry, right up until his death, was on his deathbed at his home. My father was there and I was there. And my father said to him, Dad, is there anything you want?

He was dying of cancer at just a few years older than I am now. And he said, Is there anything you want, Dad? And he said to him, Yes, I want to preach one more time. I want to preach one more time. He was on his deathbed, all racked with cancer, and he wanted to preach one more time. Well, what had happened was he had prepared a sermon he hadn't preached. That's hard to handle, folks. That's fire in your bones.

You need to get rid of it. And interestingly, he had prepared a sermon on heaven and never preached it. He died without ever preaching. So my dad took his notes, which he had written out on the sermon, printed them all up and passed it out to everybody at the funeral. So my grandfather preached on heaven from heaven.

That had a tremendous effect on me as a young boy. What a faithful man, right down to the last breath. All he wanted to do was preach the Word one more time. I don't want to be any different than that.

I don't want to do anything differently than that. And the same was true with my father. He was an example to my father who, all through his ministry life, did nothing but preach the Word. That's all he did, preach the Word.

When he gave me my first Bible after I was called to the ministry and I went off to begin my studies, he wrote in the flyleaf, Preach the Word. Eventually, I went away to seminary, and I went to Talbot Seminary because I wanted to study with Dr. Charles Feinberg. And Dr. Feinberg was the most brilliant Bible scholar I ever knew anything about. He had an incredible mind.

I don't think I ever really understood how incredible. I remember he told me he taught himself Dutch in two weeks one time so he could read a Dutch theology. He studied 14 years to be a rabbi and was converted to Christ, went to Dallas Seminary, got his doctorate there. And he went from there to get a Ph.D. in archaeology from Johns Hopkins University, studied under William Foxwell Albright who was the greatest archaeologist of that time. It was an immense mind, I mean, just a very brilliant mind. And he loved the Word of God and he read through it four times a year. And he was just absolutely fanatical about every Word of God, about inerrancy and about inspiration and about the Word being true and preach the Word. And he's the man I wanted to have influenced my life.

I don't want to do it differently, I want to do it like he did it. I wanted to learn how to preach the Word. Well, I remember my first year in seminary, the first class I ever attended was an Old Testament introduction class. It's a lot of material, really hard to absorb for a young guy coming out of an athletic career in college, getting exposed to all this academia. And I sat in the class the first day, a student asked a question. And Dr. Feinberg dropped his head, never looked up and said, if you don't have a more intelligent question than that, don't ask any more questions, you're taking up valuable time.

Oh, no more questions that semester. He had all the time to himself, believe me. But he was so dead serious about things of God, so dead serious about the Scripture. He assigned me to preach a text in my first...I had to preach as a first-year seminary student before the student body and the faculty.

He assigned me a text and all I wanted to do was please him because he was the man. And I worked about 50 hours on this thing and I got up and preached it and I thought I had done fine. And they had criticism papers that they filled out while you were preaching. They sat behind you and criticized you while you were preaching. And they gave you their criticisms and he just handed me a paper with red across the front, you missed the whole point of the passage. I thought, that's pretty clever, you know, to spend 50 hours and get around the point, you know.

How could I do that? How could I miss the whole point? That is the greatest lesson I ever had in seminary. And then he called me into his office and boy, he was really upset because, you know, he wanted to make an investment in me and he didn't appreciate me missing the whole point of the passage since that's the whole point of the ministry.

And I got a lecture that I've never forgotten. And from then on, you know, the man still sits on my shoulder and whispers, don't miss the point of the passage, MacArthur, even though he's been in heaven for a few years. When I graduated from seminary, he called me into the office on graduation day. He said, I have a gift for you.

He picked up a big box. He had 35 volumes of Kyle and Dalitch, which is a Hebrew Old Testament commentary. And he said, this is the one I've used for years and years. I have all my notes in the margin.

I want to give it to you as a gift. It was an expression of his love to me, but it was also another way to say, now you have no excuse for missing the point of the passage. And one of the highlights of my life, I think, was when his family asked me to speak at his funeral.

So somewhere along the line, he must have told them that he thought I finally got to the place where I could figure out the point of the passage. He's with the Lord, but I don't want to do any different. I just want to do what faithful men have done. I want to do what godly prophets did. I want to do what godly apostles did. I want to do what godly preachers and evangelists and pastors and missionaries have done through the years. And I'm telling you something, folks, I am astonished at the boldness of people today, people in ministry who will discard the God-ordained, scripturally mandated pattern and invent their own. What audacity!

