A FUNDAMENTALIST PASTOR’S MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES
II TIMOTHY 4:1-10
The Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy is his “last will and testament.” This epistle constitutes Paul’s “swan” song, his final “sign off” before his excruciating martyrdom at the hands of the Roman government.
In the fourth chapter, which contains Paul’s last known words, he forthrightly delineates the three major responsibilities of a Biblical Fundamentalist pastor, responsibilities which no genuine Bible preacher should diminish or minimize. This chapter constitutes Paul’s final advice and spiritual counsel to his co-laborer and pastor friend, Timothy who was now serving as shepherd of the spiritual flock at Ephesus—I Tim. 1:3.
“Preach the Word—II Timothy 4:2”
THE IMPORTANCE OF BIBLICAL EXPOSITION
The importance of this divine mandate cannot be over-estimated. The God-called preacher is primarily just that—a preacher! While God’s man wears many spiritual hats in his multiple ministry as a (a) Scriptural administrator—I Peter 5:2, a (b) spiritual counselor—Acts 20:20 and a (c) soul-consoler—II Cor. 1:5-6, there is none more important that this one—the faithful exposition of the Word of God!
The God called preacher must follow the example of Christ, whose prime labor was that of a preacher of the Word. In Mark 1:38-39, Christ “said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.” In the next chapter, Mark 2:2 records “straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, no not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.”
The exposition of the inerrant Word of God must be the responsibility to which the God-called preacher gives his major attention and time. Some studious Bible students limit the meaning of “exposition” strictly to a verse-by-verse proclamation, and while that definition may be its major thrust, this writer does not believe that genuine Bible exposition is strictly limited to this method.
TYPES OF BIBLICAL EXPOSITION
Genuine Biblical exposition can be (a) textual—the preaching of a specific Bible text, (b) topical—the proclamation of a Biblical theme or strictly speaking (c) expositional—the presentation of a sequential set of verses or an entire book.
While a long range ministry generally best favors the third format, genuine expositional preaching cannot be specifically confined to only one specific human methodology. Chas. Haddon Spurgeon was the “prince of preachers.” No preacher in modern history better excelled at his divine trade than the renowned CHS, but Spurgeon was primarily a textual/topical preacher who was always a master of Bible exposition! Regardless of the specific style, the substance for the God-called preacher must always be the same—the plain unadulterated powerful exposition of the infallible Word!
The pure—Prov. 30:5, perfect—Ps. 19:7, and powerful—Heb. 4:12 Word of God is the divine instrument that the preacher must exposit. This is the same Word, when effectively utilized, that both saves the sinner—I Peter 1:23 and sanctifies the saint—John 17:17. It is this Word—the words of life—of which the preacher must be a master in exposition.
Before public exposition, however, the preacher must diligently study the Scriptures—II Tim. 2:15—carefully and privately exegeting the Word. Proper exegesis is a necessary preparation for powerful exposition! This involves arduous but rewarding mental and spiritual labor. After careful exegesis, however, the fresh divine power of the Spirit of God is an imperative which no man of God can neglect.
A SPIRITUAL WELL OF RESOURCE THAT MUST NOT BE IGNORED
Before leaving this point, this writer would like to emphasize that most of his own powerful and productive sermons have not come while he was in his study seeking sermons, but while he was sequestered in secret seeking his Saviour—in the Word! From long experience, this preacher unhesitatingly states that the vast major of his sermons have originated while he was investing time in his daily devotional reading and meditation upon the Word of God and seeking to draw nearer to His Saviour.
over “left-overs” may occasionally
be acceptable for an evening meal, but such type spiritual
meals do not provide adequate spiritual nourishment for
hungry saints in the pews. Dr. Len Broughton, a famed
“Do the work of an evangelist”—II Tim. 4:5
A well-noted Fundamentalist Bible expositor once said that when there are three points in a sermon, the second point is always central. Now it should be noted that in this passage, the pastor is not urged to replace the work of an evangelist, but to do the work of an evangelist!
