Marvin L. Weir
Much has been written and orally taught about the duties of those who profess to be preachers. In doing such, those who write and teach about this matter have surely consulted many sources for information. One source, however, that is often neglected or completely ignored is the Bible — God’s Word! Many years ago this writer traveled for an interview with a congregation who had advertised that they were seeking to employ a preacher. The interview occurred in the presence of five to seven elders (the exact number has been forgotten). The length of the interview was approximately one hour. The thing that stood out in my mind then and even more so today is that they did not ask a single religious question or what I believed about any Biblical matter! These men were only interested in two things. First, they wanted to know how many Bible degrees I had and what major “Christian Universities” they came from. Second, they inquired about my “community skills and involvement.” It was imperative that their preacher be heavily involved in the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and be in good standing with city officials. Needless to say, I fell far short of their expectations, and was emphatically told that they did not believe me to be the man that could do the job they wanted done. And, with that assessment, I agreed wholeheartedly, and gladly left the meeting! Even forty plus years ago, many elders and congregations were not that concerned as to what their preacher believed about doctrinal matters. Should it then come as a surprise that so many congregations today are in total apostasy? For years brethren have been “dumbed down” (East Texas and not University grammar) in regard to Bible doctrine. Brethren, the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, serving on the city council, and all the social skills in the world will not save a single soul from sin! The apostle Paul describes what is most important of the duties of gospel preachers and Bible class teachers in second chapter of Second Timothy. The apostle likens preaching to four secular occupations. Let us learn and make application as we observe —
Paul taught his beloved Timothy many things regarding Biblical matters. He instructed, “Thou therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses…” (2Tim. 2:1-2a). The “grace” necessary to strengthen is found only in Christ. One must continue “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42) in order to be strengthened by the grace of God. The things that Timothy had heard refers to the totality of the gospel that Paul proclaimed in every city (Acts 15:36). Paul did not rely upon earthly wisdom or involvement in social or civic activities to be a successful preacher. As he stated to the Corinthians, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Timothy, having been thoroughly instructed in doctrinal matters, now has the obligation to teach these matters himself. Paul did not teach Timothy sacred truths so that Timothy could teach others social pabulum!
Paul did not mislead Timothy to think that a preacher could entangle himself with the world in such a way as to live a life with most everyone’s approval. Quite to the contrary, Paul admonished, “Suffer hardship with (me), as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of (this) life; that he may please him who enrolled him as soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4). So many today who claim to be preachers have figured out that “hardship” can be avoided if they tell people what they want to hear. One can soft-pedal the gospel, and carefully tiptoe around issues like dancing, cheer-leading, gambling (lottery tickets included), alcohol, fornication, marriage-divorce-remarriage, instrumental music, direct operation of the Holy Spirit, and woman’s role in the church, and suddenly be at peace with all the congregation. If, however, the unadulterated Bible truth is taught and preached regarding the aforementioned matters, one will suffer hardship for being a good soldier of the cross. The moral is simply this — one cannot usually please men and the One who enrolled him as a soldier!
A dedicated athlete will put forth every lawful effort to be victorious in his endeavors. Timothy is cautioned, “And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully” (2 Tim. 2:5). As Coffman observes, Paul uses another metaphor —
…to stress the necessity of doing it God’s way. ‘Contending lawfully’ means that the child of God must recognize the divine rules, endure the discipline, fulfill all requirements regarding the proper enrollment, always abiding by the rules of the contest, if he hopes to receive eternal life. The great thesis of current times to the effect that ‘I’ll do it my way,’ ‘I’ll work out my own religion,’ etc. — all such notions are refuted by Paul’s words here.
Preachers should possess a burning desire to attain the victor’s crown of life for themselves and those they teach. Such cannot be done, however, by denying the inspiration of the Scriptures and selectively rejecting a “thus saith the Lord.” Far too many so-called preachers today quickly compromise their convictions and trample underfoot the Word of God in order to appease ungodly members or to align themselves with the false positions of their relatives, alumni, or some “brotherhood giant.”
This metaphor simply reinforces what was said regarding the athlete. Soil must be cultivated before a farmer can expect a successful crop, but the rules of agriculture apply. Ignoring the rules of agriculture will not produce a successful harvest! A gospel preacher will always teach that if we deny Christ, He will deny us (2 Tim. 2:12). A faithful preacher can always say, “For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God.