If you listen to a lot of preachers today, you might begin to think that using the Bible in your sermon is optional. I have sat through many "sermons" that would more easily fall under the category of stand-up comedy.
Most sermons nowadays are made to fit into 30-minute windows. Some of the prominent preachers I have listened to spend 20 of those 30 minutes telling funny or compelling stories about their life experiences and then in the last few minutes try and relate those experiences to a biblical truth.
Is this what good preaching looks like? Have we reduced preaching to an exposition of the life of the preacher?
This style of preaching is a common experience that many Christians have to sit through. Unfortunately, because this is far too often the approach that pastors are taking with their sermons, people are developing a hunger for that style of preaching.
It is becoming more and more difficult for people to sit through an exposition of God’s word. Exposition of scripture is considered boring and out of touch with the people’s needs.
To be fair, the preachers who do expository preaching need to be careful to make sure they preach in compelling ways. People don’t just need to hear what the Hebrew or Greek meaning of the text is. They don’t just need to hear the historical context of the passage. It is not enough if we just give them the cultural understanding of Bible times concerning the text.
Expositors must give them all of the above in a compelling, passionate manner that culminates in real-world application. In my opinion, you cannot separate the preaching from the Bible, and the Bible should never be separated from preaching.
The apostle Paul gives young Timothy some fundamental advice for his ministry. If Timothy’s ministry in Ephesus is going to be fruitful, he is going to have to be careful to follow Paul’s advice. In 2 Timothy Chapter 4, Paul tells his young protégé to preach the word. Paul gives two main reasons why Timothy should preach the word.
In Verse 1, he tells Timothy, "I charge you in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, who is to judge the living and the dead, preach the word."
Timothy needs to be faithful to preach the word primarily because God is the one who is going to judge his faithfulness to that call. This is the first reason Paul gives, and this should be enough for any preacher to be careful diligently to teach the scripture. We preachers are going to stand accountable before God for what we fed his sheep.
The second reason Paul gives Timothy to preach the word is found in Verses 3 and 4. Paul says that the time is coming when people will not want to listen to sound teaching. They will gather to themselves people who will tell them what they want to hear. Because of this, people will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
With the increase of false teaching and the increase of exposure that our godless culture has, we need now more than ever pastors who will feed God’s people the truth of scripture. People desperately need the anchoring of the word of God in their lives. Ephesians Chapter 4 says that God has given to his church pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints so they will not be tossed here, there and everywhere by false systems of belief. God’s word is the anchor that holds his people steady in the midst of a culture gone mad.
Preaching’s relationship with the Bible should be inseparable. Preachers should never walk into the pulpit unprepared to explain what the Bible means by what it says. This is fundamentally what the job description of a pastor is. We explain the Bible to God’s people and show them what that explanation means for their lives.
So preach, and if necessary, use the Bible?
Yes, if you are not concerned about pleasing God and feeding His sheep.
The Rev. Ben Bufkin is pastor of Living Word Church in Schriever.