The Gospel preacher has a clearly charged duty: “I charge thee therefore
before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead
at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out
of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For
the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their
own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they
shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist,
make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
A Gospel preacher must always preach the truth all the time and at every place. This includes both saints (the church and its shepherds) and sinners. Sometimes, he is asked to leave. In this case he must “shake the dust from his feet,” and move on. Notice in the last verse of the charge that Paul urges Timothy: “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” So, according to this passage, the evangelist also has a duty (the same as shepherds) to “watch out for the welfare of the flock.” Not only will God require the flock at the hands of the shepherds, but He will also expect the evangelist to give an account of his ministry, as he will each of us for our service.
To Titus, Paul penned: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:15). The evangelist has the same authority for his duties as the shepherds have for theirs. Though some of the duties differ, they also overlap some. Here we see the authority to preach, which includes exhortation (to call or invite by exhortation, beseech) and rebuke (a stronger word -- admonish, convict, convince, tell a fault, reprove). Where there are no shepherds over the flock, it is especially important that the evangelist be mature, sound, faithful and fearless. The success and future faithfulness of the congregation will often fall largely on him. However, even with shepherds, the same is usually true, because shepherds sometimes hire an evangelist and act more like a board of directors than shepherds.
The evangelist must not love anything more than he loves the Truth of the Gospel. He must not go into the pulpit worrying about the big house he may have to move out of, or the good salary and fringe benefits, or the praise he may love from the shepherds and members alike. Although first an apostle, Paul was a powerful, faithful and fearless preacher. Though not always popular, and sometimes standing alone, he preached the truth, even to the point of making enemies among his audiences. In Galatia, Paul stood alone against Peter because Peter was wrong, and he also made others his enemy there by telling them the truth (2:11; 4:16). We learn that not only must elders require the truth be taught to them, even to the point of rebuking if necessary (1 Tim. 5:17-20), but an apostle who was wrong had to be confronted and rebuked. Of course, we have no living apostles today; but, we do have shepherds, some who clearly need to be rebuked, due to their leading congregations into error in the work and worship of the church.
The question is: Who will do it? Who will lay their job on the line and speak forth the truth of the Gospel regardless of the consequences? Before preachers refrain from preaching the truth “in season and out of season,” he better consider what the consequences will be IF he does not! Paul told the church at Colosse: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:5). The only way one learns the truth about heaven is through the Truth of the Gospel.
Most who know anything about modern religion also know that millions of people in the USA know as much about the Truth of the Gospel as I do about piloting an airplane. False teachers are busily converting biblically ignorant people to their own plans. They make it as simple to be saved as acknowledging that they believe Jesus is the Son of God. If that is true, then every demon in hell, and the Devil himself will be saved. Matthew records: “And, behold, they [the devils or demons] cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time” (Matt. 8:29)? The Devil talked to Jesus face to face in Matthew 4. He never denied who He was, but tried to tempt the Lord to sin. So, if believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is all that is required, then who could even estimate how many would be saved? Yet, anyone who has any knowledge of the New Testament knows this is just a plan devised by men who are servants of Satan, to dupe other men to follow them. But, to follow them where? Brethren, it is the same place that all too many SHEPHERDS (and one group is too many) are leading men and women who profess to be Christians, into outer darkness!
I say it with much sadness; but, it must be said! What can a religious teacher mix with the Gospel of salvation and still have the Truth? NOTHING. Anything plus the Gospel is too much! Anything less than the Gospel is not enough! Why are some men and women not satisfied with that which is perfect? James speaks of the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). Of what does he speak? Surely no one can successfully argue that he writes of anything other than the doctrine of Jesus Christ! It is that which Jesus said “will judge in the last day” (John 12:48).
By Earl Gieseke
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