15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:15–18, NKJV)
Some people preach the gospel from evil motives. Others preach the gospel from godly motives. Paul made this observation while imprisoned in Rome for Christ’s sake (Phil. 1:13). Some were preaching Christ out of envy for the apostle, attempting to foment strife against him. Driven by selfish ambition, they pretended affection for the cause of Christ. But, they only loved themselves. Their insincerity became obvious, as they aimed to harm the apostle, not help him in his bonds. Others were preaching Christ out of goodwill and love, knowing the apostle was determined to defend the gospel. Amazingly, Paul rejoiced that the gospel was being preached, even though some preachers’ motives were evil. He did not seek personal vindication, he sought the progress of the gospel and the salvation of souls. Even if a gospel teacher’s motives are shown to be evil, rejoice in the truth he has taught. And, do not blame the truth when men, including preachers, sin against it. One man’s sin against the truth is not your license to reject the truth.
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2, NKJV)
There is a word that must be announced to the world. The word that must be preached is the very word of God. It is not a message wrapped in the creeds and confessions of men (Jude 3). Neither is it a word shrouded in personal testimonies and experiences (2 Cor. 4:5). It is not a word designed to please men, nor is it meant to align with the prevailing customs and traditions of the day (1 Thess. 2:4; Col. 2:8). This word is not shaped and molded by the philosophies which men have developed through the ages, for it is supremely superior to every thought of mankind (1 Cor. 1:18, 21-25; Isa. 55:8-9, 11). We speak of the word of God, the “Holy Scriptures,” which are inspired of God (divinely-breathed), not men. The Holy Scriptures completely equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13). When you read the Bible, you are reading God’s words. The Bible must be preached, received, obeyed and respected because it is the word of God; not the word of men (1 Thess. 2:13-14). (Please take time to read the Scripture references in today’s tip – they are the words of God.)
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,” (Acts 20:18–20, NKJV)
These words were spoken by the apostle Paul to the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17). He had lived among them for three years (verse 31). His service to the Lord was marked by humility and zealous endurance, even while the Jews of that city plotted against him (Acts 19:8-9). In spite of this, Paul continued to courageously proclaimed the gospel of Christ. He understood what we must also perceive, namely, that the gospel saves sinners and protects Christians from the enemies of the faith. This is why we seek to declare the gospel publicly and privately. The gospel is God’s power to save the lost and equip the saved to do God’s work (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Nothing should be held back; It must all be preached. Avail yourself of every opportunity to teach and to be taught God’s word. It helps you serve God “with all humility” and with the zealous courage of faith.
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:28–29, NKJV)
Christ is proclaimed when His gospel is preached (1 Cor. 2:2). Gospel preaching contains warning and wise instruction intended to present souls complete Christ; cleansed of sin and fit for the Master’s use. Preaching that does not convict sinners of sin is not gospel preaching (Jno. 16:8). Preaching that does not teach sinners how to be saved in Christ is not gospel preaching (Mk. 16:15-16). Preaching that does not trust God to work mightily through the word that is preached is not gospel preaching (1 Cor. 1:18; Rom. 1:16-17). God works through His gospel to produce faith that leads to salvation. That is why the whole gospel must be preached. Preaching that is not gospel preaching forfeits the power of God to save the lost and to perfect (complete) the saved. What kind of preaching do you desire and demand?
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2–5, NKJV)
The Bible tells us the kind of preacher every preacher is commanded to be, and therefore, the kind of preacher we all should want. Do you want a preacher who boldly preaches the whole counsel of God? Do you want a preacher whose goal is to leave you feeling good about yourself instead of warning you of the spiritual danger of personal sin? Do you want a preacher to scratch your itching ear (by preaching what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear)? Do you want a gospel preacher like Timothy, who is watchful, persevering and fulfills his ministry? Or, do you want a preacher who comforts you with the fables of error? Does your preacher “do the work of an evangelist”? These are crucial questions for everyone who is interested in the word of God, including preachers.
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.
4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. (Acts 8:4–5, NKJV)
Some say we should “preach Christ but not the church”. Others say, “preach the gospel but not doctrine”. Such man-made distinctions and divisions of God’s word do not exist in the Scriptures. To “preach Christ” is to preach “the word” that belongs to Christ. His word contains the apostolic doctrine (teaching) concerning who Jesus is and what He has done for mankind. It includes “things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” and also baptism (Acts 8:12). When one claims to “preach Christ” be sure he preaches “the whole counsel of God” and not just bits and pieces of it (Acts 20:27).