THE TWO-FOLD EVANGELISTIC THRUST
Like the office of the pastor, the office of the evangelist is a God-called gift which Ephesians 4:11-12 makes abundantly clearly is a two-fold ministry. The Greek verb and noun for evangelism and evangelist clearly define his work. The verb eugangelizo means to “proclaim glad tidings” “good news” while the noun euangelistes refers to a messenger or a bearer of such good news, specifically the good news of the gospel! The God-called evangelist has a special gift, ability and responsibility to proclaim the glad tidings and deliver the good news of the gospel of Christ.
However, the Ephesians four passage also makes it plain that both the pastor and evangelist were also given for the spiritual advancement of corporate local church assemblies. The evangelist, along with the pastor, is also a “stimulator” for the [a] spiritual maturation (“for the perfecting of the saints”), [b] service ministry of saints (“for the work of the ministry”) and [c] building up of the local church body (“for the edifying of the body of Christ.”). The pastor and evangelist primarily both fulfill these noble ministry goals via faithful fervent exposition of the Scriptures.
According to Acts 20:28-31 and I Peter 5:1-3, pastors have a spiritual flock over whom God has given them functional authority and leadership, with the important task of feeding local church flocks, responsibilities that primarily involve the faithful exposition of the Scriptures to the assembled saints.
Such faithful exposition, however, does not absolve the pastor from also being a fervent preacher of the gospel! In his last will and testament, the apostle Paul issues a clear mandate that pastors should also “do the work of an evangelist,” that is they should be ardent clear heralders of the gospel message. For any gospel preacher, whether it be pastor or evangelist, the evangelistic proclamation of the gospel must never take a back seat.
EVANGELISM NOT A SECONDARY TASK FOR PASTORS
Paul is not ordering Timothy in this verse to abdicate his pastoral labors, but simply to do that same good work that evangelists do--spread the good news of the gospel just like evangelists do! E. Edmund Hierbert, in his II Timothy commentary (Moody Press, p. 108) says of this admonition: “The term, used without an article, does not here designate a distinct office, but rather characterizes him (the pastor) as one whose chief activity is the bringing of the good news of the Gospel of Christ. His ministry must be evangelistic in nature.”
Pastors must never underestimate the importance of the Great Commission in Matt. 28:18-20. Christ’s last words to his disciples were his most important words. They involved the responsibility to carry out the Great Commission, a commission that can be summarized in three words: (a) evangelism—“go ye therefore and teach all nations” (b) baptism, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” and (c) catechism, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
It doesn’t take too much spiritual sense to note that you cannot Scripturally baptize and instruct converts until you have first brought them to Christ. The pastor must first and foremost be a seeker of souls! Soul-winning must always be a major focus of both his personal life and ministry. If the pastor does not place a central focus on evangelistic endeavors, then his flock will not do so either.
The pastor must lead the way in fervent gospel proclamation and personal soul-winning endeavors. As one famed evangelistic pastor once stated, “no church rises above its leadership.” Prov. 11:30 is still true today: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Dr. Bob Jones Sr. was absolutely right when he stated that “It takes evangelistic unction to make orthodoxy function.”
TRAINING SOUL-WINNERS BY PERSONAL EXAMPLE
This writer cannot overemphasize the following statement: “It’s either evangelize or fossilize.” N. T. churches which take the focus off the centrality of genuine Biblical evangelism will discover that their numbers will eventually dwindle and that their assemblies will die a slow death! In promoting an evangelistic atmosphere and culture within the local church, Dr. Shelton Smith, the editor of the Sword of the Lord notes that pastors and evangelists should not merely train saints to win souls, but to be soul-winners! Soul-winning endeavors should not be confined to a once-a-week responsibility, but should be a daily activity whenever the opportunity arises.
It is possible to under-emphasize the imperative and needed Biblical task of edification while engaged in fervent evangelistic proclamation, but this writer does not believe that you can ever over-emphasize evangelism. It was the number one element in the Great Commission, and must always be the number one priority for pastors and N. T. local churches today!
This writer recognizes that he may be criticized by some preachers for his fervent evangelistic thrust, but he refuses to budge or back down from his appeal that all preachers/pastors should always keep hot on the soul-winning trail!
BIBLICAL EXPOSE—II Timothy 4:10
“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world”
This third responsibility is the one where this writer believes more pastors falter and fail than any other Biblical task. Biblical expose of apostasy and error is undoubtedly the most difficult and thorny task that any pastor confronts or faces. Unfortunately, for many fundamentalist flocks, it is the one many pastors simply avoid, neglect or overlook.
