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Bible Engagement Blog


Preach the Word

I’ll never forget Warren Wiersbe’s intensity as he gripped my hand, stared at me through large horn rimmed glasses, and said, “Lawson, preach the Word!” When a veteran pastor, teacher, writer and theologian clearly and compellingly counsels a course of action, one does what one’s told to do! Even more so when one knows the directive is the same charge Paul solemnly gave to Timothy (cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-5).

Preaching is a vital cog in the wheel of Bible engagement. To know the Word, people have to hear the Word. To hear the Word, someone has to proclaim the Word. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14 (NIV).

In North America there are about 700,000 vocational pastors, chaplains, preachers, teachers, ministers and evangelists who kerrusso (Greek meaning to herald and proclaim divine truth) the Word. Through times of convenience and inconvenience, regardless of cost or response, God commissioned men and women have an awesome trust: to give their all to declare the message of the King!

Preaching is unique. It’s not a talk about spiritual matters. It’s taking a stand with God’s Word. It’s allowing God, by the Holy Spirit, to speak the Word through you. It requires conviction, love, patience and endurance. And it requires a kingdom perspective – preachers must never lose sight of the fact that it’s not our words, but His Word we proclaim.

When the divine agent works through the human conduit, variety and creativity abounds. Despite the fact that different preachers deliver the Word differently, everyone should aim to preach the Word so that it:

  • is Christ-centered
  • proclaims the Gospel
  • profiles the Trinity
  • exudes grace
  • demonstrates the Spirits power
  • connects with the big Story
  • exegetes the text
  • explains and interprets culture
  • contains sound doctrine
  • hooks in with the audience
  • highlights truth
  • honours the biblical context
  • challenges, warns and urges
  • is organized, clear and focused
  • is authentic, relevant and authoritative
  • encourages questions
  • engages imagination
  • helps listeners hear from God
  • trains in righteousness
  • equips for good works
  • declares the counsel of God
  • emphasizes faith and obedience
  • invites repentance
  • moves hearers to action
  • informs the mind, inclines the heart, guides the will
  • prompts discussion and application
  • forms and transforms people in Christ
  • sends people back to the Word

Pastors, preach the Word! Every time you step into the pulpit make the Word the main point, not the footnote, of your sermon. Your preaching methodology, delivery style and even your sense of humour – everything must serve one end – to explain and proclaim God’s Word. Why? Because when the Bible speaks, God speaks!

Much more could be said. What would you add or subtract from the comments above?

[Note: October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Thank your pastor for preaching the Word. 1 Timothy 5:17]

© Scripture Union Canada 2013

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Hearing the Word

Since becoming a Christian 35 years ago I’ve lost count of the number of preachers who emphasized the importance of reading the Word (I’m one of those preachers). It’s good counsel. I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover many times and as a result, I have come to love the Lord more deeply, know Him more fully, and obey Him more gladly.

Surprisingly, the Bible emphasizes hearing, not reading the Scriptures. From the biblical perspective, it’s not the eye-gate; it’s the ear-gate through which we’re primarily invited to engage with the Word. The emphasis in both the Old and New Testaments is that God has spoken at many times and in many ways (cf. Hebrews 1:1) and that we should “listen” and “hear” God’s Word (cf. Proverbs 4:20-22; Luke 11:28; Romans 10:17).

An underlying reason why we may be more inclined to read the Bible could be individualism. Reading can be done privately, exclusively, and independently. It can be done in bed or on the bus, in the garden or in the gazebo. All we need is the text (printed or online), reading glasses (75% of adults), and we’re good to go.

Listening to the Bible isn’t as easy as reading the Bible because it requires two or more people. To hear God’s Word we need to be connected relationally – it can never be a solo affair. Someone has to read aloud in order for someone to hear. And the moment this occurs the process becomes more complex. For unlike reading; listening requires dependence, patience and humility.

Christian faith occurs in the context of community. Because we’re in a relationship with God, and others, we should make a concerted effort to create opportunities for public reading and listening to Scripture. Communal auditory engagement with the Bible shouldn’t play second fiddle to a private reading of the Bible. “Turn your ear to my words” says the Lord (cf. Proverbs 4:20).

Which begs a question: You may be reading the Word – but are you hearing it?

[Note: When the Scriptures mention the Bible being read it’s usually in the context of the community listening and hearing the Word, e.g. 2 Kings 22-23, Acts 15:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:27, 1 Timothy 4:13]

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