Summary: The Bible is the most important basis of preaching. How do we preach a text of Holy Scripture?
What’s our Goal
Let’s emphasize the importance of Bible-based preaching.
What’s the Idea
The modern idea that the Bible is not the Word of God but only contains the Word of God is very narrow and inadequate. Granted, there is no verse in the Bible which calls everything from Genesis to Revelation "the Word of God" per se. Certainly, also we read Old Testament examples of people saying that the Word of God came to them saying this or that (e.g. 1 Kings 12:22; 1 Chronicles 17:3). Such a quote of what God actually said then is certainly the Word of God in the narrowest sense.
However, the phrase is often used biblically in a much broader sense, something more than a mere quote of what God actually said. Jesus referred to the Old Testament teachings as the Word of God (Mark 7:13). Preaching when led by the Holy Spirit is also the Word of God (Acts 4:31; 13:5-7; 17:13). That which people hear out of the mouths of such preachers is also the Word of God (Acts 13:44-46; Romans 10:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 13:7). The message of the Church, the Gospel is the Word of God (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20). It makes sense then, when the Church finally settled on the canon of Scripture in the early 300’s, that it saw the collection of books as the written Word of God.
As such, the Bible is a fail-safe basis for preaching that could also be called the Word of God today. When you preach in such a fashion, your people can truly say, "Let's go up to hear the Word of God." (Isaiah 1:10; Jeremiah 19:3; 42:15; 44:26; Ezekiel 6:3; 20:47; Luke 5:1; 8:21; 11:28; Acts 13:7, 44) You will be preaching not only the Gospel as the Word of God and the inspired Word of God given to you by the Holy Spirit, but it will be backed up by the written Word of God. What could be better than that!
What’s our Lesson Plan
In this lesson we will use the example of Nehemiah 8:8 as a basis for preaching a text. We will discuss using copious preaching notes, no notes, outline notes and using the text as our preaching outline. We will discuss how to prepare, whether using a lectionary or not, some important questions, using exegesis rather than eisegesis and finish up with an example.
Using a Text as a Preaching Outline
Nehemiah 8:8 gives us one of the earliest examples of how to preach. The preaching team was large, but so was the church of ancient Israel. Notice that they read the Old Testament law and caused the people to understand it. They read distinctly, and gave the sense, causing them to understand the reading.
Now we get the sense that this was not just a one-verse preaching service, but great amounts were being read. So, in your sermon, pick a passage of a perhaps a dozen verses or so. This is sometimes called a broad-brush approach, covering a lot of material, rather than narrowing it too far. Before we go on, let’s look at several different ways of making sermon notes.
Making Complete Notes
We have all heard badly prepared sermons for which the Holy Spirit got the blame for its so-called inspiration. There is usually no excuse for lack of preparation. Making sermon notes is one way to bridle our tongues (James 1:26-27) and so have a purer form of our religion. There are several ways to make notes from which to preach.
One way for organizing sermon notes is a complete typewritten reading speech. This is similar to the formal speeches given by politicians when taking office or corporate executives at an annual general meeting. The main difference is that you will have spent time praying over every prepared word and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The strength of this kind of preaching is that you are less likely to make an embarrassing off-the-cuff remark that was not well thought-out ahead of time. However, this kind of preaching also has great weaknesses.
A very few advanced preachers deliver their entire sermons very effectively by reading them. Most do not. It requires the ability to read aloud superbly without losing eye-contact with the audience and sounding entirely natural. Some advanced preachers read so well that few people would know that they are reading from notes. Most of us read very badly from notes and the whole thing just loses any sense of spontaneity, becoming stilted and awkward. It is not a good long-term idea for most of us. However, for the nervous beginner, it can be a good crutch. If you wish to use this method for your first sermon or sermonette, I suggest a single double-spaced page or two maximum.