16 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16–17, NKJV)
Paul’s faith did not waver as he faced impending death at the hands of lawless men (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Forsaken by friend and foe, he was not forsaken by the Lord (2 Timothy 4:10, 14). Nor did Paul expect Timothy to turn away from him, as he urged him to “Be diligent to come to me quickly” (2 Timothy 4:9). Paul paid a great price as an apostle of Christ. Truly, the Lord showed “him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Yet even now, surrounded by enemies and facing eminent death, Paul knew his mission, and was not deterred from fully preaching the gospel. Even so, we are faithful to the Lord, knowing He promises not to abandon us in our time of need. We may take courage from the faithful example of Paul, assured that the Lord “Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say; ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37, NKJV)
Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach His gospel to everyone (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19). Before His death, Jesus told His apostles, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Jno. 13:20). Later, Jesus appeared to Paul (Saul of Tarsus), appointed him to be an apostle, and sent him to preach the gospel, too (Acts 26:16-20). We rightly conclude that there is absolutely no way one can receive Jesus, yet reject His apostles. Truly, the first Christians were commended precisely because “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Instead of unsuccessfully trying to separate the teachings of Paul, Peter, John and the other apostles from Christ, cherish and hold fast all they spoke and wrote. By doing so, you are cherishing the Son and the Father (who sent Jesus to the world). To do less is not only a rejection of the apostles, but also of the Father and the Son. The spiritual acknowledge this. Indeed, one is not “spiritual” when he refuses to receive the apostles’ teachings as “the commandments of the Lord.” We need all of the New Testament. All of it is from God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
25 And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:25–27, NKJV)
We learn many valuable lessons from Paul about what it means to be a gospel preacher. (Many of which do not conform to the modern concept of the preacher.) This passage teaches us what Paul preached, how he preached it and his moral responsibility before God. Is your preacher preaching “the kingdom of God” like Paul did? When Paul preached “the gospel of the grace of God” he did so by preaching the kingdom of God, the counsel of God and the church of God (vss. 24, 25, 27, 28). He preached a present kingdom, composed of those delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son (Col. 1:13). When Paul preached he accepted its weight of moral responsibility. He would be guilty of the blood of sinners if he preached error or if he did not fully preach the gospel (cf. Ezek. 3:17-21). My preacher friend, never forget that your work points immortal souls toward eternity. Preaching is not about you; it is about the Lord, the lost and the Lord’s little ones. Boldly preach all of God’s word; hold back nothing that is needed for the lost to be saved and for the saved to be safe (vss. 28-32). This is your work as an evangelist. Do it well.