The newsletter of IBTM
22 February 2023

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching (1 Timothy 4:13).

Reading this passage, I used to assume that Paul encouraged the oral reading of Scripture, teaching, and preaching—three separate activities. In recent years I’ve come to view the passage quite differently. It seems more likely to me that Timothy is first to read the text, then preach or teach from it. While I may be mistaken, this seems a more natural understanding. (And Timothy would have been reading passages in the Old Testament, to an audience where few—if any—would have owned copies of the O.T. books.)

Integrity requires that a message claiming to be biblical should come from the text itself—and not be imposed on it by the speaker. A “pep talk, with scriptures added” may be motivational, but I suspect the apostle is asking for a message squarely based on the passage read aloud to the congregation. There are obvious advantages to this approach. Specifying the text keeps the preacher or teacher honest. The congregation may reasonably expect the message to stick to the passage—and not wander. It’s also easier to follow the message and remember what has been taught.

In a recent study of Deuteronomy, I came across an observation by OId Testament scholar Duane Christensen. Although in the following paragraph he speaks about reading the Bible out loud—not specifically about preaching and teaching—his insight is still highly relevant:

One of the curious features of modern worship within the evangelical churches today is the absence of public recitation of the Scriptures as an end in itself. Much time is given to singing songs of praise, many of which are simply biblical texts put to music. But very little time is given to “hearing” the Bible recited, other than perhaps the text on which the pastor’s sermon of the morning is based. We need to find ways to expose our people to the whole of the Bible in public worship in the manner that ancient Israel experienced Deuteronomy on Mount Ebal [Deut 27].

Public reading of Scripture is biblical. In Deut 27 Moses commands that God’s Word be solemnly proclaimed on two Samaritan mountainsides, Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. (Actually, we were there just a few days ago!) Another location that comes to mind is Jerusalem’s Water Gate (Neh 8), where the Torah was read and explained to an attentive and patient audience. And then there’s 1 Tim 4:13.

Public proclamation of God’s Word is powerful, even life-transforming. Of course it’s not the mere reading of the Bible that’s powerful—though no Christian would deny that fact—but the thoroughly biblical message that genuinely flows from the scripture selected. In fact, I’ve been encouraged many times when someone reads the text aloud, after which I am called to preach from that same passage.

What difference does it make? It comes down to the difference between expounding the Word and preaching an agenda. This is no minor matter. So why don’t more churches follow Paul’s direction? Think about it.

Gratitude from Africa

With honored African guests, Jerusalem, 2023

Our African guests are truly grateful to IBTM for the complimentary tour to Israel this month. (Special thanks to our supporters who underwrote the tour for several African participants.)

You will find a handful of their responses hereFeel their gratitude—and their faith.

IBTM Impact in Nepal

HOPE school, Kathmandu, Nepal

Last year, and throughout 2023, IBTM is making a difference at Kathmandu’s Asha Vidyashram School. We’re helping by providing uniforms, winter coats, and computers for 100 underserved schoolchildren. For the latest inspiring report from the HOPE school, please click here.

Even if you haven’t made a separate (targeted) donation, part of your website subscription goes to this worthy cause. (To become a premium subscriber, please scroll down for directions.)

Science & Faith

On Saturday I’m conducting a workshop on Science & Faith: Enemies or Allies? It’s being hosted by the Church of Scotland, and promoted by Christians in Science. I’m doing the teaching, Vicki is doing the cooking, and we all hope to see a good turnout in the community—not just in Livingston (our town) but also in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Please keep this ministry in your prayers.

Yours in Christ,

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© 2023, the newsletter of IBTM with Douglas Jacoby
89 Howatston Court
Livingston, Scotland, EH54 7FH, UK

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