Preach the Word

Years ago I was teaching an all men’s Sunday school class and wanted to have them turn to some Scriptures that were not in the quarterly they used. Only one man had a Bible with him. I encouraged them to set the example by bringing their Bibles, noting that a Christian without his Bible is like a soldier on the field without his gun and food. I also realized that if they didn’t carry their Bibles with them to church, they probably weren’t picking them up at home, either.

After the class, one of the regular teachers challenged me. He said he didn’t always see me pick up a hymnal in church and compared the two. I told him that I had those hymns memorized, and if the men memorized the Scriptures and could recite them at any time, I was fine with that. He walked away.

I am finishing John MacArthur’s newest book The Truth War. Throughout history, God’s people faced popularized ideas and doctrines that were not biblically sound. We are to be, as MacArthur says, “warriors for the truth,” not looking to pick theological fights, but also not afraid to confront error. I commend the book to you.

I ask my fellow teachers to take their role seriously in preparing God’s people for the battle for truth. I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “Preach the Word.” Line by line, verse by verse, book by book, concept by concept. The Body is ill and ill-prepared because we are not teaching well. Popularized programming and care ministries do little to strengthen the Church. We need to know the truth, and the truth will set us free. So place your major emphasis on studying to show yourselves approved, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. And teach your people to do the same. The clouds of greater war days, the end days, the last days, are forming. And we will be held accountable for how we have prepared God’s people for it.

1 Comment
  • Brent Liechty
    Posted at 13:44h, 19 June

    Thanks for the leadership that is being provided for the denomination and the direction you are taking us. National conference was a tremendous blessing, and a step in the right direction which I believe will truly be historic in the long run.
    However, I find myself disagreeing with your post here. It sounds like nothing less than a call to expository preaching, “line by line, verse by verse”. I profoundly disagree with the assumption that one of the most important failings of our people is content. We have had 200 years of content driven agenda, the educational model of church (Sunday School, Bible Quizzing, Scope and Sequence literature, expository preaching) as a European and US church. The results of this direction has been a church educated beyond its obedience. The failure of the church is to live up to what we already know. Yes there is a tremendous decline in biblical literacy and theological thought, but it is not because there has been no expository teaching, but because all too often it was conceptual, content driven that was more concerned with trivia knowing the “right answer”, or Bible story, than believers applying that content in a way that will make an impact in the world as a whole, or even other Christians.
    In another note, themes and narrative can be taught and learned through topical teaching just as often, or better than line by line. Topics can allow us to step back and see the big picture (or what some might call the Metanarrative) of God’s redemption story that we ourselves take part in. We can learn why God wants us to forgive by looking at Lamech who was avenged 70 times and contrast that with Jesus who calls us to forgive 70 times. This is thematic, accurate, and not line by line.
    Life transformation is attained by interacting with the Bible, and hearing God’s message through it. We need to get our people into God’s Word and teach them to hear His voice. But it feels like this has been a side-trip about a method which can be effective, but distracting us away from the main goal, meeting people where they are at and making them fully devoted followers of Christ. Until our churches find God’s heart to reach the lost above all else, which our denomination leadership has called us too, we will end up getting caught up once again in arguing methods rather than loving this fallen world in practical, understandable ways. Paul also said, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings….But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have konwn the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:10-11; 14-15) It is about coming to a full knowledge of the Scriptures, through living them in obedience or experiencing them that Paul is worried about. Right doctrine is important because it should inspire right living, or the way we teach with our lives and actions that our students can see in our lives. Then they can trust that what we teach is accurate and powerful.

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