Preach the Word (with French Interpretation)

Institut Biblique de Genève | Geneva, Switzerland

Our text is 2 Timothy 3. We’re going to spend time in 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5. The passage says:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

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.

Continue in the Truth

What we’re going to do is make some exegetical observations, and we’re going to save 2 Timothy 4:1–2 for last. Then we’ll work our way through the text before that. In 2 Timothy 3:14–15, the main point here in these two verses is that Timothy should continue in what he has learned and believed. Evidently, the temptation is always to move away from the Word. You see this down in 2 Timothy 4:4. People will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. So in 2 Timothy 3:14 Paul is saying, “Don’t do that. Continue. Stay in what you have learned and believed. Don’t be running after other sources of truth.”

Now, why should he stay in what he has learned and believed? Paul gives at least four reasons now. First, 2 Timothy 3:14 says, “Knowing from whom you learned it.” In other words, one of the reasons we hold fast to what we believe is because of the kind of people from whom we learned it. This is probably his mother and grandmother, because in 2 Timothy 3:15 he talks about knowing these things from childhood. So this is probably a reference to Lois and Eunice. Paul had mentioned them back in 2 Timothy 1:5 but it might include Paul himself as the father in the faith of Timothy. So argument number one is to hold fast to what you believe because of the kind of people from whom you learned it. That is one valid basis for believing the truth. It’s not enough by itself, but it is valuable.

This is the second argument for why he should stay in what he has learned. Second Timothy 3:15, says, “From childhood, you have been acquainted with the holy writings.” So these things you’ve known from the beginning of your life are holy things. And in calling the writings holy, Paul is connecting them with the holiness of God. So this is an argument from the divine qualities of the Word you’ve held fast to. There are divine marks of holiness on this Word. So not only do we believe what we believe because of the character of the people who told us it, but also because of the intrinsic marks of divine holiness that we see.

God’s holiness is his utterly unique character. There’s only one God and that’s a holy, holy, holy God, and the holiness of God is shared with the Word. So you have known these things, these holy writings from childhood. That’s argument number two for why you should stay in what you’ve learned.

Third, 2 Timothy 3:15 says “which are able to make you wise unto salvation.” So one of the ways you decide what you’re going to believe is what power and what effect it has on your life. These writings had the power to bring you to salvation. They had an effect on you to prepare you for something.

Now here’s the fourth reason, at the end 2 Timothy 3:15. That salvation came “through faith in Christ Jesus.” So don’t leave these holy writings. And he’s referring to the Old Testament. Don’t leave these holy writings. They made you wise unto salvation. They brought you to Jesus Christ. So there’s no doubt Timothy became a Christian when he heard the gospel in Lystra, but Paul says it was the Old Testament that made him wise unto this salvation. The Old Testament had an effect on him evidently that got him ready so that when he heard Christ, he embraced him.

So let me sum up these four reasons, reasons for holding fast to the truth that he’s learned. Number one, remember the character of the people who gave it to you; number two, remember the divine marks of holiness on it; number three, remember its effect and its power in your life; and number four, remember it brought you to Jesus Christ.

God-Breathed Words

Now, in verse 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul shifts. He shifts from focusing on the Word as valuable for Timothy over to focusing on the Word as valuable for Timothy’s teaching. In 2 Timothy 3:16, he says, “They are profitable for teaching.” So he was talking about their value for Timothy himself and now he’s talking about their value for Timothy’s teaching. But, before he makes that shift, he makes one of the most important statements about the Scripture in all the Bible. At the beginning of 2 Timothy 3:16 he says, “All scripture is breathed out by God.”

Now, I want you to see something about that which we can only see if we contrast it perhaps with 2 Peter 1:21. Here’s what Peter says about inspiration:

No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Prophetic speech came not from inside man, but as men were carried by the Spirit. Peter puts the emphasis on inspired men. That’s not what Paul puts the emphasis on. Paul puts the emphasis on inspired writings. The Greek is pasa graphē, every written word. So this is not a general inspiration that isn’t connected to what comes out on the parchment. This is such an influence on the biblical writers that the words written are God’s words. So it’s the Scriptures that are inspired.

