Bible Expositions In The Post-Modern World
Written after Christmas 2005
During the Christmas break I finished my treatment of the Ten Commandments for my preaching commentary on Deuteronomy (in the Preaching the Word series edited by Ken Hughes). The Ten Commandments alone required about 35,000 words and took me over eight months to complete! I have gone back to my old practice of writing in the night after the day’s work. Because I have had to take on new responsibilities in YFC finding time to write is even more difficult that before. While this is a tiring schedule, I will show below that the refreshment and inner security that comes from being exposed to the Scriptures is one of the best antidotes to burnout.
I have been reflecting on the fact that after all the struggle to write this book only a few thousand copies would be sold. My tsunami booklet which was written in a few hours has a circulation of about half a million copies in at least seven different languages. And several publishers wrote in 2005 asking me to write a book on the tsunami. I had a lot of material from my e-mail reports for a book called “Tsunami Diary” which I could have written. But I decided that because my call is to be a Bible teacher every spare moment must be spent on that call. Yet sometimes we wonder whether it is worthwhile spending so much time on a book that will not sell many copies. Here is my reasoning as to why it is worthwhile.
In this post-modern era objective truth has been devalued so much that even the Bible has lost its appeal to many Christians. Many Christians don’t realise what an exciting book the Bible is. The answer to this problem is not to discard the Bible and use other things to attract people. The answer is to work hard at making the Bible relevant and attractive. Bible exposition today must involve much harder work in preparation than in the era when people flocked to hear good Bible teaching. That is a tall order because in this busy world preachers spend less time on preparing messages than before. We also have to use innovation to try new ways to communicate the ancient message. Here my commentary makes no progress.
People will flock to hear Bible when revival comes to the church. Then people will have a thirst to know what God desires to tell them. Until then we will persevere hoping that, by hearing or reading our expositions, people will get a taste of the glory of the Bible.
Revival historian J. Edwin Orr has demonstrated that before most revivals there was the faithful proclamation of the Word in the church which became the foundation upon which the revival was constructed. So we must proclaim the Word faithfully, convincingly, relevantly and attractively, even though that is not a very attractive in marketing terms today. That proclamation will be a means to revival. After revival comes people will value the Word so much that Bible teaching will again become an attractive marketing proposition! (Possibly after we die J).
Please pray that my commentary on Deuteronomy will be used by God as a means of revival. Please pray that God will give me the endurance to somehow complete it. By end-January I would have finished the treatment of chapters 1-16. My hope is that, because chapters 17-34 are mainly a listing of the specific laws of the Old Testament, I will be able to complete the work on them much quicker with shorter treatments of each passage.
Please also pray that Christian workers will see the value of lingering in the Word of God even though the rushed nature of today’s world does not lend itself to such lingering. Prolonged exposure to the truths of Scripture does much to wean us off insecurity so that we can enjoy the peace of God. I believe insecurity, and not hard work, is the number one cause for burnout. We work hard hoping that our work will give us significance. When it does not we drive ourselves more and more until we finally get disillusioned and lose our motivation.
Through repeated doses of the Word of God our subconscious minds become convinced of the glorious truth that God will look after us and give us true significance and self-worth. That will free us from the trap of workaholism, for we will not look to work to give the security and significance that God alone can give.