More and more men standing behind pulpits today are neglecting to heed Paul’s words to Timothy to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Many read a verse or a paragraph or two but then launch into all kinds of other things—stories, jokes, quotes from books, video clips, and everything but the Word! And sadly the result is malnourished, underfed, believers who…
• don’t know the Scriptures
• have shallow walks with the Lord
• are easy prey for the cults, false teachers, and every other unbiblical teaching that blows through the church
What a tragedy this is in our generation! I lay some of the blame for the success of the “emerging church movement” at the feet of the seeker sensitive churches. For the past thirty years they have neglected to teach God’s Word in any kind of in-depth expositional manner and as a result, they have raised up a generation of young people in the church who don’t know the Word of God. And so when someone hands these church goers books like…
• Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
• The Shack by William Young
• Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren
…they are not even able to spot anything unbiblical in them. When they turn on Oprah, the same thing goes. When they read Joel Osteen, same thing. It all sounds fine to them. What a tragedy!
What would have prevented this? Paul told Timothy, and us by implication, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the Word!” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). He didn’t say, “Make sure you include a citation from the Word.” He didn’t say, “Preach from the Word (as though it was some sort of a launching pad for all the other stuff you want to say). Paul said, “Preach the Word!” Your messages should be saturated with Scripture. They should ooze Scripture.
I sat in on a Bible study—if it could be called that—a while back at a church I was visiting. The pastor started things off by showing a ten-minute clip from a movie. Then he made a 30 second comment about how the movie clip was illustrative of the fact that Christians need times to rest. There was no opening of the Bible. I thought, “He’s got 30 minutes to share and he just wasted ten minutes showing us a movie clip?!” I wanted to stand up and say, “2 Timothy 4:2 says ‘Preach the Word!’” I didn’t. But in churches all over the world God’s people are suffering under this kind of Scripturally starved teaching week in and week out. Oh, but how they prosper wherever His Word is clearly and consistently laid open before them. And for good reason!
Listen to what God likens the Scriptures to. We’re told the Scriptures are like:
• Water that washes clean (Eph. 5:26)
• Seed that can bring forth fruit (Mark 4:14)
• Milk that nourishes us (1 Pet. 2:2)
• Meat (solid food) that satisfies us (Heb. 5:14)
• Fire that cleanses us (Jer. 23:29)
• A hammer that shatters us (Jer. 23:29)
• A sword that cuts deeply into (Heb. 4:13)
• Medicine to keep us from the sickness of sin (Ps. 119:11)
• A lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105)
• A mirror that reflects ourselves to us (James 1:23-25)
• A tutor that leads us to Christ (Gal. 3:24)
• A counselor that comforts us (Rom. 15:4)
• That which revives us (Ps. 119:50)
• A forecaster that never fails us (2 Pet. 1:19)
• That which makes us wiser than our enemies (Ps. 119:99)
How vital, how important God’s Word is in the life of the believer!
The greatest thing that could happen in the church today would be a wholehearted return by men who occupy the pulpit, to expository preaching. And, as I mentioned in the book’s introduction, when I say “expository preaching” I mean preaching that is committed to:
• opening up the Word of God
• unpacking what the Bible says
• explaining what it means
• illustrating the passage when necessary
• and giving clear, passionate exhortation on how it applies to the lives of believers and nonbelievers.
If more pastors (and those who serve alongside them) would return to this method of preaching I believe there would be a massive revival amongst God’s people.
Now, obviously we can’t do much to change what other pastors and leaders are doing in their churches but we can resolve in our own lives and churches to do (or continue to do) the very thing the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul to Timothy: Preach the Word!
And perhaps as God would bless our efforts, other pastors would see God’s people thriving, our churches growing, and wonder, “What in the world is going on over there?”
Should they inquire, we will unashamedly tell them, “It’s the Lord. We are just bringing our people the water that washes clean (Eph. 5:26), the seed that brings forth fruit (Mk. 4:14), the milk that nourishes (1 Pet. 2:2), the meat that satisfies (Heb. 5:14), the fire that cleanses (Jer. 23:29) and the medicine that keeps us from the sickness of sin (Ps. 119:11).” And maybe it will inspire them to do the same.
This short article was excerpted from Charlie’s book
Teaching and Preaching God’s Word.
CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL
is the founder of the ABR Apologetics Ministry, a popular guest teacher at churches and conferences in the United States and internationally, and the author of several books and DVDs, some of which include:
• The Bible’s Scientific Accuracy and Foresight
• Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted
• Evidence for God
• One Minute Answers to Skeptics
• Archaeological Evidence for the Bible
• Answering Atheists
• The Case for the Resurrection
• If God is Loving, Why is there Evil and Suffering?
• Homosexuality and the Bible: Answering Objections to the Biblical View
• Teaching and Preaching God’s Word
• Apologetics Quotes
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