Now, the function of that statement in this context goes like this: Why was your mother’s character reliable, Timothy? Where did the Scriptures get the divine marks of holiness? How did they get the power to make you wise unto salvation? How was it that all these writings led you to Jesus? Paul’s answer is that they are God-breathed words.

Know the Word, Know God

Now, I’m going to come back to this in a moment, but I just have to pause here and ask you a question: Has it ever penetrated down to your heart the magnificence of what he’s saying about this book? We hold in our hands the very word of the Creator of the universe. You young pastors, you need to settle this. Do you believe this or not? If you really believe that, it changes everything. If this is the very Word of the Creator of the universe, then if we read it correctly, we know what he’s like. We know his relationship to us. We know his purpose for humanity and for our own church and city. We know about eternity and what comes after death. We know the most important things in the world. We know them. And I know you all live in a very postmodern, relativistic, pluralistic age.

That’s why I say you have to decide. If you try to sit on the fence of whether this is actually the word of God, you won’t have a fruitful ministry. Paul has plenty to say in the coming words about how much trouble you’re going to get into. I mean, the day before yesterday, our president declared that so-called homosexual marriage is right, is good, it’s Christian. I’m going to go to jail over this. I’m going to be accused of hate speech. People are going to write ugly things about me in the newspaper. That has to be. That’s the world we live in. So you’ve got a huge decision in front of you. Will you go with this Word or will you go with the flow? The pressures on you to adjust the Bible are huge. So I just plead with you to settle it deep in your heart and be courageous. There are good reasons to believe the Bible, and at the bottom of them all is it is God’s self-authenticating word. We’ll come back to this when we talk about preaching.

The Utility of the Word

Let’s keep going in verses 16 and 17. Now the effect of this inspiration is it is profitable. This book is profitable for teaching. Teaching means explaining what’s here and illustrating what’s here so people can understand what’s in the Book. And then there are three functions that this teaching has: reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Reproof means somebody is going in the wrong direction. You stop them and say, “Don’t go that direction. Turn around.” And correction means that you show them the right way to go, the right way to live. And then thirdly, there’s this ongoing training and growth in righteousness, and all of that flows from the fact it is a God-breathed book. And then finally in this unit, the effect is very practical, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).

I just find this to be amazing. Paul soars to the highest place in saying, “This is a God-breathed book.” And then he comes down out of this cloud and he lands at every good work. You want your church to be filled with good works? Open the Bible for them. The Bible has the power to transform us from the inside out, so that we know what we ought to do, and by virtue of the Word, we have power to do what we ought to do. That’s why Paul uses these words “complete” and “equipped.” Those are very interesting words, sometimes used for repairing fishing nets. Human hearts need to be fixed, they need to be repaired, they need to be changed. You can’t do that. God does that, and he does it by his word. I want my church to be filled with people who are overflowing with good deeds.

You know, sometimes in America we have this notion we can manage all these people and get them to function well through programs. I believe in programs, but my people live 90 percent of their time outside the programs, and I want that 90 percent to be filled with good deeds, with love and sacrifice and transformed thinking and feeling and living. And there are, sitting in front of you 20 or maybe 2,000 people, and all of them are different. You don’t have any idea on Sunday morning what they need. You don’t know what their week was like. You don’t know if they’re thrilled or sad. If you try to always think mechanically, saying, “I have to say the right thing to advance the program or meet the need of the moment,” it’s just impossible. But if you give them a steady diet of the word of God, it will bear decades-long fruit.

The Ministry of the Word

Now, that’s the end of chapter 3. Having pleaded with Timothy to continue, saying, “Stay there, Timothy. Stay in what you’ve learned,” now Paul turns to the issue of preaching. Let’s read 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.

