The Written Word

Let me give you some advice concerning edification and evangelism: Don’t forget to write.  In fact, try to write something daily.

Now, why do I say this?  (1) The written word can speak long after you cease to be on this earth.  I’ll provide an example from American history.  In my library I have a book entitled, “Our Sacred Honor” by Bill Bennett  The book is a compilation of letters and documents and speeches from the founding fathers of this country.  Some of these letters are letters between family members: husband and wife, parent and child, and extended family. Others are between friends, and colleagues. In these writings is a wealth of good advice on a variety of subjects including: education, parenting, relationships, business, ethics, etc. Today, we would not have access to that advice if they had not written it down.

Next, Let us consider some Biblical examples. In Luke 16:29 a reference is made that the living of Jesus’ day ought to hear “Moses and the prophets.”  Yet, Moses had been dead, along with the prophets, for many centuries!  But they still had the inspired writings of Moses and the prophets, just as we, today,  still have the words of the apostles and New Testament prophets.  They, being dead, still speak.  Even so, when you write-up notes for your Bible class, or articles for bulletins or brotherhood papers, or newspaper editorials, etc., you may well be saying something that could influence future generations.  Another example, in 2 Corinthians 21:12-15 Elijah preaches to Jehoram the King of Judah by a letter.  The interesting thing here is that Elijah is, it seems, dead (or 2 Kings 2 is out of chronological order).  Adam Clark commented “It is evident that Elijah had been translated in the reign of Jehoshaphat, the father of Jehoram. How then could he send a letter to the son?…It is certainly a possible case that this writing might have been a prediction of Jehoram’s impiety and miserable death, delivered in the time of the prophet, and which was now laid before this wicked king for the first time: and by it the prophet, though not among mortals, still continued to speak” (commenting on 2 Chronicles 21:12).   Even so, your encouraging or rebuking private letters may well have influence even when you’re in the grave.  I have personally ran bulletin articles by men who died many years ago in bulletins.  They’re dead, yet speak.

(2) The written word can go places that perhaps you will never go, or cannot currently go.  When Paul wrote to those at Rome, he had never been there (Romans 1:11-13; 15:22-23; Acts 19:21).  When Paul wrote to those at Colossae, he was writing to those he had never personally seen (Colossians 2:1).  I have personally written things that have been passed on to people I’ve never met, and may never personally meet.  The written word is powerful.  You might write a letter answering a Bible question for someone you know, and that may well eventually get passed to another that you’ve never seen, or even heard their name. Paul while in prision wrote five letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and 2 Timothy). He was restricted to movement, yet he still could write letters! (Ephesian 3:1 cf. 4:1; 6:18-20; Philippians 1:12-14, 17; 4:22; Colossians 4:2-4, 10a cf. 4:18; Philemon 1:1, 23 cf. 1 :9;  2 Timothy 1:8, 16-17 cf. 2:9).

(3) The written word can be pulled out at needed times by the reader.  I have in my personal files letters of encouragement from family members and friends.  When I need encouragement I can pull those out and they still speak.  Consider the Bible – when we need encouragement, we can turn to certain great chapters and receive that needed encouragement when ever we need it.

(4) Putting things into writing trains you to be precise in your language (because when it is written, it is written). Unlike dialogue: there is no opportunity for immediate clarification or explanation; it is much harder to bloviate and ramble on clouding the issue; it is not as easy to win one over by charming personality, or eloquent speech.  Therefore, one is prompted to think through his points, and spend much time in study.   Samuel Johnson once said, “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over a half a library to make one book.”  Again he said, “I never desire to converse with a man who has written more books than he has read.”  When one puts into writing an answer to a Bible question he tend to study and become much more precise than when he is simply causally, orally conversing with another about the same subject.  Therefore, the writing process is good for the writer as well. It challenges him to be very precise about what he believes.

Let us utilize every legitimate way to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ!

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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