Perhaps one of the greatest privileges of the preacher is also one of the greatest dangers: time with the Bible. We have to go above and beyond a casual reading of Scripture in order to speak it out to others. The risk is that it become a professional tool, rather than a life-giving gift from God himself.
One area where this can show is in that of our confidence in Scripture. We need to be confident in the Bible, but where does that confidence come from? It is easy to settle for an academic confidence, birthed out of knowing the facts that build a presentation on the authenticity and authority of the Bible. But as John Piper has helpfully challenged us in recent years, our confidence should not be built on something that is external to Scripture itself. Here’s Spurgeon on this matter:
We accept it as the very word of the living God, every jot and tittle of it, not so much because there are any external evidences which go to show its authenticity, — a great many of us do not know anything about those evidences, and probably never shall,– but because we discern an inward evidence in the words themselves. They have come to us with a power that no other words ever had in them, and we cannot be argued out of our conviction of their superlative excellence and divine authority. (Quoted p41 of Reeves.)
Rather than gradually learning a convincing argument for the Bible’s reliability, we need to be meeting Christ there so that our confidence is birthed by the Spirit himself at work in us. What would Piper say, quoting Edwards, that we “ascend to the truth of the gospel in a single step, which is its divine glory…” there is more to chase there, but for now, let’s finish with a paragraph that we could well pray with Spurgeon:
O living Christ, make this a living word to me. Thy word is life, but not without the Holy Spirit. I may know this book from beginning to end, and repeat it all from Genesis to Revelation, and yet it may be a dead book, and I may be a dead soul. But, Lord, be present here; then will I look up from the book to the Lord; from the precept to him who fulfilled it; from the law to him who honoured it; from the threatening to his who has borne it for me, and from the promise to him in whom it is “Yea and amen.” (quoted on p48 in Reeves.)
[Be sure to get a copy of Mike Reeves’ excellent book on Spurgeon.]