"Steady As You Go"

There is a new article up at the Reformation 21 site, "Steady As You Go," by Alistair Begg. It is his commencement address from May 2008, and his advice to these graduates is, "be prepared for the long haul." A couple of quotes, and a couple of comments (from within my self-imposed confinement of dealing with Roman Catholic issues here):
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 men 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.
A question now. How much of current Marian teaching is myth?
I have for you one word of exhortation: "Steady as You Go". You will see that this emerges from 2 Timothy 4:5. Paul exhorts Timothy to keep his head or to be steadfast. Paul issues a charge to his young lieutenant in the faith. He doesn't present him with an idea, nor a proposition, nor a suggestion; but he issues a charge. He issues a solemn and significant directive. What he is about to say to him is a matter of absolute necessity; a matter of pressing urgency. He makes his appeal, not on the strength of his apostleship, nor on the length of his service, now coming to an end; nor on account of the fact that he was Timothy's father in the faith. Instead he offers this charge in light of the fact of his passing. "I'm already be poured out like a drink offering and the time has come for my departure. The word Paul employs is the same as is used to describe oxen unyoked at the end of the day, like one who weighs anchor and heads for the final destination. Or an individual striking tent and heading home. In view of my passing, Timothy, I want you to do this." In view also of God's presence. It is in the presence of God that he issues this charge.
Here is a living example of "Apostolic Succession." Does Paul say, "keep the chain going"? No, he focuses on something called "the Word."
Let us ask five simple questions. The first question is: 1. What is God's servant to do? What is it that he's to do? He is to preach the Word. He is to proclaim the Gospel. That was the compulsion of Paul and that is the commission of Timothy. You remember Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel." Now we may say to ourselves, well, we can move on very quickly from this, because after all we all know what the Gospel is. It's the Euangelion. It's the Good News. But not so quickly! To proclaim the Gospel means explaining what God has done in Christ on behalf of sinners. Making clear that Christ's obedience is reckoned to the sinner on the ground that the penalty of the sinner's disobedience has been borne in Christ - He died the Righteous for the unrighteous. It is only (as Goldsworthy reminds us) when we have made the Gospel plain that we can then go on to explain the benefits of receiving the Gospel and announce the perils of rejecting the Gospel. If you are to be Gospel men and women, whether in a pulpit or in a counseling context, it is the Gospel that we must affirm. Telling people about the sovereignty of God is not the Gospel. Pressing on people the nature of the new birth and the necessity of regeneration is not preaching the Gospel. Both of these things are related to it; both are involved in it, but they are not the essential message of salvation that needs to be believed. There is a great challenge in this in these days of which you must be aware as you prepare to go. Consider this quote from The Doctrine of the Atonement by Smeaton, (a good Scottish theologian of an earlier era). "To convert one sinner from his way is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of an entire kingdom from temporal evil." Are you convinced of this?
I am convinced, and have been convinced for a long time, that it has been my mission in life to stand and block in the face of those who would seek to move toward Catholicism; to point out the ways in which that institution falls short of "preaching the Gospel." In truth, that institution says a lot of things, most of which are not "the Gospel."

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