Loss of interest in reading . . . the Bible

February 7, 2006

Dear Al, Are you sure that omnipresence and ubiquity are incommunicable attributes of God?  Well done, all over the place, brother!  I pray that God sustain you and yours during this intense time of travel.

I had the joy of spending the day giving 4 talks on evangelism up at the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College at their first conference on evangelism.  I spoke about what evangelism is, a biblical theology of it and of the gospel, some about the practice of evangelism in the pastor’s life and ministry, and finally, about the practice of our congregation in evangelism. 

In that next to the last talk–on evangelism in the pastor’s own life and ministry–I spent some time talking about evangelism through our regular exposition of Scripture.  CJ, what wonderful guys the Lord has raised up there.  And what a joy to see their commitment to expositional preaching as the foundation of their ministry.  We can evangelize through preaching God’s Word!  I mourn that so many preachers no longer preach expositionally.  But I know that this has been a problem for the last century in evangelical churches.  Mr. Harvey, in his book The Pastor: His Duties and Qualifications (Philadelphia, 1879), notes that  “This method of preaching has of late years gone into disuse, partly because, the Bible having ceased to be the chief reading of the churches, the popular interest in exposition has decreased; but when rightly followed it has advantages, both to minister and people, beyond those of any other form of preaching,” (p. 52).

I am struck and saddened by the fact that in the late 19th-century, the change in our churches was already being noted.  And how much havoc has been wrought by the fading away of the Bible from our churches.  CJ, I am delighted to think of the young ministers that I saw today, feeding their congergations from the Word!

I pray that as we encourage people to recover a zeal for reading, that pride of place, first in the schedule, will be the reading and studying of the Bible itself.  That’s good for them, the churches, the preachers, the gospel.  For all of us.