In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.

3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Fighting Both Sides

As this apostasy has grown worse there has been more and more talk about so-called “discernment” ministry, which does comprise some of what I have done here at Apprising Ministries throughout this past year. I am also not going to lie to you because it is quite wearisome to battle the enemy by taking the true Biblical historic orthodox Christian faith right into his camps. This I have been doing via some of the writings I believe the Lord has used me in some way to produce. This does not escape the Devil’s attention and the enemy of men’s souls does not sleep.

Yet even more grievous to men like me would be the high percentage of criticism which actually comes from professing “Christians,” as well as from those who really are my family in Christ. One criticism which is completely unfounded is that “all you ever do is tear people down” in what you write. There are at least a couple of things that can be said about this kind of foolish statement. First of all, someone that wishes to know the truth can very easily go into my Devotions section to know this is an ungrounded accusation. There are plenty of encouraging writings there and elsewhere in the archives at AM.

But secondly, and I cannot stress this enough, one simply must come to understand the time in which they live. I have found myself teaching this on a number of occasions and in a number of forums lately. Those with ears to hear know time is growing short. Now let me tie this back to the idea of being a “discernment” ministry. In my particular case people need to remember that I am not some self-proclaimed minister, but rather I am an ordained pastor within the Southern Baptist Convention. Here I leave aside that I was called to preach and teach by Christ long before any human hands were laid on me and I’m really not a denominational guy at all.

The Actual Role Of The Pastor-Teacher

However, in a different way from other roles in our Lord’s family it is a Biblical command that along with preaching the salvation message part of my personal service to the Body of Christ as a pastor-teacher is for me to also defend the purity of the Gospel. Another time I can exegete this entire passage but for now I will simply draw your attention to verse 2 above – Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. Certainly this applies in a secondary sense to all believers but particularly to those who would even dare to call themselves pastors.

We are to Preach the Word. This is to say the God-breathed text of the Bible itself and not simply our “opinion” about it. No, the true pastor-teacher preaches Holy Scripture and then if need be he takes the heat in Christ. As pastor he, never she, he must be prepared (see–2 Timothy 2:15), which also includes knowing the time in which God has placed you and seeking the Lord as to what He is doing in a given generation. If you don’t believe that you can do so then you’d best get yourself out of the teaching ministry immediately – Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1, NASB)

By the way, the word translated “brethren” here in the Greek is the word adelphos which means “brothers” and cannot mean sisters. The brother pastor-teacher must be ready to preach in season and out of season, which is to say whether people like to hear what you have to say at a given time or not. There actually have been times of renewal and refreshing in various churches or areas throughout history where God has moved in such a way that people have responded well to the preaching of the Gospel and there is less opposition for the pastor-teacher to deal with. But this is most definitely not the climate here in pagan America by any stretch of the imagination.

The pastor-teacher must also be prepared to correct, rebuke and encourage, and this again whether people like it or not. Here in this nation awash with the relativism, which has been given birth through years of the incorrect theory of evolution being taught as if it were fact, we now have to deal with the false philosophy of postmodernism where people will not accept correction. And the fact is the Church refused to come into conflict with these issues and instead came up with a man-pleasing compromised Church Growth Movement so God the Holy Spirit has largely left us on our own with devastating results. The genuine pastor-teacher sent by Christ has no choice today but to press on undaunted.

What Does It Mean To Correct, Rebuke and Encourage?

I am indebted to Dr. Walter Martin for the following teaching illustration. Let’s look at what it means to correct. It is to say: “You may have done it that way, but we really need to do things this way.” What does it mean to rebuke? It is to say: “No, you’re wrong. The Bible does not teach what you are saying.” And what does it mean to encourage? “Hey c’mon now, you can do this. You just keep on standing because the Lord is faithful.” I often done these kinds of things in the two local churches where I have been pastor. And even though I have never had any children of my own I have also used these same Biblical principles when I was a high school football coach.

Again, whether people like this correcting, rebuking and/or the encouraging is irrelevant as the pastor-teacher has been commanded by Christ to do these things. But how is he to go about doing so? The Bible gives us the answer – with great patience and careful instruction. This does mean, of course, that I would have to be careful not to “push” someone along faster than the Spirit of God is moving them. But at the same time patience here also entails that despite an extreme lacking of funding and misunderstanding of my labor in Christ, regardless I must still continue to preach the Word and all the while do everything this verse commands me to.

So yes, I have written many difficult things lately and said some things that appear “harsh” to some. Not unlike John the Baptist in Luke 3 – John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (v.7) As I have pointed out many times John said this to the “crowds” and not just to the religious leaders. By the way “brood of vipers” would have been a very derogatory remark to these people. Yet our Lord Himself uses this term Himself in His scathing rebukes of Jewish leaders in Matthew 23 along with other phrases that would get the Master branded “unloving” today. But the Bible record is clear: It is not unloving to tell the truth.

For The Record

Prayerfully what I have shared here will help set the record straight about the “discernment” work you may have seen me do here at AM without knowing all of the pertinent background. Perhaps you are among those who have been arriving here via Wikipedia concerning my writings on Rob Bell. Or from Take Back Canada regarding Brian McLaren. Maybe you have wondered why I have said some of the rather blunt things I have said in pieces like For Readers Of AM. Well, now you have the opportunity to know that I have simply been doing my job as a pastor-teacher by preaching the Word as well as correcting, rebuking, and encouraging.

I say this as gently and humbly as I know how in the Lord but I ask you to consider that the same man who writes You Wanna Be A Soldier In Christ Jesus? is also the same man who writes Clean The Muddy Boots. All throughout this first year with God’s help I have produced ample fruit to show that this critical and uncompromising work of Apprising Ministries is worthy of the support of God’s people. And in the end it’s all about sowing seed among in the Body of Christ and preaching the Gospel of our Lord. It is written: If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? (1 Corinthians 9:11, ESV)

I leave you with another work that I feel God gave me to share with you. As I have said before this work here at AM, an outreach of Connecticut River Baptist Church, is much more than simply an “Internet” ministry. The following was an answer to my prayer for the Lord to give me a song to write which would share the Gospel in words and music. When I have performed The Shadow of His Cross I ask the audience to come with me back to just after the crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ Jesus of Nazareth. You’ve just heard that one of His disciples is standing in the marketplace and sharing his eyewitness experience with the Master. So you listen…and you hear:

Come dear ones and gather ‘round, and I’ll tell you the story all about Him.
I saw the crowds who followed Him, as He walked the streets of Jerusalem.
The Word became flesh, we beheld His face, yes, dear ones – God became man.
His name is Jesus and I testify, that Jesus is – the great I Am.

He spoke of God, He said, “We are one, the Father in Heaven – My Father and I.”
Time was so short, they arrested Him, and when they came – we only stood by.
It tears my heart, it’s so hard to believe, how the people just shouted – “Crucify!”
He prayed for them, stretched out His hands, His love to show – so willing to die.

And I saw Him reach out His hand from the shadow of His cross.
He said, “Come unto Me all you who are lost.”
Now all that I am, I count it all as loss.
Because He reached out His hand…from the shadow of His cross…

He taught us that none of us are clean, the Scripture says – not even one.
You see dear ones God so loved the world that He sacrificed – His only Son.
Jesus died, He shed His blood, He’s not willing to lose – anyone.
He rose from the dead, He calls to you, He offers you life – so why do you run?

Won’t you see Him reach out His hand from the shadow of His cross.
He says, “Come unto Me all you who are lost.”
And all that you are, won’t you count it all as loss?
See Him reach out His hand…from the shadow of His cross…