Making the Word Come Alive

I have heard people say, “Oh I try to read the Bible, but it is confusing. But when I hear you teach the Word, it comes alive, and I understand it so much more.” To the boastful pride of the flesh, this sounds great, but in a spiritual dimension it is grievous. Do not be complimented by such a statement; instead, be saddened. Think of all the lives that were sacrificed so that this person can have the Scriptures, only to find them not enough. Organic Church: Growing Faith where Life Happens, Neil Cole, p. 67

I’ve said this a lot lately, but you’ll notice that the sermons recorded in the Scriptures are quite short, and they are heavy laden with quotations from the Scriptures.

We need to drop the gimmicks, drop the “well-formed intro, 3 alliterated points, conclusion” sermons, and give place once again to the reading of the Scriptures.

Only the Word of God — not the words of man, whether they be in sermon, tract, or book form — is the seed from which the kingdom may grow, and we are to share that Word of God indiscriminately, casting it as seed upon all kinds of soil.

Christiandom is today filled with people who are increasingly unfamiliar with the Word of God — that oh so precious foundation of the kingdom — that there is an increased perceived need of talented preachers and teachers. Movements are built not around the Word of God but around those who are best at presenting their own teachings, whether those teachings are derived from the Scriptures or not.

But while we are commissioned to teach the Word of God, we ought to do so by teaching the Word of God. Beginning our sermons with “today’s text” isn’t enough. The Word of God must be spread. It doesn’t need our help to be efficacious, for God is the one who gives the increase.

Sow the seed.

3 thoughts on “Making the Word Come Alive”

  1. Rick,
    Amen! There are often too many gimmicks used in preaching today to get and hold people’s attention. When I was preaching I tried to stay to a simple hermaneutic: What it meant/What it means.
    The Scriptures were written in real times and real places, by real people, to and for real people. The Scriptures meant something then and there. I always tried to give enough historic, linguistic, and biblical information for the people to understand “what it meant” when it was written. If truth (God’s Word) was truth then, it must be truth now because God doesn’t change. I then tried to explain what this historic biblical truth means to us today–how we can apply God’s truth to our lives in order to reflect Him to the world around us.
    I would always read long passages of Scripture that helped me explain “what it meant/what it means.”
    It seemed to work as I often had people tell me they understood a certain pericope of Scripture better when I explained it then when any other preacher/teacher taught the same passage.
    God’s Word is powerful! Sometimes we just need to get out of It’s way!
    Write on brother!

    In His service and yours,
    Dave in Bulgaria

  2. Amen that only the word of God is the seed and only God makes things grow, but

    Christiandom is today filled with people who are increasingly unfamiliar with the Word of God — that oh so precious foundation of the kingdom — that there is an increased perceived need of talented preachers and teachers.

    Do you really think this is true? I don’t think the nature of people changes over time: I don’t think there is more sin, or more apathy towards the Word or more rejection of God now than there was before. People have always sought after the fancy preachers and the appealing message. It might be easier now that we can read preacher’s blog and download their sermons. We do need to be reminded that God’s Word is God himself speaking to us… now as ever.

  3. Rick,
    I have felt your struggle many times over the years and have become somewhat of a black sheep among our fellowship. Sometimes your reputation gets killed, but the praise to God in the matter is that you cannot kill a dead man. It actually gives you voice.

    I’ve read through some of your thoughts, and many of them are valid. But, I would ask you a question. If you were on a bus and it wrecked, would you walk away from it or would you stay and help the injured?

    Another question. If I were to walk away from our tradition and start something else, would it not have it’s own tradition? Different maybe, but still tradition?

    I have struggled through the years, as I hear you struggling. I think I know and understand your sturggle. It’s not bad. As a matter of fact… it is good. But, you have to be careful that you take care of as many on the bus as you can while you are in transition.

    I have chosen to stay in organized religion and try to make a difference. And, I think I have. It is rare that I ever preach a topical sermon. As a matter of fact, I have been preaching Hebrews for 36 weeks and am only in 6:12 of the book. This church is fine, I would even say “excited” about our journey. They know that there are at least 40 lessons or more left and they are still excited. They are feasting in the Word… and that matters.

    Do what you need to do if God is leading you, but be careful to care deeply for whatever faith has been demonstrated by those on the bus. They need to count.

    There is still a true principle whether in organized religion or organized house churches, and that is the words of Jesus that is still as true today as they were when He spoke them:

    “An I, if I be lifted up will draw all men to myself.” Whether in a little house or a big house, those words are the key. It is not the structure. It is the Savior. It is not the place we meet. It is the Person with whom we meet.

    I pray that God will bless you in your quest. I will ask Him to guide you as I have done for myself over the years. And remember, we are all saved by faith… just as it has always been. We’ve never been told “how much.” One tiny shread of faith sqawked out from the lips of some litte old lady who’s skin is nearly dragging off makes Hell shutter! Faith can be demonstrated where ever we put our foot… and God smiles.


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