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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
Title:Jesus Is Coming: Be Busy With What Matters Most
Text:2 Timothy 4:1-5 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Romans 9:30-10:15

Text: 2 Timothy 4:1-5



  1. As the one who speaks

  2. As the one who listens


  1. Psalm 122: 1-3

  2. Psalm 119:19-21

  3. Psalm 37: 1, 12, 16

  4. Hymn 51: 1-3

  5. Psalm 101: 1, 2

  6. Hymn 52: 1-3


Words to Listen For: capital, size, lick, coin, broccoli


Questions for Understanding:

  1. What should our relationship to culture be?

  2. Why is Paul so insistent on this teaching?  What is happening soon?

  3. What is the only useful way to preach the Word?

  4. What is the second best gift of God?  The first?

  5. What are the two results of faithful preaching?  What will it bring?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of Jesus Christ,

Have you ever heard the instruction: “Preach the Word with the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other?”

The idea is that the gospel should be made relevant.  The gospel should be kept current.  When preachers preach, they should take a good long look, not only at the Word, but at the world.  Not only at what is spiritual, but at what is secular.

And, on first glance, especially for those who maybe haven’t heard this phrase before…this might seem like good advice.

The pulpit and the man behind it needs to be plugged into the culture.  Let the culture guide your preaching just as much as the Word.  Preachers can’t be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.

What nonsense this is.  What sheer and utter nonsense.

What important thing could this world possibly offer, what thing of ultimate importance could this world possibly teach us that Scripture does not?

That is not to say that we must purposely shelter ourselves from the outside world.  Being plugged in to culture can and MUST inform our PRAYERS.

We should know the struggles of our brothers and sisters across this world.  We should know the joys of people coming to faith, the sorrows of those who slip away into apostasy.  We should be aware, as parents, teachers, uncles and aunts, what challenges the young people in our lives are facing that we can be a sounding board, that we can protect them as much as we can.

But the pulpit…no.

The pulpit is where the WORD OF GOD is preached.  Knowing, quoting from and exegeting the exact popular music of the day is not the point.  Though we may be concerned with the Rolling Stones, we may be horrified by Lil Nas X…we do not preach the world.  We do not sit under a critique of modern music for 25 minutes on Sundays.  No!  When we are concerned by the world…we must turn to the Word!  Open Scripture up to James 1:27 and read this text - Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Read this text, ministers must preach this text - keeping oneself unstained from the world!  This requires that we reject what is contrary to the commandment of God!  This requires that we must not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths (Ephesians 4), this requires that we know that bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15).

What must be preached from the pulpit, what must be desired in the pew, what must be seen as the food and drink to life eternal is the Word of God!

The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy and all preachers to PREACH THE TRUTH.  Don’t preach your opinions, don’t preach your politics or your culture or your feelings - but preach HIS WORD.

What we have been given in Holy Scripture is a full toolbox to fight against the schemes of the devil.  We use these tools out in the world…but we do not have to let the world into our toolbox.

Let me put it like this…when you  preach…preach with the Bible in both hands.  Let the Word fill your heart.  Have the capital T truth on the forefront of your mind, with the newspaper in the back of your mind.  Be INFORMED by the world, but be led, be FORMED by the Word.

The world and the Word are not equal.  They are not of equal importance.  They are not of equal value, they are not of equal truth.  The Word of God spans across cultures.  It is just as relevant now as it ever was.

Because…what are our challenges in the year of our Lord 2023?

  • Sin

  • Evil

  • Corruption

  • Persecution

  • Mockery

  • Disbelief

  • Apostasy


And what does God address in His Word?

  • Sin

  • Evil

  • Corruption

  • Persecution

  • Mockery

  • Disbelief

  • Apostasy


And these particular instructions of an elderly Apostle Paul to his young protege, his spiritual son, young Pastor Timothy, what we are examining this morning…they are, like all of Scripture, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

And so this morning, hear the Word of the Lord:


  1. As the one who speaks

  2. As the one who listens



Now, as we start, I will admit that it seems a little strange to preach on a text like this…a preacher preaching about preaching to a congregation who do not, themselves, preach.

