Minds Kept Full of God’s ThoughtsApril 10, 2007
Today’s Classic Materials comes from that rich little book by John Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait. The whole book is a treasure for preachers, fledgling and mature But let me share one section that recently caught my imagination. Herein lies Stott’s prescription for preachers if we will, to steal his conclusion, be those with “minds kept full of God’s thoughts.”
“Expository preaching is a most exacting discipline. Perhaps that is why it is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the apostles and say, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables….we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.’
The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, nor to study a passage only when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study as through a microscope the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God’s Word, assimilating its grand theme of divine sovreignty in the redemption of mankind.
‘It is blessed’, wrote C.H.Spurgeon, ‘to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in scriptural language, and your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.’
Apart from this daily, dogged discipline of Bible study, we shall need in particular to apply ourselves to the verse or passage selected for exposition from the pulpit. We shall need strength of mind to eschew short cuts. We must spend time studying our text with painstaking thoroughness, meditating on it, wrestling with it, worrying at it as a dog with a bone, until it yields its meaning; and sometimes this process will be accompanied by toil and tears.
We shall also use all the resources of our library in this work – lexicon and concordance, modern translation and commentaries. But, above all, we must pray over the text, because the Holy Spirit, who is the Book’s ultimate Author, is therefore its best Interpreter….
It is only by such disciplined study, general and particular, that the preacher’s mind will be kept full of God’s thoughts.