In any given year at Grace, we have a mix of topical sermon series and teaching through books of the Bible. At the outset of our journey through the gospel of Mark over the next 18 months, I want to take a moment to talk about the value of preaching through a whole book.
The Value of Teaching Through a Book of the Bible
1. It teaches us how to read the Bible
The habit of many Christians is what I like to call the “dip and skip method.” You close your eyes, flop your bible open and scroll your finger down the page and hope God works his magic. And listen, I’m happy when someone engages the bible at all regardless of the methodology, and I have heard stories of God using the dip and skip method from time to time. So, I’m not making fun. I’m just suggesting that’s not the best way to read the bible in normal circumstances and not always the best approach for exegetical preaching.
Imagine reading other books like that! Go ahead and try to take a novel and plop it open and read a sentence and make sense of what’s going on… It wouldn’t! The same is true for the bible. It’s why some of you are frustrated when you try to read it. The better way, is to read it regularly and to read it book by book. This allows you to see the context, to see where the story you’re reading fits in the greater narrative of God’s work in the world. It allows you to apply it more specifically to your life without making wild leaps to try to connect dots from unconnected events from the ancient world to the modern world.
This doesn’t mean that topical preaching is bad. A topical study is the equivalent of you searching the bible for something specific, like what does the bible say about anxiety, and you look up all the passages and do a study. Or what does the bible say about family, and approach it that way. There’s huge value to that as well. So, we’ll always model both approaches at Grace.
2. It forces us to deal with passages we would rather skip over
When you read straight through a book of the Bible, you can’t just go from bumper sticker verse to bumper sticker verse. You have to deal with all of it. This means as we go through Mark, we’ll be wrestling with hard passages like Mark 3:28, Whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. And 4:11, where Jesus basically says that he speaks in parables so people will be confused. And 10:11, where he seems to say if you get divorced and remarry, you are basically committing adultery, and 10:25 that it’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than a rich person in heaven. So, as you deal with all the un-highlighted sections of your bible, it is very hard but also really profitable.
Are you interested in preaching through a whole chapter or book of the Bible? The Book of Romans is always a great option that covers a lot of deep, yet foundational topics. Download our free guide to studying and memorizing Romans 8, which can be used to help guide your congregation through one of the most powerful chapters in the entire Bible.