Union University R.G. Lee Society of Fellows

"Preach the Word in Power"
II Timothy 4:1-5

by Dr. Bill Oakley
Mantle Ministries

Dr. Bill Oakley

One of the preachers for the 1998 Tennessee State Evangelism Conference at Judson Baptist Church in Nashville was Dr. Richard White, pastor of First Baptist Church of Franklin, TN. During his sermon, Dr. White made a statement that grabbed me like the hands of a drowning man and clung to the avenues of my mind like cement clinging to a brick. That statement was: "Brothers and sisters, let's be very careful lest we become so involved in defending the Bible that we fail to proclaim the Bible." The Lord thrust that statement into my own heart as a powerful admonition for me to "preach the Word in power."

We are not commissioned to spend our time putting crutches under the Word, for it is not crippled. We do not need to spend our time doctoring the Word, for it is not sick. We do not need to expend our energies investigating alleged errors in the Word, for it is not guilty of the crime. We do not need to busy ourselves x-raying the Word, for it has no broken bones. We do not need to involve ourselves defending the Word, for there are no valid charges against it. We do not need to be occupied with apologizing for the Word, for it has not made any errors. We cannot spend time adding to the Word, for it is already complete. We certainly cannot take away from the Word, for it is permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Our call and commission is to preach the Word in power. We must preach the Word in power because it is heaven's bread for earth's hunger, it is heaven's water for earth's thirst, it is heaven's light for earth's darkness, it is heaven's answer to earth's questions, it is heaven's diagnosis for earth's illness, it is heaven's medicine for earth's diseases, it is heaven's direction for earth's adventure and it is heaven's victory for earth's defeat.

If we are to preach the Word in power we must Believe the Word is Power, Bespeak the Word with Power, and Behave the Word by Power.

I. We Must Believe the Word is Power.

  1. We must believe the Word is power to save (John 5:24). There is life in the Word of God. On the Day of Pentecost, a Spirit-filled Peter preached a sermon from Joel and Isaiah and 3,000 people were saved. Nothing is more powerful to bring people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ than a preacher under the anointing of the Holy Spirit expounding the Word of God as he calls folks to receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

    In 1960, it was my privilege to hear the Japanese General who led the attack on Pearl Harbor speak at Detroit Bible College in Michigan. He said as he was on his way to Tokyo to be appointed Secretary of the Armed Forces for Japan, the train stopped at a depot in a small town for a short time. He went into the depot to stretch himself and rest a few moments from the hours of sitting. On his way back to the train, he noticed a piece of paper lying near the door. Picking it up, he stuffed it in his pocket and boarded the train. On the way to Tokyo, he took the paper out of his pocket and found it to be a gospel tract written by the Wycliffe Bible Translators. After reading the tract, he was smitten with conviction by the Holy Spirit, and gave his heart to Jesus Christ before he ever reached Tokyo.
  2. We must believe the Word is power to satisfy (John 8:31-32). The Word of God satisfies our sanctification (I John 17:15-19). In this Scripture, Jesus prays to the Father, "... sanctify them by Your truth, Your Word is truth." At the time of salvation, every believer receives positional sanctification. Practical sanctification is a day-by-day process in our lives. The means by which this is accomplished is the ingesting of the Word of God.

    The Word of God also satisfies for our supplication (I John 5:14-15). It has been my experience that the most meaningful times in my personal devotion or quiet time is when I pray Scripture back to the Lord. So many times the Word comes to give answers to our deepest questions.

    Dr. R. G. Lee said, "The Word of God, the masterpiece of God, the Book above and beyond all other books as a river is above a rill in reach, as the sun is beyond a candle in brightness, as Niagara is above and beyond a mud-puddle in glory; is immortal in its hopes B a complete code of laws, the most entertaining and authentic history ever published, the best covenant ever made, the best deed ever written, the best will ever executed."

    All of us have had people approach us after a sermon and say, "The message today settled a question I have had in my heart. Thank you for sharing the Word."

    Evangelist Manley Beasley was stricken with more than one deadly disease from which he never recovered. In one of his lowest moments, the Lord spoke to him through Psalm 128:6 which reads, "Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children- - -." Manley knew the Lord would keep him alive to see his grandchildren. Even with the deadly diseases, he lived 20 more years and saw his grandchildren.

II. We Must Bespeak the Word with Power.

  1. Because it is a command (II Tim. 4:1-5). In the Greek text, "Preach the Word" is in the imperative aorist active tense, which says to us; "Every time you preach, preach the Word." The command continues, "Be instant in season and out of season." In other words, we are commanded to be ready to preach the Word when it is convenient and when it is inconvenient. We are always to be ready to preach.

