Why do I post on this blog a couple of times a week? What is the purpose?
Among other things, I would like to see two things take place as a result of these posts. First, I would hope that the preachers and pastors who read it would find their confidence in God’s Word growing as a result of what they read. Second, I would also hope that they would also become more competent in their exposition of the texts they deliver each week to their congregations.
How does this happen? The foundation for the occurrence of both of these goals is the realization that Scripture is God’s Word written down by men. 2 Peter 1:21 says it this way: “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The word for “carried along” in the original language is also used in Acts 27:17,27 to describe the ship on which Paul attempted to travel to Rome. The ship was being “driven,” and not in the direction that was preferred. The point has been made on multiple occasions that the ship didn’t stop being a ship but it was moving under a power not its own. The application can be made to the authors of Scripture. They were not robots–they were men with unique personalities–but what they spoke and wrote was under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God.
So we must accept both the divine and human authorship of the Bible. Because it is divine in its origin, we believe that it is authentic, authoritative, and unified. And because we believe that it was written by human authors, it was written in actual history, with known human languages, according to different personalities, and with different literary styles over a large time span.
This has implications for how we study. Because it is God’s Word, we must study it prayerfully and in the realization that our inclinations are not the inclinations of God. Perhaps the most practical suggestion I have ever received is that of the discipline of “sitting with the text.” This means beginning all my preparation by doing nothing but reading the text, sitting and meditating on it, prayerfully quieting the voice in my own mind so that my presuppositions will not shout down the voice of God in the text.
There is never enough time to study and prepare to preach. You know this. I know this. So the discipline of sitting with the text is a hard one indeed. My human nature will rush because of its inherent hubris and confidence.
In a future post, I want to talk about the implications of the human authorship of Scripture but first we must ask, “How would a person who holds ultimate confidence in Scripture go about preparing to preach and teach it?”
How does your confidence in Scripture show up in your process of preparation?