Bible Exposition in the Modern World

Writing for my preaching commentary on Deuteronomy (in the Preaching the Word series edited by Ken Hughes), the Ten Commandments alone required about 35,000 words, and took me over eight months to complete! I have gone back to my old practice of writing in the night after the day’s work. Since I had to take on new responsibilities in YFC during the same time, finding time to write was even more difficult than before. Though this was a tiring schedule, I found that the refreshment and inner security that comes from being exposed to the Scripture is one of the best antidotes to burnout.

I have reflected many times on the fact that after all the struggle to write such a book only a few thousand copies would be sold. My booklet on tsunami—which was written in a few hours—has a circulation of about half a million copies in at least seven different languages. And, several more publishers asked me to write a book on the tsunami. But I decided that because my call is to be a Bible teacher, every spare moment must be spent on that call. But is it worthwhile spending so much time on a book that will not sell many copies? Here is my reasoning as to why it is worth the effort.

In this postmodern era, objective truth has been devalued so much that even the Bible has lost its appeal to many Christians. Many Christians don’t realise what an exciting book the Bible is. The answer to this problem is not to discard the Bible and use other things to attract people. The answer is to work hard at making the Bible relevant and attractive. Bible exposition today must involve much harder work in preparation than in the era when people flocked to hear good Bible teaching. That is a tall order because in this busy world preachers spend less time on preparing messages than before. We also have to use innovation to try new ways to communicate the ancient message. Here my commentary makes no progress.

Bible exposition today must involve much harder work in preparation than in the era when people flocked to hear good Bible teaching. That is a tall order because in this busy world preachers spend less time on preparing messages than before.

People will flock to hear Bible when revival comes to the church. Then people will have a thirst to know what God desires to tell them. Until then we will persevere hoping that, by hearing or reading our expositions, people will get a taste of the glory of the Bible.

Revival historian J. Edwin Orr has demonstrated that before most revivals there was the faithful proclamation of the Word in the church which became the foundation upon which the revival was constructed. So, we must proclaim the Word faithfully, convincingly, relevantly and attractively, even though that is not very attractive in marketing terms today. That proclamation will be a means to revival. After revival comes people will value the Word so much that Bible teaching will again become an attractive marketing proposition! (Possibly after we die J).

Please pray that such commentaries will be used by God as a means of revival. Please also pray that Christian workers will see the value of lingering on the Word of God even though the rushed nature of today’s world does not lend itself to such lingering. Prolonged exposure to the truths of Scripture does much to wean us off insecurity so that we can enjoy the peace of God. I believe insecurity, and not hard work, is the number one cause for burnout. We work hard hoping that our work will give us significance. When it does not, we drive ourselves more and more until we finally get disillusioned and lose our motivation.

Through repeated doses of the Word of God our subconscious minds become convinced of the glorious truth that God will look after us and give us true significance and self-worth. That will free us from the trap of workaholism, for we will not look to work to give the security and significance that God alone can give.

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