J. Paul Slayden
Ready to depart and receive the crown of righteousness, the apostle Paul charged Timothy, “in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus who shall judge the living and the dead and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season, out of season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:1-3). His warning against perverting the word is ironclad. He said, “But though we or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:6-9). This was emphasized by repetition. He then said that the gospel, which was preached by him, was not after man, that he did not receive it from man, that he was not taught it, but that it came through revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:8-12) Apostles and angels measure up fairly well with uninspired preachers, and if preachers preach any gospel different from that which came from Jesus Christ those who hear should reject it outright.
The Son of God made remarks about God’s word which impose a reverence for it that no one can fully appreciate, making him fear and tremble as he undertakes to teach the way of salvation—the best work that any mortal can attempt to do. In the temple He said to the Jews,
My teaching is not mine but his that sent me. If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself. He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, the same is true and no unrighteousness is in him (John 7:16-18).
Concluding His instruction to His apostles about the Holy Spirit, He said,
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall not speak from himself; but shall guide you into all the truth: for what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you. All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he taketh of mine and shall declare it unto you (John 16:13-15).
One may strain his imagination till it fritters and quakes, but he will obtain no incentive to reverence for the word of God that will remotely compare with the obligation imposed by the Lord in this message.
Preaching only God’s word now will make—of those who accept it—what it made of sinners when it was proclaimed by the apostles. Every one of the disciples who sat at the Master’s feet to learn of Him, had his lips sealed as to the gospel by the Lord, just before He ascended to heaven and no preaching was done by them till the day of Pentecost. when they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
If all had reverence for the Word there would be one body, one faith and one baptism, which is plainly mentioned in connection with one God, one Lord, and one Spirit (Eph. 4:4-6).