2 Timothy

The Importance and Power of Preaching

Heartisthetarget CapillThe opening paragraph of Murray Capill’s book, The Heart Is the Target, is about as good a summary of the importance and power of preaching as can be found outside of the pages of Scripture itself.

“Throughout the long history of the church, nothing has won as many souls, changed as many lives, built up as many saints, and strengthened as many churches as the faithful preaching of God’s Word.” (p.13)

 Is that how we commonly think of preaching, even in Reformed theological circles? Do we really believe that the preaching of the Word of God from Sunday to Sunday is powerful and effective for the conversion of the lost? Or do we imagine that other things (i.e. less “preachy” means) are more effective and more to be preferred?

What about the building up or edification of the saints? Do we view the preaching of the Word of God as being a powerful and effective means of believers being built up in the faith and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17)? Or do we hang our proverbial hat on lesser things (i.e. small groups or other church-related programs)? Nothing wrong with programs per se, but an undue emphasis on our own programs may belie a subtle lack of confidence in the preaching of God’s Word.

We should view the preaching of the Word of God as primary in the life of the church. That is certainly the view of preaching that is espoused in the Westminster Standards. For example, the Westminster Shorter Catechism says the following about preaching as a means of grace:

“Q. 89. How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.”

Reading the Bible is certainly important (whether one’s own personal Bible reading of listening to the Scriptures being read in public worship). But the Holy Spirit “especially” uses the preaching of the Word of God to convict and convert sinners, and to build them up in holiness and comfort, “through faith, unto salvation.”

Wherever and whenever the true preaching of the Word of God has been recovered and rightly emphasized, souls have been won, lives have been changed, saints have been built up, and churches have been strengthened.

No wonder the Apostle Paul so solemnly charged Timothy to preach the Word:

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1–2, ESV)

THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF THE BIBLE (PART 5 – SUFFICIENCY)

bible-808633_1280This is now the fifth post in a brief series on the biblical view of the Bible. In this post I would like to briefly examine what may be the most neglected attribute of Scripture in the life of evangelical Christians and churches today – the sufficiency of Scripture.

To say that the Bible is sufficient is simply to say that it is adequate or enough for what we need. We do not need something else, or something extra. When it comes to life and godliness, we need no substitute or supplement to the Word of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 the Apostle Paul writes,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV)

Paul there tells us that all Scripture is “profitable” (or useful) for such things as teaching, reproof, correction, and training.  (Have you ever found yourself being reproved or corrected by Scripture? If so, that’s a good thing – it means that God’s Word is doing it’s job in your life!) But notice that Paul also tells us the purpose of Scripture in all of that teaching, reproving, correcting, and training – it is that the man of God may be “complete” and that he may be “equipped for every good work.” So God’s Word is enough; it is sufficient to build up believers and mold us to be the people God wants us to be, and to be able to do His will.

Individual believers and churches in general are constantly being tempted to rely on something other than Scripture or at least something in addition to Scripture, to do the work that God has called us to do. We are tempted to put our confidence in all kinds of other things that we are told “work.” (We are constantly being tempted by pragmatism.) But it is really the Bible alone that is sufficient for faith and life. It is in the Bible alone that we learn the gospel of salvation in Christ. It is in the Bible alone that we learn what God would have us to believe about Him. It is in the Bible alone that we find the will of God for our lives when it comes to ethics and morality, marriage, family, church, society, and even government. It is in the Bible alone that we are sufficiently instructed how to properly pray, worship, and make disciples of all nations.

So if we say that we believe the Bible, let’s act like it. Let us seek to apply it to our lives, our families, our churches, and our community. And let us rely upon it alone to know and do the will and work of God. Nothing else is sufficient; nothing else even comes close.

The Biblical View of the Bible (Part 1 – Inspiration)

bible-808633_1280What do you think of the Bible? For that matter, what does the Bible say about itself? (Does it tell us how we are to think of it?) Another way of putting this question is to ask, “What is the biblical view of the Bible?” Have you ever given that much thought? It is a vitally important question to have settled, because in many ways it is foundational to everything else in the Christian faith and life.

Your view of Scripture determines how you will approach the Bible, and how you approach the Bible has far-reaching implications for practically every aspect of your faith & life.

When it comes to the biblical view of the Bible, the place to start is the inspiration of Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . .” (NKJV). Now, we often use the word “inspiration” to speak of a motivating force or emotion. We sometimes speak of being inspired to do something, or feeling inspired by a work of art or a beautiful sunrise. But that is not the idea that the Apostle Paul is conveying in the above verse. For all of Scripture to be “given by inspiration of God” is for it to be (as the ESV translation puts it) breathed out by God.” What do you normally do when you speak? You (among other things) breathe out or exhale, don’t you? What Paul is essentially saying there is that the Scripture (all of it!) is nothing less than the very Word of God Himself! What the Bible says, then, God says. And that changes everything, doesn’t it?

That the Bible is the very Word of God Himself means that we need to take heed to everything it says (and about whatever it speaks of). That should certainly supply us with ample enough reason and motivation to read it, study it, believe it, and obey it.

The fact that God has communicated to fallen humanity at all should astonish and amaze us. That He has not left us in the dark about Himself or about the way to be made right with Him through faith in Jesus Christ should fill us with gratitude and praise.