PREACH THE WORD

by John Thomas

IN writing to Timothy the apostle said, "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, preach the Word and in another place, he says, "Study, O Timothy, to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 4:1,2; 2:15). This was a solemn charge -- a charge before the two most exalted, wise, intelligent, holy, glorious and powerful beings in the boundless universe: an apostolic charge, uttered in the presence of God's Spirit, imparted to Paul and Timothy by Jesus Christ, to preach and rightly divide the Word of Truth, so that God might approve him as a good workman. Here, then the thing to be preached and "rightly divided" is the Word of Truth. But what is that Word?

Will the reader accept the definition offered by one of the prophets of Jehovah? Isaiah says it is "the law and the testimony", (Isa. 8:20) and that there is no light, or knowledge, in those who speak not according to it (Isa. 8:10). The law of Moses is a part of "The Word", because it is the form, or "representation of the truth", by which believers of the promises made to the fathers of Israel were instructed as by a schoolmaster into the faith (Rom. 2:18-20; Gal. 3:24). Paul preached the law when he preached the word; not, indeed, as theologists preach the word, raining down fire and brimstone upon, sinners; but as declaring the things contained in the law representative and affirmative of the sufferings of the Christ and the glory that shall follow his resurrection: thus he said before Agrippa, "I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say would come". (Acts 26:22) Men cannot preach "the Word of the Truth of the Gospel" (Col. 1:5) without preaching Moses and the prophets; for "the testimony for Jesus is the spirit of prophecy", (Rev. 19:10) and Moses was a great prophet. Paul declared nothing else. The exposition of the writings of Israel's prophets as partially and limitedly fulfilled in Jesus, and hereafter wholly to be accomplished in his second advent mission, constituted the apostolic preaching of the word. They were predicants (preachers) of the law and testimony of God concerning His kingdom and the name of Jesus His anointed.
 

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Therefore, saith Paul, in addition to what he said before Agrippa, "I come to you in Corinth declaring the testimony of God" (1 Cor. 2:1). He says, he did not come to them "with excellency of speech or of wisdom" -- such wisdom and oratory as the Greeks delighted in, whose wisdom "is foolishness with God", [1 Cor. 3:19] -- he did not blend their foolish wisdom with God's testimony, as some were beginning to do; "for", says he, "I determined to take notice of nothing among you, except Jesus Christ, and him a crucified one". [1 Cor. 2:2] He paid no regard to their wisdom or its dogmas, but introduced an entirely new system of doctrine among them, which it had not entered the heart of their "philosophy and vain deceit" [Col. 2:8] to dream of -- a doctrine which taught the setting up of an imperishable kingdom and empire on earth, which is to rule all nations under the administration of the King of the Jews [Matt. 2:2; 27:11,29,37; Mark 15:2,9,12,18.26; Luke 23:3,37,38; John 18:33,39;19:3,19,21], even Jesus, and of those Jews and Gentiles associated with him, who shall believe what God has promised concerning it, recognize his right to the throne, believe the things concerning his name, be baptized into him, and thenceforth be faithful unto death. He taught this; and that this indestructible dominion under which all nations shall be blessed, shall not pass from one generation of rulers to another, but shall be held for ever by those promoted to its glory, honour, and power, as [at] its establishment, thereby necessitating their resurrection from among the dead to immortality.

Did it ever enter into the heart of Socrates, Plato, or any other of the Greeks, to conceive of immortality of body on such principles as these? Nay, it was foolishness to them, and derided as the ignorant speculation of a wandering Jew. It was "new doctrine" -- entirely new -- more new to them than the gospel of the kingdom and age to come advocated by us by speech and pen, is to this generation to which it is almost unknown, though as old as the heavenly oracles of the Blessed God.

"Preach the Word", [2 Tim. 4:2] then, because it contains the testimony which God has given concerning the kingdom, and all things related to it -- preach the law and the testimony, for if men believe not Moses and the prophet's writings, how can they understandingly believe the words of Jesus; for "all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning him". [Luke 24:44] But little comparatively has been fulfilled that is written in those records, respecting the Christ. The Jews, blind as they are, see this; and, therefore, it is because the Gentiles in their ignorance claim more for Jesus than is yet accomplished in him, that they become a cause of the rejection of his Messialiship, by Israel. Thus a counsellor who knows not the law is worse than none.

But the workman who preaches the word is to divide it rightly. No workman is approved of God who doth not do this. He is to "study" to divide the word of truth rightly. It requires study, and much study, too, or its right division cannot, be discerned. If this be neglected, the preaching or writing will be mere confusion, and the word quoted unintelligible. The hearer or reader must study as well as the speaker or writer, or the subject will be obscure to him, no matter how lucidly presented. There is a right division, and a wrong division of the word; and no division at all. The absence of division is the almost universal characteristic of popular preaching. Textualizing under "three heads" is not dividing the word of truth at all, because it is not preaching the word. In fact, it has nothing to do with it. Neither is itemizing dividing the word. By itemizing, we mean the reduction of a theory to items; such as when an "evangelist" says, "The gospel consists of three items -- facts to be believed; commands to be obeyed, and promises to be enjoyed". This is true neither in theory nor division. It doth not touch the word therefore, the workman is not approved [See 2 Tim 2:15].

To rightly divide the word of truth is, first to study it without bias, or subjection to uninspired authority, or antiquity. Attend to what is written, as a child listens to a story. Study history, and ask questions, and be thankful for all the information you can get, even if you have to pay for it. While you are engaged in this pursuit, do not imagine that you are a workman. It is not easy to become a workman in such an age as this.The great names in theology, so much applauded by the world -- a world that has been "wondering after the Beast" (See Rev. 17:8) for more than twelve centuries -- were not even apprentices; they were students of the classics and systems of divinity, not students of the word. If they had been, they would never have written such foolishness as passes current with their names. No; it is the result of much time and labour to become adequately proficient for a right division of the word. Men who do not understand the prophets, have no scriptural pretensions to workmanship in the word. They can neither preach it, nor divide it. When a man comes to understand the gospel of the kingdom, believing and obeying it, he has then qualified himself to lay the foundation in others. Let him go on to perfection. Let him dive into the testimony, and let it dwell richly in him, with all wisdom. If he have ability to state intelligibly what he understands, then let him work away, as unto God, and not to man. Let him search out, and apply the testimony to the Covenants of Promise; to the territory; to the subjects; to the inheritors of the kingdom; to its throne and king; to his humiliation and exaltation; to the nations; to the mystery of the Name; to the Gentile fellowship of the mystery; to the identification of his majesty, and so forth. Here are topics to which the Word of Truth must be distributed, or "rightly divided", (2 Tim. 2:15) and he who can do this work Most efficiently is the workman that has least reason to be ashamed before God, however much he may be slighted or reproached by men.

Now, where are we to find such preachers and dividers of the word of truth? They are like comets in our heavens for multitude! Let the reader choose a clear dark night, and go forth and count them.
 

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