“Behold the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land–not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it” (Amos 8:10-11).
Such was the condition of Israel in the days of Amos. Is it the case today?
Christians flock from one side of the country to the other, in order to hear men who are committed to expounding the word of God. Consider the number of Bible conferences that will go on this year and next: The Gospel Coalition, Ligonier, Shepherds, T4G, Give Me an Answer, to name but a few. It would seem based on our frenetic chasing of Bible teachers and the dearth of biblical substance in so much popular Christianity, that there are hungry people out there–whether they know it or not.
On that issue, Albert Mohler points to a tragic development in Western evangelical churches–a disinterest in the Word of God. He cites Mark Galli’s CT article, ‘Yawning at the Word’ and warns that without the word of God, the power of the gospel is lost. He writes:
In many churches, there is almost no public reading of the Word of God. Worship is filled with music, but congregations seem disinterested in listening to the reading of the Bible. We are called to sing in worship, but the congregation cannot live only on the portions of Scripture that are woven into songs and hymns. Christians need the ministry of the Word as the Bible is read before the congregation and God’s people — young and old, rich and poor, married and unmarried, sick and well — hear it together. The sermon is to consist of the exposition of the Word of God, powerfully and faithfully read, explained, and applied. It is not enough that the sermon take a biblical text as its starting point.
What does Mohler suggest in its place? He points to the only solution for biblical lethargy–the Bible. It alone is our cure. That which bores people is simutaneously what heals them, which means that God has to do a work in the heart of the hearer in order to receive the word. “Let him who has ears to hear: HEAR!” But this is not new.
From Moses delivering the law of God, to Josiah reading the law to the people in Jerusalem, to the revival with Ezra after the exile, to the founding of the church in Ephesus, the word of God has been central! “Give yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim 4:13); “preach and teach the word of God in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2); “read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and [give] the sense,” so that people might understand the reading. (cf. Nehemiah 8:1-8). The life of the church is sustained by nothing else, for it is the Word of God alone that tells us of our Maker and Redeemer, Jesus Christ (cf. John 5:39; Heb 4:12). Knowledge of God comes through no other means!
May the Bible fill the pulpits, classrooms, and hallways of our churches. If it does not, we know that the judgment of God is upon us, and the people of God will dwindle, and those remaining will perish. For it is the Bible alone that promises us life. If you are a pastor, may you do no less; if you are a church member may you pray for and expect nothing else.
God, give your people, starting with me, a fresh hunger for your word. It is the bread on which we live (Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4).
Soli Deo Gloria, dss