Bring the Books!

What does the godliest follower of Christ, Paul, want as he is nearing the end of his life?

Books and most importantly the Scriptures.

2 Timothy 4:13:

"When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments."

Here's an excerpt from Spurgeon's sermon on this text:

We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. . . . A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle!

He is inspired, and yet he wants books!

He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants

He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!

He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books!

He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books!

He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants

The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "Give thyself unto reading." The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.

Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master's service. Paul cries, "Bring the books"—join in the cry.


Good Counsel For Pastors From a Good Pastor

I recently read a sermon by John MacArthur from 1 Timothy 3:1-4:4, entitled, "Five Reasons To Preach the Word."

Thought I would share some of what encouraged me:

We're preaching under the scrutiny of the omniscient, holy judge. I agree with Paul in 1 Corinthians 4 who said, "It's a small thing what you think of me," and I say that with all love to you, I can't build my sense of faithfulness on whether you like my sermon. I can't built it on whether you don't like my sermon. I appreciate your commendations. I cherish them. I appreciate your criticisms, I cherish them. But in the end I want to preach to honor the One who is the judge, right? And in the end He's going to reveal the secret things of the heart. He's going to give the reward to those who are worthy of it and only His judgment really matters...

...It's a very serious thing for me, this matter of preaching. Sometimes people say to me, "You spend so much time in preparation, why?" Not because I think you need it, I think God's Word deserves it. I could get by with you because you're such loving folks. And, frankly, with most people a few good stories will do it. But with God it's a different matter. Sometimes if you'll just be kind enough to indulge me when I get down so deep you're drowning, I really do have Him in mind and the honor of His truth...

...And, you know, you look at the evangelical church and you can see a perfect illustration of how the church has fallen victim to this. Christians all over the place are all whipped up to fight abortion and they're all exercised to fight homosexuality and the influence of homosexuals in places of influence and power. And we want to fight the Lesbian trends and we want to fight for religious freedoms in America and we want to preserve prayer in the schools and we want to fight against euthanasia and that all has a place. But I want to tell you something, and you need to understand this...the worst form of wickedness in existence consists of the perversion of God's truth. That is the worst form of wickedness. And the church today is utterly indifferent to that. It doesn't care about that. It treats that with indifference as if it was harmless, as if a right interpretation of Scripture somehow was unnecessary if not intrusive into an otherwise superficial tranquility. Here we are fighting all of this peripheral stuff and given away everything at the heart that defines our whole faith. This is suicide. There's not going to be any church to fight anything if we don't preserve the truth...

...But we live in a time when people want to depreciate sound doctrine. We want a sort of a...well, we want to be more loving. Let me tell you something, we were talking about this down at the Ligonier Conference, R.C. Sproul and I were talking about this a little bit and the idea that I don't want to tell you the truth, I don't want to call error error, I don't want to confront your sin or your error because I love you is just not true. It's not because I love you. If I love you I would seek your best and highest good, wouldn't I? And that's completely connected to your understanding of and obedience to divine truth. So if I don't...if I say...Well, I want this superficial tranquility...I don't think it's loving to do that. Truth is, you don't love them, you love yourself, that's the issue, and what you really do is love yourself so much you don't want them not to like you. Self-love, that's sin. You're afraid if you confront something they won't like you so you'd rather love yourself and have them like you than to love them enough to confront their error, show them the truth which can lead them to the blessing and well-being that produces God's greatest good in their lives. Loss of truth, loss of conviction, loss of discernment, loss of holiness, loss of divine power, loss of blessing...all they want is to get their ears tickled. Tell me a little about success. Tell me a little about prosperity. Give me some excitement. Elevate my feelings of well-being, self-esteem, and give me a bunch of emotional thrills."

It Comes With the Calling

In listening to John Piper's sermon yesterday at the The Gospel Coalition Conference, I was struck and encouraged by something from 2 Timothy that I had not seen before. It was from 2 Timothy 1:11-12. Paul is talking about being appointed by God as a preacher, teacher, and Apostle.

"...for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do."

What a striking and encouraging word from God to pastors. It is striking because it tells us that in the pastorate, as a preacher and teacher, we will suffer. We will suffer in more ways than we could ever imagine. That is just a part of being a pastor.

But this word from God is also encouraging. We suffer as we do because we are preachers and teachers of God's Word and especially of His Gospel. If you are not suffering as a preacher and teacher of God's Word and Gospel, then you are probably not teaching or preaching God's Word or His Gospel. But when you are suffering because you are preaching and teaching God's Word and God's Gospel, oh what an encouragement that is even in the midst of the hurt of the suffering. Why? Because as a preacher and teacher of God's Word and God's Gospel, you did not choose this. No. You were appointed to this by God and this is not a surprise to Him and so it should not be to you. And so the reaction should be as Paul says in verse 12,

"But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me."