If you don’t preach the Bible then you don’t have the right conviction about the Bible.
If you ask what sort of foundational conviction establishes you as a faithful preacher, it would be this: you believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, sufficient, and clear revelation of God. In fact, your preaching will be a direct reflection of what you believe about the Bible.
If you don’t preach the Bible then you don’t have the right conviction about the Bible. If you think there is some other authority, some better way to communicate, some more clever, or more culturally acceptable, or more psychologically appealing approach than the biblical approach, then you’re reflecting a low view of Scripture.
If, on the other hand, you believe that every word of God is pure, as the Bible says, and that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable to make the man of God complete, if you believe that God has inspired the Bible in the way that Peter writes about it—that the Spirit moved on those who were the writers and they wrote down the very word of God—then it’s going to show up in you preaching the Bible.
People might say, “Well, wait a minute. I believe the Bible and I take my truths and my ideas from the Bible, but I sort of frame them up in a cultural way so that people can understand them.” Let me speak to that for just a moment.
The golden age of preaching is when you preach biblical truth from biblical texts. When that begins to slip and the gold gets tarnished, the step lower is preaching biblical truth from nonbiblical sources. In other words you say, “Well, I’m still preaching the gospel, I’m still preaching truth in the Bible, but people don’t want to hear expositions of Scripture. They don’t want to hear me preach out of the Bible. They don’t believe in the authority of the Bible. I don’t want to be saying ‘the Bible says’ because that’s not relevant. You’ve got to catch them in the culture, you’ve got to talk to them in categories that are familiar. So yeah, I still preach Bible truth, but I preach it in cultural dress.”
You’ve just slipped, and the gold is off and it won’t be long before you stop preaching biblical truth in cultural dress and the Biblical truth disappears. Then you’ve descended into the darkness of just preaching what people want to hear.
You never go from preaching biblical truth in biblical texts to abandoning the Bible. There’s a step in between. The step in between is preaching biblical truth in cultural context. God wrote a book and he put truth in biblical contexts and that’s how you have to preach it.
Sometimes people say, “Well we need to bring the Bible into modern day life, into modern understanding.” That’s wrong. What you need to do is take the modern person back to the biblical times. Whatever the Bible meant in its original context is what it means now.
For them to understand what it meant in its original context, you’ve got to take them back. So the challenge in biblical preaching is not to tamper with the text and try to pull the truth into the modern era, it’s to take the modern person back to living in the biblical text, setting the context in which it was revealed originally. That’s the challenge of real Biblical preaching in biblical texts and it’s the richest way to give people the whole counsel of God.
This article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.