Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Instructions For A Young Preacher #13

Paul instructs young Timothy in 1 Tim. 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. This is, no doubt, the gift of preaching, of understanding, of delineation of that understanding to others, and of having a pastor's heart to serve others. The word in the Greek for "neglect" means "careless." We are not to be careless or to disregard the gift or to shun it or put it to the side; it should be the primary calling in life.

Many preachers have put their secular jobs before their preaching, thus opening themselves up to many temptations which hinder their work for the Lord if they fall into them and succumb to them. Our purpose as God's preachers is to preach the word no matter whatever else we may do. Some preachers may have no choice but to work a secular job, but they must be diligent concerning their lives and their ministries. They must give time to God's word, prayer, and meditation, and they must preach and teach God's word no matter how busy they may become with the basic necessities of life. This is God's calling.

This gift is in the preacher, not from man, whether it be mother or father, a preacher friend, a college buddy, or even an apostle, but from God. When Paul the apostle was called to preach the word, he admitted that he preached the Gospel that God gave him, not a Gospel that was copied from someone else. He did not even corroborate with the apostles at Jerusalem but was taught by Jesus Christ himself in the desert for three years (Gal. 1:17-18). We are not apostles, so we must preach the same doctrine that Paul preached and teach the apostles' doctrine, taking from them the truths that God gave to them; for they are just as pertinent today as they were in New Testament times.

We have already considered that this gift was by prophecy. Some had prophesied that Timothy would be one of God's chosen ones to preach the word of God, and Timothy was certainly called by God and equipped by God to do the job assigned to him (See 1 Tim. 1:18). No one may have prophesied that you or I would be preachers, but we are still called of God to preach his word; and we must preach it in its purity--we must not neglect this work.

The gift or gifts that Timothy had were not only given by God himself, but the apostles laid their hands on him, therefore giving him the capacity to do signs and wonders with his preaching. Only apostles could give this gift. Paul admits that Timothy has a gift from Paul's laying his own hands on Timothy (2 Tim. 1.6). But Paul was not the only one, because the entire presbytery, or the elders laid their hands on Timothy. These, no doubt, would be the elders (or pastors) of the church at Jerusalem perhaps along with some other elders who may have been there, including Paul himself.

Today preachers do not have the personal gift of signs and wonders--they have ceased, and that is another matter for discussion somewhere else); but we are to preach nonetheless. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. We do not need special healing powers. God brings miracles when he wants, and he does, many times through our prayers; but we do not need to produce them in order to have God's power. Dr. John Gill reminds us in his commentary that "Philip, an evangelist, laid not hands on the believing Samaritans; but Peter and John, apostles, were sent down from Jerusalem to Samaria to do it, whereby many received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, fitting them to take the care of those new converts, and to spread the Gospel further in those parts, Acts 8:5,12,14,17,18."

Our gift is teaching and preaching; it is not signs and wonders. Jesus told us that an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign (Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:12). Today many people are seeking after signs, but Jesus said that only one sign will be given to an evil and adulterous generation, that of the prophet Jonas (Jonah). The prophet Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. This is analogous to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the greatest sign of all, the power of God unto salvation.

If we are living in an evil and adulterous generation, we need to care about the gift that is in us, which God has put there to preach the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no calling that is higher than this calling. Let us not neglect it!

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