The Charge to Preach the Word
By Israel Ramos
I was a high school student literature evangelist in Maine. We typically had Fridays off as personal days, but our sister program composed of older students selling more expensive books had some people who worked on Friday to make extra money. Enjoying an opportunity to spend time with the more popular crowd, I decided to tag along. I canvassed one door, trying to prove I was worth the company, while my partner tried to sell at every other door. After a few successful hours in the field, we made our way back home. That’s when I heard the legendary sermon that changed the rest of my life.
The late C.D. Brooks was on the radio with the surround sound of the car’s speakers turned up to full volume. The occasion for the sermon was the ordination of two ministers to the work of the gospel. The message’s inspiration was taken from 2 Timothy 4:1-4—the words of an old Paul to a young Timothy: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word.”
I had just concluded my sophomore year in high school and already felt God’s call to be a minister. Still in the process of discovering who I really was, my personality awkwardly shifted between timidity and crassness, insecurity and over confidence. Until that time, I was not one to listen to sermons on the radio. In fact, I had only recently become a real Christian, leaving behind a life of choices that had blunted my mind and ruined my spiritual experience.
As the booming voice of the preacher began to break down that text, my mind—along with the windows in the car—seemed as though they were about to explode. “Preach the word!” was charge, followed by strong warnings against pastors that do anything else.
Two things happened from that day forward. First, I developed a passion for the Word of God like never before. Second, I committed myself to the proclamation of the same.
When that summer ended, I returned to academy for my junior year. For our required speech class, I decided to use that sermon as my inspiration. I wasn’t concerned with plagiarism at the time, and tried to recall as much of the sermon I had heard just a few months before. The only thing that I could remember was the haunting solemnity of Paul’s charge to Timothy: “Preach the word!”
In all honesty, the presentation did not make sense. It failed to take into consideration that fact that no one in the audience was on a path towards pastoral ministry. We were, after all, a bunch of high school students simply trying to fulfill a required assignment to successfully complete a course—a course which was not very popular due to its terrifying requirement to speak in public.
Besides not understanding the needs of my audience, I did not take into account my own abilities as a speaker. Inspired by Brooks’ style, I scripted a sermon full of exclamation points, envisioning myself speaking at the top of my voice to my colleagues as though I, too, was inspiring them at their ordinations. My delivery did not match my intention.
I do not recall the grade I received on my speech. I simply remember a few pieces of advice from the school principal reminding me to not fumble with my Bible, followed by these encouraging words, “God is going to use you someday to do something special for Him.”
Those words required faith. I was a struggling student in every subject and the deep passion of my heart to give my life in service to God had yet to surface into a life of commitment. As much as I tried, I could not understand the Bible for myself. For an entire year, the only Bible passage I studied for my devotional time in the morning was 2 Timothy 4:1-4.
Nearly fifteen years later, the same passage was read to me at my ordination service. It has been twenty-five years since that day that I preached to myself, and those pressing words from Paul still serve as an encouragement and a warning to fulfill my ministry.
Israel Ramos is the director and coordinator of public campus ministry in the Michigan Conference and Lake Union, respectively. His wife Judy is an educator and together they have three sons with whom they enjoy sharing life.
Whether you are a pastor or not, every believer is called to share the life-transforming messages of the Bible. In whatever form we share our faith with others, in preaching, teaching, writing, singing, in acts of service, or any other creative way, it is vital that what we share is filled with, and faithful to, the Word of God; In alignments with its directions and God’s character of love.
The Word of God is powerful. Its preaching impacts lives for eternity. Will you answer the call of Paul and ‘preach the Word’ through your words and actions?
- Pray for boldness to preach the Word in words and actions today. Pray for more young people to be called to preach the Word.
- Pray about any questions you have in the Bible. Ask God to help you find answers and clarity regarding those questions.
- Pray for Elder Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference, as he preaches an evangelistic meeting in Indianapolis, May 21-28.
- Pray for your local pastors. Pray that God would sustain them, protect them, and most importantly, fill them with an even more abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit
- Pray for protection of our young people from the ever-increasing addictions to technology and screen time.
- Pray for the 7 people on your list by name. Continue to claim God’s promises.
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