Beyond the Pulpit

Now before I focus on 2 Timothy 4:3–5, let’s just say a few words about what follows. I have maybe four observations. Number one, the ministry of the word in the local church always involves more than preaching. Look at 2 Timothy 4:2: “In season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort . . .” I’m going to give you an illustration here of what this is. In my first year as a pastor, the wife of the chairman of our deacons had a heart attack. I got the call as a brand new pastor. She was being rushed to the hospital and they asked if I would come. This is one of my very first crisis moments in the ministry. So I jump in the car and I’m going to get there before the ambulance does. And I forgot my Bible. I walk into a waiting room full of family members. She’s in surgery. Here’s her husband in front of me. He gives me a big hug for coming. And then he says, “John, give us a word from the Lord.”

I’ve read my Bible for a long time and in that moment my mind went blank. I don’t remember what I said, but I felt helpless and wordless. I was so ashamed but they were very kind. I went home, I got down on my knees, I opened this Book to Psalm 46 and I spent the next hour memorizing it. I said to God Almighty, “That will never happen again.” So I’ve memorized Psalm 16, Psalm 23, Psalm 8, Psalm 46, and Psalm 103. Why? I will never be out of season again. I will have a word ready from the Lord in whatever situation I’m in. So when I exalt preaching, don’t think I’m unaware that all of ministry is word ministry. So that’s observation number one.

The Manner of Our Ministry

Number two, it matters how you do the ministry of the Word. Look at 2 Timothy 4:2: “With complete patience and teaching.” Isn’t that amazing? You’re not just a word machine. There’s a heart attitude that will make the Word have proper power. So there’s two things here: teaching and patience. This is the work of the mind explaining what you’re saying. You want people to understand what you’re saying. You’re not just quoting words. And inside there’s a love for these people that’s patient while you’re trying to help them. Because if they don’t see the Word having a transforming effect on you, it probably won’t on them either.

Teach the Truth

Number three, don’t be surprised when people don’t like what you say (2 Timothy 4:3–4). Some of them are just going to go get another teacher that will say what they want to hear. Now, I don’t want you to put unnecessary stumbling blocks in the way of the Word. Don’t say things or do things that create unnecessary hindrances to understanding and acceptance of it. But when you start getting criticized for saying what’s really here in a proper way, don’t turn away from teaching the truth.

This is one of my biggest concerns for young ministers in America, and I assume here. Among the young, Reformed awakening, there’s a kind of sense we should be cool. We should be able to say things in a way that everybody likes, they think that’s really clever. If that mentality grips you, you will avoid many topics. You won’t talk about hell, that’s for sure. You can’t be cool about hell. You won’t talk about God bruising his own Son. Somebody’s going to call you a believer in divine child abuse. And since you don’t want to be criticized like that, without conviction, you just won’t talk about the controversial things, because these people might leave your church. That’s number three.

Fulfill Your Ministry

Number four, there are four exhortations. Paul says, “Be sober minded” (2 Timothy 4:5). Be serious. You’re dealing with weighty matters. Be ready to suffer because I’ve just explained what’s going to happen. Make the gospel, the soul winning gospel, central in your ministry. Be an evangelist as well as a teacher. And fulfill your ministry. Remember the laying on of hands when you receive the gift of divine courage. God called you. He has given you a ministry. Now you feed the flame and you fulfill that ministry. The call of God in your life really matters. Has he led you sovereignly in such a way that you can say to your church, “God put me here”? And if he has, fulfill that ministry. Don’t leave it.

A Most Solemn Charge

Now we’re ready to talk about preaching in 2 Timothy 4:1–2. I don’t know of any command in the Bible introduced like this one. I could be wrong. If you can find one, tell me. I don’t know of any intensification of a command like this. It’s weighty and majestic and lengthy. So let’s read these two verses again:

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 . . . (2 Timothy 4:1–2).

That’s the introduction to the command. That’s amazing. There’s nothing like that in the Bible for any other command that I know about. And then he says, “Preach the Word.” Let me just say a word about each of those intensifications. There are five of them. First he says, “I solemnly charge you.” The word there, diamartyromai, is a serious word. It’s a solemn charge. Second, he says, “In the presence of God.” He’s saying, “I’m telling you right now to preach the word and God is watching us.”

