Years ago, a reporter said to me, “Do you have a desire to build the church?” I said, “Not really because Christ said He would build the church, and I’d rather not compete with Him, that’s a losing enterprise.” So we have been blessed to see the Lord continue to build His church. We’re so greatly thankful for that.
As you know, this is kind of a reflection - kind of an extended reflection of my recent trip to Europe where I visited with many of our missionaries. I think I was in seven or eight or nine countries, something like that, and had the opportunity to be with our missionaries. And everywhere I go, the same things essentially happen. They preach the Word of God in churches and then they train others to do the same thing.
The emphasis of all of our missionaries around the world is to strengthen the church, and the church is only strengthened insofar as its leaders are doing what they should be doing. Strong leaders doing the right thing make for strong churches doing the right thing, and that all comes down to handling accurately the Word of God.
I was thankful to notice in the “Grace Today” - which some of you still may have in your hand - the article in there about Josiah Grauman ________ which is the onsite (right here at Grace church) training school to train Hispanic pastors to be effective expositors of Scripture. There are about, I think, 150 or so men that Josiah Grauman disciples and nurtures and teaches and trains. And they took a picture of the time that I was there, but that’s not my ministry, that’s his. I’ve been there one time.
I’m linguistically challenged when it comes to the Spanish language, so I don’t have much to offer, but many others do, like Michael and Henry and others, and certainly Josiah himself, who leads that ministry. But again, it is the same kind of ministry here that we have in Mexico City, that we have in Honduras. Henry will be leaving this week to go to Siquatepeque up in the mountains of Honduras, to MEDA, which is the name of the training center where we’re training hundreds and hundreds of pastors from central and other parts of South America, Latin America, in the same thing that we do here, the exposition of the Word of God, the timeless and accurate interpretation of Holy Scripture. That’s what we do.
That is our challenge around the world in order that we can make strong leaders who then build strong churches by the power of the Holy Spirit, which produces strong Christians, which makes evangelism effective.
So in reflecting on that, whether I was in Spain where David Robles is, where he’s already started a training school. Many people have already come through the training school, out the other side of it. He’s about to launch a seminary. We had a pastors’ conference there with 200 men, and what was the theme for the day that we were with those men was that they would exposit the Scripture, that they would make the meaning of the Bible clear. We wanted to teach them the importance of doing that and how to do that.
And it went from there every single place we went, and some of them are new efforts, some of them have been going on for over two decades, and we’re grateful for these faithful missionaries. And I didn’t get to all of them by any stretch, only a few along a path there in Europe. Some that I didn’t get to their country, but they came from other countries around where I was and joined us and had the opportunity to have some fellowship with them, and they’re, of course, doing the very same thing.
Now, this comes down to one very significant aspect of ministry, and that is preaching the Bible - preaching the Bible. That is what we do here, that is what goes on in this auditorium. That is what goes on in the fellowship groups, that is what goes on in the youth groups. That, essentially, is what goes on in the children’s departments. We are consistently and constantly preaching and teaching the truth of Scripture every way we possibly can. That’s what we do on radio, that’s what we do on television, and, of course, everything that is taught here winds up on CDs or winds up on MP3s and on and on and on it goes. And that is our calling, and we make no apology for that.
A pastor, then, above all else, is a preacher of biblical truth. I know that must be obvious to all of you, but it doesn’t appear to be obvious to everybody. We are, above all else, preachers. The apostle Paul summed up the responsibility of Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word.” “Preach the Word, in season, out of season,” which means all the time, “preach the Word.” There are a lot of reasons for that because there are doctrinal dangers all around, because this is the baton that you have been handed by faithful men of the past, “Do what I have done, what those before me have done.”
This is generation after generation, every generation has to have its preachers and teachers who pass on divine revelation to that generation. Because, also, you will give an account to God. You are being watched by God and by Christ, who is the judge. Preach the Word. Preach the Word also because the Word has the power. It has the power to save and it has the power to make you mature and perfect. Preach, in spite of the fact that people don’t want to hear preaching, that they will not endure sound doctrine. All of that is surrounding the text of 2 Timothy 4:2, lots of reasons to preach the Word.
In Titus, the apostle Paul, also passing on this legacy of preaching to a young preacher by the name of Titus, as he was with Timothy, said this, and this is equally important: “Preach with authority” - preach with authority. “As for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority, and let no one disregard you, let no one evade the implications of what you’re saying.” Preach the truth and preach it authoritatively.