Who do you think you are? What astonishing pride that is. So preach the Word because of the danger of the season and because of the devotion of the saints who came before you. Just get in line.

Take the baton and run your lap. Thirdly, we preach the Word because of the dynamic of the Scripture. We preach the Word because of the dynamic of the Scripture. Verse 15, Timothy, you know from childhood, from brephus, from infancy, when you were a baby in your mother's arms. From infancy, you have known the sacred writing. That's a Greek Jewish term referring to the Old Testament, hierogrammaton.

You've known the Old Testament, which is able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. Timothy was raised under Jewish influence in his family, though his parents were Jew and Gentile. One was Jew and one was Gentile. He had still the influence of Jew in his family and of the Old Testament law. And he says, you know from a child that the law prepared you for the gospel.

That was the point. The Jews used to claim that their children drank in the law of God with their mother's milk, and it was so imprinted on their hearts and minds that they would sooner forget their names than forget God's law. The law was the tutor that led to Christ, and Timothy had been raised on the sacred writings of the Old Testament, and he had been given the wisdom so that when the gospel was preached, it unfolded and he understood it because the understanding of the Old Testament law prepared him for it. Bottom line, he's saying, you know that the Word of God has the power to save. It has the power to lead you to salvation. What else would you preach? It's sharper than any two-edged sword, 1 Peter 1 23. What does Peter say?

It couldn't be more clear. You have been born again through the living and abiding Word of God. It is the power of the Word that produces salvation. It is the Word of God which converts the soul, Psalm 19 7 says. When you understand that the Word is the power that converts the soul, you preach the Word. If you don't preach the Word, you don't believe that no matter what you say. It is not only the source of salvation, it is the source of sanctification.

Look at verses 16 and 17. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, training in righteousness that the man of God and everyone who follows His pattern may be perfect or complete, equipped for every good work. It is the power of the Word that saves. It is the power of the Word that sanctifies. It provides doctrine. It reproves error and sin. It sets upright and then trains in the path of righteousness.

That's the sequence. You lay a foundation of doctrine, it reproves error and sin, then you correct that. It literally means in the Greek to make someone upright who has fallen down. You pick them back up, correct their error and their iniquity, and then put them in the path of righteousness, train them to live an obedient life.

The Word does that. The Word makes the man of God and everybody who follows His pattern complete. It prepares them spiritually. This is what we call the sufficiency of the Scripture. It completely saves, completely sanctifies. It sanctifies and saves those at the highest level of calling, that is the preacher, the man of God, and makes it possible for him to be an example of godliness that everybody else can follow. It is sufficient to save and sanctify all.

And what else would you use? I can't fathom why anyone would use anything other than the Word that saves and the Word that sanctifies. And only the Word.

Well, let me give you the fourth. We preach the Word because of the danger of the seasons, the devotion of the saints, the dynamic of the Scripture, and the demand of the sovereign, the demand of the sovereign. Look at chapter 4, verse 1. This is a frightening verse. This verse strikes me with holy fear, I confess. It is a terrifying verse. This verse helps me to understand why John Knox, before he ascended the pulpit to preach, fell on his face and burst forth, his biographer says, in abundant tears out of fear, the fear of preaching and misrepresenting the truth, the fear of divine scrutiny.

Listen to verse 1. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God even of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead and by His appearing in His kingdom preach the Word. Pretty serious. I solemnly charge you means a dead serious command.

Paul is dead serious here. I command you with all solemnity, with all seriousness. My friend, he says, you are under the scrutiny of the God who is Jesus Christ who is the judge and He will judge all who are alive and all who have died. And I think it's best to see the Greek as even the Lord Jesus Christ since He is introduced as the judge in the verse. We're preaching under the scrutiny of the omniscient, holy judge. I agree with Paul in 1 Corinthians 4 who said, It's a small thing what you think of me and I say that with all love to you. I can't build my sense of faithfulness on whether you like my sermon.

I can't build it on whether you don't like my sermon. I appreciate your commendations. I cherish them.

I appreciate your criticisms. I cherish them. But in the end, I want to preach to honor the one who is the judge, right? And in the end, He's going to reveal the secret things of the heart. He's going to give the reward to those who are worthy of it and only His judgment really matters. A reporter said to me one time, For whom do you prepare your sermons?

