Over the last 8 years my church has focused on slowly preaching through whole books of the Bible instead of focusing on individual topics. Especially in 2020, wouldn’t it be helpful to focus the sermons around racism, politics, and other culture dynamics? Though each of those topics has been highlighted, they have not been our primary focus, preaching through the text of the Bible has.
Why Preach Through Whole Books of the Bible?
1. You need to hear from God’s Word more than you need to hear from a preacher.
Now obviously you’re going to hear someone preach, but at times pastors and churches can become susceptible to saying something God’s Word doesn’t teach by trying to focus on being relevant. You can end up hearing from a pastor but not really hearing from God. Going through whole books of the Bible forces us to at least start with God’s Word rather than human thought.
You could take this line of thought even further by recognizing that one of the things our culture says is that you truly find yourself by looking within yourself. In fact, this same perspective exists within the church. With this as a foundational view on life, everything must be practical. If a specific teaching or idea doesn’t obviously help right away we are quick to devalue it.
I believe God’s Word is incredibly practical and helpful and nothing is more important for us to focus on with our time and energy whether at church or home, but God’s Word isn’t always practical in that moment—it doesn’t always scratch our itch. So we have this tendency of shifting our lives and even our churches to try to be so practical that we lose out on the power of hearing from God through his Word.
2. It’s valuable to know the whole counsel of God’s Word.
It’s easy to preach on Jeremiah 29:11—’for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you a hope and a future.’ It’s more difficult to engage with a story or teaching of God’s judgment against sin. The Bible doesn’t say some of the words are more important than others. The Bible doesn’t say we should only care about the things Jesus says and ignore the rest.
Slowly working through a book of the Bible means you can’t skip the difficult or R-rated passages. All Scripture is given by God and is meant to be helpful to us (2 Tim. 3:16).
3. All of God’s Word points to our need for the saving work of Jesus.
In The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones says, “Every story whispers his name.” Jesus says as much on the road to Emmaus, revealing to two disciples how even the Old Testament Scriptures point to him.
To ignore the parts of Scripture we find difficult or troubling is to miss out on facets of Christ’s glory found in God’s Word. For me, preaching through books of the Bible helps me to see and point others to the glory of Christ in new and timely, providential ways.