Third, Paul says, “And in the presence of Christ Jesus . . .” Both the Father and the Son are attending to this moment as I charge you to preach the word. Don’t take this lightly. Fourth, he says, “Who is to judge the living and the dead . . .” Why would he say that? There’s no office beside the preaching office that deals so regularly with eternal judgment. It would be a weighty thing if preachers only dealt with matters of life and death. But we don’t just deal with matters of life and death. We deal with matters of eternal judgment. He says, “Who is to judge the living and the dead . . .” Surely he’s trying to intensify Timothy’s seriousness about preaching. When you preach, people are moving to eternal life or eternal damnation. We are the aroma to life and the aroma to death. Who is sufficient for these things?

Fifth, Paul says, “And by his appearing and his kingdom . . .” Let’s put the piece together. He is saying, “I solemnly charge you by the appearing and the kingdom of Christ.” What does that mean? He is saying, ““I charge you by his appearing,” and, “I charge you to preach by his kingdom.” That’s grammatically very awkward. I think it means something like this. One of these days, Jesus Christ is going to appear in the sky and you will not be happy that you were cool. Can you imagine what would happen in France if Jesus split the sky tomorrow? That’s the way he wants Timothy to think while he’s preaching. This one you’re always talking about, he’s going to show up and he’s going to show up as King. There will be no question any more about whether he’s real.

You can endure suffering for a little season. Your king is on the way. And he will call you to an account on that day. He’ll say, “What did you do with my word? Did you speak it and preach it, or did you constantly just play games with the people to entertain them?” That’s the way Paul introduces the command to preach.

The Place of the Word

Now we get these three words. Paul says, “Preach the word.” Let’s take those two words. First, we’ll focus on the word, and second, we’ll focus on preaching. We’ll ask, what does he mean by the word, and what does he mean by preach? Here are a few comments about the word which we’ve already spent a lot of time looking at. Just make sure you see the connection between 2 Timothy 3:16–17 and 2 Timothy 4:1–2. There are no chapter divisions in the original manuscripts. So it goes like this:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching . . . I charge you, preach the word.

Surely one of the things Paul means by the word is the Old Testament that he’s been talking about in the mind of Timothy. Now, the New Testament hadn’t been fully written yet. Is there a pointer here to the New Testament? There is. Look at verse 2 Timothy 4:3. The reason you should preach the word is that the times are coming when people will not endure sound doctrine or sound teaching. Now what is he referring to when he says “sound teaching”? In 2 Timothy 1:13, he refers to that. He says, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me.”

That phrase, “sound words,” corresponds to “sound teaching” or “sound doctrine” back in 2 Timothy 4:3. It refers to a kind of emerging body of doctrine or body of teaching, and the human authority behind it is the apostle. He is saying, “You receive this sound teaching from me. That’s what people are going to walk away from, but you preach it.”

So what we have in the New Testament is the body of that sound teaching. We have these prophetic writings and we have these apostolic writings. So the word that we are to preach amazingly is a book, the Old and New Testament. Now that has massive implications for preaching. Most of your work as a pastor will be book work, not because of your personality or because you’re an intellectual, but because God has chosen to speak to the world through a book. Let that sink in. That is amazing.

It is the writings that are inspired. So most of your work is book work. I don’t want you to become a dry, dead, dusty analyzer. Nevertheless, your work is going to be book-driven and book-faithful. Your preaching is going to be Bible-saturated. To be sure, it must be Spirit-given and shaped by the Spirit and carried and empowered by the Spirit. But remember, the Spirit inspired the Book. I believe the Holy Spirit hovers over this Book, as it were. So if you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you go to the Book. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16) is almost the same as “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). If you were to ask me, “How do you pursue the fullness of the Holy Spirit,” I would say, “I pursue the fullness of the written word of God.” I know that’s the way it works from experience. If I am wordless, I am powerless. And that power is the power of the Spirit.

