Oh, the joy of preaching! Oh, the honor of teaching through books and passages of the Bible—God’s Word—as they unfurl, as God’s gave them, line upon line and precept upon precept. When one studies the Bible like this at the kitchen table, or when one expounds it like this in the classroom lectern or chapel pulpit, it’s the closest we come to listening to the actual voice of Jesus Christ.
It took me a long time to understand the simplicity of this.
In essence, this involves going through a God-inspired passage naturally, seeing the divisions, following the logic, letting sentence after sentence come crashing to the shoreline of the heart like the waves of the ocean. Because every word of Scripture is God-breathed, the very words are important to absorb.
When I read a passage, I say, “Why did God place this chapter or this paragraph in His Word? What’s the point? How does He explain it? How can I incorporate this truth into my attitude or behavior?”
If I’m teaching or preaching, I let the text to determine the outline, and then I add the introduction and conclusion, using illustrations to illumine and make application.
It’s about as simple as that.
If it’s a narrative (a story in the Bible), I look for transferable truths, such as I did in Exodus 14 for The Red Sea Rules. If it’s poetry, we try to find the cycles of thought, such as I did from Psalm 23 in my book, The Lord is my Shepherd. If it’s a didactic passage—a teaching passage such as Philippians 4:4-9, we trace it line by line, looking for the development of thought, such as I did in Worry Less, Live More.
Dr. Edwin Young, who was my pastor in Columbia, South Carolina, would always begin his sermon, saying, “Lord, let me get out of the way, and may Your Word alone speak to us.”
That’s preaching and teaching that has authority. That’s what America need in this hour.