I love the Word of God. I love His promises and His commandments and His descriptions of reality. I say with the Psalmist, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb” (19:10). I love them because they revive my soul and make me wise and rejoice my heart and enlighten my eyes.
But even more than that: I love them because they are the holy materials of my life’s work. Without the Word of God I would have no vocation. I mean that very specifically and literally. Ever since I was 20 years old I have felt the call of God on my life in a special way. The call has always been a call to the Word of God. If there were no Word, I would not have a vocation.
My vocation is to understand and explain and proclaim the Word of God. Explaining and proclaiming overlap in my ministry. I love to teach (explain things, answer questions, provoke thought). But I am not mainly a teacher now. I am mainly a preacher. Preaching is not the same as teaching. It is proclaiming, heralding, announcing. It is like what a town crier used to do when he brought a message from the king before there was mass media – “Hear ye, Hear ye, Hear ye.”
But as a matter of fact, there are words and phrases in the King’s message that have to be explained. So all preaching from the Bible has to have teaching in it. This also means that careful attention has to be given to the specific words and phrases and connections in the Bible. Because it is the King’s word that counts, not the town crier's.
This means that I need to preach from a translation of the King’s words (which He originally inspired in Greek and Hebrew) that is as accurate as possible. If the Greek says, “obedience of faith” we do not want the translation to decide for us that this means “obedience that comes from faith” instead of “obedience that consists in faith.” We want to simply read, “obedience of faith.” If Greek says, “having been justified by faith,” we don’t want to read, “since we have been justified by faith.” If the Greek says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God,” we do not want to read, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God.”
A town crier should not use a paraphrase of the King’s words. The authority of the crier lies in the King’s words. A paraphrase moves that authority one more step from the hearer. The town crier should be the accountable mediator between the text and the people. His job is made more difficult if he must constantly assess and correct a paraphrase when he is doing his work.
Therefore we are putting the New American Standard Bible into the pews of the new sanctuary. We invite each family to purchase one or two copies as gifts to the church. You may also purchase copies for yourself in the book room.
In love with the Word,