Preaching for Change

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and 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.”

– 2 Timothy 4:1-2

Here Paul says several things about our handling of God’s Word:

  1. The goal of all preaching is change: “reprove, rebuke and exhort.” When we exhort we urge people to respond practically to what they hear from God’s Word. When we reprove and rebuke we seek to expose sin. This may not be what people want, but we must bring God’s Word to bear in their lives. 
  2. Change takes time: “be ready in season and out of season” “with complete patience.” The farmer doesn’t sow his seed and expect to see a crop the next day; the sun must shine, the rain must fall, the seed must germinate, and the plant must grow. Preaching is no different. It requires great patience.
  3. Change is always effected through the mind: “teaching.” A great temptation in preaching is to bypass the mind because it’s easier to excite the emotions than edify the mind, to be inspirational rather than instructional. But preaching that bypasses the mind can only engender a temporary response. We must be renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:1-2), and as we grow in knowledge, the truth embraces the affections, thereby producing change.