As leaders in the church, we are to preach the full gospel. Let’s look at 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (KJV).
God’s Word tells us to preach whether it is convenient
or not, to enlighten, to teach doctrine. These are all things
that we must do. Let us now focus on the “reprove” and
“rebuke” part of 2 Timothy 4:2. While we should not call out
someone’s name publicly from the pulpit, we are to call out
sin and the need for repentance. Let’s look at two quotes on
“Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or
who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest
effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable
for the evil that may result from their neglect of
duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have
checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority
as if the acts had been our own.”1
“So men who should be standing as faithful guardians
of God’s law have argued, till policy has taken the place
of faithfulness, and sin is allowed to go unreproved. When
will the voice of faithful rebuke be heard once more in the
church? ‘Thou art the man.’ 2 Samuel 12:7. Words as unmistakably
plain as these spoken by Nathan to David are seldom
heard in the pulpits of today, seldom seen in the public
press. If they were not so rare, we should see more of the
power of God revealed among men. The Lord’s messengers
should not complain that their efforts are without fruit until
they repent of their own love of approbation and their desire
to please men, which leads them to suppress truth. Those
ministers who are men pleasers, who cry, Peace, peace,
when God has not spoken peace, might well humble their
hearts before God, asking pardon for their insincerity and
their lack of moral courage. It is not from love for their neighbor
that they smooth down the message entrusted to them,
but because they are self-indulgent and ease-loving. True
love seeks first the honor of God and the salvation of souls.
Those who have this love will not evade the truth to save
themselves from the unpleasant results of plain speaking.
When souls are in peril, God’s ministers will not consider
self but will speak the word given them to speak, refusing
to excuse or palliate evil. Would that every minister might
realize the sacredness of his office and the holiness of his
work, and show the courage that Elijah showed! As divinely appointed messengers, ministers are in a position of awful
responsibility. They are to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all
There seems to be concerns that seekers or new church
members may be turned away by strong preaching that
points out sin. On the contrary, these are the very people
who want to hear a strong gospel message. They don’t want
to be flattered with a watered-down gospel.
In my experience at communion service, Paul’s exhortation
to examine oneself before taking part in the Lord’ supper
is seldom heard in our churches. “But let a man examine
himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that
cup” (1 Cor. 11:28).
As leaders in the church, let us examine ourselves. Let
us not preach a watered-down message. Let us preach
what Jesus preached. “From that time Jesus began to
preach, and to say, Repent: ‘for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand’” (Matt. 4:17). Let us continue to teach true doctrine.
But let us be courageous and reprove and rebuke with all
1 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 578.
———, Prophets and Kings, 141, 142.
Michael Stango works in the General Conference Telecommunications
Department. He is an ordained elder and a Minister of Evangelism
for the North American Division.