Session 2 — Alistair Begg
Note: Throughout the week, as we liveblog the general sessions, we will be using a time-stamp method. This will give readers an approximate sense of key statements that were made throughout the session, as well as allowing them to trace the flow of the argument. (Also, if readers want to listen to any key moments by downloading the audio, these time-stamps will make it easier to track down certain statements in the audio file.) However, what follows is not intended to be a full or exact transcript of what was said.
12:06 Sermon Begins — Introductory Comments
12:07 My text for this morning is 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
2 Timothy 4:1-5: I solemnly charge you 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, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
12:09 Opening prayer
My title for this talk is borrowed from one of Spurgeon’s sermons, “Christ and His Co-Workers.” The title is: Let the Lion Out. … Charles Spurgeon: “The best apology for the Gospel is to let the Gospel out. … Let the Lion out and see who will dare approach him.”
12:11 Paul is identifying the necessity that is laid upon Timothy. Paul’s life is coming to an end, and now it is crucial for Timothy to keep the faith and run the race well.
12:12 Paul is exhorting Timothy to preach the Word and to let the lion out. What is true for Timothy will be true for you and me as well.
12:13 My goal this morning is to remind us of what we already know and to encourage us in the task of preaching the Word.
12:14 Timothy was to preach the Word of God in a time of absolute confusion — both on the moral and doctrinal fronts. People did not know how they were supposed to behave or what they were supposed to believe.
12:15 1) First, we will consider Timothy’s Charge (vv. 1-2) Paul reminds Timothy that he is called to discharge his duty in the presence of the Father and the Son.
12:17 Paul lived his life in the now in light of the reality of then (e.g. heaven). Some of us are so concerned with living in the now that we have completely lost sight of what God has promised for the then.
12:18 Like marriage, ministry is not to be entered into lightly. It is solemn. The charge is also simple and straightforward.
12:19 It is a ministry of the Word. It is to be approached while recognizing that the Word of God accomplishes the work of God through the power of the Spirit of God.
12:21 In Deuteronomy 4, God called the people together so that they might hear His Word and fear Him. It is through the Word of God that we are transformed.
12:23 We like Timothy are to preach the Word and nothing but the Word.
12:24 A generation ago, preaching was in the shadows in the world. Sadly, today, preaching is in the shadows even in the church.
12:25 In verse 2, Paul is preparing Timothy for the challenges that will come. Preachers are to be ready in season and out of season. As one translation reads, “Press the message home on all occasions, convenient or inconvenient.” There is no excuse here for cowardice or laziness.
12:26 By its very nature, Scripture will do its work of reproving, exhorting, and instructing.
Who is sufficient for this calling? How can a pastor know all the needs of all of his people. The sufficiency is in the Word of God. We must trust the Word to do its work.
12:29 This instruction is to be given with great patience. A young preacher is prone to try to attain by one jump the height which others have traveled by a long series of single steps over a quarter century — Lloyd Jones.
12:30 It is to be preached patiently and carefully.
2) Second, we will consider Timothy’s Challenge (vv. 3-4)
12:32 Timothy must be prepared for the times when people will not put up with sound teaching.
In the first letter, Paul had already warned Timothy about those who do not agree with sound doctrine.
12:35 There will always be people who are more interested in novelty than in orthodoxy. They will seek out teachers whom they want to hear.
This was not unique to Timothy’s day. Throughout the OT, people rejected the instruction of God’s prophets, not because it was unclear, but because it was too clear. They wanted someone to preach in accordance with their sinful fancies.
12:36 The primary challenge is that we, as preachers, will be tempted to stop using the Bible in our preaching and submitting to its truth in our lives.
12:37 It is no new thing to find those who are in search of a spirituality that is disconnected from biblical truth. Paul warns Timothy not to cater to that kind of ear-tickling.
12:41 3) Third, we will consider Timothy’s Character (v. 5)
The charge and the challenge provide Timothy with an opportunity for him to display his character. This is not the time for self-pity. It is an opportunity to complete the task and to stand firm.
12:42 a. Always be sober-minded — Timothy must be alert and ready to endure. He must make sure that he is not unduly influenced by the numbers of people who follow false teachers. Always, be sober-minded.
12:43 b. Endure suffering — In Paul’s case, the suffering was obviously physical. In Timothy’s case, it may not be. For us, the suffering may be more mental and emotional. But it is real nonetheless. There is a cost involved in guarding that which has been entrusted to us.
12:44 You cannot preach truth faithfully and clearly while still making sinners comfortable. Consequently, the faithful preacher will undoubtedly be forced to endure suffering and persecution.
12:45 c. Do the work of an evangelist — Being a pastor and a teacher inherently requires being an evangelist. Insofar as one preaches the Bible faithfully, he will inevitably preach the gospel all the time.
12:47 We preach as men who will soon die to those who are on their way to death; therefore, we beseech you on Christ’s behalf.
Too many ministers allow their ministries to become that of angry denunciation, condemnation, or politicization, such that the work of evangelism is not done.
12:48 The passion for evangelism is quenched when we lose sight of the gospel.
12:50 d. Fulfill your ministry — Be faithful to complete the calling to which the Lord has called you.
The call to preach the Word is a call to let the lion out!
12:52 Closing prayer