In and out of season
Dan Holland comments on the need to share and care …..
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Tim 4v 1-5)
In season and out – what did Paul mean?
The verses above hold special significance for me. A decade ago they were used in my inaugural service as Senior Pastor. I always had an evangelistic edge to my ministry, but what I didn’t know was that eventually I would spread my wings to become a full time evangelist. In that sense, and with the advantage of hindsight, that these verses were chosen was, indeed, prophetic!
Have you ever wondered exactly what Paul means by ‘in season and out of season’? Surely, I hear you cry, it is always the season to preach the gospel. When is it not? In response, I’d say that when Jesus returns again it will be too late, so that cannot be what Paul means.
Is Paul alluding to the planting, watering, sowing and reaping that goes on through our natural seasons; winter, spring, summer and autumn? In order to reap a rich harvest a farmer must work hard through each of these seasons. He knows, however, they are not the same and he wouldn’t expect a harvest of grain in the middle of the winter, or to pick grapes in the spring!
As Paul wrote these exhortations to Timothy he sat, probably chained, under house arrest in Rome awaiting his sentence. He knew all about lockdowns. Lockdown is a synonym of imprisonment. We know, now, that he would be executed by Caesar. However, through his writings and contact within his household Paul continued ministering right up to the end. Can you conceive of a New Testament minus the gripping epistles of Paul? How would we know how to process and live out the teachings of Jesus without Paul’s insight and corrections?
Necessity is the mother of invention
The need for evangelism is greater than ever. Our society is groaning under the restrictions of lockdown and the fear of the virus. But scratch the surface and beneath these very present struggles there is an epidemic of addiction, abuse, self-hatred, and confusion about everything right down to one’s own gender. Truly we have sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind (Hosea 8v 7). God have mercy on our stiff-necked and rebellious generation (Acts 7v 51).
But there is still hope; the gospel is not chained now anymore than it was in Paul’s day. For those who are searching,
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9v 2)
I have been in my current role as evangelist for Through Faith Missions for 18 months, almost a year of which has been in ‘lockdown’. Not my dream start! But we can still write letters and articles. And even books, for that matter (you might like to read my new book ‘Prophetic Evangelism – Kingdom Exploits In The Risk Zone’). There are countless lonely, frightened people who would just love a phone call and some prayer. We can all send a card, chat on Zoom or bake a cake for our neighbour. And, of course, there is prayer; as Charles Spurgeon said “prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence”.
It is essential, even imperative, that we share the good news that Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead and has made a way for us to get right with God. If we are willing to share, then Jesus will certainly give us opportunities ……….. to be continued.
Daniel Holland is a UK missionary with Through Faith Missions. He wrote “Through The Tunnel – Free at Last” published by PUSH Publishing, as his personal testimony. His second book “Prophetic Evangelism – Kingdom Exploits in the Risk Zone” was published January 2021, via Christian Publications International: https://christian-publications-int.com/PropheticEvangelism.html