A Christian sister who has two PhDs and has taught on the collegiate level wrote these words about a friend of hers who is a preacher. “He stands as a beacon to those who are looking for Truth to come from the pulpit. If one is immersed in the Word, accepting its authentic origin and message, one will not be arrogant and dismissive of its doctrines. True study--not critical analysis--humbles the reader of the Bible."
While I do not agree with everything John MacArthur writes, much of what he says is very thought-provoking. Such are these words he recently penned. “Those who take God’s Word seriously spend many hours in study. Coming out of diligent study are lessons, sermons, articles, and books that are deep, weighty, sober, doctrinally coherent, and theologically consistent. Sadly, today’s evangelicals aren’t known for being profound, sober-minded, or consistent; instead they’ve developed a reputation for being superficial, trivial, doctrinally erratic, and theologically naïve. Want proof? Walk into your local Christian bookstore, sample the preaching online, survey the blogs—the shoe fits. So if the way back is to fear God, honor His Word, and work hard to understand and teach it accurately, what kinds of things are standing in the way?”
To answer that question two primary passages come to mind. The first is 2 Timothy 4. Every preacher is commanded to “preach the Word.” This is a solemn charge. We are to be serious about preaching God’s Word. Some have seemingly turned the preaching of God’s Word into something akin to a circus side show. Every time I stand before an audience to proclaim God’s Word this verse strikes me with a Holy fear. I will someday stand before the judge of the universe and give an account of how I handled His Word. We are to be instant in season and out of season. This statement simply means we are to preach the Word all the time.
The other passage that immediately comes to my mind is Hebrews 4:12. This verse gives us the characteristics of the Word of God. The Word of God is precise and accurate. We need preachers of God’s Word who are skilled in handling the Word. They should be skilled in the reading, interpretation and exposition of His Word. The faithful preacher must spend many hours in study and in prayer to rightly divide the word of truth. There can be no substitute for this study. I remember as a young preacher hearing about brother Gus Nichols studying the Word for four hours every morning long before most people were up and around. Brother Franklin Camp who was one of the great students of the Old Testament in the previous generation stated that if brother Nichols needed to study four hours he would need to study five hours each morning. And this he did! There is no room for laziness. We cannot be infatuated with the culture. The Apostle Paul stated that he was more concerned with what the Lord thought about his teaching than what others thought. (1 Corinthians 4:3)
May God help those of us who preach give the time and attention to study that is so desperately needed in our day. There has been a famine in the land when it comes to the study of the Word. Those of us who stand and proclaim God’s Word must lead the way. If we do not study, neither will those who hear us.
If you are an elder in the church, demand that your preacher give proper attention to study. Make it possible for him to have the time he needs. Brother George Bailey tells about a congregation who rented a room in a local hotel so that he could get away from the office every day to study.
If you are a member of a church who has a preacher who proclaims the whole counsel of God, pray for him, encourage him, and give him the time he needs to prepare sermons that will help the church grow spiritually as well as numerically.
Dear God, in a day when Your Word is not held in high esteem, we pray that You would help those of us who preach as well as those of us who listen to immerse ourselves in Your Word. Help those of us who preach to stand as beacons for those who are looking for Truth to come from the pulpit. Father, help all of us to grow in our faith and in the knowledge of Your Word.