Maybe this is a text better suited for a preaching conference.

And yet,  ALL OF SCRIPTURE should be preached.

ALL OF SCRIPTURE, as the Apostle Paul tells Timothy a few verses before our text…ALL OF SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All of Scripture must be preached…and…in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, in His kingdom that He is gathering, each and every day, each and every hour, the most important tool that He uses is preaching.

This we heard in our reading from Romans 10

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Now, do not misunderstand me, do not misunderstand the Apostle Paul - he is not saying that preachERS are the most important.  It’s the preachING.  This is the way the Word of God comes to His people.  Preachers are vessels.  Preachers are the messengers.

In a sense, preachers are the least important part of the preaching.  We have treasure in jars of clay.  The JAR is not the TREASURE.

What are YOU passionate about as a preacher?

  • This doesn’t matter.

What do YOU want to say as a preacher?

  • Who cares.

Even…what do YOU think as a preacher?

  • That’s not the point.

The preacher, like every Christian, must submit himself to the truths and authority of Scripture.  It isn’t about the preacher…and it can’t be.

The faithful preacher, the preacher who is pleasing to God, the preacher who properly feeds the people of God, is the one who gets out of the way and simply proclaims the cross of Christ.

This is the calling of the ministry.

And this is what the Apostle Paul, on the verge of his death, tells young Pastor Timothy.

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.

This is a VERY SERIOUS THING that Paul is saying.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus

You know how occasionally the Apostle will distinguish…he says “this is my rule, not the Lord’s.”  This is the direct opposite of that.

Put that out of your mind.  It is not that the Apostle Paul really really really likes preaching, and he wishes everyone would preach like him…but if you want to go another way, go right ahead…

No.  By no means.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus

Our modern day equivalent is “With God as my witness!”

This is your charge BEFORE GOD, and FROM GOD.

And why?  Why is Paul speaking like this to Timothy?


There are those who point to verse 6 as the answer: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

Paul will die soon.  Paul will go before Caesar and receive the death penalty.  He will be beheaded by the Roman Empire.

So, these are some of Paul’s last words, and we must listen.

And this is absolutely true.  Absolutely!  But it’s also completely missing the point.

Really?  What could be more important than the Apostle’s imminent death?


Well here’s something, let’s try this one for size…how about: THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST!

Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead...His appearing and his kingdom

Jesus is coming back - be busy with what matters most!

When our Lord returns…how will He find you?

Timothy…you are a teacher.  You will be judged more harshly.

Timothy…you are a leader, an undershepherd, charged with taking care of the sheep of Jesus.  How will you shepherd?

Timothy…because I love you…because I love the people of God…Because I love GOD and the GOOD NEWS of His Son Jesus Christ… in these last days…PREACH! This is your method.  This is EVERYTHING.  Do not stray from this path.

Timothy…preach…and preach THE WORD.  There is nothing else.  Do not stray from this path.

And why?  Why did the Apostle feel it necessary to warn Timothy?  He had limited words, He had limited days left on this earth…why would he spend the ink and parchment?  And why would he charge Timothy so strongly?


It is because in these last days, the church will be deceived.  This is very similar to what we heard on New Years Day from Jude.

What shall we do in these last days?  These last days that have been going on for the past 2000 years?

The church will be deceived…there those who fall away.  Those who depart from the truth.

And it will break Timothy’s heart.  It breaks the heart of a minister when his congregation falls away.

It breaks the heart of a shepherd when a sheep wanders off, because he knows that there is a real and likely possibility that the sheep will be ravaged by wolves.

And, broken-hearted young Timothy may panic.  HOW DO WE FIX THIS PROBLEM?

Maybe we need to rebrand the church.  Bring in the fog machines, a light show, theme music when the pastor ascends the pulpit.

And Paul says NO.  This is not the way to fix this, this is not the way to keep the hearts of God’s people full of the truth, to keep the pews full of God’s people.