We would add to that that we are to preach it biblically. You know, the apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, says in 1 Corinthians 1:17, “Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech.” Not in cleverness of speech. Why? “So that the cross of Christ would be made void.” Cleverness gets in the way of the truth, it gets in the way of the Word. That’s why Paul says essentially in the same section, the next chapter, “I didn’t come to you with superiority of speech or of wisdom. My message, my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom.”
In other words, we don’t let our own cleverness, our own persuasive powers, our own insights into human wisdom get in the way because then the preaching can be voided. It can be emptied of its power. The power comes from the text - the power comes from the text. I mentioned - I think it was a couple of weeks ago - what R. L. Dabney said about preaching. He said, “The golden age of preaching is preaching biblical truth from biblical texts.” That’s the golden age of preaching.
Then comes the second, and it’s a step down, maybe you could call it the silver age of preaching biblical truth in cultural language, cultural context, cultural dress. And finally you have no biblical truth, you have philosophy in cultural dress. The golden age is biblical truth in biblical contexts - biblical texts. In other words, you might think of it this way, this is what Dabney said, “God has set forth in Scripture all His revelation of truth in such contexts, proportions, and relations as He knows suit the soul of man under the work of the Holy Spirit.”
That’s a really brilliant statement because it sums it up. Let me say it again. “God has set forth in Scripture all His revelations of truth in such contexts, proportions, and relations as He knows suit the soul of man under the work of the Holy Spirit.” There is no better place to preach divine truth than from the Bible. How about that? From the Bible. So that’s what we train people to do. That’s what we do and that has caught fire, I’m glad to say, all over the world.
Let me talk about that for just a minute. We have one tool to do this, one tool, and it is the Bible. That’s it. This is all we have. We don’t get extra revelation. We don’t have to consider post-biblical claims to voices from God, visions from God, revelations from God. We reject all of those. We reject anything beyond the Bible, anything that claims to be an authoritative interpreter of the Bible, anything that claims to be extra-biblical revelation. That is the stuff of which cults are made.
The writings of Annie Besant, Judge Rutherford, Madame Blavatsky, Mary Baker Eddy, and all the rest, the Book of Mormon, Magisterium and Tradition in Roman Catholicism, and on and on it goes. We have one book. We reject everything but the Bible as being a source of truth for the people of God and even for the unbeliever. We have one tool for the work of preaching and that’s the Bible. So training, then, is how to handle the Word of God. That’s what we do at the Master’s Seminary, we train men to be able to extract out of the pages of Scripture the meaning of Scripture. That’s what we train them to do.
God has revealed and - this is an important thing to add to that - He has revealed and preserved everything He wants people to know in one book. How handy is that? Oh, by the way, that one book also has 66 books in it. And while there are 66 books, 39 in the Old and 27 in the New, and there is a lot of material here, there is a flow of thought - this is a book - and it is laid out historically. You can follow the story of the Bible all the way through. You can start with the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, and then the fall, and then the curse, and then the promise of redemption.
And then redemption begins to take place with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. God makes covenants and promises that have future implications for salvation. And then comes Moses and the law. And then you have the history of unfaithfulness of the people of God when they get into the land. You have Saul, then you have David, then you have Solomon, the kingdom splits, the northern kingdom taken into captivity, 722, never to return; southern kingdom taken into captivity, 586. Around 538 or so, it comes back from captivity, reconstitutes itself. Jerusalem is rebuilt. The prophets begin to say the Messiah is coming. Years pass, the Messiah comes, and the story keeps going. It’s a story. It’s to be read like that.
I remember as a kid there was a box in the kitchen of Bible verses in any order you wanted them in a plastic container. You could shuffle them like a deck of cards and put Bible verses in any order. That’s not how God wrote the Bible. It is a story, and you can read it that way, and you can understand it that way, and it has flow.
But the whole story is here and all the parts are here and nothing is missing. And that is why, when the story is ended, in Revelation 22:18 and 19, it says, “If you add anything to this, there’ll be added to you the plagues that are written in it.” And the same thing will happen to you if you take anything away from it. So don’t subtract and don’t add. It’s all in one book.
Now, let me say this another way. Divine truth does not reside in a church. It does not reside in any institution. It does not reside in a pope. It does not reside in bishops, councils, denominations. It is not to be discovered in human intuition. It does not rise up from human insight and wisdom and experience. The entire revelation of God for man is in one book, the Bible - one book. It is infallible; that is, it does not have errors. The law of the Lord is perfect. It is infallible. That means everything in it is true.
