It might seem an obvious truth that those who teach and preach the Word of God need to be personally committed to and blessed by the Word of God themselves.
Sometimes, though, we need to be reminded of an obvious truth because it is an essential truth.
A good doctor can help many people with their health, but not give adequate attention to their own health. An excellent home builder may not give as much attention to their own home.
What about us who minister the Word of God in one way or another?
Ezra, the godly scribe, provides a great model for us involved in the ministry of the Word of God.
Ezra 7:10 reads, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (NKJV).
Our own hearts need to be set on God and His Word. Also, there needs to be a commitment to obey the Word of God. Then, we can teach others. Ezra is an example of someone who had a personal “heart” commitment to the Word of God that was the foundation of his ministry to others.
Turning to the New Testament, it is helpful to view some familiar verses within their original context. In the Apostle’s personal words to his son in the ministry, Timothy, he exhorts him,
“…..you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 KNJV).
It was in the light of this understanding and appreciation of the Scriptures that Timothy was charged to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Using my father’s outline in our book, Anointed Expository Preaching, we need to think personally about these great truths about the Word of God. I believe that was the Apostle’s intention for Timothy as he wrote the letter.
We need, first of all, to be devoted to the Word of God personally. Why would we not be totally devoted personally to the Word of God? This “inspired of God” Word leads to salvation in Christ, and this inspired Word is profitable leading us to maturity and equipping us for Christian activity. The nature of the Word of God as God’s special revelation to us should provide adequate motivation to personally appreciate God’s Word.
More than that, being devoted to the Scriptures involves continuance in and obedience to the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14, 1:5). The personal continuous reading of the Word of God must be matched by a heartfelt response to the Word of God. This will mean a life of loving obedience to the Lord through His Word and by His Spirit. It is one thing to honor the Word of God in public, it is another to honor the Word daily in our lives.
Second, we need to be directed by the Scriptures personally. This involves the personal appropriation of 2 Tim. 3:16. This classic text presents the sufficiency of the Scriptures for all matters (as my father has written) of revelation, refutation, restoration, and regulation.
In other words, the Scriptures are profitable in specific ways to direct our lives. The Scriptures provide truth for believing and living, truth for rebuking, truth for correcting, and truth for continuous instruction. Our own lives need to be directed by the Scriptures before we seek to help others. It is this personal commitment to the Scriptures and the personal direction by the Scriptures that enables the teacher or preacher to preach with integrity.
Lastly, we need to be dependent on the Scriptures personally. This is seen in 2 Tim. 3:17). The “man of God” is matured and equipped by the Scriptures. To be able to lead others to maturity, we must be gaining maturity through the Word of God. To equip others through the Scriptures, this must be a part of our own experience. This dependence is in light of the sufficiency of the Scriptures in its role to mature and equip us.
The Scriptures are able in the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to greater maturity in Christ. Of course, this is as we give ourselves to the Scriptures, apply them accurately, and seek to obey what God teaches us through His Word. We are dependent upon the Scriptures personally so that we can minister the Scriptures publically.
The ministry of the Word should flow out of a life that is truly committed to the Word of God. This commitment is not just an academic commitment, it is a vital personal commitment. The Word of God is to be viewed as God’s personal and priority truth that must be applied to life. Therefore, we are to be devoted to, directed by, and dependent on the Scriptures.
There is no alternative. The Word must minister to us in order for us to minister the Word.
This takes time. This takes focus. This takes a personal commitment to be in the Word devotionally and to be in the Word consistently. Various disciplines and methods can be used, but we need to have the heart of Ezra. Even though we gain in our preparation to minister the Word to others specifically, we need to make sure that we allow God’s Word to guide our own thinking, to touch our own hearts, to strengthen our own walks with the Lord. As Adrian Rogers once said concerning James 1:21-25, we must read the Word of God “repentantly…..receptively……responsively….. and reflectively. James’ exhortation gets to the heart of the matter, we must be “hearers and “doers” of the Word of God.