Why preach through entire books of the Bible?

16 07 2012

Just some Monday afternoon thoughts on why Pastors should preach through books of the Bible:

1. It’s how we operate with all forms of communication.  You don’t get a letter from someone and just read the middle paragraph and think you have a good grasp on the letter. Yes we are in the “digital” age where we just like to consume bits and pieces of communication at a time but we also are unable to communicate properly without context.  It would be odd to pick up a book, randomly go to page 142 and read a sentence and actually believe you could understand all that was behind that particular sentence.

2. It’s how the Bible was meant to be read.  Let’s say you disagree with #1 and you say “Well, I grab books and only read the important sections and then toss ’em.”  I would say to you, fine, but the Biblical authors wrote with the intention of having their work read in its entirety.  (example, Col. 4:16)  Moses did not write in hopes that someone would read 5 chapters from the Pentateuch.  He wrote with the intention that all 5 books would be read and studied.  If this is how the Bible is meant to be read, then why not teach your people this by modeling it through your sermons?

3. It’s a testimony to belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.  Is Scripture sufficient? Does it contain everything we need for salvation, knowing God, obedience to Him, understanding His will?  If it is sufficient, then we want to know all of it, not just the parts that we believe are important and skip out on the rest.  Does man live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God or not (Deut. 8:3)?  Scripture interprets Scripture.  Therefore, we need to let the Bible itself speak on what it is that we need to know about God and man.

4. It allows you to cover the whole counsel of God’s Word.  Related to the above point, preaching through books allows you (andforcesyou!) to cover all that the Bible says; even things that are controversial.  You can’t dance around Jesus’ teaching on divorce, or repentance, or conversion for example if you are preaching verse by verse through Matthew.  It also keeps the Pastor from just hounding away on his favorite topics or soap boxes.

5.  It’s what your people want need.  I have heard and do hear complaints from time to time from lay persons about Pastors preaching through books of the Bible. But, if the above points are true, then if you’re a pastor, this is what your people need.  And I believe this is what mature Christians want.  Why? Because our desire as Christians is more of Christ.  What better way to give your people more of Christ than preaching His own very Word in its fullness?

6. It allows the Pastor and the people to know what’s coming.  You don’t have to scramble Monday mornings to find what to preach on.  Your people can read, reflect, meditate, pray about, and discuss with family members the next set of verses that are going to be covered.  This will help congregations master certain books of the Bible which will only help them to master other Books of the Bible when studying on their own.  If done properly and consistently it teaches sound hermeneutics without ever having to say the word “hermeneutics” from the pulpit!

7. The benefits far outweigh the “cons.”  Yes, you must be disciplined in preaching through books because each sermon must be in context while at the same time able to stand on its own.  Also, you should be flexible because there may be local or global events that occur (good things, bad things, ugly things) that your people must hear a Word from God on and it may not match up well with your specific text (although sometimes it may).  However, I believe God will bless Pastors who are resolved to preach expository sermons through books of the Bible as the main dose of their preaching simply because this is how God’s Word was meant to be preached to His people (see above statements!).

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Proper Perspectives will shift Priorities

19 03 2010

I get the opportunity to preach this Sunday at my church, FBC, DeWitt. While I’m still in the process of putting in some final preparation, here’s the gist of the message.

Text: 1 John 2:15-17

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

I know I’ve blogged on this text a couple times before so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much here.  In just these three verses John explains to his readers the foundations for proper Christian priorities:

1. A Proper Perspective of God (v. 15)- i.e. the priority in the Christian’s life should be God above all else, and the text explains that those who are unable to do so do not have “the love of the Father”. (i have a blog already on my interpretation of that phrase).

2. A proper perspective of the world (v. 16-17a)- i.e. the Christian should not be involved in the evil of this world because it is directly opposed to God AND the Christian must be Kingdom focused instead of earthly focused because the world is passing away! The devil is the prince of this world and I believe there is correlation here between this text and the Fall in Genesis 3.

3. A proper perspective of salvation (v. 17)- Salvation is what enables Christians to do the will of God and inherit eternal life.  The Christian does the will of the Father, because he believes in His Son Jesus Christ (I’ve also blogged about this “Whoever believes or whoever does”).

The whole point of the message is that if we as Christians have the right perspectives on these things, then it will result in us having the right priorities.  In other words, God, His will, and His Kingdom will take precedent over things of less importance.  This text is less about “don’t do this sin, don’t do that sin” and more about changing our whole focus and attitude towards how we live here in this world.  If we take care of the inner problem (our focus and attitude towards sin and this world) then we won’t even have to deal with the “don’ts” because we will desire to be Kingdom focused Christians. 

To put it another way, I think many preachers may preach this passage of Scripture in a way that really focuses on putting down partying, drinking, seeing bad movies, drugs, sex, driving too fast, cussing, etc. etc.  These sins are grievous and directly opposed to God, but I think the passage is less about attacking these “outer sins” and more about attacking our inner perspectives on God, the world, and Salvation.  The point is, when God changes our perspectives, these worldly things will no longer be an issue for us. Not only that, but little things that we don’t like to call “sins” will also be taken care of- like putting our own priorities over the Kingdom…

Hope all that makes sense! Would love to see some of your thoughts…

I couldn’t put all my thoughts on here because I still want people to come hear the sermon on Sunday! God bless!





A Cure for Boring Sermons

5 02 2010

A complaint I hear from youth and adults about sermons today (yes, sometimes even my own sermons!) is that they are just “boring”.

Did you know the Word of God prescribes a cure for boring sermons? The cure is in the listener! Now, a preacher has the responsibility of being faithful to the meaning of the text and helping the congregation apply the meaning to their lives.  I don’t desire to be a “boring” preacher at all and I don’t encourage other pastors to be boring. The word of God is not BORING and shame on any preacher who presents it in such a way as to actually make people think that it is.

However, the cure for boring sermons can be found in the listener.  The word of God says to “long for” the Word (cf. 1 Peter 2:2)!  The work of making a sermon interesting rests on the listener.  As the preacher is preaching, are you listening to what he is saying and evaluating his message based on the word of God? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work through God’s Word to convict your heart and bring about the intended change that He (God) desires?  The question really isn’t “How entertaining is the preacher?”  The question is “How much do I really long for God’s Word?”  As long as a preacher is preaching God’s word faithfully, I promise you can get something out of it!

Now, just as in any task, sometimes you will have to work harder to make a sermon interesting.  Some preachers will naturally appeal to your style more than others.  However, my encouragement for you, if you are beginning to find sermons “boring”, is to work harder at listening!  Maybe this Sunday you need to take a note pad to help you take notes. Or for some, it starts with simply bringing a Bible to church so they can pay attention better to what the preacher is saying.

Last night I had to make a run to the Dollar Store to pick up a can of Refried Beans and a gallon of milk.  A weird combination I know, so when I got to the cashier I joked “this’ll make a great supper!” She laughed and said “I guess anything’s good if you’re hungry enough.” Hmmm…

How hungry are you for the Word of God?