It is not only infallible, it is inerrant. What it affirms is true, and it is without error in its parts. It is both infallible as to its message and inerrant as to its words. Proverbs 30, “Every word of God is pure.” Because it is the revelation of God, because it is infallible and inerrant, it is therefore authoritative, and that’s why Isaiah 1:2 says, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken.” You better listen.
It is sufficient. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart. You know Psalm 19. It is completely sufficient. It can make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. It fully sanctifies as well as saves.
It is effective. Isaiah 55 says, “So shall my Word be that goes forth out of my mouth. It shall not return to me empty but shall accomplish what I please.” The Bible is not only sufficient and effective and infallible and inerrant, it is determinative - it is determinative. A person’s attitude towards Scripture is determinative as to their destiny. John 8, “He that is God’s hears God’s words.” He that is God’s hears God’s words.
Somebody was telling me this morning after church about a new book that’s out called The Divinity of Doubt. The title implies the idea that doubt is some kind of a divine experience. And in the book, the author, who is well known, you’ll probably find it on a bookshelf soon, who is very, very well known, tries to hail the virtue of doubting the Bible. He doubts the Bible because he doesn’t belong to God, it’s a dead giveaway. He that is God’s hears God’s Word.
This one book is everything that we need. It is infallible, inerrant, it is complete, it is authoritative, it is sufficient, it is effective, it is determinative. We might even add it’s satisfying. Job 23:12, “It was more precious to Job than his daily food.” Or Psalm 119, you could take a half a dozen passages there that says the Scripture is the delight of the psalmist.
So our task, then, is to preach this one book. It is inexhaustible. I’ve been doing this a long time here at Grace church and you keep coming. Somebody who is on the outside might say, “These people must be crazy. He must have some spell over these people. This must be brainwashing. You know, someday we’re going to find them all dead in the parking lot, they’ve drunk the Kool Aid. How can these people keep coming back? What in the world is holding these people? Who is this guy?”
One theologian even wrote some stuff about me and at the end he said, “What’s going on here? I don’t get it. The guy is not particularly interesting to listen to. He’s nothing to look at. He doesn’t have any oratorical powers.” He did say that, didn’t he, Lance? That’s exactly what he said, and he’s a well-known guy. He said, “What’s going on? I don’t get it.” But he’s right. I’m not the explanation - I’m not the explanation. The explanation is that the Bible is an inexhaustible treasure that one could preach for five lifetimes and never come close to plumbing its rich and unlimited glories.
So our task, then, is to preach this book and to train everybody we can find who is gifted to do the same so that they can preach it and teach it the way it deserves to be taught. You see, this is what launched the Reformation from the standpoint of Martin Luther. Martin Luther fascinates me, never ceases to fascinate me. Everything about him was fascinating, even his quirkiness, even the fact that he was a warlike guy, that he had some anti-Semitic attitudes, just a fascinating guy.
But one thing among the sort of many things that mark this unique man, one thing that was very clear in his mind - and not everything was, but one thing that was very clear in his mind was that Scripture was the only divine source of authority. That was it, and that is what literally smashed the monolithic power of the Roman Catholic Church and brought it down and launched the Reformation. And Luther called the Bible “the external Word,” so he not only understood that it was the only authoritative revelation, not the pope, not the bishops, not the councils, not the Church, but he also understood that it was outside any person.
It was the only authority and it was external; that is, it was objective, it was fixed, it was outside of us. It was not the product of any man or any group of men. And so he understood the authority of Scripture and he understood the objective nature of Scripture, that it wasn’t the product of human intuition, either by individual people or by collections of people. It is the external Word. It is outside of us.
He also understood this, that the responsibility - and this is what he said - of the minister was to wrestle the meaning from the Scripture and proclaim it. Now, I’m here to tell you, folks, it’s a wrestling match. Every week of my life, I wrestle with the Scripture. In a sense, I go to the mat, and I look at it from every angle. I pin it down over here, and it pins me down over here, and we roll around, and we wrestle with all of the aspects of Holy Scripture. Fortunately, there’s an agent at work in this wrestling that helps me overcome my ignorance, overcome my biases, overcome my prejudices, overcome my stupidity, and that agency is the Holy Spirit, who enlightens me in spite of my weaknesses.
