Recently, our pastors announced on social media that they had finished outlining a 42-week sermon series on the book of John for next year. While I’ve not been around fellow church members to gauge any sort of reaction just yet, I’m confident no one will bat an eye. There likely won’t be any rolling of eyes, no questioning of the reasoning behind the decision, no vote for lack of confidence in the elders ability to give us what we want. Forty-two weeks? In one book of the Bible? For close to an entire year?
Yes, yes, and yes. But why?
Simply put, because nothing else can do what Scripture does. Indeed, Scripture is sufficient, even for our Sunday mornings.
John Piper once pointedly said of his preaching:
The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will make your spiritual bones more like steel, double the capacity of your spiritual lungs,make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God and awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn’t even know existed.
Dazzle us, preacher. Not with your words, but His, and we'll be helped in at least these ways:
Hearing the Word of God preached week-in and week-out helps us to gain confidence in God through His Word (John 16:13). It’s like your kid coming in telling you his teacher said the “coolest thing ever,” and you smile, knowing you’ve said the same thing at least ten times yourself. You read and read and read, but then, you hear it preached. And the Word of God explodes in your heart once more.
Hearing the Word of God preached helps us grow towards maturity alongside other members of the Body. I become fully aware of the Word’s effects amidst the “Mm’s” and “Amens” of my brothers and sisters each time we gather. As a matter of fact, this week in which I'm writing, I get to walk around knowing there are dozens of others who have the drumbeat of being a sending church in their hearts and minds after last Sunday’s sermon. We have unparalled comraderie simply as a result of our listening to God's Word.
Hearing the Word of God preached each week helps us see Jesus more clearly and as he is, distinguished from all else as beautiful and completely satisfying (Heb. 4:12-14). You know this if you’ve ever felt desperate without him. I’ve been in that place where it felt as if another pat on the back would push me off the ledge. Give me Bible, instead. Give me the consolation of Jesus.
These are the kinds of things Scripture does. So we’re left, then, with no legitimate reason to ever leave it behind again. We’re not content with flashing a verse on the screen and leaping off from there – we’re diving headlong into it. What’s there for us to find that will show us more clearly who God is and what His purposes are? What’s there that will tie in a couple on the brink of divorce, a person battling with lust, a mom just after a miscarriage? What’s there that will find believers hopeful on the other side of hearing it?
These are answers Scripture gives. And, by the grace of God, we step into a place with men intent on giving us these answers. It's why our hearts leap at the thought of the words, "If you'll turn in your Bibles to the book of..." and we ought not take that for granted.