THE TRAGEDY THAT RESULTS WHEN EXPOSE IS NEGLECTED
The major reason why Fundamental churches drift into New-Evangelicalism is because many pastors ignore this important task. Wagon loads of formerly ardent fundamentalist congregations today are drifting into Pseudo-Fundamentalism and New-Evangelicalism because sound exegeters of the Word refuse to also be staunch exposers of the world!
One of the missing words in today’s Fundamentalist circles, a word that constituted the separatist underpinnings of the Fundamentalist movement in the 1920-1950 eras is the word militancy. The Apostle Paul was (a) militant in his language—I Tim. 1:18, (b) militant in his labors—Acts 20:20, 31 and he was (c) militant in his last will and testament—II Tim. 4:6-8.
THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF PAUL’S LAST WORDS
One might logically deduce that Paul would have concluded his final treatise with a strictly positive summation of his life’s ministry, but in his final summation, Paul reminded Timothy that he had been a fighter for God’s divine truth all his ministry—II Timothy 4:7, and he reaches his conclusion with a stark warning about his former close companion—Demas—II Timothy 4:10.
Paul’s great desire surely was not to conclude his final treatise with such a strong and sad warning. Yet he believed this admonition was a divine imperative, lest other believers follow the same compromising pathway to which Demas had turned.
Remember, that just less than two years earlier, in Colossions chapter 4, (4:14), Paul had given Demas’ name as one of his faithful companions and co-laborers in the faith. Also, in his brief letter to Philemon (v. 24), he had lauded Demas as one of his “fellowlaborers” in Christian service. But Demas had now left the Biblicist mainstream for worldly compromise, and Paul felt impelled to warn other saints not to follow Demas’ compromising course.
In studying Paul’s last written epistle—II Timothy—it is interesting to note that in each of the epistle’s four chapters, Paul delineates the nature and names of both apostates (Christ deniers) and accommodaters (compromisers): Phygellus and Hermongebes (II Tim. 1:15), Hymmeneus and Philetus (II Tim. 2:17-18), Jannes and Jambres (II Tim. 3:8) and Demas (II Tim. 4:10. The apostates and the accommodators were both cited in Paul’s final treatise, along with their denials and departures from the faith.
PAUL’S UNWAVERING DEFENSE OF THE FAITH
In reviewing Paul’s colorful, illustrious and powerful apostolic ministry, it is interesting to note that he never backed off from any necessary controversy during his entire Christian life. From his commencement in the Christian life, recorded in Acts nine, to his impending martyrdom in II Timothy 4, this great warrior never wavered once in his staunch defense of the faith, even when, on one occasion, it involved one of the most highly regarded pillars of the faith—the apostle Peter—Galatians 2:11-14.
Like Elijah in the O. T. in I Kings 18, Paul never courted the enemies of the faith, he always challenged the enemies of the gospel—Colossions 2:8. In his final meeting with the Ephesian pastors, recorded in Acts 20, Paul straight forwardly warned about the opposition these good men would face, both from satanic foes without, as well as supposed friends from within—Acts 20:28-31.
AN EXAMPLE EVERY PREACHER SHOULD EMULATE
Some timid and naïve pastors allege that their responsibility is simply to preach Christ and to only positively exposit the Scriptures, but they ignore Paul’s personal record and testimony in Colossions 1:27-28: “To whom God would make know what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; Whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom…” And why did Paul include such “warning” in this preaching? He provides the clear answer in that same verse: “that we may present every man perfect [complete-without deficiency] in Christ.”
In speaking about the “law of the Lord,” the “statutes of the Lord,” and the “judgments of the Lord,” in Psalms 19, David forthrightly declares that by these divine “statutes” [written commandments], “is thy servant warned.” Biblical exposition that does not include Biblical expose constitutes s “half obedience.” and “half obedience is disobedience!”
May God grant that Fundamentalists preachers today will become modern Timothys’ and fulfill their God mandated responsibilities of Biblical exposition, Biblical evangelism and Biblical expose! All three are necessary and required for God’s men to fulfill their divine Biblical mandates. D. J.
Also in this issue:
|Editorial – AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2011 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.|