This doesn’t minimize the Holy Spirit. You know, there are people who say, “Oh, you’re so academic. For you, it’s just go in there and get the meaning. Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this?” Okay, I’ll answer the question. I’ll tell you where the Holy Spirit is. First, He wrote it. Second, He would like for you to get it right. You know, I’m just a humble, simple guy, but when I write a book, I do appreciate if someone really understands what I mean and doesn’t misinterpret me. No one likes that.
You’re not somehow operating independent of the Holy Spirit when you work to understand what the Holy Spirit meant by what He wrote. And the only way you’ll ever know the meaning of Scripture is to wrestle with it. You can’t sit in a corner and hope that some fog lifts. You can meditate, but you have to be very sure that you have some facts in your mind about the Scripture upon which you meditate. You don’t go to the Bible and say, “Okay, Lord, show me what this means” and close your eyes and hope something happens. No.
The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture. The Holy Spirit wants the Scripture interpreted accurately. The Holy Spirit illuminates the believer to assist in that accurate understanding. As I tried to point out to you last week, you can know the meaning of Scripture.
Moving from Luther a little bit, just talk about John Calvin because he had such a massive impact, as Luther did. And Luther was an expositor. He was an expositor, and I don’t think people may even think much about this, but Luther was pretty remarkable. He preached in a period of time from, say, 1510 to 1546 maybe. He preached at least three thousand expositions of Scripture. On Sunday, he would preach three sermons on a gospel, an epistle, and another book. Monday through Saturday, he would preach five more expositions of Scripture. And that is what brought down the Roman Catholic system.
Well, Calvin was the same way. From 1536 to 1564, in Geneva, with a three-year break. You remember the story, he came back and picked up where he’d left three years before when he was exiled. He exposited the Scripture. First Corinthians, Calvin preached 186 sermons. In the pastoral epistles, First and Second Timothy and Titus, he preached 86 sermons. In Galatians, he preached 43; in Ephesians, 48; 1 Thessalonians, 46. In Job, he preached 159 sermons. In Isaiah, he preached 123 sermons and so and so and so.
And he wound up writing a commentary on every book, with the exception of the book of Revelation, which he, unfortunately, couldn’t figure out because he didn’t want to take it literally. But it was all exposition. And it was that constant exposition of the Scripture that crushed the system of Romanism because it just wasn’t biblical.
So the Bible, then - and all I’m saying in saying all this is the Bible is our content. Now what does that lead to? Preparation - preparation. “Be diligent, study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman needs not to be ashamed,” Paul said to Timothy. Since this is true, what is the preacher’s task? To come on Sunday and to preach. You’d better make sure that you have something to say and not just anything to say, not just something whimsically to say, not just some clever thing, but you’d better be sure that when you stand up in the pulpit to speak to the church of Jesus Christ as a delegated person by the Lord of the church to speak on His behalf to the church that you have His message, right?
So what do we do? We make a radical commitment to the meaning of Scripture - a radical commitment to the meaning of Scripture. Sometimes people say to me, “That takes a lot of discipline, doesn’t it?” Well, of course. Of course it takes discipline. You have to do it. You have to work at it. You have to dig down. You have to read constantly, extensively. I read all the time, never stop reading. Sure, it takes discipline, but that’s not what drives me. The discipline is a byproduct.
What drives me? Is it the responsibility? That’s helpful. I want to fulfill my responsibility. Look, I don’t want to show up here and have nothing to say, that’s embarrassing. Is it your accountability to the Lord? Well, absolutely, I don’t want to come someday to face the Lord and have Him say, “I put you in a position to serve me and speak to my church my revelation and you gave them your ideas. You forfeit your reward.” Sure, that’s motivation.
Do you want to know what my greatest motivation is? I love the Scripture - I love the Scripture. I have to tell you, it is the most fascinating, compelling, interesting experience of my life to be in the Scripture. Frankly, that’s it. This isn’t some kind of act of human discipline here. I’ll just tell you, I follow my love, I follow my affection. That’s what I follow. And when I see people who don’t teach the Bible, I know why. When I see people who don’t do faithful, careful exposition of Scripture, I know why. The Bible isn’t that interesting to them.
Imagine, it’s not that interesting. I’ll make it real clear. There are plenty of pastors who are, frankly, much more interested in some novel, some book, some of their own ideas, some of their stories than they are the Bible. There are lots of pastors who are, frankly, bored with the Bible. You can tell what people are interested in. What do they say? Listen to them. I mean you’re going to go in there, you’re going to produce something, you’re going to come out, and you’re going to say it. And inevitably what people are going to hear is what interests the speaker. That’s what they’re going to hear.
