About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

Home Page     

Should A Sermon Be 
Always Bible Based?

The question has been asked, "should a sermon always be Bible based"?  First of all the Sunday sermon is the centerpiece of the Christian church. It is the focal point of a whole weeks worth of church activity.  If you look at our modern church, and it has been this way for centuries, the Sunday morning meeting is the premiere activity in the life of the church.  It is the event that most people attend.  It is the most publicized gathering or activity, and if you miss a couple of these meetings, people may begin to wonder about you.

A pastor once told me recently that on Sunday mornings the time of worship (in this case a song service - not worship), was meant to prepare people for the sermon, the main event  The worship time was not really meant to worship Jesus, but was meant to get people's minds ready for what was going to be said in the sermon.  Thus the sermon is the main part of the main event of the church, making the sermon the centerpiece of the Christian church.

I am not convinced that this is the way it should be. I am far from convinced that Sunday morning meetings should be the centre of church culture, let alone the sermon the centerpiece of Sunday mornings. 

Here's another point to be made before I get to the question at hand.  Most of our sermons today are topically based.  This means that the speaker picks out a topic, say tithing for example, to speak about.  The sermon then is built upon a few points the pastor wants wants to convey concerning tithing.  Then to prove his position he pulls out a few verses from wherever he can find them.  The problem with this kind of preaching is that the listener is at a disadvantage, unless he or she  is a Biblical student.  Why is this so?  Because the listener is at the mercy of the speaker.  It is too easy for the speaker to pick and choose what verses he needs to  prove his points.  He may knowingly, or unknowingly leave a few important verses out that may suggest a different viewpoint, and you'd never know what they were.  Thus you may get an unbalanced opinion on the subject. 

What you don't hear much of these days is "expository, exegetical preaching".  This kind of preaching is when the speaker takes a "whole" passage of Scripture, maybe ten verses, or whatever it takes to get the complete point of what the Biblical writer is saying.  Then, phrase by phrase he proceeds to explain what is being said.  This is not topical based preaching.  The advantage of this kind of a sermon is that you get each verse in its context.  You get a good picture of what the author is saying, at least in this particular passage of Scripture.  There may be other Scriptures that shed more light on the subject, but at least you get a good grip on what the author is saying in one particular passage.  Once you get a good picture from this passage, you can go on to another entire passage and learn more.  Nothing can be taken out of context, and the sermon is "very Bible based", as long as you follow sound Biblical standards of interpretation, which leads us to our original question.            

The question is then asked, "should the sermon be based on the Bible"?  The simple answer is "yes".  Look at the first Christian sermon ever preached as an example.  It is recoded in Acts 2 and was spoken by Peter.  The sermon takes up 27 verses, of which 10 and a half verses are direct quotes from the Old Testament.  Put it another way, in my large print Bible this sermon takes up 4 and three quarters pages, of which 2 pages are taken up with direct quotes from the Old Testament.  Most of the rest of the sermon is Peter's explanation of these verses - very Bible based, wouldn't you think?.   

Then if you continue on in the book of Acts to Peter's next sermon you will see the same.  Peter definitely felt what he had to say should be based on what the Bible said, or at least what the Old Testament said in his case.  That was his Bible.  

Too often the sermon, even in Evangelical churches is only a platform for what the minister wants to say, and sometimes without any Scripture being used at all.  Then in liberal churches the sermon might be based on such important writers as John Lennon, or maybe even Bob Dylan.  I'm not knocking these guys.  I listen to their music, but there is little in their songs that we should base a sermon on.

So there is my answer to this question,. whether right or wrong. What we say within a sermon, or without, should always be based on sound Biblical reasoning.  Any time I hear anything from a Christian, I always ask myself, "what does the Bible say on this subject"?   Maybe we should all do the same.             

Home Page