Monday, February 15, 2016

Why Preach through entire Books of the Bible?

As we prepare to go through the Book of Jonah at Perryville Second Baptist, it's a good time to revisit this question. Why preach through entire books of the Bible?

Here are my thoughts: 
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!).

8. Use this in other areas of the Church's teaching. We are so dependent on curriculum in Sunday School, VBS, Wednesday night classes, etc. It's not that curriculum is bad! However, why don't you consider just using the Bible as your curriculum in Sunday School for a season? Or even in VBS, Wednesday night, or other teaching opportunities. Yes, even in Youth Ministry! God is faithful to His Word and it will not return void. This doesn't mean you can't ever use other curriculum or do topical studies. But it does mean we need more exposition, even in Sunday School.

9. It's ok (and good!) to be flexible at times. At Perryville Second Baptist we Just finished a topical series on discipleship.  It's ok to be flexible, and this can be helpful to the church. But for the above reasons I think the lion's share of preaching should be expositional through books of the Bible. We just want to make sure we are preaching and teaching the Bible as it was inspired to be preached and taught!

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