This week is very monumental for me. I am preparing to begin preaching through the entire Bible this Sunday morning. It has been a ministry-long dream. Since reading the autobiography of Dr. W. A. Criswell, who preached through the Scriptures over an almost eighteen year period at First Baptist Church in Dallas, it has seemed an unreachable and impossible task. I can’t tell you how much I’ve thought and prayed about this assignment.
In my mind, I’ve tried to place myself into the shoes of my church members, some of whom may not survive to hear the end of it all in the Revelation. Won’t we get bored? Won’t we get bogged down in the law, the plans of the tabernacle, the genealogical tables? Will people really be interested? Will the messages be relevant to my life? Nobody has asked any of these questions yet, except for me, but they have lingered in my thinking.
Then I think on the positive side. God’s Word is the source of all the divine wisdom we have at our disposal. He grows people through His Word. My calling to ministry is a call to shepherd God’s people by feeding them the truth of God. No book is more special, no other subject matter is appropriate. Why not preach “all the counsel of God?”
One dominating thought, however, is “what if I mess this up?” What if I don’t cover enough material? Life is too short to rely on “do-over’s” and I will probably get only one or two shots at a series like this in my lifetime. From that thought flows the bottom line issue – I have only this life to spend for God’s glory. This may very well be the last series of sermons I ever preach. Will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely! My life and the lives of the people God assigns to me to shepherd will be forever changed and enriched by hearing the whole counsel of God.
The question I’ve come to grips with is, if preaching through the entire Bible in a single series was the only feat I ever accomplished, it would be worth it – I would have to do nothing in addition to it to have fulfilled my calling as a Pastor.
Already, I’ve become familiar with the greatness of modern science. Many Christians today are at war with the scientific community over evolution, the Big Bang, and other modern ideas. I’m not threatened by these, but rather encouraged, albeit for a strange reason. Both of these theories, hard to swallow as they are, actually substantiate the greatness of the Bible. Let me explain…
The Big Bang proposes that the universe is not infinite, that it had a beginning in time. Until 1913, the world thought the universe was infinite, that it had no beginning and would have no end. But because of the discovery that the universe is expanding rapidly, we can postulate that if you work backwards, everything was once together, before the expansion began. In other words, the universe had a starting point. What baffles modern scientists is, what then? What did things look like before the universe began its explosive expansion? To this the Bible says, in the beginning… God!
And what of evolution? Why in the world would I appreciate this crazy and impossible to believe prognostication? Because evolution is really a fragment of a larger idea that there is a logical progression to the development of life on this planet, and that development concurs with the first chapter of Genesis in its order and structure. The only differences are that what science assigns to billions of years really happened in six literal, twenty-four hour days. First the rocks, then water, then marine and plant life, then the beasts of the earth, and finally man. I was taught in Astronomy 101 that all of this took place over about thirteen billion years. The Bible declares God did it in six days. I choose the Bible, but I stand amazed at science’s validation of the order of creation. I’m no more impressed with the Bible, I’m just more impressed with scientists.
Ultimately, what I’m discovering is that Genesis was never intended to be a science or history textbook. It was not intended to stir up debate over the literal nature of the word “day” or whether there was a gap included for the geological ages. Rather, Genesis’ creation account is a hymn of praise to the Creator! Don’t miss this. The story of creation wasn’t given so that we might use it as a source of scientific data (though I believe its perfect, literal accuracy). It was given that we might know our Creator, be impressed with His creative acts, and choose to serve and glorify Him for eternity!
What an awesome discovery for me! I can’t wait to share it all with the congregation of Bethel Baptist Church. Please pray that I will have the necessary time to invest in the study of God’s Word so that I might not fail to present the whole counsel of God with pastoral wisdom and compassion. Pray that I’ll always see the relevance of each passage to our daily living. Pray that lives will be changed for the glory of God as we “journey through the word” together!