Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Preaching that cuts with the grain of the Bible

There's probably no more helpful tool to get a handle on when reading the Bible than seeing how books hang together as a whole and not just as a random collection of fortune cookies and random sentences. I remember hearing Richard Coekin unpack the idea of the melodic line in Colossians several years ago and single-handedly changing the way I read the Bible. He helped me to see that, for example, Colossians 1 is a brilliant gospel-encouragement. The whole book is written to call the Colossians to stick with the gospel (2v6-7) and nothing else. And so when in the opening paragraphs Paul writes to them of the hope they have, of the way the same gospel they believed is bearing fruit world-wide and of how Epaphras is a faithful gospel minister he isn't just greeting them but encouraging them that they have in fact believed the true gospel.
More on that Here: Fully Christian?

Books have a purpose and preaching is better and easier when we cut with the grain of the text.

Interview with Dick Lucas on preaching the melodic line of a Bible book. Lucas notes:
It's one of the most important disciplines of the preacher. It's alarming if you go to a church where a team of preachers is doing a series on Hebrews, for example, and each preacher has a different idea what the Book is about. It's absolutely essential to know the way the melodic line, the argument, the theme of the Book, is going.
Simeon Trust:
Principle: We will preach from a particular passage better if we understand what the whole book is about.
Explanation: Books of the Bible and the Bible (as a whole) have a coherent, sustained message similar to the unique melody of a song—waiting to be heard. It unites the whole book, concisely stating what the whole book is about. The theme of any passage will be related (directly or indirectly) to this theme or melodic line. In other words, the Bible does not need an interpreter (it is, itself, an interpretation). Our job is not to interpret the Bible, but to listen well enough and long enough to hear the melody.
Strategies: read and reread, identify a top and tail (e.g. Romans 1.5 and 15.26), find a purpose statement (e.g. Luke 1.1-4), find repeated words and phrases and ideas (e.g. “joy” and “fellowship” in Philippians), follow the Old Testament quotations
Paul Rees on The Melodic Line
Philip Ryken on The Melodic Line in 1 Kings
More from Simeon Trust Media

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