It’s not a program…it’s THE WORD.  It’s preaching the truth!

Preaching the truth in season and out of season.

Preach it when society is broadly Christian and your message is accepted.  Preach it when your church is growing like crazy.  Preach it when it’s hard to pack people in and you have to set up chairs in the foyer. Preach it when your church is full of new believers - this is what they need to hear!

AND…preach it when the church is shrinking.  When the church is getting older and older because none of the young people are interested anymore.  Preach it when society hates the gospel.  Preach it when you could be arrested and killed for preaching.  And then preach it in prison. Preach it to your jailer and your executioners.

And what exactly is the gospel?  Maybe it’s obvious to you, hopefully many of you could tell me a detailed description of the gospel if I would ask you.  But that doesn’t matter.  I must preach it, here, to those who know, for it is our food and drink, to life eternal, and I must preach it out there, to those who do not yet know it, for it is THEIR food and drink to life eternal.


Though there are many places we could go in Scripture where the gospel is presented, sometimes subtly, sometimes obviously, it’s perhaps best to see how Paul described it to Timothy.

2 Timothy is the application we could say, of 1 Timothy.  In 1 Timothy Paul shares the gospel, and in 2 Timothy Paul teaches Timothy how to apply it, how to use it in difficult times.  That’s a huge oversimplification, but it’s true.

So turn with me one book back to 1 Timothy.  I’m just going to read a few texts here with you.

  • 1 Timothy 1:12-17 - I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.

  • 1 Timothy 2:1-6 - First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

  • 1 Timothy 3:16 - Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

  • 1 Timothy 6:12-16 - Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

This is the gospel - preach it unapologetically -  use it to reprove, rebuke, and exhort.

Using Scripture as it was intended: to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

Let us NOT DARE to use a different method than our Lord Himself instituted.  For we are not wiser than God.

There is no better method than preaching the Word.

It is the pure preaching of the Word that will separate the wheat from the chaff.  If preaching faithfully causes some, or even many to leave…then this is what it was meant to do. 

Because there are those who, as verse 3 of our text says - there are those who will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.

Itching ears.  What an image.

And it is exactly as it sounds.  The people have an itch to be scratched, and they will find someone who is willing to scratch it.

Think of a cat or a dog when they are lonely and want to be held, want belly scratches.  They will be so sweet, so loving walk up to you, lick your hand, do anything they can to get what they want.  And you give it to them…but when you stop…when you stop, gone is the love - how dare you stop doing what I wanted you to do!

And this is what people are like.  People in the last days.

It’s easy, it’s tempting to give people what they want.  It’s a temptation for all preachers, all preachers I have ever met…to want to be LIKED.

But if your desire is the approval of men rather than the approval of God…you are not fit to preach.  You are not fit to lead.

It’s simple: PREACH THE WORD.  God’s Word.  Not the culture, not your politics, not your feelings, preach the word.

If you can’t do that, never ascend a pulpit again.



Preachers of the gospel must be faithful in preaching the gospel and unwearied in preaching the gospel.

You preached salvation by grace alone through faith alone last week?  Do it again.

You preached Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and life last week?  Make it an encore this week.

Never weary in doing what is good.  Never weary in preaching what is true.  Timothy…preachers…fulfill your ministry.


Imitate Paul as he imitated Christ.

I am already being poured out as a drink offer, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Paul is an image-bearer of Jesus Christ.  For our Lord did not shy away from the truth.  For He is the truth.  Our Lord did not shy away from the Word, for He is the Word.  He did not stop preaching the hard stuff because it caused many of His disciples to fall away.  He did not stop proclaiming the message of the kingdom even though it got Him killed.

How useless would our Lord have been if, when He came down, instead of preaching about truth and judgement, instead of preaching about the Kingdom…He told us the message we WANTED to hear?  What if He shied away from the hard truths of wrath and sin?

If He just told the tax collectors they were fine, the prostitutes and sinners that they were fine, the Pharisees that they were fine, just as holy as they thought they were?

Without the bad news of sin, the good news of the gospel is just…news.  Take it or leave it, it doesn’t really matter anyways.

But are there preachers today who are willing to preach properly?  Those who will preach the truth even if it turns the whole world against them?  Those who will set their face like iron, never deviating from the message, while keeping their heart soft?

Having their words be firm and undeniable about God’s holy hatred towards sin and the unrepentant, while also proclaiming with inexpressible joy the love of God to those who admit their sins, those who repent from their sins, those who want to live for Him?

These are the preachers we need.  Preachers like Timothy, preachers like Paul, preachers like Jesus Christ.

But the vast majority of you are not, and will never be preachers of the Word.  Not in an official capacity at least.  So what does this text about preaching have to say to a congregation of non-preachers?  SO MUCH actually.  SO MUCH.  This is a text that speaks to the heart of each and every person who sits under the preaching.  All those who listen.  Our last point.

Our text this morning also has a lot to say about those who sit under the preaching.  For, as important as it is for the preacher to know the Word, the congregation must also know the Word.  Both the preacher and the congregation must love the Word.

For, remember how Paul charges Timothy - 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

Jesus is coming: be busy with what matters most!

NOT BECAUSE the final judgement will be based on how many Bible verses we have memorized

NOT BECAUSE there will be a theology test on the last day

But because Scripture is the second best gift that God has ever given to His church.

The best gift is, of course, Jesus Christ Himself.  But coming in a close second is the Word, because Jesus said: “It’s the Scriptures that testify about me!” This is where God tells us about salvation, this is where God tells us about HIMSELF.

This is an amazing gift from God, because of the effect that the living and active Word of God, sharper than a two edged sword, has on our hearts and on our minds.  It’s like nothing else.

Just as Pastors must be ready in season and out of season to preach the Word…you must be ready in season and out of season to hear the Word.

But before we get there, before we speak of in season and out of season, let’s talk about TODAY.

Brothers and sisters, you came to meet with the church today.  And I’m glad you’re here!  I say this at the beginning of every service.  I’m so glad to see all of you!  But how did YOU come?  Did you come ready to HEAR the Word?  Did you come ready to submit to it?  To sit under the preaching?

So often we just waltz into church like it’s nothing.  It’s just…the thing we do on Sunday morning.

But what exactly is it that we are doing?  What exactly is it that we should prepare ourselves for?

Did you come here this morning prepared to be reproved?  Intellectually challenged, your MIND changed about certain things?

Did you come here this morning prepared to be rebuked?  Emotionally challenged, your HEART changed about certain things?

Did you come here this morning prepared to be exhorted?  Stirred up to new action?

“Well…maybe I’ll do that next week because…I’m not feeling it today.”

Oh, I see.  Good thing that Paul tells Timothy that your relationship with the Word can fluctuate from season to season.  “Be prepare to preach the Word in season…and out of season…you can just wait.”


No…that’s not what he says.


Be prepared to preach the Word in season and out.

And the other side of that coin is “be prepared to HEAR the Word preached in season and out.”

Because…there might not be another Sunday.

We don’t know when our Lord will appear to judge the living and the dead.  We don’t know when His second coming will happen.

And even if He doesn’t return for another thousand years…you don’t know when He will call you home.

I heard of a minister preaching on a text like this one, in one of our sister churches.  He preached a very similar message, and he was dead a few days later of a massive heart attack. He was in his 50s.

The Puritan Richard Baxter put it well - I preach as never sure that I will ever preach again…as a dying man to dying men.

Ministers much preach as dying men.

Congregations must hear as dying men.

Brothers and sisters YOU NEED TO BE READY - in season and out of season. You don’t know what sermon will be the last one you hear!  I don’t know what sermon will be the last one I preach!

We need to come here with clear eyes and open, humble hearts, truly seeing the Word for what it is.  The written Word as well as the preached Word.

We see the connection here - in 2 Timothy 3 we read all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof for correction, and for training in righteousness.

