Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A matter of life or death

Since I’m home on Winter Break, I thought I would take the time to read Dr. Al Mohler’s book, He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2008). I’m impressed by what I’ve read so far. In fact, I would even suggest that He Is Not Silent is an important book that deserves wide exposure within Evangelicalism. Personally, I wish every evangelical pastor would read and heed what Dr. Mohler has written.

Today, I was reading chapter 3 (“Preaching Is Expository: A Theology of Exposition”). At one point, after quoting Deuteronomy 4:32-40 and writing briefly about the historical setting of this passage, Mohler writes the following (p. 54):

Notice that even as it is a book of preparation, the book of Deuteronomy is not primarily a military briefing. It is not primarily about demographics and geography. Above all, it is about the Word of God. It is about the fact that God has spoken, and His people need to be ready to hear Him and obey. The intensity here is enormous, because the necessity of obedience is a matter of survival for Israel. You see, the entire theology of Deuteronomy comes down to the fact that God has spoken. Thus hearing and obeying is life, but refusing to hear and disobeying is death. Moses wants the people of Israel to know that life and death hang in the balance of their willingness to hear God’s Word and respond to it. It is a matter of life or death.

I believe that the central problem in our crisis of preaching today is that somehow we believe this has changed. We no longer believe that hearing and responding to the Word of God is a matter of crucial importance. That is the only plausible reason I can offer for why expositional preaching is in decline, or even absent, in so many pulpits. Before the decline in expository preaching, there was the abandonment of the conviction that the Word of God comes as a matter of life and death.

From where I stand, it sure seems to me that what Mohler writes here is very true. There really does seem to be a famine of “hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11) in the church in the West. I’m not a pastor and I have no pulpit from which to regularly preach but, the Lord being my Helper, I’m willing to do what I can to remedy this situation. And the first thing I can do is recommend that you get He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World and read it. If possible, buy an extra copy and give it to your pastor.

The second thing you and I can do is heed the message in the paragraphs I quoted above. The importance of hearing and responding to the Word of God relates to more than just preaching. It means you and I must be diligent to read and study God’s Word for ourselves, and respond with obedience in our daily lives. May God help us to be faithful.

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