I can’t even comprehend that people could be bored by the Bible, but a lot of people are, so they need rock and roll, smoke and mirrors, flashing lights, dance bands, and all kinds of video. They’re bored with the Bible. Let’s be honest. They’re just bored with the Bible. That, dear friends, is a spiritual problem that should disqualify a man from ministry.
Well, preparation, it’s the most natural thing. And preparation means you’ve got to work at it. You know what Luther said? Luther learned Greek and he learned Hebrew. And this is a quote from Luther, “If the languages had not made positive the truth of the Word, I might have still remained a chained monk. The pope and the antichrist empire would have remained unshaken.” What made the difference with Luther was the original languages. He got to the core of what the Scripture was saying. He stripped the filters of the Romish system. It was the same with Calvin, who preached ten expositions of Scripture every two weeks.
So what do we train men about? We tell them this is the one book and you’d better prepare if you’re going to preach it because you have to preach it. Let me give you another “P” in a little outline - and I’m not sure where I’m going here but this is okay. We’ll pick it up next week again. There’s another word, if I’m going to use preaching and preparation, let me throw in precision - precision. I don’t like to be technical. By that I mean I don’t want to be over your heard.
You know, I can be over your head. It’s easy to be hard to understand, very easy. You know how to be hard - people say, “Oh, he’s too deep for me.” No, no, no, no. If you don’t understand somebody - here’s the principle - they don’t understand it, either. That’s the principle. To be hard to understand is simple, just not know what you’re talking about. And if you don’t know what you’re talking about, nobody else will, either. If it’s not clear to them, it’s because - guess what - it’s not clear to you. It’s very hard to be clear.
When I talk about precision, that’s what I’m talking about, clarity - clarity that is measurable, that is discernable, that is manifestly visible in the text, so that as you’re talking about a text of Scripture with precision and saying, “This means this and this means this and this means this,” people are saying, “I see it - I see it - I see it.” You know, it doesn’t engender in people a love of the Scripture. It doesn’t enrich them to always be talking in some vague, spiritual generalities. Precision is really important. Get it precisely right.
Another “P” that jumps into my mind when I think about this - and, you know, this is like being in the back room for you to hear what preachers are talking about when they do what they do. But let me give you another word, pace. As long as we’ve got a few “P’s” I’ll invent some more. Pace - pace. Now I’m not going to make myself the model for this, but I will tell you this, slower in Bible exposition is better than faster. Slower is better than faster.
But if you’re only going to be somewhere for two and a half years, which is the average length of time a pastor stays in a church, you’d better speed the deal up or you’re going to go nowhere. Nobody wants to have a pastor for three years who covered two chapters. So if your plan is to be fast-moving, you know, if you’re a fast-food type pastor, if you’re a drive-through pastor, you want to make a short little sound byte. But if you’re going to stay, then slower is better than faster.
And by the way, the goal is never homiletical. Homiletics is the form of preaching, how you outline, how you put it together, you know, introduction, conclusion, in the middle, three points in a poem. The goal is never homiletical, the goal is never structure. The goal is always hermeneutical, that’s a different word, it means interpretive. The goal is for you to understand the passage, not be wowed by the outline. Okay?
I remember one guy who preached on Jonah and it was memorable. His outline was this, “Go, no, whoa, go, yes, bless.” Okay, I’m impressed - I’m impressed. I walked away, that’s an impressive - good thinking, great. But what is the book of Jonah about? The goal is never homiletical, the goal is never to wow people with an outline, the goal is to inform people with the truth, and the truth is so deep and so rich that slower is always better than faster. Now, I will admit you can go too slow sometimes and who can find the perfect pace?
I think maybe there are a couple of other things that we could throw into our little list of “P’s” - prayer and purity. Prayer is this sort of constant attitude that rings - I know it does in my mind - of dependence. “Help me, Lord, help me, show me, lead me to the right explanation.” I might be reading fifteen commentaries to try to understand a passage and I can’t get at it. I can’t - I’m reading all these various interpretations. I’m reading all these angles. I’m looking at the Greek text or whatever. I’m saying, “Lord, help me. Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of your law, right? Help me.”
And then purity. You know, I think you have to assume that if you’re going to be a faithful expositor of the Scripture and preacher of the Scripture, you have to be a vessel fit for the Master’s use.
