Sola Scriptura 15
In carrying out the primary command to preach the word, what else is the man of God to do while in the midst of a culture which is attacking the truth to which he is to be committed? Paul gives four commands. They are not optional, but rather indispensible edicts which must be obeyed. These directives are in direct contrast (“As for you”…) with what false teachers, and their followers, desire. These commands are found in 2 Timothy 4:5 which says, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5 ESV).
In being committed to Sola Scriptura, the man of God is to “be sober minded.” The believer is to obey this command actively and continually. To be sober minded is to be serious, calm and collected, and controlled by the Holy Spirit. “The verb translated keep your head (νήφω / nēphō) means ‘be sober’ and urges a moral alertness or coolness and presence of mind. The Christian minister must seek to cultivate an unruffled alertness in every aspect of his work. There is no circumstance in which this does not apply” (Guthrie 179).
The pastor is wise who is alert to the influences within the flock God has given him to shepherd. The cultural influences are many and powerful. They can impact a congregation’s view of sin and salvation more often than the preaching of God’s Word. Therefore, the pastor must ever be mindful of the culture, while at the same time continually rooted and grounded in God’s truth.
He is also to “endure suffering.” At the particular time afflictions occur, the man of God is commanded to endure the many hardships occurring in the ministry. The word for endure afflictions (κακοπαθέω / kakopatheō) means to withstand troubles, evils, and sufferings. The word is used in 2 Timothy 2:3 when Paul says, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3 ESV).
As it is with the authority of Scripture, attacks against the pastor may occur not only from outside the flock, but also from within. The pastor should expect these and ultimately thank God for them (I Thessalonians 5:18) because it is through these afflictions that God develops His shepherd to become a more Christ-like leader.
Additionally, he is to “do the work of an evangelist.” This command to “do” (ποιέω / poieō) means to perform the expected task assigned. The work is evangelism. It is sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are not saying for everyone engaged in ministry to be an evangelist, but God requires pastors, teachers, and others to do the work of an evangelist. What does an evangelist do? An evangelist preaches the Gospel to whomever he meets. More than just the particular office of an evangelist, the edict focuses on the function.
The controversial subject of “contextualization” and its relationship with Sola Scriptura factors into today’s evangelistic methodology. Does a commitment to the Scriptures preclude a commitment to contextualize when sharing the Gospel?