Column: Biblical preaching teaches by example how to study our bible 

Published 10:48 am Monday, February 19, 2024

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By April J. Buchanan | Religion Columnist

There are generally three types of preaching: Expository, Textual, and Topical.

While textual and topical preaching have their place, they come to the text with something outside the text, such as a topic or a particular point in mind, and find related verses to support it. While there can be faithfulness to the text, this can also lead to errors. Expository preaching involves the explanation of the text. It is the text itself driving the message.

Expository preachers start with God’s Word, going book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse.

Have you ever heard an entire book of the Bible preached? I heard someone ask that question once and while I could answer that I’ve read the entire Bible, what I had never heard (at that time) was even a one-chapter book of the Bible preached in its entirety.

But what does this have to do with how we study the Bible?

How are we reading our Bible? If we are learning to read our Bibles based on a more topical or textual approach, we are learning and applying an approach that starts by coming to Scripture with ideas outside of it and reading those into it or looking for texts to support it.

God didn’t give us isolated verses. He gave us books and they are not one disconnected story from another.

Paul didn’t tell Timothy to start with and preach what’s relevant or what you feel in your heart. Neither should we approach our study of God’s Word this way.

Paul told Timothy, “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul, in his farewell message to the church at Ephesus, said that he had preached the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Scripture tells us of itself that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).

It’s often been said, “Never read a verse” and I absolutely agree. Likewise, when we read or hear the same topics or points repeatedly, we are not growing but we are only affirming what we already believe, be it true or not. We don’t grow in grace and knowledge of the truth by means of isolated verses ripped out of their context. We grow as we read the whole counsel of God, learning how to rightly study and apply His Word.

How are we learning to read our Bible? What is the example set before us? Where are we starting – with self, something outside of Scripture or are we starting with the text, studying it to see what it really says and allowing it to change us? Are we learning how to read and love the whole counsel of God and see Who it is really all about? It’s all about Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria