Body of Christ, and that is the lack of knowledge in the saints about the Word of God. Times without number I remember
folks would come to my office for pastoral guidance and out of that counseling session I would see their depth of biblical
knowledge; in far too many cases it was very shallow. Many knew some Bible stories and most had a few favorite promises
from God, but few really possessed a real grasp of the Word. I want to see this changed.
The first place I go to solve this problem is to the pulpits of our churches. I contend that if pastors and teachers are doing
their jobs the people they lead will grow in knowledge of the Bible and in usable, practical wisdom given by the Holy Spirit.
Of course, even when they adequately do their jobs in the pulpit it is still up to the saints to understand and use what they
are taught and to study for themselves, rightly dividing the Word of faith. Nevertheless, it is good for us to focus on the
Elders that we might not err in this regard.
My wife and I had an occasion to visit a church recently on a Sunday morning. One of the things that struck me as odd was
that during our walk to the sanctuary from the parking lot how few Bibles I saw in the hands of those attending. There were
Scripture references in the Order of Service in the bulletin, and the pastor used several Bible references during his brief
sermon. The sermon had some good points and was well administered. However, I left the service feeling a little dry,
perhaps even a little hungry. Why? I was thirsty and hungry for the Word of God. It is my opinion that the pivot point of the
worship service is the Word of God.
Interestingly enough, years ago a visitor approached me after a Sunday morning service in our church and here was his
question: “Why do you do so much reading from the Bible and quote so many Bible verses during your sermon?” The
question struck me as odd. I told him that our church was built on the Word of God and the Bible was the central focus of
our lives and of every worship service in our church. I do not know what his church background was, but perhaps he had
grown accustomed to sermons like the one we heard that was lacking in real biblical substance.
So, Pastor, how much Scripture should you use in a given sermon or teaching? Of course, the answer to the question
rests solely with the Holy Spirit who orchestrates each of your services, and each one is going to have a difference than all
others. I might say that I have sat through some sermons in which so many biblical passages were used that we all grew
weary of turning pages, and the effectiveness of the teaching was hindered because of it. So somewhere between too little
and too much is probably the right amount of Truth to deliver in any given pulpit session. If the teaching is verse-by-verse
from a text passage, some other supporting verses/passages may be in order to make certain points and add validity to
your doctrinal statements. If you are teaching topically, I suggest one primary verse or passage for each of your main
sermon points. (it is not advisable to use more than 3 or 4 primary sermon points) You also should use scriptural
references anytime you are expounding on a doctrine; this adds credibility to your declarations and also helps to develop
the saints in where it is located in the Bible. A sermon or teaching in the church is a good time for the saints to practice
finding passages and verses; they get used to using their Bibles and this makes it far more likely they will study the Bible at
Pastor, allow me to emphasize the need for you to substantiate any doctrinal statement you make during a teaching or
sermon with a direct Scripture. God’s people must know the truth, and they must learn to discern the truth from error. The
only way to develop this ability in them is to marry them to the Word of God. Your opinion on a given subject doesn’t really
matter very much. Their personal opinions also don’t really matter much. What matters is what God thinks about it, and He
has graciously given to us all His thoughts on every subject that really matters in life. As you repeatedly support your
declarations of doctrine with Scripture, you will teach your people by example that the source of all truth is the Bible. This
will benefit them greatly in that it will help to eliminate the possibility they will be deceived in the future by some well-
meaning but ignorant preacher and by charlatans bent on their destruction. Remember: knowledge of the truth is what
makes your people free and keeps them that way.
For the sake of instruction, I will demonstrate how to substantiate my doctrinal statements. For example, if I make the
statement: “God is still in the healing business today.” I immediately invite the congregation of believers to join me in
Romans 8:11. (There are of course many verses I could use in this regard) It is not enough that I (the pastor) said this
statement, what is important is that God said it. Or, if I tell my people: “God has already done for them all that He needs to
do!” I immediately focus their attention on II Peter 1:3. The key here is that you must be able to back up your profound
doctrinal statements directly from the Word of God.
One admonition I might give at this point is to be cautious about trying to approach the study of the Word too intellectually
and with too much analysis. I often hear preachers try to give “the real meaning” of a certain word or passage in the Bible.
They audaciously attempt to rise above scholarly translators in order to make their particular point to reinforce some pet
belief they have. This is not good. You are probably like most of us preachers in that the sum total of our training in
seminary or Bible School in Hebrew and Greek is quite limited. We own reference books that help us in the original
languages, but in the final analysis, we pale by comparison to most biblical translators. Therefore, use several versions
and/or translations of the Bible to help get to the root meaning of words and thoughts, but avoid re-writing the Bible for
your own purposes. One of the dangers of “hyper-analyzing the Bible” is that the folks in your congregation will watch you
do this and they will begin to lose confidence in the Bible as it is written. Before long they too will read into the Holy Bible
whatever fits them. This is a real problem that has already taken seed in the Church, and it is one that we ministers must
address within our own realms of authority.
Pastor, one very important aspect of your pastoral role is to develop in your people a love for the Bible and a reverence
for it. