"The Word and Doctrine"
I once heard a believer remark about his preacher, "I love to hear him speak. He tells the best stories!"
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine" (I Timothy 5:17).
I recall thinking that the preacher, if he is a faithful communicator of God's Word, would feel decidedly uncomfortable by such a comment. Indeed, preachers and teachers of the Scriptures are not storytellers. As the Apostle Paul indicated to Timothy, they are laborers "in the Word and doctrine." This does not preclude illustrations and narratives that help to amplify the meaning and context of Scriptural passages. Such narratives and parables grace the pages of the Bible, including the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. "He spake many things unto them in parables" (Matthew 13:30). These stories can certainly prove helpful in our understanding (although it must be said that the Lord Jesus told His disciples that He spoke in parables to actually hide truth to those who would misuse it - Matthew 13:10-11). However, they cannot be central in our communication of sermons, lessons, articles, and essays. "Preach the Word!" declared Paul to Timothy, not "Spin a good yarn!" (I Timothy 4:2).
Doctrine edifies. Stories and anecdotes, if used skillfully and in moderation, can help in such building up and strengthening. Handled wrongly, however, stories merely entertain. They also deceive by convincing us that we have been spiritually strengthened when the truth of the matter is that we have been temporarily titillated. Indeed, when trouble and challenge come in our lives, stories will not enable our faithful response to God and His truth. "The Word and doctrine" alone accomplish that holy purpose, as applied to our hearts, minds, and actions by the Holy Spirit. Illustrations have their place, so long as they are communicated and received for what they are. The wise preacher, teacher, and writer recognizes this, seeking to serve the Lord and His truth by serving people with the Lord and His truth.
"They were astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with power."
"They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
(I Timothy 4:4)
Weekly Memory Verse
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
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