My new book, REAL HOPE, came out last week. It is my fifth, and consists of twenty-five meditations on Romans 8. I gave the substance of the messages to Amelia Plantation Chapel in 2009. My prayer is that it will minister to many of the hope that is in Christ. One person asked me why I spent time on writing books for publication – surely I had more important things to do? I replied that since I am called to communicate the Gospel I try to do it in many different forms: preaching, teaching, blogging, writing articles and books. The role of the pastor-teacher is to teach the Word of God and apply it to the present generation. I see books as a means of extending the ministry of the Chapel. They are portable and can be given as gifts to friends and neighbors. You can reach more people through the printed word than you can through the spoken word.
St. Paul wrote: “When I preach the Gospel I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.” (1 Cor.9:16,17) The Message paraphrases it this way: “Still, I want it made clear that I’ve never gotten anything out of this for myself, and that I’m not writing now to get something. I’d rather die than give anyone ammunition to discredit me or to impugn my motives. If I proclaim the Message, it’s not to get something out of it for myself. I’m compelled to do it, and doomed if I don’t!”
The New Testament is with us because some people took the time to write it out for posterity. In every generation there is the need for Christian writers to speak to the needs of their contemporaries. Every generation needs new writers to speak to them. I have been the beneficiary of Christian writers who spoke to my condition and the challenges of my day. My mentor, John Stott, reached so many more people through his writing than he ever could through his speaking and preaching. The pulpit is not the only way to communicate the Gospel. When I graduated from college I taught high school for a while before going to seminary. I also wrote the editorials for the local daily newspaper. I would come home from teaching and have to sit down and write something of interest to the people of my home town. Imagine that pressure! Yet it helped me to express myself and learn to communicate at the level of my contemporaries. I still have those editorials. Since they were printed they can still be accessed. Perhaps my small offerings about the grandest and most sublime subject of all – Jesus Christ and his Gospel – will also last and prove to have some benefit if God so allows.
I like the way St. Luke explains the reason why he is writing his Gospel: “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3,4)
May this also be so for you, my dear reader.