New Year, Same Duty: Three Truths of Scripture to Anchor Your Year

(Originally sent out as an article under Eagles' Simply Proclaim)

What’s new this “New Year”? 2017 is three weeks old as I write, and for some of us, it may be a year when we seek new opportunities in our work. Others might find it the “same old, same old.”

Many of us are entering the new year full of uncertainty, and preachers and teachers are no difference. Will we be as passionate as we were when we first rose up and proclaimed the Word?

In times like these, preaching the Word of God is needed more than ever. Here’s why: 

  1. It is directly commanded by the Scriptures

    The call to proclaim the Word is a direct command from Scripture. When Paul exhorted Timothy to “proclaim the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2), this same command also applies to those placed at the pulpit or in a public teaching setting. Louw and Nida, in the lexicon that now bears their name, pointed out that to proclaim is to “publicly announce religious truths and principles while urging acceptance and compliance.”[1] Jesus’ Great Commission to us also points towards the same direction—that we must “make disciples of all nations” and “[teach] them to obey everything” that Jesus has commanded us (Matthew 28:19-20).

    The implication is thus straightforward. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to proclaim the Word, whether we feel like it or not. No doubt, there are times when we are discouraged or distracted by other events in our respective lives. But living a surrendered life in Christ means that we submit our circumstances to God’s authority, and trust that He will accomplish His will no matter what.
    _____
    [1] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 416). New York: United Bible Societies.
  2. It is our responsibility

    When Jesus was asked about the signs that will come along with the end times, He shared them in a long discussion we know as the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25). In the parables that followed, He reminded His disciples of the need to be faithful and alert. That was the point of His stories of the wise and faithful servant (24:45-51), the ten virgins (25:1-13), the bags of gold (25:14-30) and the sheep and goats (25:31-46).

    In the third parable, Jesus told of the three servants who were given bags of gold to steward while their master went away. Likewise for us, our Master ascended back to heaven but promised to return. Our bags of gold are the resources that God has given us to steward and take responsibility of.

    That means if you are a preacher and teacher, your responsibility is to proclaim the Word. And that responsibility is a serious one, for those who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). We have the responsibility, by the steer of our tongues, to proclaim the Word of God—and to direct our congregations and churches towards increasing Christlikeness before the return of Christ, our Master.
  3. We’re not done yet, and will never be

    Our calling as preachers and teachers, to be honest, will never be completed. Even after three missionary journeys, the apostle Paul still planned to go to Spain, to proclaim the gospel where Christ was not known (Romans 15:19b-24).

    Even today, there are still places where the gospel is not known, and there are still places in the hearts of people (including believers) that Christ has not touched. Every square meter of this earth is His, and we are His partners in sharing His light wherever we go. Regardless of how long we have been in this ministry of preaching and teaching, I’m very sure that there remains work left for us to do, as we proclaim the gospel and equip others to do so.

    That’s why we can’t afford to stagnate as preachers and teachers. We need to continue to read and study the Scriptures so that God’s Word will continue to do its transformative work in us. We need to continually ‘level up’ our skills so that we can proclaim the Word more effectively.
As I reflect on my 2016 and plan ahead for 2017, I can only say that what God has placed in my heart has not diminished, despite distractions in my own personal circumstances. While I find a marriage home and have it renovated, and simultaneously take on new roles in my own church ministry, I sometimes feel that I’ve lost my bearings. But when I read the Word, its richness reminds me why I must continue to proclaim it, study it and discover its truths for myself.

What are your plans for your own public ministry, and what might be distracting or discouraging you? How is God working to refocus it back on Himself? Share your thoughts with me; I read all your comments.

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