In the fourth chapter of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul charges his young protégé, Timothy, to carry out the chief duties of his office as an elder:
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching … be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (1 Tim. 4:2-5).
Central to the instruction that Paul offers is the simple and clear exhortation to “preach the word.” Paul’s life and writings leave little question about what the preaching of the word entails.
The Foolish Message
Paul himself resolved to know nothing in his own ministry except “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). He trusted that by the preaching of this “foolish” message the wisdom and glory of God would shine through.
This gospel message proved again and again in Paul’s mission work to be “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Thus, as his own ministry came to an end, Paul urged Timothy to continue to do precisely what Timothy had seen him do over and over again: “Preach the word.”
Clarity and Salvation
In our day the gospel appears just as foolish in the eyes of the world as it did in Paul’s day, but the power of God unto salvation continues to accompany the clear preaching of God’s word. Certainly the days are upon us when people will not endure sound teaching because they prefer messages that are more pleasing to the ears and suitable to their particular passions.
Many will turn away from truth in favor of vain pursuits. But the faithful minister who responds to the call of God on his or her life cannot be so foolish and must not forsake the only message that offers life and hope.
With a sober mind and a resolve to endure difficulty if necessary, the man or woman of God must learn to do the work of an evangelist and to fulfill his or her ministry.
If you are called to ministry to serve as a pastor, missionary, Christian leader, or in some other capacity, it is imperative that you learn to rightly handle the word of God. Apart from faithfulness at this vital point it will not be possible to faithfully do the work of an evangelist and to fulfill the ministry God has given you.