I will never forget that night.
I was sitting near the front of a worship service as I watched the guest preacher pace back and forth across the stage. He was a popular speaker in our area, and crowds had come to hear what he had to say. My first clue that something wasn’t right was when he started by saying, “I forgot my Bible tonight.”
But that didn’t deter him. He explained that for days he had prayed about what God wanted him to say to us. He told stories about how he had taken walks in his neighborhood, sat at coffee shops, and reclined in his study. He was funny, witty, and engaging, and he kept the crowd entertained.
When he came to his conclusion, these were his exact words: “I tried to do everything I could to figure out what God wanted me to say, but nothing ever came to my mind. So maybe that means God simply doesn’t have anything to say to us tonight.” With that, he prayed and walked off the stage.
I sat there with my Bible in my hands, dumbfounded. God doesn’t have anything to say to us tonight? There I was, holding a library of sixty-six books that are decidedly and definitively the Word of God, and this guy just said God doesn’t have a word for us? In my mind I said to this guy, “Just open this book anywhere—to Leviticus, for I care—and read it, and you’ve got a word from God. Save yourself the walk around the neighborhood and the cost of your mocha. Just read the book, and God is saying something to us.”
I am thankful for that experience, for it burned a permanent brand into my heart and mind. In my life and in the church, we are never without a word from God. At all times, you and I have God’s revelation to us in all its power, authority, clarity, and might. We don’t have to work to come up with a word from God; we simply have to trust the Word he has already given to us.
This is what exposition is all about: trusting the Word of God to accomplish the work of God among the people of God. As preachers and teachers, we don’t have to be creative, innovative, unique or unusual; we simply have to be faithful. Faithful to study the Word of God, faithful to know the God of the Word, and faithful to proclaim it in the world.