Now, I don’t want it to go without saying that Christ is the center of the book. This whole conference in one sense has been about gospel, Christ-centered ministry. So keep in mind 2 Timothy 3:15, which says that these Scriptures make you wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. So always be letting the word guide you to Christ.

The Place of Preaching

Now the last thing we want to do is focus on the word preach. I’ve said that what you preach is the book centered on Christ empowered by the Spirit. Now, what does it mean to preach it and not just teach it, nor just discuss it, nor just share it?

What is unique about preaching? The Word here is keryxon. The noun keryx means a herald or an announcer or a town crier. So just let the word have its effect, first of all. It’s not the word “teach”; it’s the word “preach.” Turn back to 2 Timothy 1:10–11:

[Christ] abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher . . .

They are not the same. Preacher, apostle, and teacher overlap for sure, but each has its distinctive note. The preacher is the herald, announcing the truth. The apostle is the preserver and the transmitter of authoritative teaching. And the teacher is always explaining things so that people understand. I am going to argue that preaching has a significant component of teaching.

More Than Singing

There are wide branches of the church today that think all a pastor should do is teach. They talk about the first half of the service as worship and then they say, “Now we’re going to get the teaching.” I don’t like that, and there are a lot of reasons why I don’t like it.

First, the second half of the service is also worship. I don’t get preceded by worship in my church. I bring worship to climax in my preaching. Preaching is worshiping over the word, loving the God of the word, exulting in the God of the word, and being thrilled by all the truth of the word. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I said that the keryx, the preacher, is like a town crier before there was any radio or television or internet. How did the king get his news to his subjects in all the villages? He sent out town criers, heralds, or preachers. So for example, it might go like this. I’m going to be a town crier now. I walk into a village and I’m the representative of the king. I say, “Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. Be it known to all the royal subjects. Let it be known to you that the king has granted an imperial guard for your city, and he intends for you to be protected from all the enemies surrounding our land.”

And the crowd says, “Yay for the king.” Our word for that is “amen.” And then furthermore, the town crier says, “Be it known to you that the cost of this protection will be borne by the king himself and not by taxation.” And the crowd says, “Yay for the king.” Then he says, “And furthermore, be it known to you, the king loves you, his loyal subjects, and he’s going to use all of his counsel and power to defend you and supply all your needs.” And cheers go up again. And lastly, he says, “Be it known to you that the blessing of the king rests upon you. Blessed are the people who trust in the king.” That’s what a preacher does.

Now, it may be that a little child would walk up to the town crier and say, “What does imperial mean?” And he would have to explain it. He would teach. I teach when I preach. I know that. But it is so much more. This Book is essentially news. A preacher brings news. He announces great, glorious, unspeakably wonderful things over his people.

The Power of Good News

Let me give you an illustration of what I mean. I’m told this is a true story, but I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. In the Second World War, there was a prison camp with mainly American prisoners behind the German lines. The Allies were closing in and liberation was soon to happen. But the prisoners, the American prisoners, didn’t know that, and the mood in the camp was very discouraged and very sad. They didn’t know if they would live. And this is a picture of us living in a world like ours.

And then someone smuggled in a little transistor radio, and in the quiet of their barracks, they turned it on and they heard the announcement of how close their liberation was. This is called news. This is good news. It starts to spread throughout the camp, and everybody’s telling everybody else, “They’re close, they’re close. Our liberation is close.” And the German guards watching this happen could not explain the joy in the camp. It’s like the joy in the world like this before the second coming. That’s the note that is struck in preaching. Paul says, “I charge you to preach by his appearing and his kingdom.” Yes, you have cancer. My wife and I just read an email this morning that a woman in our church has breast cancer. So we prayed for Patty this morning. I’ve got spectacular news for Patty. Don’t you? We have the best news in the world. Whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord.

