2 Timothy 2:2, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction.”
According to Paul in today’s passage the Word of God has three main functions in preaching the gospel; mainly to (1) correct, (2) rebuke and (3) encourage. I also believe that these three functions give us a good order to follow. First, we can start with correcting people’s wrong thinking so they can truly understand the gospel, then we should rebuke their sin and unbelief, and lastly, we should encourage sinners to come to Jesus and be saved.
God has commanded all gospel preachers to use the Word of God to correct, rebuke and encourage the lost to be saved!
We see this kind of three-part preaching throughout the book of Acts. For example, in Peter’s first sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:15-16 Peter started by correcting their misunderstandings of the current events by saying, “15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Afterward he rebuked them because of their sin in Acts 2:23, “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Lastly, he encouraged them to repent and receive Christ in Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
Certainly, the gospel preacher doesn’t always have to follow the three-step pattern. The Holy Spirit is creative and knows the perfect way to reach people’s hearts. At the same time, as a general rule, the gospel preacher should consider following this three-step approach to correctly handle the Word of God.
First, correction speaks to realigning people’s misconceptions about God with the truth of God’s Word. Sometimes correction involves apologetics (defenses and arguments in favor of the Christian faith) and then when the unbeliever has a properly basic foundation of the truth they can receive the personal rebuke from the Word of God. Second, rebuking someone is exposing their sin and commanding them in Jesus’ name to stop sinning.
Third, encouraging the lost comes by commanding people to believe and confess Christ. This kind of encouragement also includes encouraging them to repent and be born again. All three functions of the Scripture will take great patience on our end to do correctly. We must be careful to instruct the lost in each area according to the Word of God and by the leading of the Holy Spirit and not by man’s opinions.
Also, the three-fold work of the Word of God doesn’t stop being relevant once a person gets saved, it continues in their lives everyday. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” May we all be ready in season and out of season to use God’s Word to correct, rebuke and encourage!
When preaching the gospel do you do all three parts equally or do you tend to emphasize one part more than the others?
- Study how to use the Bible to correct, rebuke and encourage.
- Moving forward ask the Lord to use you to effectively preach the gospel with all three parts.
- Ask God for patience and wisdom in each situation to be effective in your preaching and instructing of the gospel.