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 – 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 Tim 3:15-17), 15 [you are to know] the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
As I charge you with pursuing the written Word of God let me warn against the condition Charles Spurgeon called “ministerialism”. In his own words, Spurgeon 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 5 that Christ cleanses us by “in washing of water by the Word.” I would, therefore, challenge you with Paul’s words to Timothy to be, “…6 nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:6-8) Further, Paul exhorts that you “…be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, 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: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer (a minister; a pastor), he desires a noble work. 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy— 4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.”
Do you except 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 prophet – not in the since that you have insight into future events but the Biblical since 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 But know this: difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
As a “piercer of men’s hearts”, simply preaching the Word of God in a vague since is not sufficient. The Word of God must be administered into lives at the particular point that God directs. The word of Martin Luther are 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 Before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, I solemnly charge you: 2 proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But as for you, keep a clear head about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Do you accept the public charge to preach the Word of God?