Brother-theologians, preach the Word! Labor to study the works of God (Ps 111:2) and tell of them before the congregation (111:1). Pursue the finer points of theology and learn how to communicate them to Christ’s bride. If you are graced with the chance to study theology, remember: It is not just for you! It is for the church. Therefore, study theology and prepare to preach. It may turn out that Christ doesn’t call you to fill many pulpits—then again he might—but when he does, why would you risk being unprepared when God’s word tells theologians to “Preach the Word”?!
When I came to seminary, I wanted to study the Bible and theology. Having never “preached” a Sunday morning message, I was uncertain as to the role preaching would have in my life. Ten years later, through a combination of providential opportunities and willingness to preach whenever I was asked, I have finished my theological education (Yes, it took a decade!) and have preached more Sundays than not.
For nearly five years I have filled the pulpit at my current church—first as a supply preacher, then an interim pastor, and last as the senior pastor. In the lustrum before serving at our church, I like so many of my seminary peers preached in nursing homes, urban missions, country parishes. It was a wonderfully painful time, one where precious little flocks like Corn Creek Baptist Church endured my preaching and helped me learn how to preach.
During that time, preaching was a priority, but so was theology. By training, I am a systematic theologian, or at least, that’s what my degree says. Therefore, as a pastor and a theologian, I feel a measure of familiarity with both vocations. And I feel a fraternal affection and responsibility to exhort aspiring theologians with what Paul commanded Timothy: Preach the Word!
Sound Doctrine Preaches
In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul writes with warmth and weight:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the 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.
In the Pastoral Epistles the offices of pastor and theologian were not divided. Pastors were to teach in accordance with sound doctrine, and theologians—well, that vocation had not really been established, yet. Paul, who was arguably the greatest theologian in the Scriptures, regularly described himself as a preacher (1 Tim 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11) and urged Timothy and Titus to follow his model by spreading sound doctrine through preaching and teaching (1 Tim 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim 1:13; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 2, 8). Indeed, as Paul finished his last earthly epistle, he urged Timothy to take seriously the task of preaching the Word.