Newspapers are written for the eighth grade level. For whom do you prepare sermons? And I said, To be truthful with you, I prepare them for God. He's the judge that I have to stand before. He's the one that really matters.

I just want to get it right before Him. I don't want to take the word of the living God and somehow corrupt it, or somehow replace it with foolish musings of my own manufacture. Stop being so many teachers, James said. Theirs is a greater condemnation. Hebrews 13, 17 says we have to give an account someday before the Lord. And I want my life to be gold, silver, precious stones. I want to receive that reward that evidences my love for Him and that reward which I can cast at His feet in honor and praise. And someday we will all stand before that judgment seat for that time of reward. It's a very serious thing for me, this matter of preaching. Sometimes people say to me, You spend so much time in preparation. Why?

Not because I think you need it. I think God's Word deserves it. I could get by with you because you're such loving folks. And frankly, with most people, a few good stories will do it. But with God, it's a different matter.

Sometimes if you'll just be kind enough to indulge me, when I get down so deep, you're drowning. I really do have Him in mind in the honor of His truth. Lastly, this whole matter of preaching the Word, not only because of the danger of the seasons, the devotion of the saints, the dynamic of the Scripture, the demand of the sovereign, but lastly, this is really important because of the deceptiveness of the sensual, because of the deceptiveness of the sensual. The great enemy of the Word of God is anything outside the Word of God. The Word of Satan, the Word of demons, the Word of man. And we are living in very dangerous seasons, concocted by seducing spirits and hypocritical liars, propagated by false teachers.

And here's what makes them successful. Look at verses 3 and 4. The time will come, and it does, it just cycles through all of church history, when they will not endure sound doctrine. People don't want to hear sound doctrine.

Sound means healthy, wholesome. They don't want wholesome teaching. They don't want the sound, solid Word. They just want to have their ears tickled. That's all they want. They're driven by the sensual, not the cognitive. They're not interested in truth. They're not interested in theology. All they want is ear tickling sensations.

That's what they want. They refuse to hear the great truth it saves and the great truth it sanctifies. And according to chapter 2, verse 16, they would rather hear worldly, empty chatter that produces ungodliness and spreads like gangrene.

We're in such a season now. They tell us that being doctrinal, being clear about the Word of God is divisive, unloving, prideful. The prevailing mood, I should say, in the world of postmodern western culture is that everybody determines truth for himself and everyone's opinion is as valid as everybody else's opinion and there's no room for absolute authoritative doctrine.

And folks, that's one other ism you can add to the list of dangerous seasons, relativism. And you know, you look at the evangelical church and you can see a perfect illustration of how the church has fallen victim to this. Christians all over the place are all whipped up to fight abortion and they're all exercised to fight homosexuality and the influence of homosexuals in places of influence and power. And we want to fight the lesbian trends and we want to fight for religious freedoms in America and we want to preserve prayer in the schools and we want to fight against euthanasia and that all has a place.

But I want to tell you something and you need to understand this. The worst form of wickedness in existence consists of the perversion of God's truth. That is the worst form of wickedness and the church today is utterly indifferent to that.

It doesn't care about that. It treats that with indifference, as if it was harmless, as if a right interpretation of Scripture somehow was unnecessary, if not intrusive, into an otherwise superficial tranquility. Here we are fighting all of this peripheral stuff and giving away everything at the heart that defines our whole faith.

This is suicide. Not going to be any church to fight anything if we don't preserve the truth. The ability to distinguish between false and true is absolutely critical.

You can't speak truth, can't guard truth if you can't understand truth. We raise up a seminary in order to train men who can do that. And you know what's wonderful? They go everywhere, 23 countries of the world, all these various cultures, and you know what? They don't have to figure out what is culturally relevant. They just go in there with the Word of God, sort through the issues and bring the Word of God to bear upon that society. And you know what? Whatever language you speak and wherever you live, your heart before God is in the same needy condition. And the truth of God transcends all cultures.

But we live in a time when people want to depreciate sound doctrine. We want to sort of, well, we want to be more loving. Let me tell you something.

R.C. Sproul and I were talking about this a little bit. The idea that I don't want to tell you the truth, I don't want to call error, error. I don't want to confront your sin or your error because I love you is just not true. It's not because I love you. If I loved you, I'd seek your best and highest good, wouldn't I?

And that's completely connected to your understanding of and obedience to divine truth. So if I don't, if I say, well, I just, I want this superficial tranquility. I don't want to, I don't think it's loving to do that. Truth is, you don't love them. You love yourself.

