THE INTERNAL CHARGE
Pursue the Word of God. This charge is two-fold.
John chapter 1 identifies Jesus Christ as the revealed Word of God. In chapter 15, Jesus, himself, declares that apart from Him you can do nothing. You are charged to pursue the revealed Word of God through Jesus Christ as your chief goal.
However, it is not possible to know the revealed Word of God apart from the written Word of God. As Paul instructed Timothy:
(2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.)
As I charge you with pursuing the written Word of God let me warn against the condition called “ministerialism”. In his own words, cautions that “if we should study the Bible more as Ministers than as Christians—more to find matter for the instruction of our people, than food for the nourishment of our own souls, we neglect then to place ourselves at the feet of our Divine Teacher, our communion with Him is cut off, and we become mere formalists in our sacred profession…. It is indeed difficult to determine, whether our familiar intercourse with the things of God is more our temptation or our advantage.”
With this understanding, do you accept the internal charge to pursue the revealed Word of God through the written Word of God?
THE EXTERNAL CHARGE
Practice the Word of God
You are charged to present yourself before the Word of God that it may, through the power of the Holy Spirit, change you. Paul instructs in Ephesians chapter 5- that Christ cleanses us by “in the washing of water by the Word.” I would, therefore, challenge you with Paul’s words to Timothy to be, “…6- If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
7- But refuse profane and old wives fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
8- For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:6-8) Further, Paul exhorts that you “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
In truth, this external charge is the work of God in response to your genuine submission to the pursuit of Him through His Word. As the man of God accepts the charge to practice the Word of God the out-working is pictured in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. “1- This saying is trustworthy: “
This is a true saying, If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
Do you accept this external charge to practice the Word of God?
THE PUBLIC CHARGE
Preach the Word of God
Finally, you are charged with the role of a prophet – not in the sense that you have insight into future events but the Biblical sense of a prophet – one who speaks God’s Word. You are charged to preach.
You are not in the business of anything less than the piercing of men’s hearts with God’s truth, not tickling their ears. You are to do nothing for personal gain; whether money, popularity or perceived influence. The Word of God is seldom popular in the public square. Again referring to the words of Paul, “1- This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
As a “piercer of men’s hearts”, simply preaching the Word of God in a vague sense is not sufficient. The Word of God must be administered into lives at the particular point that God directs. The word of Martin Luther is appropriate: ” If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
Therefore, I borrow from the words of Paul again to charge you in this: “1-I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Do you accept the public charge to preach the Word of God?