What can you expect if you preach the Bible? What will God do in your church and in the hearts of your people if you do anointed Bible teaching?
There is a vast difference between well prepared and delivered Bible study and anointed Bible teaching. Excellent preparation and polished delivery may be well received, but even the preacher’s best can never accomplish what God can do when He takes over. Anointed Bible study, on the other hand, comes when God visits in the midst of a message and moves the hearts of men and women to conviction and transformation.
The Bible has two wonderfully clear examples of this type of preaching. The first is found in Nehemiah. Nehemiah gathers the people together in the square and begins reading from the Law from morning until noon. Ezra brought the book before the assembly (Hb. qahal , meaning the assembly of God’s people, 8:2). Many people want to downplay large gatherings for the proclamation of the Word of God. The importance does not lie with the number of people in the qahal , but in the fact that the gathering included all the people who could hear and understand. The congregation was not divided into children’s church or youth church. Though neither of these is bad in itself, I encourage you not to hold these gatherings in the place of “big church” because there needs to be a time when all of God’s people come together to hear the Word of the Lord.
With this in mind, note that all of the Levites “helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place” (8:7). What follows is the definition of great exposition and Bible teaching: “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading” (8:8). One must be careful to read distinctly and clearly so that he brings preaching from the very reading of the Word. Much of the sermon begins in how the preacher reads from the Word of God. But the task is helping the people to read the Word of God. You must do this by helping them understand the Scripture and its meaning. Good Bible preaching is helping your people read the Bible so that when they leave the gathering, they have understood God’s Word. They understand something that they did not know when they came in, and they know how to apply it to their lives.
When the Spirit of God moves in and through a message, something happens. The first result is seen when “all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law” (8:9). It will not be holy hands lifted to God; it will not be applause; and it will not be amens-though there is nothing wrong with any of these. When people realize that the Law is an extension of the God who spoke it, they are suddenly face to face, heart to heart with the Creator of the Universe. The first real response to a comprehension of the Law of God is brokenness and weeping over the transgression against the Lord, similar to Isaiah’s response (Is 6).
Do you believe that the Word of God has the power to break the most hardened hearts? In my estimation, the difference between a great Bible teacher and a so-so Bible teacher is that the former believes that the Word of God has that kind of power, and he has waited on God until the power falls. That is what happens in Nehemiah 8. The officials have to tell the people to stop weeping. They were so convicted that they began to weep uncontrollably, but following right on the heels of this sorrow was the joy of the Lord as they were sent on their way. When the Word of God is opened and the Spirit moves, people will leave happy because they have been broken by the Word of the Lord.
The second example of anointed Bible preaching is found in Luke 24:13-35. In verse 13, the resurrected Jesus begins walking with two men who are downtrodden over the death of the Lord, and He talks with them concerning the things that had recently happened. And when He had heard their disbelief, He explained the Word of the Lord to them. The word “explain” is diermeneusen (Gk), from which is derived the word hermeneutics, the science of interpretation. Beginning with Moses and the prophets, Jesus explained and interpreted the work of God, which culminated in His own death, burial and resurrection. The whole Old Testament leads to Christ.
As they reached their destination, Jesus acted as though He would continue walking, but they constrained Him to continue speaking with them. Ifyou are not an anointed Bible teacher, people will complain over a 20-minute sermon. But when you are an anointed Bible teacher, your people will say, “Can you believe we have been in there for 50 minutes? God spoke to my heart, and I was not even aware of the passing of time.” People will constrain an anointed Bible preacher to keep going because they desire more of the Word of God.
Also when people hear the Word of the Lord, their hearts will burn within them. This is not a heartburn. This is a burning that motivates a man to get right with God and serve Him. Men will also want to go and do His bidding. You can have all of the evangelism conferences you want to have and do all of the teaching you can possibly do, but in the end, you cannot make a soul-winner out of any man by simply teaching him to do it. Rather a man’s heart must burn within him. As Jeremiah said, it must be a fire within his bones so that he cannot stay silent (Jer 20:9).
A few years ago I was on an airplane reading a copy of the Mennonite Quarterly Review, and I noticed that the man next to me kept looking over my shoulder. As the flight attendant came and offered us coffee, I took some and placed the review in the seatback in front of me. No sooner had I done so than the man asked me, “Excuse me, Sir, I don’t mean to bother you but what is a Mennonite?” If my heart is not on fire about sharing Christ with people, I will tell him that Mennonites are the people who make furniture and advertise in your newspaper. But if the Word of the Lord has leaped from the page, grabbed me around the neck, choked me into submission, and set my heart ablaze, I will say, “A Mennonite is someone who has realized that he has angered the Creator God of the Universe by his sin and has then repented of his sin and placed his faith in Jesus Christ. He has been gloriously born again and made right with Christ. Sir, have you done that?”
You cannot force everyone in your church to witness and share his faith, but what you must do is lead the men and women in your congregation to find God in your preaching. You do that by being an anointed Bible teacher. Then you will not have to beg, plead or cajole; your people will be so on fire that they can do nothing but go and share.