January 23, 2011

The Bare Reading of Scripture is Not Enough

While preparing my notes to teach our Sunday School class, I read this statement from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary regarding Acts 13:14-31.

I thought it was quite appropriate, as a reminder to me as the teacher for this class and it also applied as much to those pastors that preach bible expositions each week at church.
When we come together to worship God, we must do it, not only by prayer and praise, but by the reading and hearing of the word of God. The bare reading of the Scriptures in public assemblies is not enough; they should be expounded, and the people exhorted out of them. This is helping people in doing that which is necessary to make the word profitable, to apply it to themselves.
The church needs to hear more and better sermon expositions of the Bible, from anyone who teaches or preaches each week.  By doing so, this will strengthen the believer's knowledge of the Scriptures, among the body of Christ as well as strengthen a person's ability to witness to others who hear the Gospel proclaimed. 

I have no doubt that preaching and teaching the Bible through expository sermons will be profitable in their lives as it is applied to themselves, as Matthew Henry has stated.

I cannot imagine a more profitable way for people in a congregation to learn how to understand the meaning of the Bible, than by having it exposited to them on a weekly basis, i.e., explained in a manner that enhances one's understanding of Scripture.

For example, last week in my expository preaching class, my professor gave us a quick example of this from Genesis 22:2, where Abraham was going to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

The verse says, "Then He [God] said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love,..."

God tested Abraham's faith in Him when He said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love."  But the test is about more than being obedient to God.

The test of Abraham can be found in the 10 words spoken by God.

First, God said to Abraham, "Take your son," which was a test of his faith because God wanted Abraham to offer his son as a burnt offering.  Would he be courageous enough to follow through on what God had asked him to do?  Would you or I have enough courage to obey God if the same request were made to us today?

Second, God asked for "his only son, Isaac," the son whom God had previously said to him that through his offspring, he would become the father of many nations, but that can't happen when you are being asked to kill the one through whom all of these descendants are supposed to come from.

Could you or I sacrifice to God the most loved person in our lives, after hearing that untold numbers of people will become part of God's family through that person we are to offer to Him as a sacrifice? 

Again, one without the other does not make this seem like it is either sensible or possible.

Lastly, God says, "whom you love," your only son.  The only child whom God had blessed Abraham and Sarah with now asks for his life to be given to Him, as a burnt offering.

The greatest blessing that was given to Abraham and Sarah, in the birth of a son, their only son, God now wants.  Would you or I be able to do it?

As I said before, Abraham's test is about more than being obedient to God.  So what were the things he was tested in.  God said:
  • Take your son - testing his Faith
  • Your only son, Isaac - testing his Hope
  • Whom you love - testing his Love
Yes, Abraham's faith was tested, but it was tested more than just his willingness to be obedient and offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God.  His Faith was challenged to see if he would be obedient.  The Hope of his future lied in the life of his only son, Isaac and his Love for him was great, so great that Abraham was willing to offer his life to God, if that is what would please Him.

The story has a wonderful ending as we know because the angel of the Lord called from heaven and stopped Abraham saying, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."  (Genesis 22:12, NKJV)

Don't just read a passage at the surface level, dig deeper into it and use a reference resource to help understand the meaning of the text.  It will prove a great benefit to your life and maybe even to someone else.

When God asks you for something, it is more than a test of your obedience to Him.  Your faith, hope and love will be tested too.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV.

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].


StrongNHim said...

That is nice. Thank you!

Kurt Michaelson said...

Mindy, thanks for stopping by to read the post.