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The Bible: With or Without?

September 17, 2012

As I pastor a local church, I don’t get to hear many sermons from other preachers. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to hear a  respected retired pastor. While I had met this man on several occasions, I had never had the opportunity to hear him deliver a sermon.

At one point in his sermon, he made mention of a preacher who delivered an entire sermon without ever directly referencing scripture. There was much groaning about this, and rightly so. I don’t know if the sermon without the benefit of a direct reading of scripture was a biblically based message that was true to the Word he didn’t directly reference. For the sake of this discussion, let’s say it was.

But as I reflected over the sermon I was listening to, almost every Bible passage read was either plucked out of context or grossly misapplied. In some cases both were true!

This got me thinking: In preaching the Word of God, which is worse? Is it more wrong to speak the truth of scripture without actually reading scripture? Or is it more wrong to give public reading of the Word of God, this preach it out of context with poor application?

I think I have decided what I think about this, but I am curious about your thoughts. I realize many who read this are not preachers or teachers. But I would ask you to respond as a church member. Respond as a disciple.

Please share your thoughts below.

  1. Julie Clark permalink

    Definitely better to present the truth of Scripture than a man’s fantasy, even if they can find a verse to twist into supporting it!

  2. Thanks for stopping to read and comment. Like I said, I have an opinion, but I think I will wait until Wednesday to share a little more on this. Come check out the site anytime!

  3. I think both are harmful. I would think the common sense answer would be your first scenario with the truth preached without the Word but ultimately, all real truth is God’s truth. I think someone who preaches truth without the Word is liable to eventually tie in man’s wisdom with God’s truth and soon the lines are blurred. When I preach I seek to exposit the Word in it’s proper context and support it with cross references elsewhere in scripture. When this happens, then I have God’s Word to fall back on if someone questions me and thinks I was preaching “at them”. As a public speaker outside of the pulpit I speak many times without a Bible text but I find myself always drawing to Godly principles even in such a setting. I can tell you that speaking in this way may get nodding heads but rarely would it bring Holy Spirit conviction that leads to repentance. There’s someone about preaching God’s Word and not my own that does this. The real key is to tie in the truth with modern application and illustration to apply it to lives. That I feel is where many preachers miss it.

  4. Scott,
    Those are great thoughts. Thanks for sharing them here. Come back anytime.

  5. Julie Clark permalink

    I agree with Scott Cheatham. It is also possible that Scripture was directly used, and the reference not listed. This happens sometimes in groups where it is assumed that the hearers will recognize the quote. If the complainer is one who clearly doesn’t understand (or acknowledge) the context of Scripture, perhaps he is not familiar with it enough to recognize it! As a listener, and as a teacher, I prefer exegetical teaching. One passage being explained, rather than scatter-shot verses trying to support the preacher’s thesis.

  6. Julie, having not heard the sermon being complained about, I have no idea. But I think you are right. I hope you took a look at my follow-up today. Thanks for commenting!

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