Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 26, 1959
NUMBER 46, PAGE 2-3b

Doing The Work Of An Evangelist"

James C. Jones, New Albany, Indiana

"I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his am peering and his kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside unto fables. Be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry." 2 Timothy 4:1-5.)

When a group of elders invite me into their community to work with the church in which they are bishops, I assume that they desire me to "do the work of an evangelist," as I try to fulfil my ministry. I fear, however, that there are many members of the body of Christ who do not fully comprehend what the exact work of the preacher is. Some feel that he is one who prepares two sermons and two classes per week and goes to see those who are sick and that this is the extent of his work, and he is very fortunate in that he has so little to do. But I firmly believe that if we will carefully examine the above passage sincerely and honestly, we will all come to a better and clearer understanding of what work the preacher is to do.

Note first with me that there is a charge involved in the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Paul charges Timothy "in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus . . ." The word "charge" simply means that what he is about to say is said with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit as authority. Therefore, what follows is tremendously significant. We must not then take lightly the charge to Timothy to suffer hardship and do the work of an evangelist and to fulfil his ministry. That doesn't imply that suffering is necessary to doing the work of an evangelist, but it does mean that there are many occasions in which the evangelist will suffer hardship if he is true to the word of God. It is well to see that verse five is a summary of all Paul has told him to do. Verses two through four tell us what the work of an evangelist is:

I. "Preach the word . . ." This gives us, in three words the whole scope of what the evangelist is to preach. It is exclusive and inclusive. This eliminates the preaching of opinions or the telling of stories or jokes which cause the audience to laugh rather than to seriously consider the "word". This includes the preaching or the declaring of the whole counsel of God. It matters not whether the declaration of the "whole counsel of God" hurts feelings or not, the evangelist must declare the "whole counsel". Sometimes people blame the preacher if he says something which causes people to start worshipping elsewhere. They feel that his job is to make people like him and thereby cause them to come to worship. Or they feel that his home is the entertainment center of the church and that he is woefully lacking if he is not continually entertaining. Such is not the work of an evangelist. If someone becomes perturbed or upset due to the presentation of the truth and ceases to come to the services of the church, then the church is far better off without such individuals. Such people will not accept the "whole counsel of God", but demand that the evangelist preach some thing that will "tickle their ears" and satisfy their lusts and desires to please men rather than God. When I preach the truth and someone becomes offended, it causes me not one degree of bother or hurt. The hurt comes when people stubbornly refuse to accept the truth. Too much of the time we don't know what the "word" is that is to be preached, so how can we become offended at what is preached, IF WE DON'T KNOW WHAT IS TO BE PREACHED? A congregation of the people of God will grow if they will accept the preaching and teaching of the work. But note further that the preaching of the word is not an end or means within itself. It is done to cause people to further investigate for themselves. Just as the teacher in the classroom is not trying primarily to cause students to absorb knowledge, but instead is trying to instill in them the desire to find out for themselves the source of knowledge That does not imply that there is not to be an absorption of teaching; it does, on the other hand, mean that there is a definite need for an audience to be challenged, to study, and investigate the word for itself as the partial results of the thoughts of, a sermon. This is the essence of Christianity.

II. ". . . be urgent in season and out of season . . ." This affirms that the evangelist is not one who does his "regular duties of preaching twice on Sunday, teaching a Bible class or two and that's it." It does mean that he is to always be seeking a place to present the gospel of Christ to one who has never heard it. He is to, be ready to "preach the word" when it is convenient for him to do so and when it is not convenient to do so. If he has an opportunity to preach the gospel, he must take advantage of it regardless of how much it upsets his comforts and conveniences. The soul, is more important than all the comforts or conveniences in the whole universe.

III. "... reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." Reproving simply gives the evangelist the obligation of convincing people of the truth. The "reproving," in this passage, means to convince. Rebuking. This specifically applies to members of the body of Christ. "It implies our conviction that there is something evil, or some fault in him who is rebuked." The word "rebuke" means that there is no question concerning the right or wrong of the one rebuked. His actions directly contradict the pattern of the New Testament. Exhort. A presentation of the warnings or promises of God which incite men to the discharge of their duty to God is the "exhortation" which the evangelist is to do... Remember now that the preacher has the obligation to do all three of these items in his presentation of the truth of God's word.

Note finally that there is a specific way in which these three things are to be done. ". . .with all longsuffering and doctrine." Patience is the first prerequisite .in the preaching of the gospel. But patience must not be so construed' as to imply a compromising of the truth. Patience is the realization that with brethren in their present state, it will take a good while for them to become cognizant of their condition. ". .. teaching." All the reproving, rebuking and exhorting is to be based on the word of God. It is not to be based on the evangelist's whims or fancies, but squarely on the teaching of God's book.

When an evangelist regularly discharges all of the obligations, he stands justified in the sight of God. I cannot see how an evangelist could afford to do anything short of the requirements and lie down and sleep soundly at night. If I didn't reprove the outsider, rebuke strongly the sinful, ungodly and worldly Christian, exhort both the Christian and the alien to do the will of God, my conscience before God, would be most clouded and grieved. My concern is not the pleasure of my brethren in preaching the gospel. My gravest concern is whether I have said EVERYTHING the Bible says or not.

No study of 2 Timothy 4:1-5 would be complete without an understanding of the expression "sound doctrine." The expression means "healthful teaching." Therefore, when a congregation will not tolerate "reproving, rebuking and exhorting, with all longsuffering and doctrine", it does not desire "healthful teaching". It, therefore, must be a group of sick individuals, spiritually, who have, as the passage affirms, heaped to themselves teachers after their own lusts. A group of people that demands and expects reproof, rebuke and exhortation, are truly individuals who are healthy and strong in Christianity. May God help each of us to desire "sound doctrine", which includes the above items for our spiritual meals.

Paul says that there were people in the church, even then, who would not endure sound doctrine. They had ears that itched to hear their praises and how mighty and wonderful they were. Therefore, they heaped to themselves individuals who would praise them to the skies. Paul said they had turned away to fables and desired to hear such rather than the word of the gospel. Brethren, let us not be like unto them. Let us desire to hear the word that we may grow thereby unto salvation. This is the work of an evangelist from 2 Timothy 4:1-5. May we thoroughly examine the Bible teaching on the work of an evangelist and demand such from the evangelists of today.