Raymond Perron is a church planter in Quebec for the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America and pastoral mentor to the other church planters in Quebec City. For more information about Perron, go here.
Text: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
I would like to talk about two tendencies that are ours as evangelical preachers are more common in our milieu. The first is looking for a miracle recipe that will save the whole world, that will bring everybody to the Lord. Even the disciples wanted to push Jesus to make strategies. There is something very commendable that we look at other ministries and see if there are other principles that can be applied that can make me more efficient; however, when I want to copy someone else, it becomes very dangerous. We need to beware of methodology. We need to have strategies and methods to present the whole counsel of God people, but beware of emphasizing too much on methodology. When we sow the seed of the word of God, the power is not in the sower or the way it is sown, but the power is in the seed. Evangelism takes places within the context of relationships–through a knowledge and context of a person and knowledge of them.
The second tendency is what I call behaviorism. When the times to make an assessment about a person, we try to know about his or her experiences. People are influenced by a number of things, both individual and corporate, postmodern and spiritual. What we need to think about is what modern man has to cope and understand his experiences. There are two characteristics of the North American man: first, biblical illiteracy and second, postmodern epistemology. To such a man, there is the question how we make Christianity credible and relevant to such a man. This is the tendency of behaviorism.
The natural man does not receive the things of God. He is devoid of the truth. Man is a being that is created in God’s image. He has in his inner being the sensus divinitatis. He has this knowledge of God in his being. Every human being therefore has such a knowledge of God that he is without excuse.
How are we going to relate to and communicate the gospel to such a man?
Philosophy and reason? Or theology and revelation? What is the ultimate source of truth? Revelation. Evangelism does not consist first in informing the believer that he is lost but is calling him to repentance. It is what Van Til calls a “head on collision.” There is nothing in common between the believer and the world.
The Charge: Paul is writing his last words to his son Timothy. He is about to give his last commendation, encapsulating all that he would like to pass to Timothy. He summarizes it in this passage. I charge you, preach the Word! For the simple reason that the Word of God is doing the work of God. Whatever the circumstances, the Word of God is always adequate to do the work of God. We have no other promise that anything else will bring people to salvation. We are told that we are too dogmatic, that we are scaring people with the preaching of the Word. Do you believe their lies? We are called to herald, proclaim, publish the good news of Jesus Christ. We have been entrusted with gospel, sound doctrine, the truths of salvation. Where Scriptures are ignored, there is the unknown God. When Scriptures are understood, the supernatural God is known. God can only be known through a supernatural medium.
The “How To’s” of the Charge: We have five imperatives here. The first is the charge, and next four show us how it is to be done. First, be urgent. This is a matter of eternal life and death. How could we be cool, casual, and nonchalant? We are before people under God’s judgment! Our preaching needs to be urgent, intelligent, and longsuffering. Preaching should be marked by three elements: conviction, warning, and appeal. The conviction of the conscience and the rebuke of sin should take place prior to comforting. We said “peace, peace” when there is no peace. We have healed the wounds of people too lightly.
Communicating the gospel in our culture today is a paramount issue. We have a faith that is once for all delivered to the saints, and we have the charge to do all for the sake of the gospel by becoming all things to all men. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit and instrumentality of God’s Word, the gospel changes lives, and through changed lives, changes cultures. We are called to preach the gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. May we be a people committed to living gospel-centered lives, proclaiming it in our words and demonstrating it in our lives for the sake of the kingdom and the glory of our Redeemer.