Study the Bible before Other Books is an article about the priority and order of Bible Study, Sermon Preparation, etc. Always start with the Bible.
Starting a Sermon
As a minister of God’s Word to the people of God, you need to understand the overview of what you are really doing. You are communicating a message from God to His people. You have zero freedom here. Understand that. What God tells you to do, you must do. You cannot blunt or dull the message from what God has laid on your heart, and you must execute exactly what God has told you to communicate to the people God has given you on that occasion that you are preparing for.
So the most important part of sermon making is simply finding that message for the upcoming opportunity you have. Being a pastor for more than 30 years, let me just say that this is not as easy nor as hard as many may think. Just anything will not do. Yet if you pray and listen to your people, and here, your wife is a great listening ear to the people and what is going on in their live, but listen and respond after praying over things in your heart.
Human needs never change.
The issues we are dealing with today are not all that different from Paul’s day. I remember reading about an archaeological find in Pompeii which basically froze life in that day for us to study. Everybody died where they stood just about when the ash fell. In doing the excavations, the workers put sheets on the walls of the city where they were working (after digging out the ash from the streets). The reason was because of the paintings of women with little or no clothes in public view in the average street in that find. So if in Paul’s day they had such filth painted as graffiti on the streets, we are still better in our days than that. Drugs and homosexuality were common in ancient times also.
The Message from God
So the key component in making a good biblical sermon is to begin with the message from God. Let me be specific. As a preacher, you are exposed to a lot of stuff in this world. Personally, I dislike a lot of what I hear. But not everything can really be easily pinned to a “thou shalt not…” from the Bible. Leave those things alone. Only deal with problems that you can legitimately assign a biblical principle is not observed, and this can be studied in the sermon with your people by exposing a verse of Scripture. The more gymnastics you have to do to make your point, the more you are a cult and not a Bible believing NT church. So your exposition should be legitimate from some Scripture, and it should flow naturally, without twisting things.
Study the Bible before Books about the Bible
Before you open any other book about the Bible, you should look to the Bible first. By this, I mean, you need to be reading and comprehending the Bible before any opinions about anything in the Bible. The key here is to read your text verse several times first, meditating on it. Read the context. If there are parallel passages to it or references to it, then go study those passages. Get a good feel for the drift of what the author is trying to communicate. This has to override anything any other book about the Bible says about the text.
Only after you get whatever information you can about your text or your principal text, then start using other books.
Nota Bene: How to find cross references to your text
There are many ways to do this. But to me, the best way is to use Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Go to your verse in that work, and check all the cross references in it to other passages touching on it. (for theWord, for e-Sword)
Some good Bible Programs
- theWord – My first choice, free (PC, Mac via program)
- e-sword.net – also free (PC, Mac via program)
- mySword.info – free (only for Android phones)
More articles about the Work of Pastor
- The Secret to a Successful Pastoral Ministry
- Minister’s Riches Rejection Part 4: Minister’s Just Salary
- The Minister’s Riches Rejection Part 5
- The Minister’s Riches Rejection Part 3
- Is less Pastoring better?
- Sermon outline, Why use it?
- Useable Sermon Outline, How to create one