    Let it be said again that we are not commanded to defend the inerrant Word, for it needs no defense. Our command is to preach the Word in power.
  2. Because it is our counsel (Heb. 4:12). The reason it is our counsel is because the Word is quick or alive. One of the greatest cures for any monotonous preaching is expounding the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Likewise, the Word is powerful - filled with eternal energy, and it comes to us with all its truth and power to change lives. Dr. R. G. Lee said; "The Bible comes to us drenched in the tears of a million contributions, steeped in the prayers of many saints, expounded by the greatest intellects and fragrant with the faith of little children, stained with the blood shed in the sands of the Coliseum, worn with the fingers of agony and death." Dear friend, that is the Bible we preach.

    The Word of God is effectual, bringing results to those who receive it. It is also "sharper than any two-edged sword." The word "sharper" carries the connotation of "severing with a single stroke." That is the Bible we preach.

    The result of the Word being our counsel is that it permeates to the innermost being, so much so that Hebrews 4:12 says that it is, "piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow." It is likewise a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." The Greek word translated "discerner" is the word from which we get our word "critique". The Word of God preached in power will critique every thought and intent and will show us who we are.

III. We Must Behave the Word by Power (James 1:22-25).

  1. A. We must behave the Word in relation to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are commanded to love one another. John 3:35-36 says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this will all know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another."

    It is easy to strongly urge obedience in many other areas of Scripture, while we are guilty in this area. If there was ever a day when Baptists need to keep this commandment, it is now.

    To fail to love one another is to fail to love God. I John 4:20 says, AIf any man says, 'I love God,' and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" Thus saith the Word.

    To fail to love one another is to be unsaved. I John 4:7-8 says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Again, thus saith the Word.

    We are commanded to esteem others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4). The word "better" here means "to hold above" or Asuperior." Several words in the Greek are translated "better" in the New Testament, but this word leaves no room for misunderstanding the command. Someone has said that the Kingdom of God would be greatly advanced if we were all willing to give our best in service, with no regard to who gets the praise.
  2. We are to behave the Word in relation to the body (the church). Paul gives two admonitions to Timothy. First, he says to "be strong" (II Tim. 2:1). This is no time for weakness. This is no time for cowards. This is no time for the unempowered and the spiritually weak. Let us be persons of strength, of stability and of unwavering service.

    Second, he says to "be a soldier" (II Tim. 2:3-4). In this passage, Paul says we are to endure hardship as soldiers. He likewise says that we must not get entangled with the affairs of this life. These two admonitions need much consideration and cooperation by those who follow Christ.

    Paul also admonishes us that the reason for all we do is "that we may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." This is the paramount reason for service. Pleasing our dear Lord should be our supreme desire.

In the book Payday Everyday, Dr. R. G. Lee says: "The Bible is immeasurable in influence, inexhaustible in adequacy, infallible in authority, personal in application, regenerative in power, inspired in totality." 3

Dear friend, if we are to "preach the Word in power" we must believe the Word is power, we must bespeak the Word with power, and we must behave the Word by power.

During World War II, the coal miners in Britain went on strike. To remain on strike for any length of time would have caused much more devastation to their country. In the midst of the strike, Winston Churchill addressed the striking coal miners.

Churchill said, "I will walk down the streets of London when the war is over and I will say to a factory worker, 'Where were you while the war was on?' and the factory worker will say, 'I was doing my job in the factory for my family and my country.' I will say to a farmer, 'Where were you while the war was on?' The farmer will say, 'I was on the farm tilling the soil and growing a crop for my family and my country.' I will meet a soldier, and I'll ask that soldier, 'Where were you while the war was on?' That soldier will say, 'I was out there in the trenches with a gun in my hand fighting a war for my family and my country.' Then I will meet a coal miner and will ask him, 'Where were you while the war was on?' That coal miner will say to me, 'I was deep in the mine with my face up against the coal, mining coal for my family and my country.' " After hearing that speech, the miners went back to work.

Some day the Lord will meet us face to face and will say, "Where were you while the war was on down on earth?" May we be able to say, "Lord, we were out there in the midst of the battle with the Bible in our hands proclaiming the Word in power!"

Written by Dr. Bill Oakley
Mantle Ministries


  1. Lee, R. G. , The Word of God, Not Broken and Not Bound, Christ For the World Publishers, Orlando, FL, 1965, pp. 3-4.

  2. Lee, R. G., A Wisdom Greater Than Solomon, Broadman Press, Nashville, TN, 1935, p. 50.

  3. Broadman Editors, Payday Everyday, Broadman Press, Nashville, TN, 1974, p. 19.


Dr. Bill Oakley was a pastor for over forty years before entering full-time evangelism in 1996. Through his organization, "Mantle Ministries" he conducts local and area wide revivals and crusades, Bible conferences, retreats, and marriage enrichment seminars (with his wife Pattye). He is a graduate of Union University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Luther Rice Seminary earning the A.B., Th.M, and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Bill and his wife Pattye have five children and five grandchildren.

Joanna Moore, Campus Ministries & Church Services

R.G. Lee Center for Christian Ministry