Faithful in the Pulpit
1 Timothy 4:13-16
Timothy is in a very challenging situation.
The church around him has all sorts of problems.
He seems discouraged.
He may be trying to pull back from controversy.
Paul will say to Timothy, strap yourself in the pulpit and preach the word of God; I’m on the way. Do not hold back on your preaching, that will make it worse. Preach the word of God and let the chips fall where they may. Better to be divided in the truth than united in error.
1 Timothy 4
- The Priority of the Pulpit
Preaching is job #1.
We do not know how to worship, pray, pursue holiness, do ministry, or anything else without the word of God.
Luther: The Lord rules the church through an open Bible in the pulpit.
Paul tells Timothy, until I can get there, give attention to the reading and teaching of the word.
Give your undivided attention to the word.
Get face-to-face with your preaching ministry.
Be always giving attention to the preaching of the word of God.
This is a command.
No church will rise any higher than its pulpit is strong.
One out of every 4 verses in Acts is a sermon or the equivalent of a sermon.
In Acts 2, they gave themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
- The Pattern of Preaching
It matters to God, not only what you say, but how you say it.
None of us is free to reinvent preaching.
Lawson suggests that this passage has a regulative principle for preaching.
Public reading of Scripture, exhortation, and teaching
You cannot leave any of those three out.
Public reading: Read the text.
Give yourself to the reading.
This was a designated part of the preaching of the word of God.
Start by reading the passage of Scripture.
Start with that, and it makes a strong statement that this is the best thing you’ve got.
What is coming will come from the word of God and not from the culture.
The reading of the word of God is the only place we can claim infallibility.
The last sermon Martin Luther ever preached, he said that people are looking for power in all the wrong places. The power is not in relics or indulgences. God put the power in the Bible.
Exhortation and teaching
Spurgeon would read a chapter and then explain the text.
Then he would take just one verse and open it up and teach its theology.
Others say that the teaching is the explanation of the text and the exhortation is the application.
Either way, these are the component parts.
After you read the text, you explain the text.
Get to the authorial intent of this passage of Scripture in its context.
Get the theology, doctrine, instruction, principles.
Every passage of Scripture has theology in it.
Learn your systematic theology.
You will find that every passage of Scripture has theology in it from one of the major categories of systematic theology.
Teaching is emphasized.
Lloyd Jones says that preaching is theology that is set on fire.
Preaching is theology coming through a man that is on fire.
There should be no kind of preaching that is non-theological.
You cannot properly deal with repentance without the doctrine of man, the fall, sin, etc.
Read the text, teach the text, feed them from the meat of the word of God by pulling the theology from the text.
Exhortation: bringing it home to the hearts of the listener.
Connect the doctrine with their daily life.
Where do they live?
What kind of response do they need to make?
Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Bring the word with passion, urgency, fervency.
There needs to be a fire in the pulpit.
Fire gives off light and heat.
The light of teaching comes with the heat of exhortation.
If there is no passion, there is no preaching.
Sproul: Dispassionate preaching is a lie.
What is the difference between teaching and preaching?
Lloyd Jones: If you have to ask me the difference between preaching and teaching, it is obvious you’ve never heard preaching.
Read the text, explain the text, and exhort from the text with passion.
Edwards said that it is his duty to raise the affections of the listeners in proportion to the importance of the doctrine being preached.
Teaching instructs the mind.
Exhortation raises the affections, summons the will, and calls for a verdict.
Read the text, teach the text, and exhort with the text.
Then you move on to the next text.
It is very hard to try it any other way.
Study includes observation, application, and interpretation
We need to be persuasive.
Do not stop trying to persuade because you are afraid of being like Finney.
Plead and persuade.
If all you do is instruct the mind, you are not a preacher, you are a lecturer.
If all you do is heart and emotion, all you are is a devotional speaker.
And if all it is is your will reaching another will, you are legalistic. You are telling people what to do with no basis for why to do it.
The preacher addresses the mind, heart, and will
- The Perseverance of the Pulpit
Do not neglect the spirit gift within you.
Why say that?
Timothy was toning down and backing off.
Perhaps he was preaching less.
Paul speaks to Timothy like a father speaking to his son.
Do not neglect the gift within you.
In this context, it is obviously a preaching gift.
We are in danger of this.
There has never been a time in the modern church when there is less preaching.
No wonder we are so weak.
We are neglecting, like Timothy, the gift of the preaching of the word of God.
The result is that preaching gets weaker.
Preachers get weaker.
Many preachers will not come close to their potential as preachers simply because they preach so little.
We need to practice preaching by actually preaching.
Whitfield said that the more we preach, the better we preach.
Create venues in which you preach.
Churches and congregations are getting weaker because they sit under so little preaching.
The plurality of elders recognized the gifting of God in Timothy.
Paul is calling Timothy to remember those who laid hands on him.
Who helped get you to the point where you are?
Remember them and do not give up.
You can’t back off now.
- The Preoccupation with the Pulpit
Take pains with these things.
Practice these things.
Hard verb to translate.
Attend to something carefully.
Resolve in your mind and be constantly thinking about something.
Pour your mind into this matter.
Preaching requires a total commitment of all that you have.
It does not take much of a man to be a preacher, but it takes all of him.
Paul does not lighten up on Timothy.
He gets more intense.
Be absorbed in them.
Be wrapped up in this task.
Preaching is not a side issue in your life.
Preaching should consume you.
Be totally given to this.
Be always absorbed in this, actively.
This is a command to take action always to be absorbed in these things.
This should dominate your thoughts.
You should be reading, anticipating what you will preach, praying for more light from heaven.
This is a demanding marathon to which God is calling you.
You have to throw yourself into this.
- The Progress of the Pulpit
Why should you be absorbed in this?
So that your progress, obviously in your preaching and all that entails, will be evident to all.
People need to think you are getting better.
They will be listening better and they will see you grow up as a preacher.
There should be no mediocrity in the pulpit.
Take pains in your preaching.
Get to whatever the next level is.
Be more precise, more persuasive, more penetrating, more succinct, etc.
You cannot be content with where you are.
Be grateful for where you are, but desire to get to the next level.
- The Purifying of the Pulpit
Pay close attention to yourself.
Preach the word of God to yourself.
Practice what you preach before you preach.
Apply the word of God to your life, thoughts, to all you are.
Your godliness is more important than your giftedness.
Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching.
Do not let up.
In all these things, persevere.
As you do this you ensure salvation for yourself and your hearers.
This is not about Timothy’s saved-ness or lost-ness.
IT is about sanctification, which is included in salvation.
Nothing can take the place of preaching.
Where are the preachers?
Where are the men of God who are lost in their message with no gimmicks?
Let us be those men.
We need exposition, not entertainment.
We need the unfolding drama of redemption, not a drama.
God has always promised to honor the preaching of the word of God.
God had one Son, and he made him a preacher.
Brothers, let us preach the word of God.