I love the Bible and I love preaching from the Bible. Today alone I tried to prepare a sermon for Sunday. I tried scattered prayer and random reading of various books. I even ate a bag of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk ‘Marvellous Mix-Ups’ with Maynards (which were freakin delicious by the way), in the hope of some sugar-fuelled divine inspiration.
Until I opened my Bible and actually began reading the Word of God for itself.
P. T. Forsyth writes that the greatest reason why the preacher must return continually to the Bible is that the Bible is the greatest sermon in the world.
And I agree. So much value does he place on preaching that he writes that with preaching, “Christianity stands or falls.” But he adds what I think is a treasure beyond words for the one who preaches, since preaching “is the Gospel prolonging and declaring itself.” Yes! With preaching the revealed Word of God, Christianity stands or falls.
The Bible is not nationalist. Although God’s purposes are worked out through that Old Testament rabble known as “Israel”, God is not a Semite, nor is He a Zionist, nor is he a nationalist – contrary to popular belief – which would be a fair point among some observers of the plight of some parts of Western Evangelicalism. And for that, a fair critique could be levelled.
But as I said, the Bible is not nationalist, nor is it a history of Israel, but it is a history of redemption. It is not the history of an idea, but of a long divine act. Its unity is a dramatic unity of action, rather than an aesthetic unity of structure. It is a living evolving unity, in a great historic crescendo.
It does not exist like a library in detached departments. It has an organic and waxing continuity. It is after all a book. It is a library, but it is still more a canon. You may regard it from some points as the crown of literature, for it contains both the question and the answer on which all great literature turns.
It is the book, as Christ is the Person, where the seeking God meets and saves the seeking man.
(with help from P. T. Forsyth and his ‘Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind’)