That's the issue. And what you really do is love yourself so much, you don't want them not to like you. Self-love, that's sin. You're afraid if you confront something, they won't like you. So you'd rather love yourself and have them like you than to love them enough to confront their error, show them the truth, which can lead them to the blessing and well-being that produces God's greatest good in their life.

Loss of truth, loss of conviction, loss of discernment, loss of holiness, loss of divine power, loss of blessing. All they want is to get their ears tickled. Tell me a little about success. Tell me a little about prosperity. Give me some excitement. Elevate my feelings of well-being, self-esteem, and give me a bunch of emotional thrills.

And you know what? When they want that, it says in verse 3, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. The market creates the demand. And as Marvin Vincent said in his Vincent Word studies, in periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers if the people desire a calf to worship.

A ministerial calf maker can always be found. Can I be very straightforward with you? It is an offense to our rational, truth-revealing God. It is an offense to the true work of His Son. It is an offense to the true work of the Holy Spirit to use the names of God or of Christ or of the Holy Spirit in any mindless emotional orgy, marked by irrational, sensual, and fleshly behavior produced by altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, heightened expectation, or suggestibility. That is socio-psycho manipulation and mesmerism, and it is a prostitution of the glorious revelation of God, taught clearly and powerfully to an eager, attentive, and controlled mind. What feeds sensual desires pragmatically or ecstatically cannot honor God. You have to preach the truth to the mind.

That's where the real battle is fought. Take God's word seriously. How far-reaching are the results likely to be when we really begin to understand and apply everything that's in this book?

You know, I think maybe the best way to answer that is to say this. When people are saturated with the Bible truth, it's not that they remember every sermon. It's that every sermon is a building block. And week after week after week, Bible study after Bible study, and if they're reading theology or reading the Bible, it just continues to add bricks to the wall, and that wall becomes basically the set of convictions by which people live.

And it gets to a point, and I see this all the time in our church, where it isn't that in any kind of a situation people are looking for a Bible verse or people are trying to grab out of the air, you know, what principle do I apply? It's so in the fabric of their lives that they are able to navigate the ins and outs of life. And I think a great illustration of that, Bill, has been the way Grace Church has responded to the two years of COVID nonsense that's gone on in the world. And you've never been in a place with such joy, such peace, such happiness, such contentment, because they see all of this biblically. They see through all the deception, all the lies, all the falderal. And this has been evidence of what happens when people really do have a profoundly structured set of convictions so that there's no fear. There's just joy. That's their theology. So it's been an incredible indication. So I think it's the involuntary responses of people that are saturated in the Bible.

They don't necessarily have to think about it. It's just how they're programmed by the Word of God. And having said that, let me just mention again two very important books that can take you down that path where you can have those kinds of convictions, and they're critical in the world in which we live. One is the MacArthur Study Bible, everything from hardback to leather editions. And then secondly, the book Biblical Doctrine. It's a thousand-page book that puts together a full, systematic theology.

It's a detailed, orderly study of God and divine truth. This is a book that will steer you away from superficiality and lead you to strong convictions about God's Word, God the Father, the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, man, sin, salvation, even angels, holy and fallen, the Church, eschatology. So I suggest that you hurry up, because if you order by this Friday, we'll get you delivery by Christmas, the MacArthur Study Bible, and the book Biblical Doctrine. Yes, and friend, you may think that studying doctrine is an activity reserved for Bible scholars.

But if you want to better understand God and how to worship him to the best of your ability, this book, Biblical Doctrine, is for you. To order a copy or to purchase the MacArthur Study Bible, contact us today. Call toll-free, 855-GRACE, or place your order at our website, gty.org. And remember, as John said, this is the last week we recommend using our free standard shipping option.

Deliveries will likely be extra strained this year, and we want to make sure you get your gifts before Christmas as economically as possible. Again, to order the MacArthur Study Bible or the systematic theology book called Biblical Doctrine, call 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, gty.org. That website one more time, gty.org. And to keep up to date on the resources available from Grace to You or to fill your news feed with biblical truth, make sure you follow us on social media. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and check out our YouTube channel as well. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you to watch Grace to You television this Sunday on DirecTV channel 378, or check your local listings for station and times, and be here tomorrow when John continues his look at why he is so committed to teaching the Bible. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-15 19:14:36 / 2023-07-15 19:26:17 / 12

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