In a Roman prison, around A. D. 68, shortly before his death for preaching Jesus, Paul wrote his final book, his second letter to Timothy. He charged his son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2), “before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word;….” (2 Timothy 4:1-8; 1 Peter 4:11). “Another gospel”, “the doctrines and commandments of men”, A or some word, what some want to hear, would render his preaching troublesome, in vain, and bring the curse of God upon him. (Galatians 1:6-9; Matthew 15:7-9). You are a preacher, an herald, one who tells others what he has heard from another, without change.
Good and studious brothers in Christ, you have chosen to devote two years of your lives to studying the word of God at the Memphis School of Preaching, under these honorable, dedicated, and qualified teachers. Your instructors have been held in high esteem by many who are no longer with us, and are no less valued by lovers of the truth who remain among us, brethren who stand for and walk in the old paths. These faithful brethren seek the pleasure of God, rather than men. (Galatians 1:10). You are challenged to do the same as you go forth preaching, teaching, lecturing, writing, or serving the Lord in whatever capacity.
Paul remembered the “unfeigned faith” that was in Timothy, a sincere, non-hypocritical faith which first existed in his grandmother Lois, and in his mother Eunice. (2 Timothy 1:5). He called upon Timothy to “stir up the gift of God”, a miraculous gift of the Spirit, which he had received by the putting on of Paul’s hands. (Verse 6). This is a gift which one cannot possess today. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13). Although Timothy possessed a spiritual gift, Paul told him, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). How much more is this needed today! Good brother, you have been introduced to Biblical truths at this prestigious school under these knowledgeable men. However, they would be the first to tell you that they have but touched the hem of the garment in two years. You need to take the foundation you have received here, and go on to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18). As you “study” and “search the scriptures” (2 Timothy 2:15; John 5:39), through whatever years you may have, remember that these scholarly men taught you what it took them years to learn. Go forth doing the same. “Give thyself wholly to” God’s will. (1 Timothy 4:15, and context).
The beloved apostle about to suffer martyrdom, called upon Timothy, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,….” (2 Timothy 1:8). Paul was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” He knew it was “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16). That is, to every obedient believer. (Hebrews 5:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; James 2:14-26). You are challenged to remember that God sent Jesus as the only one with the power to save the lost. (John 3:16; Acts 4:12). Boldly, freely, and plainly preach the word. (Philippians 1:14; Acts 9:27, 29). As Moses refused to compromise with Pharaoh (Exodus 3-12), and Christians of the first century (Acts 2-28), never, NEVER compromise God’s truth with anyone.
The elders from Ephesus were called to Miletus. (Acts 20:17). Paul reminded them, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Verse 27). He faithfully, “by the space of three years…ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Verse 31). He gave the elders instruction to keep the church fed properly, first looking at themselves, and then to the flock, reminding them that it belonged to God by virtue of the purchase price, the blood of Christ. (Verse 28). Paul concluded his remarks by reminding them that the saved are built up and enter heaven by the word of his grace. (Verse 32). Challenge: Follow Robert R. Taylor, Jr., reading three (3) chapters daily from the Old Testament, and nine (9) from the New. You will read the Old Testament once yearly, and the New a dozen times. Such will increase your knowledge tremendously, allow you to preach the whole counsel of God, and edify or build up God’s people. (1 Corinthians 14:12; Jude 20). Do not be like the preacher who was told by the elders, “You are not studying.” He said, “That is an insult to me.” They replied, “We can’t help it; it is showing up in your sermons.” Some repetition is necessary. (2 Peter 1:12-15).
Preachers need to preach the truth plainly, as did Jesus (John 11:14), Paul (2 Corinthians 3:12), and others. (Acts). The writer’s father encouraged him to put the hay down where the calves can get it, adding, the cows will have no problem. Good advice; however, do not over-simplify and bore the educated, and not challenge the youth.
“Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort….” (2 Timothy 4:2). Check Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon on these words. You will see the need to preach the word when it is opportune, and when not, when people like it, and when they do not. (Acts 22:37-26:32; 23:22ff; Acts 19:29; 13:45, 50). You will further see the need to reprove, or attempt to correct faults. There will be occasions where you will need to rebuke, censure and/or forbid. Cf. 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:9-14. This should be done “with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2). Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace.” Garland Elkins was the picture of these words. Get all you can by him, and listen to his effective approach: Truthful, but not arrogant and mean. Memorize Galatians 6:1, 2.
Titus 3:1 calls upon Christians to “Be ready to every good work.” Pray, study and teach as a preacher. BUT, show the church how every Christian should live. Glorify God as a preacher AND as a child of God. (Matthew 5:13-16).
Always remember, “Ye are not your own…ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Cf. Romans 6:13).
The late beloved evangelistic W. A. Bradfield often said, “In the New Testament, the found found the unfound, the saved saved the unsaved, the disciples discipled the undiscipled, and the taught taught the untaught.” Read brother Mosher’s 2019 MSOP lecture. Cf. 2 Timothy 2:2.
Read First and Second Timothy and Titus often.
It is said that N. B. Hardeman knew the entire Bible by memory, yet as an old man said that he had but skimmed the surface. WOW!!! What must we need to do? Never feel that you know it all, that you have arrived. Robert R. Taylor, Jr., continues to study at 87.
Brother Hardeman is also said to have told preachers to do something else if they could, meaning, that only those should preach who had a burning desire to do so, not to be seen of men, not for fame or fortune. Cf. Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 9:16; Isaiah 6:8.
Do not be afraid to ask someone for help! Perhaps a gospel preacher, an elder or deacon, a godly wife, or others.
Prepare for the unexpected: Funeral of a four week old baby; a seventeen year old boy; a ninety-nine year old man; an atheist; a godly elder; father, mother, eight year old son one day, and mother’s sister the next day; community activities, and so much more.
Make time for the family; they may need instruction. Set aside personal time.
Go into the pulpit with something to say, rather than having to say something.
Get good books by sound and reputable brethren.
Brethren, “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5).
Delivered at the MSOP Banquet for the graduating class of June 7, 2019.