Well, those are some of the components that I think about when I think about this responsibility of expositing the Word of God. And that was the introduction, so let’s go back to our list, and I’ll give you these. Okay?
We have looked at a list of reasons why we do Bible exposition, okay? Number one was it establishes the authority of God. Right? That was the first one. It establishes the authority of God. God is speaking. This is His Word. Two, it affirms the Lord - well, let’s say it this way, it establishes the authority of God over men. Two, it establishes the lordship of Christ over the church. Who is the Lord of the church? Christ is the Lord of the church. The Lord of the church needs to speak to His church. He is the one His church needs to hear. This is His Word. We have the mind of Christ. We exposit the Scripture because that establishes the lordship of Christ over His church.
Thirdly, the exposition of Scripture, which we’ve been talking about, provides the truth necessary for the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul. What does the Holy Spirit use? Not mystical experience, not intuition, but what? Scripture. Begotten again by the Word of Truth, sanctified by the truth, thy Word is truth. So when we do Bible exposition, we establish the authority of God, we affirm the lordship of Christ, we provide truth for the work of the Spirit in the soul. Number four, we demonstrate submission to Scripture alone. We demonstrate submission to Scripture alone.
And then number five, we added that Bible exposition connects the preacher personally to the sanctifying grace and power of Holy Scripture. I told you, and I’ll say it just briefly, the benefit to the preacher is immense, immense, immense, because the Word is a sanctifying agent, and that’s what it does in my heart, that’s what it does in my life. And when a preacher doesn’t exposit the Word, exegete the Word, dig into the Word, wrestle with the Word (as Luther put it), he is disconnected from the sanctifying grace and the sanctifying power of that Scripture - and that’s dangerous.
Number six, I said we do Bible exposition because it provides spiritual depth, which also produces transcendence. Remember what I told you? When you go down in understanding, you go up in worship. They’re directly proportional to one another. The deeper your understanding of the truth, the higher your ability to worship. And I said this, and I’ll say it again, music doesn’t produce worship. Music doesn’t produce worship. Experience doesn’t produce worship. Atmosphere doesn’t produce worship.
You notice around you, we don’t have a whole lot of stuff hanging here. There’s no holy hardware. We don’t come in with any garb on, with any strange clothes. That’s not what produces worship. What produces worship is knowledge. And the more you know about - that’s what we’re talking about, the Holy Spirit, right? We’re trying to get you to understand more about the Holy Spirit, which will elevate your worship of the Holy Spirit.
So we talked about the fact that we do Bible exposition because it provides the depth that leads to the elevation. Most Christian people have no depth and no elevation in worship but they’re orchestrated along that flat line in the middle by having their emotions jacked up, and the way they do that is not by the content of what they say but by the volume of it. Really.
I don’t need volume. I don’t need all the stuff. I don’t need to have my ears blown out. That’s not worship. Worship to me is being in an environment where I can actually think about what I am doing and what I am singing. You know, if I needed to be blasted out of my mind, I’d go sit at the end of the runway in Burbank. That’s not a spiritual experience. Transcendent worship is the mind in full realization of the depth of biblical truth.
All right, number seven, the reason for Bible exposition is because it permits the preacher to fully speak for Christ on all issues. It permits the preacher to fully speak for Christ on all issues. Is that not amazing? Imagine that. I’m here to tell you what Christ wants you to know. Boy, talk about a calling. I don’t think you want to play fast-and-loose with this. You’re here to tell us what Christ wants us to know? Yeah. Yeah, in fact it’s even more serious than that. Listen to this: We are a fragrance of Christ to God.
To some, we are an aroma of death to death, and to others an aroma of life to life, and who is adequate for these things? Who, humanly speaking, could have a life that was that important, that that life could actually be leading to death or life? How can my life lead someone else to life or death? My words can’t, but I speak for Christ. Why do we do Bible exposition? So that Christ can fully speak with His power and His truth.
All right, that was the first seven, okay? So we have a few more. I’m going to give you maybe a couple of these, and I think I’ll save some. Shall I do that for next time? I don’t want to race by these and - you want to do this one more time? No? Okay, okay. All right, let me give you one more, anyway. I was just messing around, there was no hope that I was going to get through eight more of these.
