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.

    Gar­ry

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Rick Beckman