I was chatting to a younger minister, a few years out of seminary, but still getting the hang of things.
He was also getting tired, and especially tired in the area of preaching. I don’t mean he was becoming bored or disillusioned. It’s just that he’d been hanging around a bunch of people (myself included) who’d spent a lot of talking up the importance of preaching, and its uses.
In other words, we were encouraging each other to have high expectations of the way preaching can and should change our lives as we make much of Jesus.
And my young friend was finding it hard. Couldn’t he, he hinted, lower his sights a little? Just explain the Bible?
No. Explaining the Bible is never ‘just’ explaining the Bible. That would be giving a lecture, some interesting facts, with a map and some bullet points.
But opening the Bible and properly explaining the Bible means showing its implications and consequences, and showing those with all our intellectual force and spiritual passion.
That takes time – and also energy. It’s tiring, as my friend discovered. And I see why he wanted to take it down a notch.
But here’s the thing
It’s said that one Spurgeon’s students, a Mr. Medhurst, asked for Spurgeon’s advice, after Medhurst had been preaching for months without seeing any converts.
“Why,” said Spurgeon, “you don’t expect conversions every time you open your mouth, do you?”
“Of course not,” was the answer.
“Then that is just the reason you haven’t had them,” he replied.
True of evangelism. But true of our discipleship in preaching too. Every passage in the scriptures is designed to lead us to increasing repentance and faith in Christ.. And our task is to draw that out, and lead people there. Every time. Always. Not just giving some information.
“Why, you don’t expect life-change every time you open your mouth, do you?”
“Of course not,”
“Then that is just the reason you haven’t seen it.”