2 Timothy 4:1-8
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
In this final chapter of 2 Timothy, we sense a note of sadness as Paul gives Timothy some final instructions for the last days. These are probably the final words that Paul ever wrote. We get the sense that Paul is feeling lonely. Many of his travel companions have left him. Luke is the only one that stayed in Rome with Paul. Despite his sadness, we also hear a note of victory as Paul gives his final charge to his son in the faith.
Paul begins this chapter with a solemn charge to Timothy. The charge is this: “Preach the Word.” To preach the Word means “to proclaim the Word, to give it out.” Notice when he is to preach the Word, “in season and out of season.” Timothy is to preach God’s Word when it is convenient and appropriate and even when it is not. Like Timothy, we should be ready to tell others about Jesus any time of the day or night. This means we need to be ready under any or all circumstances.
The reason this is so important is found in the very next verse. “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.” Sound biblical teaching will become more important as the time comes when there will be open opposition to the Gospel. Paul is looking ahead to a time when people will not tolerate sound doctrine. Christian history is filled with many examples of leaders who preached exactly what their hearers wanted to hear. The motive for both the preacher and the hearers is suspect. They do this “to suit their own desires.” Dr. Marvin Vincent discusses the meaning of this text in his Word Studies in the New Testament: “They shall invite teachers en masse. In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies of Egypt. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found.”
This is certainly true today. Many of the pulpits in America have become a sounding board that is merely saying back to the people what they want to hear. Many people attend church today for a spiritual back rub instead of hearing convicting truth that has the power to transform their lives and shape their character. They don’t want to hear the Word of God. Instead they want religious entertainment.
Paul challenges Timothy in verse five, “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” These are hard sayings for sure. Paul is telling Timothy, “put your hand to the plow and do not look back until your ministry is completed.” (Donald Guthrie)
Paul closes out his letter with a glorious epitaph in verses six through eight. Paul sums up his life in three different ways: “I have fought the good fight.” Paul was a good soldier. “I have finished the race.” Paul was a disciplined athlete. “I have kept the faith.” Paul was a good steward. As Paul’s earthly life draws to a close, his heavenly reality comes into view.
Questions to Ponder
What sorts of hardships did the early church leaders endure that today’s leaders rarely face? What are some of the unique challenges that face church leaders in our post-truth culture today? Do you struggle to accept biblical teaching when it does not line up with your own secular worldview? Do you choose pastors and churches based on their willingness to say what you want to hear? What will your epitaph read?
- Praise His Name as the God of Protection, Head of the Church, Sustainer and One Who upholds all things.
- Pray for church leaders all across the earth that they will continue to remain true to preaching the Word of God.
- Pray for holy conviction, fear of the Lord and strength to resist the temptation of preaching what the itching ears of people want to hear.
- Pray for all the church families represented across the earth that we would be ones who truly pray for all our pastors, teachers, elders and leaders.
- Pray that they will 1. Fight the good fight. 2. Finish the race well. 3. Keep the faith.
- Pray for us to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit when His kindness leads us into the way of repentance.
- Pray we will keep short accounts and the fruit of self-discipline and long-suffering will rise up.
Father in Heaven,
We thank You for choosing and appointing our Lead Pastor Bob and his wife Shirley. We thank You for how they are rooted and grounded in You and Your Word. We thank You they teach the Word when it’s easy and hard. Thank You for the gift of being in a church family where truth is wrapped up in grace. Thank You for all the volunteers, servants, leaders, pastors, elders at all of our Oak Pointe Family of Churches. We ask that You would bless them today, encourage their hearts and families, strengthen them by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Protect and watch over them and their own families as they watch over and lead us by Your love. Help us Lord to receive all of You Lord, not just the parts we want to hear, but the whole truth of Who You are. Teach us Your way each day and continue to protect Your church as we trust and obey You. I ask in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.