My dear friends who teach and preach the Word, let the Bible speak for itself.
A huge temptation when pastors write sermons is to come up with a “fresh” perspective or a “new” twist on a hackneyed text.
To be certain, there are certain passages that have become bumper sticker material for contemporary Christians. When teaching on these texts, it’s important to provide context and insight that help people see the passage in a new light. See: Philippians 4:13, Jeremiah 29:11, etc.
However, more often than not, our job as teachers of the Word is to tell people three simple things:
- What the text says
- What the text means
- Why it matters today
Then, let the Bible speak for itself.Tell people what the text says, means, and why it matters; then let the Bible speak for itself. Click To Tweet
There are two primary was that preachers often get off-track:
1) Softening the blow.
The Bible is incredibly offensive. In it, God tells us not to lie, cheat on our spouses, get drunk, or let our anger control us. Contrary to contemporary society’s values, it also tells us that a homosexual lifestyle is sinful and that babies in the womb are people. Line-by-line the Bible challenges us in difficult ways: to give sacrificially, to live generously, and to love the unloveable. Don’t soften the blow. If the passage you’re teaching has a hard truth, let it be hard. No good crop was ever yielded from a field that wasn’t first plowed.The Bible is hard, but no good crop was ever yielded from a field that wasn’t first plowed. Click To Tweet
2) Over-interpreting the text.
Please do not do this. I was thumbing through some old textbooks from seminary, and I found a great little blurb in Grasping God’s Word that warned against the “root word fallacy.” In it, the book argues that we cannot force a Greek or Hebrew word to say something just because of its roots any more than we can say that a strawberry is literally a berry made out of straw just because the roots. Likewise, we need to be diligent in defining the text, the context, and the subtext of a passage but not force insane lines of logic from it. In a quest to be cool, we can border on the dangerous when we try to make the Bible speak for us.
Let the Bible speak for itself.
After all, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV).
Yeah. It doesn’t need our help.