2 Timothy 4:1–2 (NKJV)
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
For the last few weeks, our congregation in Coeur d’Alene has been meditating on Paul’s charge to Timothy to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.” Last week we began looking at the series of imperatives that Paul gives to explain his charge. Paul writes, “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” This morning I would like us to consider what it means to “rebuke.”
The Greek word behind “rebuke” is epitimao and, in the Greek OT, is typically reserved for God’s word of power standing against any and every obstacle. Stauffer notes in the Theological Dictionary of the NT:
God’s rebuke shakes heaven (Job 26:11) and moves the earth and the sea (2 Βασ. 22:16; ψ 17:15; 103:7). He [rebukes] the Red Sea and it dries up to let the people of God pass over (ψ 105:9; cf. Is. 50:2 Σ). His Word of command whips up the storm so that men cry to heaven in their distress; His Word of rebuke stills it again so that the waves subside and the cries of distress cease (ψ 106:29)… But for the most part God’s reproof is directed against men, against the high and mighty until horse and rider are bemused (ψ 75:6; 118:21), against the enemies of God and His people whose raging is like that of the sea (Is. 17:13 Ἀ; ψ 9:5; 79:16), but also against the apostate people itself, so that it wastes and perishes.
To rebuke, therefore, is to deliver a sharp warning that the attitude or action being taken is in clear opposition to God’s word. So when Peter declares that Jesus shall by no means suffer on the cross, Jesus rebukes Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Mk 8:33) When James and John, the sons of thunder, want fire to fall on a Samaritan village for its rejection of Jesus, Jesus rebukes them, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (Lk 9:55). A rebuke is a short, verbal thrashing. It is a divine wake-up call.
What this means, therefore, is that the minister of the Gospel must be prepared to speak bluntly about attitudes and actions that are diametrically opposed to the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ. As I emphasized for my flock last week, it is not the minister’s calling to tell smarmy stories that make people feel good about themselves, it is his duty to speak the Word of God to the people of God – and this often means confronting sinful attitudes and actions.
· If you have no interest in understanding and obeying the Word of God, then the Spirit of God is not in you.
· If you think you can thrive spiritually while marginalizing the
importance of your local church, you are likely going to hell.
· If you think God is pleased with your bitterness and resentment just because you have justified it to yourself, you are deceived.
· If you prize happiness more than holiness, then you are serving your own lusts not the Lord of glory.
· If you sit in judgment over your homosexual cousin while routinely indulging your lust for pornography, you may not know Jesus Christ.
· If you are more interested in stockpiling cash than helping the poor, you are an idolater.
· If you refuse to heed correction and to receive rebuke, God will break you and bring your plans to naught.
Do any of these things strike close to home? Then give heed, listen to the prompting of the Spirit, and repent. Turn from your sin, seek the Lord’s forgiveness through the shed blood of His Son Jesus, and cry out for the enabling power of the Spirit to free you from these attitudes and actions and to restore you to fellowship with God and with His people.
So reminded of our sin and that there is only one sacrifice, Jesus the Christ, whose shed blood can cover the guilt of our sin, let us confess our sin, beseeching God’s forgiveness. And as we confess, let us kneel together as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.