The Cost of Bible Labor

by Frank Jones


Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2 Tim 2:15-16) 

American professing Christianity is like a chatter box (babblings) and the Bible-believer would do well to separate his ear-gate from the noise. From radio talk shows, profitless ramblings on printed page, and rapid dissimulation of media emptiness, the Lord’s people are drunk with a steady diet of poisoned Kool-Aid – evidenced by the cancerous spread of ungodliness. The cure is the Scripture. It is the channel of justification (1 Pet 1:23). The Word of the Lord is the means of sanctification (Joh 17:17). Godliness cannot be gained by any other measures. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet 1:4). Every believer should be intoxicated not with empty chatter, but with Christ’s words. Our pulpits should be word-immersed and word-radiating. Every church should be an expositional center for God’s glory into all the world.

In almost all instances the pastor will lose his influence and position of usefulness when he is not diligent in the labors of the study. It is nearly inevitable that it should be so. In innumerable cases the secret of the decline in the popularity of ministers is to be found here. The fact cannot be concealed from the people when their pastor is habitually negligent in his preparation for the pulpit. They will see it and feel it, even though they may never cast a glance inside the study. They will perceive it in the crudeness of his discourses, and in the repetition of the same thoughts, the same Scripture quotations, the same stories and the same illustrations month after month. And can they be blamed if their interest flags and they soon grow weary? They are not fed; they learn nothing; there is nothing for them to learn; and their attention must soon be gone. Many, many ministers should look to this as the cause of their unpopularity, and not to the unreasonableness of their congregations. If they would make diligent preparation, not only for each particular sermon, but also for the general work, by incessant thought and gathering of material, it is not often that the people would lose their interest in either the preaching or the preacher. … 

Pre-eminently with those who hold the sacred office should it be the rule that they would not serve God with that which cost them nothing. There was a great principle, a heaven-revealed principle, in the resolution of King David: Neither will I offer burnt-offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. To offer that to Jehovah which cost no sacrifice or effort, or is of no value, is unworthy his glorious majesty and the benefits we have received from him. And does not the clergyman violate that principle every time he goes into the pulpit and professes to serve God whilst preaching a sermon that has cost him no time or toil or thought? It is an affront to this congregation to preach such a sermon, but is it not a far greater affront to that glorious Being in whose name he speaks and who sees and knows all? For the preacher, who proclaims the words which God has given him, to slight his message is to slight the Author of that message; but to study it diligently, to give it deep thought, to throw his whole heart into it, is to exalt the Master by whom he is sent. He thus shows the world what he thinks of the King who sent him, as well as of the adorable Father in heaven the greater will he appear in his sublime Deity, in his word and in his works.[1]

[1] Thomas Murphy, Pastoral Theology. The Pastor in the Various Duties of His Office (Philadelphia,: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1877), 96-97.