This post was first published in January, 2014. —ed.
A primary reason I still preach the Bible is that it alone is God’s eternal and divinely empowered message. Thus it is both timeless and truly powerful.
More than four decades of ministry (or any finite number for that matter) could never begin to exhaust its freshness and richness, its depth of teaching, or its ability to impact lives. The Word of God is timeless because its Author is timeless—and no matter how the culture changes, the message of salvation (which is the heart of God’s message) never changes.
Scripture is powerful because, unlike self-help programs and man-made solutions which never really get below the surface, the Bible is empowered by God Himself. That’s why it is able to transform people in the deepest reaches of their hearts. Hence I preach the Bible because this ancient book, in which the knowledge of God is revealed, contains all that people need for every aspect of life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). That reality defines true relevance, and that is exactly why Paul told Timothy to preach the Word in season and out of season.
Let’s face it—in our generation the Word is “out of season.” The market-driven philosophy currently in vogue says that plainly declaring biblical truth is outmoded and ineffective in this climate of postmodernism. Biblical exposition and theology are seen as antiquated and extraneous. “Churchgoers don’t want to be preached to anymore,” this philosophy says. “Generation Y won’t just sit in the pew while someone up front preaches at them. They are products of a media-driven generation, and they need a church experience that will satisfy them on their own terms by giving them what they are used to.”
Meanwhile, many influential church leaders insist that Scripture is unclear as to its meaning anyway. They blend, bend, and butcher God’s Word to suit their purposes and perspectives. The text doesn’t inform their preaching; their preaching informs the text.
We are definitely in an “out of season” time, which is exactly what the Holy Spirit anticipated when He inspired this mandate. But the modern evangelical misunderstanding of this text seems to indicate that many church leaders think it means, “Preach the Word in season, period. And let people tell you when it’s in season.”
There have always been men in the pulpit who gather crowds because they are gifted orators, interesting storytellers, entertaining speakers, dynamic personalities, shrewd crowd manipulators, rousing speechmakers, popular politicians, or erudite scholars. Such preaching may be popular, but it is not necessarily powerful. No one can preach with power who does not preach the Word. And no faithful preacher will water down or neglect the whole counsel of God. Proclaiming the Word—all of it—is the pastor’s calling.
(Adapted from The Master’s Plan for the Church.)