The Preacher’s Work

the urgency of the gospel

The work that follows is derived from Paul’s instructions to Timothy and Titus.

First, because the preacher isn’t inspired today, he must devote himself to the study of the Scriptures in order to “rightly dividing the word of truth” (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 2:15). Thus, the preacher in his study/office is just as much “on the job” as the preacher who is out “pounding the pavement.” Study is hard work. In some cases, it can be as exhausting as physical labor, in that “much study,” the ancient preacher told us, “is wearisome to the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12). Some preachers, more inclined to be gregarious than others, spend their time visiting the community and seeking opportunities to teach. This is well and good. At the same time, they may find it difficult to buckle down for the hard, exhausting work of studying. This lack of study will show in their preaching and the brethren will start to complain. Consequently, the faithful minister of the gospel will not become so entangled in the affairs of life that he cannot find the time to study. It is unfortunate that some preachers will receive “full time” support while devoting much of their time to fishing, golfing, selling, et cetera. But the Scriptures say that “no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Tim 2:4). So, although it may be frequently overlooked, a preacher must spend a great deal of his time in studying God’s word, contemplating its adoption and praying for its application.

Second, the work of a preacher is to “preach the word,” which includes convincing, rebuking and exhorting with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2). There is an unwholesome trend among some brethren today to minimize the importance of pulpit preaching and to over-emphasize other forms of evangelism. These want to measure a preacher’s effectiveness by how many “cold calls” he makes in what has come to be called “personal work.” Such an attitude is unfair in that it magnifies one kind of evangelism over another. In truth, neither forms of evangelism should be ignored, for both pulpit and individual teaching are important. Thus, to judge a preacher’s effectiveness by one or the other is a serious mistake. Paul said that he “kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20). Further, the evangelist is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ “in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2), which simply means when it is well received and when it’s not.

Third, the preacher is to “set in order the things that are lacking” (Titus 1:5). This includes, as the immediate context indicates, the appointing of elders. This would involve teaching the members their responsibilities as well as conveying the actual qualifications set forth in Titus 1:5-9. Further, the preacher must hold fast the pattern of sound words, charging some that they “teach no other doctrine” (1 Tim 1:3; Titus 1:10-14; 2 Tim. 1:13-14). He must warn the church against apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-7; Acts 20:29-31). Even elders, when convicted of sin, must be publicly rebuked (1 Tim. 5:19-22; Titus 3:10-11).

Fourth, the preacher’s work involves training others so they can be effective servants of Christ: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). This would entail teaching the younger men with the view that they will develop into elders, deacons, and preachers. When a preacher has done his duty to train others, the work continues to move forward even when he is absent preaching and teaching elsewhere, or when he moves on to another work. A congregation that has talented men who have been taught well are able to function effectively without a “full time” evangelist if need be.

Fifth, the preacher is called upon by God to be “an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12; 5:22). The man doing these things will be an asset to the local church and will, no doubt, be highly esteemed in love for his work’s sake (1 Thess. 5:13). Being fully supported to preach the gospel on a regular basis is a privilege and trust that must never be abused by those who desire to live faithfully before the Lord.

Thank God for faithful ministers of the gospel.

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