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August 17, 2020

Why Do You Teach the Bible?

Dr. John Neufeld

My lifetime of work has been to teach the Bible.  In a recent interview with Back to the Bible CEO Ben Lowell, he asked me how I came to be an expositional Bible teacher in the first place.  I had to think about it.

I wish I could answer in the same way that I would answer the question today.  Let’s assume that Ben had asked me why I continue to be an expositional Bible teacher and preacher.  I would give several answers.

1st, God demands it. 2 Timothy 4:2 records Paul’s instructions to Timothy.  “Preach the Word”, says Paul.  He doesn’t demand Timothy teach church doctrine, nor that he preaches to the felt needs of his hearers, nor that he speaks to contemporary issues of his day.  Instead, Timothy is to do what every faithful pastor and leader is required to do.  Examine the sacred text of scripture.  Explain it’s meaning, in the context to which it was given.  Let the main point of your sermon be an accurate reflection of the main point of the Bible text you are seeking to explain.  And help God’s people understand what this text means to their lives.  What are they to believe?  What are they to obey?  How are they to think?  And how might God, and the gospel of Jesus become their all in all?

2nd, it is the history of our faith. For the first 500 years of Christian history, almost all preaching was expositional.  Not topical.  Not related to issues.  But expositional.  The church began and grew under this kind of instruction.  It is the foundation of our faith.

3rd, when expositional preaching was abandoned, the church entered into her “dark ages.” Religious innovation, superstition and heresy abounded.  The power of ecclesiastical authority replaced the power of the Bible.

4th, the Protestant Reformation, was not only a rediscovery of the gospel, it was a recommitment to verse by verse Bible teaching. All the magisterial reformers were preachers, explaining the meaning of the text to their congregations.  Luther preached through most of the Bible books, as did Calvin and Zwingli.

As I have said, this is the answer that I would give today.  This is why I continue to do it, and am committed, as long as Christ gives me strength, to carry on in whatever way I can.

But Ben asked me a different question.  Why did I become an expositor in the first place?  I was not raised with this kind of preaching, nor had I heard it very often.  But, shortly after my conversion at the age of 18, I had begun to read my Bible.  And I loved it.  I didn’t understand a great deal, but the Holy Spirit had kindled a great love for the scripture.  With time I began to understand the historical sequence of events in the bible, and why that was important.  I began to memorize key sections of Scripture.

When I first began to preach, I made, what now seems to me, to have been a fateful decision.  Every preacher has to ask himself what he will say.  I concluded I had very little to say, but the Bible had a great deal to say.  I decided I would withhold my own comments and would endeavour to let the God of the Bible have the day.

Every time I hear a preacher, I have but one concern.  Is he accurately preaching the contents of a Bible passage, or does he use the Bible to back up what he wants to say? Whenever I hear a message that accurately reflects what scripture says, my heart is swept up in praise.  Let God speak, and let the human tongue be quiet.  This is bible teaching you can trust.

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