8 Ways Our View of the Bible Impacts Preaching
Nothing is more important for the long-term health of a Church than its preaching, and nothing more impacts preaching than a preacher’s view of the Bible.
1. The Bible is the Word of God
If we don’t believe that the Bible is the Word of God, we will put human opinion and our own ideas on the same level as the Bible.
If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, we will treat it with reverence and respect. We will not dare to treat any other book or any human opinion on the same level.
2. The Bible is Inspired by God
If we don’t believe that every word of Scripture was inspired by God, we will not spend much time looking at the individual words in the Bible. We’ll tend to skim over the surface paying little attention to the details of the biblical text.
If we believe that every single word was breathed out by God, we will pause and study every precious Word of God.
3. The Bible is Perfect
If we don’t believe that the Bible is perfect and without error, we will set ourselves up as critics above the Bible rather than students under the Bible. By highlighting the Bible’s so-called “problems” we will weaken confidence in the Bible.
If we believe the Bible is inerrant, then we will stick with the Bible whatever any other source says. We will see “problems” in the Bible as problems rooted in our ignorance or misunderstanding. We will come humbly to this precious book and seek to learn as pupils.
4. The Bible is Sufficient
If we don’t believe that the Bible is sufficient in the areas it claims to be sufficient, we will not study it intensely for answers to questions of faith and life. Instead we will turn primarily to human wisdom.
If we believe that the Bible is sufficient for matters of faith and life, we will want to study every part of it, knowing that somewhere in this book is the answer to every question we need an answer for.
5. The Bible is Authoritative
If we don’t believe that the Bible is authoritative, we will not proclaim, “Thus saith the Lord!” Instead, we will venture our opinions, we will make suggestions, we will offer advice. We will put doctrine and ethics up for debate and discussion, especially in areas that cross our wills.
If we believe the Bible is authoritative, we will reflect that authority in our preaching – not with proud arrogance but with bold and courageous confidence in what God has said, just as Jesus did to astonishing effect (Mark 1:22)
6. The Bible is Clear
If we don’t believe the Bible is perspicuous (clear) then we will not preach clearly and simply. We will often use words such as “mystery” “difficult” “who knows?”
If we believe the Bible is clear in its message, then our preaching will be clear, simple, structured, and memorable. We will strive to be as clear and simple as possible even when our subject is the most profound subject or truth.
7. The Bible is Relevant
If we don’t believe the Bible is relevant, we will treat it like a historical document and speak in past tense third person. Or we will just preach the week’s newspaper headlines.
If we believe the Bible is relevant, we not begin with “What does this mean for me?” but “What did this text mean when it was originally written?” But we will not stop there. We will go on to ask “What is its message to us today?” If that was what God meant in that situation, how do I apply that to my situation today?
8. The Bible is Powerful
If we don’t believe the Bible has any power in it, we’ll study it little, preach it little, feel it little, and care little about the results.
If we believe the Bible is powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, we’ll study it intensely, preach it passionately, feel it deeply, and look for/expect results (1 Cor. 1:18; Rom 1:16)
A high view of preaching can only exist where there is a high view of the Bible in the pulpit and in the pew.
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and has also recently accepted the call to be the Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. He is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and the forthcoming Jesus on Every Page. He blogs at HeadHeartHand and you can follow him on Twitter @DavidPMurray.