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The following article is an extract from an undated pamphlet written by James White, the first editor of Signs of the Times®. It reveals White’s underlying conviction and his incentive for creating Signs of the Times®. It is included here in commemoration of our 150th anniversary.1

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I┬ácharge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1, 22).

A more solemn charge cannot be found in the Book of God. The apostle Paul brings Timothy up in the presence of God, and of Christ, and before the solemnities of the last Judgment, as he gives him this solemn charge—“Preach the word.” But what adds solemnity to this charge, is the fact that it is as it were the apostle’s dying testimony, as may be seen from verses 6, 7. “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

But the first clause of our text is worthy of special notice. “I charge thee therefore.” This seems to be a conclusion from facts before stated. We turn back to chapter 3, for a statement of the great facts on which Paul bases this solemn charge.

first fact

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (verses 1–5).

Here is a catalogue of eighteen sins resting upon the professed church of Christ—those who have “a form of godliness.” The word reproves all these sins. And if it be faithfully preached, believed and obeyed, it will put them away. It is the only remedy that can possibly reach the case.

second fact

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (verses 14–19).

Precious Bible! With the inspired Scriptures, men may become wise unto salvation through faith in Christ. In the formation of your religious sentiments, come to the Bible; for it is profitable for doctrine. In cases of correction, or reproof, take the Bible. Would you be instructed in righteousness? Learn from the word. It is given that “the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” “I charge thee therefore,” says Paul, that is, in view of these two great facts. “Preach the word.” He continues, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

“The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” The Apostle points to the future. There were men in the Apostle’s day who would not endure sound doctrine, and this has been the case ever since his day; but Paul is looking forward to a time when this shall be so universal as to constitute a sign.

We now inquire, To what time does he here refer? Answer. To the very time he had just described: namely, the last days. The last days, then, are characterized,

  1. As perilous, and the nature of the perils are seen in Paul’s description of the last days, where he repeats eighteen sins upon those who have a form of godliness.
  2. In the last days there will be very many religious teachers who will labor to defend popular fables, and the masses will follow their teachings. The Apostle says that they shall “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
  3. In the last days the plain truth of the word will be proclaimed. This is evident from the work of those who support fables. They labor to turn the people from the truth to fables; therefore the truth is proclaimed abroad in the ears of the people.

Dear reader, are not these things beginning to have a fulfillment before your eyes? We solemnly believe that we now stand amid the perils of the last days. God is raising up men to go forth and fearlessly preach his word. Their faithful testimony arrests the attention of the people, and this furnishes work for the teachers of long-cherished errors, to stand in their defense, and turn the ears of as many of the people as possible back again to popular fables. It is therefore necessary to contrast the plain word with fables, that the honest be not deceived.

1. This extract has been updated with some minor formatting changes to make it easier to read. The content is unchanged.

2. All Bible verses in this article are from the King James Version.

Preach the Word

by James White
From the January 2024 Signs