In American churches today there is an accelerated decline in sound, faithful, tell-it-like-it-is teaching of God’s Word. Even where it is supposedly taught, in far too many instances it is ineptly or incorrectly handled. And in the last 40 years or so, in a parallel development, we are seeing the gradual displacement of the Word from its central place in public worship in favor of Sunday entertainment disguised as “worship experiences.”
While the music of man is a wonderful complement to public worship, but no substitute for edifying effects of the revelation of God, properly and prophetically taught. For this sorry shift in emphasis our churches are paying a dear price in pervasive spiritual shallowness, striking lack of discernment, thin convictions and rampant proliferation of errors multiplying like mosquitoes.
Generating all this are several factors on the human side of the equation, but underlying our human contributions to the mess, I at least believe, is a stroke of divine judgment upon our generation for its distaste for the truth. As in the day of the OT prophet Amos, it is taking the form of a creeping famine of the Word of God (8:11) as now we are witnessing another cycle of that phenomenon forecast by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:1-4.
If American churches are to survive and ever again flourish, we must revive Word-centered public worship. A new reformation will need to take rise from the same foundation as the first one: a back to the Bible movement and restoration of the ministry of the Word to its rightful central place in informing our faith and shaping our walk with God.
If we learn anything from the Scriptures and from pastoral experience, it is that the Holy Spirit works through the Word to save sinners and sanctify the saints. Nothing that God has put in our hands rivals the power of the revelation of God to change and shape the hearts and minds of human kind.
To impress that point upon our consciousness I put together a “mini-theology of the Word” to reform (or refresh) our contemporary understanding of the central place of the Word in our lives and worship as well as to give us some sense of the causality of divine revelation in God’s scheme of things. At the end, I have attempted to rebut foolish and familiar excuses for giving the Word short shrift in ‘connecting with God.’
The revelation of God we ignore it at our great peril; we respect it to our everlasting benefit.