Expository Exultation

One last thing needs to be said. I’ve been stressing the exaltation over the word that a preacher has, but it is an exultation in the truth. We don’t make up out of our own heads exciting things to make our people feel good. We will break our backs if we have to on Thursday and Friday and Saturday to understand what the Bible means. And if you dig deep enough and pray hard enough, you won’t just see the truth; you’ll see glorious truth. Therefore, exultation is based on exposition. We’ve been talking about how to translate my favorite term for preaching, so you can all work on this together.

My definition of preaching is expository exultation. And now I’m just going to emphasize in closing the expository part, and what I mean by that is an effort to draw out of the text truth that is really there. Look at 2 Timothy 2:15. It says:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

This is the word of truth. I want to exalt over the beauties and the glories in it, but that will be hollow and artificial if I don’t see what’s really there. So Paul says, “Do the hard work of rightly handling this word of truth.”

Think Hard Because God Gives

Let me point you to another verse. Second Timothy 2:7 is a definition of what you’re going to spend your preparation doing:

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

There are so many people who divide those up. Somebody stresses thinking and another person stresses that God gives us truth in what we need to say. This group says, “I don’t need all that academic, rigorous, hard work on the text.” The text says, “The Lord will give you understanding in everything . . .” And the other person says, “It says ‘think.’ I’ll think all the time and I’ll get everything I get from thinking.” So don’t choose between those two. The text says, “Think over the apostolic word.” Many people who work with their hands have no idea what hard work this is. I was sitting in my hotel room at 11:30 p.m. and it was very hard work.

It’s hard work just to understand what’s here, and then it’s hard work to formulate some kind of structure for the sermon, and then it’s hard work to sit there and think of possible illustrations that might help your people. You can get to the end of the day and the only muscle you have used is your brain, and you can be exhausted. So thinking is right, but realize that through thinking, the Lord gives understanding.

Haven’t you had that experience? You’re working really hard to try to understand the flow of thought in a passage and you just don’t get it. It’s not yielding its truth, so what do you do? You pray. You say, “Lord, I need your help. Incline my heart to this word. Open my eyes to wonderful things here.”

I’ll give you an illustration, and we’re almost done. I had to preach on John 14:12 three weeks ago. It says, “Everybody who believes will do the works of Jesus. Indeed, if you believe you will do greater works than Jesus.” I had no idea what that meant. It made no sense to me at all. He says, “You will do greater works than Jesus if you just believe.” This is not saying if you’re some big, charismatic, powerful person you can do that. Everybody who believes does greater works than Jesus. That’s what the text says.

Now, if I weren’t preaching through the Gospel of John, I would skip that text. So I went on my face on Friday morning and I said, “Lord, I have to preach on this in two days and I don’t know what it means. Please help me.” And he did. Now, I’m not going to tell you what it means, but it’s online. The point there was simply that you think and you think and you think, and then you pray, and God breaks through with light. He does not whisper in your ear what the answer is. He causes you to see in the text what you did not see before. It’s really there.

Keep Preaching

Many of you are younger. If God wills, you have many years of ministry in front of you, and you will be tempted again and again to give up on preaching. People will tell you it’s much more important to show some movie clips in your sermon than to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit. And Satan will whisper in your ear, “It’s old-fashioned. It’s over the hill. There’s no use doing this anymore. People don’t want this.” But I’ll tell you, people in your church are starving for real preaching.

France, Switzerland, and Francophone Africa are starving for real preaching. They grew up in homes where mom and dad never seemed to feel anything but anger. They never had any models of wonderful, positive exulting and praise and joy over something good. What those people are craving for is not mere explanations of truth. Those people want to see a father who is aflame with reality. They’re thinking, “Show me something real. Show me something that’s worthy of my whole soul, pastor.”

So when you are tempted to say, “This is not useful anymore,” I want to send you back to 2 Timothy 4:1–2 and that absolutely amazing introduction for the command. Paul says:

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 . . .

And then say with Martin Luther, “If I could today become a king or an emperor, I would not leave my office of preaching.”