This one is so important, and we’ll let you go because you need to get back home before it’s too late. This is good. We do Bible exposition because it instructs by example on the spiritual duty and benefit of studying the Scripture intensely. Did you get that? Maybe I didn’t say it very well. We do Bible exposition to whet your appetite to do Bible exposition. I want you to listen to me and say, “That is thrilling. That is helpful. That is clarifying. That makes sense. That gives me hope. That gives me joy. That gives me worship. That frees me from guilt.”
I want you, by my example, to see the spiritual benefit of studying Scripture intensely. You know, when I first came to Grace church, we had a bunch of chicken coops in the back and a bunch of old shacks in the back of the parking lot. And I said, the first thing we’re going to do is start turning one of them into bookstore immediately. It was called “The Grace Book Shack,” and I think we may still use that name. It was a shack. We had to get the chickens out of there and the chicken coops out of there and it was a shack.
I mean - and the bums that used to live there. There were bums that lived back there in the shack and we got them all out and we turned it into a bookstore. And some - “Why do you want to have a bookstore? We’ve got a bookstore down on Van Nuys Boulevard, there’s a bookstore here” and - “No, you don’t understand. What’s going to happen in this church is going to be a phenomenon that will take off like a rocket. People are going to start buying books. They’re going to start wanting to study the Bible, and then we’re going to have to do this, we’re going to have to start some classes because people are going to want to know more about the Bible.”
“Well, how do you know that? What’s going to cause that?” I’ll tell you what’s going to cause it, when they get a taste of what is hidden under the surface of Scripture, they will want more. I promise you. So now where are we? Now what do we have around here? We have a Christian school because parents want their children to learn the Word of God. We have a seminary, a seminary with 400 guys who come here with a tremendous appetite to know the Word of God. Fellowship groups, Bible classes, prison ministries, people teaching everywhere that they possibly can find to teach.
We have a connection with the Master’s College where there are students who have come, the largest enrollment in the history of the school, so they can understand the Word of God. An exploding library that we keep adding to here and adding to in the seminary. I knew this would happen. I knew this would happen because when you - and that’s one of the things you do as a preacher, when you just get up and pass on your cleverness, nobody can do anything with it. They can - you can wow them at the moment, and they can go away and say, “Well, that was really great to listen to, I liked that.”
But that does not develop in them the overwhelming compulsion to get into the Word of God because it came from you, it didn’t come from there. They don’t have you, they have a Bible. Better to connect them to the Bible than to you. Shallow sort of self-styled preaching produces shallow people, of course. Deep biblical preaching produces deep biblically thinking, biblically literate, biblically rich people. And I’ll promise you this: If the Bible is not the compelling, consuming passion of the pulpit, it never will be in the pew - never.
So what are you going to say to the people? You need to study the Bible more. Like you? Is that how we study it? Like you? With lots of illustrations and personal things and video clips? What are you talking about? Whatever you model in the pulpit is exactly what you’re teaching the people. I teach you more by the way I do what I do than by the very doing of it. Do you understand that? You don’t remember what I said this morning. You might remember a few things, maybe you wrote them down and looked at them. You don’t remember what I said last week, let alone last month.
But you do know what I do, and you do know because you’ve experienced week after week after week the richness of the results of what I do. And all I do is study the Bible. I don’t have a brain equal to most of you. I’m not being condescending in saying that toward myself. I’m telling you the truth. I know what grades I took home. I’m not fooling anybody. But the Lord has given me through the years the ability to go into His Word and to find the truth that is in His Word. And that is what I model to you every time I stand up here because that’s what you need to do. And you will never catch the passion for that if I don’t have it. If that isn’t important for me, why would it be important for you?
So you model in the pulpit a superficial interest in the Bible and that’s exactly what you’ll get in the pew. And you’ve left your people hanging out there, victimized, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, chasing the next experience, the next clever speaker.
Well, we covered one tonight. I have more and I will wait and we’ll do them next Sunday night.
It’s been a wonderful day, Lord. We thank you for it. Thank you for just a great evening together. Thank you for your Word, how rich it is to us. Thank you for this beloved, blessed, congregation. No person that I’ve ever known had a more willing and eager and responsive congregation than I have had here. I thank you for the fact that some of my passion for the truth has found root in them and lit the fire in their hearts and continues to do that. So grateful for that. Your Word is sweeter to us than honey from the honeycomb, more precious than gold - yea, than much fine gold. It’s the best. And we know it and we love it and we rejoice in it. Continue, Lord, to bless our church and bless your Word as it goes into and out from this wonderful congregation, and we’ll pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.
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