There’s a lot of advice floating around today telling pastors how they should preach.
Some of it is good, some not so good.
But in all this advice, we can easily miss the best preaching tip ever.
This is not some new tactic based on human wisdom or psychology.
No, it’s an ancient command from the Bible.
The advice I’m referring to is the charge from Paul to his young protégé Timothy:
PREACH THE WORD (2 Timothy 4:2)
You could be the greatest orator on the planet, but if you do not preach the Word, you’re not preaching.
Right before Paul gives Timothy this charge, he reminds him of the vital importance of Scripture—that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
All of God’s Word is profitable. It’s not just something we reference to add credibility to our message. The Bible should be the source from which all our messages flow.
Now, our Bibles today have a chapter break after 2 Timothy 3:17 and the next verse, 4:1. But we need to remember that these chapter breaks were not in the original letter. So while we might be tempted to think about these sections as two separate thoughts, Paul intended to bind them together.
So Paul, having reminded Timothy of the importance of Scripture and knowing that his days on earth are almost over (2 Tim 4:6), compels Timothy with this final charge:
I 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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 4:1-4 ESV).
Paul’s charge to Timothy still applies to all pastors, preachers and Bible teachers today.
We must continue to preach the Word whether it is popular or not.
We must continue to preach the Word whether we see fruit or not.
We must continue to preach the Word whether people accept it or not.
THE DANGER ALL PREACHERS FACE
Paul predicted precisely what has happened ever since, that people would be tempted to reject the teaching of the Bible and listen to whatever sounds better to them instead.
He knew that there would be teachers who would say whatever they knew people wanted to hear, leading them astray. It was happening then, and it’s still happening now.
And If you’re not careful, you’ll do the same. It may not be a deliberate decision at first. Often, it’s a slow slide. But in your desire to grow your ministry, reach a bigger audience, be more relevant and win the approval of people, you might begin to water down the Word.
Just a little at first, to soften a few hard truths to swallow. But then one day, your sermons will no longer be based on the Bible, you’ll use it like Satan did in the wilderness with Jesus. It’ll become something you twist to say whatever benefits you.
So here’s my plea to all pastors young and old: Preach the word.
Even when it’s hard, when it’s controversial or when it seems dull, you must endure. Open your Bible, study a passage, think about the gospel connection, then preach it.
This is the calling of all pastors, preachers and Bible teachers. Preaching the word is how you fulfill your ministry.
All the best tactics, strategies and tricks will ultimately fail if you don’t.
If it’s not from God’s Word, it’s just words.
This article originally appeared here.