I have been in a number of churches where the word of God is read. In Some churches different books of the Bible are read e.g. they might read verses from psalms, numbers and one of the gospels in one service, while some might read verses from just one book. This is all well and good but, when the pastor stands up to preach, his preaching has nothing to do with what was read. I remember I once went to a Christmas Day service in one church and the Pastor preached about a Christmas tree, the whole preaching. In most other churches, the pastor will stand up and go directly into how what was read applies to the people instead of making sure that the people understand what the word said. In these churches, it is not important to understand the word itself. What is important is what the pastor says about the word.
The concern I have with these churches is that, the congregation is left clueless as to what God is saying. They don’t even carry bibles to churches. The word of the Pastor takes more centre stage than the word of God. Ultimately, the Pastor takes all the glory and not God. Why am I going on about this? This is because of verses like this one:
2 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV Strong’s)
13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
The context of this verse starts from verse 9 where Paul assures The Thessalonians that Jesus will not come before the final antichrist has been revealed, who will deceive those who are perishing, because they have rejected the truth and chose unrighteousness. Paul says this final antichrist will be God’s way of ensuring that those who rejected the truth, continue to believe this antichrist’s lies so that they can be condemned. In other words, the final antichrist is God’s judgement upon those who reject the truth.
This then brings us to our featured verse. In the above verse, Paul says that in contrast to those that have rejected the truth, us as believers have believed the truth and God used the Holy Spirit and this truth that we have believed to save us. Therefore, we should give thanks to God. The order of the words is very important. Paul says God used the Holy Spirit and the truth to save us, and not the truth and the Holy Spirit. Why is this important, it is because unless you have the Holy Spirit, you can never understand the truth and believe in it (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Now if God uses the truth, why are we not preaching the truth? Why are we interested in preaching about everything else except the truth. We read the Bible in church services but yet we don’t preach from the Bible. We rather preach about Christmas trees as in the example I gave above. We read from the Bible and yet we don’t make sure that the people understand what was being read, instead we jump directly to how what was read applies to people. God uses His words to save and not our words. Is it not more important for people to understand God’s word than to understand our words?
This is what Paul commanded Timothy to do as a Pastor and preacher:
2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV Strong’s)
1 I chargeyou 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Paul commanded Timothy with God the Father and Jesus as witnesses, to preach the word and not his words but God’s word. Not only must he preach but, he must preach in good and bad times, whether people want to hear the word or not. The content of his preaching must contain a reprove (preaching against sin), a rebuke (preaching against the sinner) and an exhortation (encouragement to repent). The whole Bible is all about these three things. This commandment that was given to Timothy, applies to all pastors and preachers today. This is what we must preach and this is how we must preach. Yet we disobey this and rather, preach about Christmas trees or how the word applies to people. What’s the point of knowing how to apply God’s word if you are not saved?
Pastors and preachers, I plead with you today, obey this commandment and preach the word of God and not your words. Reprove, rebuke and exhort for that is what God uses to save His children, not your words.
After each service, ask yourself this question as a member of the church: do I understand scripture that was read today? Do I understand the context? If you don’t, then you were not listening, or your Pastor or preacher has not done a good job at all. If you leave that church not having understood what was read, you wasted your time. It is all about God and Hs Word, nothing else takes precedence. I don’t know how long you are with your current church but I want to ask you this: how well do you know God’s Word? Do you carry the Bible to church?
This is the standard that every pastor and preacher including myself must be held to. Do you hold your Pastor or preacher to the command that Paul gave Timothy?