“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”-Hebrews 4:12
It always strikes me as odd when a visitor to our congregation will mention they liked our sermons because we use a lot of Scripture. In this post-modern age, many young people look for a local congregation using different parameters than they did 40-or-50 years ago. Gone are the days when someone looked for a; Baptist, Presbyterian, or even a Methodist congregation. The idea of restoring New Testament Christianity may not be on their mind. But they are starving for authenticity.
One recent visitor told their friend, they had been to congregations where no Bible verses were presented at all. The prevalence of “self-help” sermons that focus on feelings and making the listener feel comforted, is the norm in churches. So, it is refreshing for someone to walk in our doors and see Scripture given to highlight God’s authority for any given practice. Lord willing, our sermons don’t reflect what the preacher thinks, but what God says.
This is no marketing strategy. It is all I (and most gospel preachers) know to do. What any preacher says, carries no weight. But our Bibles are the literal word of God. Because they can be trusted, we give ourselves to Jesus and hold nothing back.
The Holy Spirit guided the pens of the men who wrote the Bible. Jesus told his disciples he would send, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”-John 14:26. Those men recorded the very words of God for us in the 27-books of what we call the New Testament. Nothing has the authority, the authenticity, and the power of God’s precious message to human beings, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”-John 17:17.
We have an obligation to, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”-Mark 16:15. When we preach, the written word should be the foundation for everything we say. Preaching is a God given means to reach the hearts of man and bring about, “the obedience of faith.”-Romans 1:5; 16:26. But preaching without using God’s word is like having a gun with no bullets. It may look great, but it has no power. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”-Romans 1:16-17.
If you want to be an effective preacher, Bible class teacher, or the host of an effective one-on-one study of the Scriptures; make sure you read aloud the Bible. It works in ways we can never imagine. I don’t know what chapter or verse is just what the listener needs to hear. But I know they won’t hear it, if I don’t read it.
Let the Bible be your meditation day and night. Prepare to use it the way a Samurai uses a katana. It is God’s offensive weapon in our battle against Satan (Ephesians 6:17). We must become a Christian soldier in the act of, “rightly handling the word of truth.”-II Timothy 2:15. May God bless the public reading of the Bible.