Saturday, December 18, 2010

Preaching for Edification

II Timothy 3:16 - 4:2, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."

Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

The above familiar verses are interesting when we view them together.

In the II Timothy passage, Paul instructs Timothy about the inspiration and usefulness of the scriptures. The apostle continues by charging Timothy to preach (or proclaim) the word. We can see from these verses several specific uses for the preaching of the word: teaching, reproof, correction, training, rebuke, and exhortation.

We know that some type of false teaching was occurring in the church at Ephesus. This most likely led to unbiblical beliefs and practices. Timothy, whose specific role in the church at Ephesus is unclear, is commanded by Paul to preach the truth of the scriptures to the church. This is significant because it shows us preaching taking place within the context of the church. The goal of Timothy's proclaiming was the promotion of truth and correction of this false teaching.

As we read this passage we must be careful about what we know and don't know. We know that Timothy was to preach to the church. We do not know that he was a pastor or that he preached sermons to the church body as a whole (I mention these here because I've heard them many times before).

Paul obviously hoped that Timothy would preach the truth in Ephesus and that the people would embrace this by following the truth and changing whatever needed to be changed in terms of both what they believed and how they lived.

Keeping all that in mind, we turn to Ephesians 4:29. We see that all our speech is to be for the building up. Especially in the context of the church, our words are to be filled with grace in order to help others mature in Christ. This was essentially what Paul was telling Timothy to do. Paul desired that Timothy's preaching would counteract the false teaching in Ephesus and build up the church in Christ Jesus.

How does all this apply to us today? As we speak to others within the church, our goal should always (in one way or another) be their edification. Our hope should also be that we will be edified.

One way we can edify others is by preaching the word to them. We need to "think outside the pulpit" in discussing this form of preaching. Simply put, we can powerfully edify others by preaching to them. This can take the forms of teaching, reproof, correction, training, rebuking, and exhorting. All these build others up in the faith.

I believe that God desires that we all preach to one another on a regular basis. The foundation and content of this proclaiming should be the word. I think we've all experienced the power of the spoken word from other Christians. We all have the joyful responsibility of preaching this word to one another in order to bring about mutual edification.

In light of all this, as Christ-followers we are all preachers. Let's all preach the truth to one another.


Tim A said...

Amen on that. A weak church it is where the saints are never "fully trained" by their teacher "to be like him". Luke 6:40. Full reproduction is God's design. The institutionalized form is perpetual dependency. Men are expected to hear a hired lecture every week of their lives, never seen as growing up to be able to articulate truth to their fellow believers ever in their whole life. It's all seen as normal. God grieves.

Eric said...


Scripture makes it so clear that every part of the body needs every other part. When only one person preaches, the body suffers. I agree with you that the hired lecture is of little benefit.