By Sunday Ayandare
"I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ...Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (2 Tim. 4:1,2).
This is a solemn charge from the peerless apostle, Paul, to his son in the faith, Timothy. The solemnity derives from the fact that it is made "before God and the Lord Jesus Christ." If Timothy was to commit the things he had heard from Paul "to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2); and since this solemn charge is part of those things committed unto Timothy, then, it follows that all preachers today, indeed, servants of God in every age and in every place are under this charge.
PREACHING THE GOSPEL IS A SACRED TRUST.
Contrary to the notion of many today, preaching the gospel is a sacred trust. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul declared, "And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant..." (2 Cor. 3:4-6). It is a job in which God, in His infinite greatness, condescends to make man His fellow-labourer: "For we are labourers together with God..." (1 Cor. 3:9).
"The Lord...is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9). And now, "the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16,17). But this gospel must be preached by man, not by angels or by any other creature. Cornelius, a man, had to send for Peter, a man, "who will tell you words, by which you and all your household will be saved" (Acts 11:14). Saul of Tarsus was told on the road to Damascus: "Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do" (Acts 22:10). Who was to tell Saul these things? An angelic being? No! Just "a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias" (Acts 9:10). Little wonder Paul said, "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us" (2 Cor.4:7). Paul was simply saying, as one writer has aptly pointed out that "God entrusted the gospel to men, to be preached by men, that men might know the power is not in the messenger but in the message."
SOME PREACH OTHER THINGS.
But instead of preaching the word, it is distressing to see that some, and their number is not infinitesimally small, are busily engaged in preaching themselves. The posibility, nay, the reality of some preaching themselves is evidenced in 2 Cor. 4:5. Paul says, "For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord..." What do you think of some of our brethren who in the name of preaching the gospel are engaged in throwing their weight around, displaying intellectual prowess and telling funny stories? Yes, that kind of preaching, no, jabbering will succeed in tickling the fancy and vanity of the preacher-jabberer and his listener(s), but will sure be an abysmal failure as far as saving precious souls is concerned.
What about the practice of using the pulpit to sanction what one is, or is not, doing? There are copious cases of people who, when enmeshed in unscriptural divorce/remarriage, would resort to advancing theories to justify their adulterous state. Those who have turned themselves to slaves of alcohol are often seen adducing reasons (?) for the rightness of "small-small drinking." How great would it be for us to remember is such cases that we are under a solemn charge to preach the word and not ourselves.
Following from this as a corollary is the fact that some are preaching other men. These sort of people have made heroes out of men. There is nothing wrong in this per se. Or is it not a biblical principle that we should give honour to whom it is due? (Rom. 13:7). Some people have been instrumental in shaping us to our present level of spiritual development. It is good to thank God for them and to express our appreciation to them too. But when we hero-worship and develop a penchant for whatever these mentors have to say, and consider ourselves as being under obligation to defend these things and these men, then, we are already thinking "of men above that which is written" (1 Cor. 4:6). A particular doctrine is not sound simply because "brother Big Name" propounds it. Remember, Paul warns, "If any man preach any other gospel unto you...let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8,9).
Moreover, there are still some who equate stealing the hearts of men with preaching Christ a la Absalom (Read 2 Sam. 15:1-6). When some preachers move to a new place, they are obsessed, not with "preaching Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1,2), but as it were, with undoing the work of a former preacher. They erroneously have the notion that they are in competition with their fellow-preacher who must be run down before they could be accepted. And so, in their diabolical schemes they resort to gerrymandering; and circumlocution becomes the hallmark of their preaching. Peter has long ago spoken of false teachers who "speak great swelling words of vanity" with the sole aim of enticing gullible souls (2 Pet. 2:18).
So, in the face of temptations here and there to preach other things but Christ, remember brother-preacher, you have a solemn charge: "PREACH THE WORD..."
(Words of Life, Vol. 8, No. 4, Oct - Dec. 2000)