THE URGENCY OF THE GOSPEL
By Gary K Fair
This article was originally published in the Master's Journal and my Blog. I wrote it about 10 years ago, and the message is still valid. I hope it is a blessing to you.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:13-14, “Follow the pattern of the sound works that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (ESV).
Paul seems to return to this theme frequently throughout this second letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, even in the midst of focusing on other issues. He emphasizes the essential boldness Timothy must develop shunning timidity and fear, reminding him of the gift of God that is in him because of the laying on of Paul’s hands. He encourages him to testify unashamedly of his relationship with the Lord, fully convinced that He will “guard the good deposit entrusted” to him.
The impending end of Paul’s earthly ministry spurred him on to make every effort to heed his calling to take the Gospel to those without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As the day approached when he would finally suffer physical death because of his conviction of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Paul encouraged his younger friend to put on the same conviction. He taught him that hardship was forthcoming. Timothy would need to contend as an athlete, according to the teachings of Jesus, that is, sound doctrine. The fruit of his good work would, in the end, find regard in his share of the glory in eternity.
In the twenty-first century the man of God, called by Him into the service of ministry, has no less a challenge issued to him than did Timothy by his mentor, the Apostle Paul in the first century. In many ways, the labors facing the minister today seem even more challenging. However, the aid available to Timothy then is the same that is available to the minister today. Paul said to guard the good deposit, or treasure, with the help of the Holy Spirit. That same helping agent is ready to bolster the assurance of the minister today as strongly as then.
The called minister today must learn to lean upon the help provided for him in the Holy Spirit rather than accepting the defeat of the flesh, crying, “Woe is me, I can’t do this!” Of course, he can’t do this, but He can to it. Today’s minister , or evangelist, of the Gospel has the same power at his hand if he will choose to acknowledge Him and call on Him for the aid he needs to reach a lost and dying world.
Just as Paul charged Timothy (4:1-5) to preach the Word, the preacher of the 21st century is under the same charge. Because the days are short, and due to the sinfulness of the world today, the urgency increases for the preacher to guard the treasure (the Gospel) he has received and has been charged to proclaim.
He must exercise boldness never before mustered to deny Satan his grip on those God would have turn from their sin, confess Jesus as Lord, and be baptized into Him to walk in live anew ready to spend eternity with Him. The preacher must know the Word and demonstrate confidence in it to use it with wisdom to overpower Satan as he lies and deceives, veiling evil and destruction as beautiful and desirable material things and feelings.
The time will come, Paul warns, when people will close their ears to sound doctrine and refuse to listen to truth. Instead, they will eagerly listen to those teachings which seem good and which will make them feel at ease. They will welcome those teachings which provide them pleasure. Those days are here now. Paul taught that people would become lovers of self. Today bookstores are already filled with books instructing us how to make ourselves more attractive, in better shape, more appealing to the opposite (or same) sex, and encouraging us to ensure that we get what is rightfully ours.The thinking of many today is this: “After all, we should first concern ourselves with our own interests and allow others to look out for themselves.” That doctrine teaches that pleasure and personal happiness as a way of life is the highest good.
God inspired John the Apostle to write something about this way of life in
1 John 2:16. He wrote, “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.” (NKJV). He goes on to say that these all will pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
That promise of eternal life is powerful enough to turn the hearts of man if the man called by God to proclaim it is ready, prepared, and willing to overcome the timidity of the flesh and put on the power provided for the accomplishment of the task. The minister has an awesome responsibility to overcome these false teachings. He must gather the courage and conviction which will allow him to boldly confront people with the truth of the Word of God, allowing the Word to convict them of their sin. The Word is powerful and fully able to turn a man from his sin. The man in the pulpit today cannot ignore sin, preaching a mediocre message avoiding any confrontation of the person living in the hedonistic lifestyle. Victory will come only as he has prepared himself, armed himself with the Word, given himself up, in his life and actions, to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and learned to endure hardship in the face of persecution.
Paul summed up his encouragement and charge to Timothy with a statement that has eased my fears and timidity many times. In Chapter 4, verses 17 and 18, he writes as a final confirmation of his faith and endurance, “…..the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed… The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (NIV). What a magnificent promise the preacher of today has as he carries out his calling to present the Gospel to those who may persecute him for his zeal, or those who, because of his persistence, his preparation, and the power behind his words, may receive the message, the messenger, and the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.