And then in 2 Timothy 4 we read - Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

Paul is telling Timothy - there must not be a fundamental difference between what you read in Scripture, and what you preach.  It must be the same.  Preach…THE WORD and the Word only.

God’s people must respond in the same way then.  Take faithful preaching as the Word of God, just the same as this book.

Do not present your itching ears to the preacher, just as you would not present your itching ears to the writers of Holy Scripture.

You must SIT UNDER the Word.

As must I.  Because even though I am a speaker of the Word, a preacher of the Word, I am also a hearer of the Word.  I sit under my own preaching.  I must be willing to be challenged by what the Holy Spirit says through such a weak clay pot as myself.

Though I am a shepherd, I am, first and foremost, a sheep.  A hungry, thirsty sheep, a deer panting for water, lapping up every drop, because each sip might be my last.

We need to come here hungry, thirsty - panting for the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ, as a deer PANTS for water. Lapping up every drop, because it might be our last chance before Jesus calls us home.

We must eat and drink what the Lord sets before us.  And, as every family dinner goes, the children will not like everything on their plate.

It’s HARD to be reproved.

It’s HARD to be rebuked.

You can think of it almost as the broccoli of your spiritual meal.  But that’s what faithful preaching does.  That’s what faithful preaching HAS TO DO.

If you waltz into church like its nothing, and waltz out of church exactly the same person you were when you walked in, heart and mind unchanged…then something has gone wrong.  Maybe with the preacher, maybe with the hearer.

Faithful preaching may not be what you want to hear.  Faithful preaching is difficult, and not everyone can accept it.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest preacher of all time, when He gave a particularly difficult teaching, many fell away.

As we close this morning, please turn to this teaching with me, John chapter 6.

John 6, starting at verse 53:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died.  Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”  Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.  When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

Jumping ahead to verse 66

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.  So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 

Oh let us be like Peter.  Let us be like Peter.

Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life!

It may be difficult.  We may have to wrestle with a text, wrestle with a teaching, wrestle with a preacher…but is there really any other option?

To whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life!

It’s the truth…or it is deception.  Those who go on from bad to worse, deceiving or being deceived.

It is God’s Word or it is myths.

Beloved, there are two options out there, and only two.  The truth…or falsehood.  The Word - that which nourishes, refreshes, heals, challenges, rebukes, and exposes our heart, leading us on a difficult and narrow way…or godless myths, deceptions, lies, words that can make us feel better, words that present a shortcut down a broad, easy road, which is indeed short and easy…but it will not get us where we want to go.

And so, let me ask you…what are you hungering for?  What are you thirsting for?  Jesus is coming! What are you busy with?   On the day when our Lord appears, will you be ashamed of how you spent your time, or will you gaze up in awe and wonder, finally seeing the man you read about all your life, the God you fell in love with from His Word, the God who has dwelt in your heart all these years? The shepherd who knows your name, and all along you’ve known his voice?

If you love the Word, if you love the truth, no matter how hard it might be, no matter how it might bruise your ego…if you are willing to submit to the truth, to sit under the Word instead of in judgement over it…then, no matter your past, your sins and your weaknesses, your regret and your pain…there is a bright, brilliant future waiting for you.  For embracing the Word means embracing the One who gave it.  The One who inspired it.  It means that you have come to the humble realization that salvation exists outside of yourself, and you need the man from Heaven who died to give you life.

If we could stop there, that would be wonderful.  But we can’t.  We have to hear one more thing.

If you despise the Word, if you despise the truth, if you are angry with the preachers who don’t preach what you want to hear, if you want your sins minimized and God’s grace turned into a cheap bandaid rather than the costly cure…if you want to have a speech about culture and getting along, if you want your egos stroked…then you have already left the church in your heart, even if your body is still here.

You have turned your back on the Lord Jesus Christ, then you have nothing waiting for you but fierce judgement.

This is a difficult teaching.  Can you accept it? Because, only if you accept the BAD NEWS that Jesus brings, can you really embrace the good news of salvation that He declares.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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