No preacher likes to see audience members sleeping while they are talking. I’ve had my share of times when people fell asleep.
On a Sunday night in my first church, a man fell into such a deep sleep while I was preaching that he had a nightmare. He awoke with a start and a scream.
We all had a laugh. Needless to say, the church service was over at that point.
Even though all preachers want to be interesting, entertainment can’t be our utmost goal.
If there is any doubt that we need to faithfully communicate the message of God’s love, the words of Paul should dramatically change that belief.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you:
Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience in teaching (2 Timothy 4.1-2).
Verse 1 is one of the most serious admonitions in the Bible. The reality of God, the fact of judgment, and the appearance of God’s kingdom compel us to faithfully proclaim his message.
I remember a time when the Holy Spirit prompted me to speak to a man about Jesus and salvation. I mentally told the Spirit, “This is not the right time.”
What the Holy Spirit knew, but I didn’t, was that I would never see the man alive again.
Whenever the Spirit prompts us to speak about God’s love and his mercy, we must do as he directs.
There are four words that emphasize the importance of communicating the gospel.
— We are to be convincing.
Jesus described the convincing work of the Holy Spirit. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16.8).
We are to partner with the Holy Spirit, so people will be convinced, convicted, and proven wrong about their sins, God’s righteousness, and the coming judgment.
— We are to rebuke or admonish the person/persons to whom we are speaking.
If someone is inside a burning building, we are allowed to use every means possible to awaken them to the problem.
The point is that God, his kingdom, and judgment are realities. We need to be persuasive in our appeal to those who are distant from Christ.
— We encourage people by calling them to join us in being followers of Jesus.
— The active presentation of the gospel is conducted with patience.
A mother prayed for her son’s baptism today at Maywood Baptist Church. She praised God for hearing her “mother’s prayers” on behalf of her son.
She had patiently prayed for years and God answered her prayer.
The Psalm writer is right about the patient ministry of the gospel.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 106.5-6)
I’ve had more people fall asleep during my sermons than I can remember. The lesson learned from sleeping church members is the need to hold their interest.
There is a difference between being interesting and allowing the audience to determine the content of the message.
Paul said there will come a time, “when people will not put up with sound teaching, but, having their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires
“And will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths” (2 Timothy 4.3-4).
Beginning in the first century, every generation has had perversions of the gospel message.
For the listener, the most important thing is to be willing to be challenged by the speaker. We need to ask the Holy Spirit if he has directed the speaker to admonish, convict, and exhort the audience.
For the speaker, it is crucial to base the message on the whole counsel of God, not just what is popular.
At Maywood Baptist Church, Pastor Jake Taylor is currently preaching through the Gospel of John. He has not avoided difficult passages but has challenged the congregation to respond to God’s message in the Gospel.
Pastor Jake is a good example of following Paul’s admonition to Timothy, but the message is not limited to pastors. Each one of us should be ready to share the good news of God’s love when the Spirit prompts us.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.