Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Why preach through books of the Bible?

[The following is an excerpt by "Why I Still Preach the Bible" by Pastor John MacArthur, found in the Together for the Gospel book, Preaching the Cross.]

In the big picture, preaching verse-by-verse, book-by-book, brings a divine balance to ministry. It helps keep the preacher from leaving things out or from getting on a hobbyhorse and riding it to death. It forces him to deal with topics he might not naturally be drawn to if it were not for the fact that it is addressed in the next verse he is preaching. Put simply, it requires him to teach God's truth the way God revealed it. And that's the best way to teach.

Some preachers allow their audience to determine what topic they will address. As one popular pastor has written:

Adapt your style to fit your audience... The ground we have in common with unbelievers is not the Bible, but our common needs, hurts and interests as human beings. You cannot start with a text, expecting the unchurched to be fascinated by it. You must first capture their attention, and then move them to the truth of God's Word. By starting with a topic and then showing what the Bible says about it, you can grab their attention, disarm prejudices, and create an interest in the Bible that wasn't there before. [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), 294-295.]
But such a bait-and-switch approach is really just a recipe for compromise- tempting pastors to tickle the ears of their audience or water down the gospel in an effort to be more appealing. In essence, this approach says that God's Word is irrelevant and makes human ingenuity the key to interesting sinners in the gospel. It is therefore an approach that should be categorically rejected.



Blogger Nathan White said...


I don't want to sound as if I'm disagreeing firmly with MacArthur, or with the position that I am well aware that he holds, but I kind of question the thesis of this post.

For example: "preaching verse-by-verse, book-by-book, brings a divine balance to ministry. It helps keep the preacher from leaving things out or from getting on a hobbyhorse and riding it to death."

I disagree. Pastors use verse by verse methodology to insert in/leave out all the time. Hobbyhorse, isegesis, etc., I've seen it almost as much in the verse by verse guys than I have the topical guys. But the deception here is greater because everyone thinks that they are doing the right thing by going verse by verse. "Was what the pastor said today true? It must be because he is going verse by verse" --so the logic goes.

Secondly, I believe that we need the overall picture of what the Bible teaches just as bad as we need verse by verse teaching of what the bible says. This is what we see from the apostles. Rarely do they stick to one text alone.

Going verse by verse all the time, I believe, can leave one open to many errors, because every scripture is dependent upon the rest of the revelation for it's ultimate application. Our people need to step back and get the 'big picture' just as regularly as they need a smaller breakdown of verse by verse.

So in summation, many people take the verse by verse exposition made famous (recently) by MacArthur to an unhealthy extreme, IMO. Of course I agree that there must be great attention paid to this method, but to suggest that it keeps one free from error, or that it alone is sufficient for the church, is a misguided assumption, one that is, ironically, not supported by any one 'verse' :)

6:46 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...


I agree with your comment, and think it adds balance to the post. Thanks!


9:14 AM  

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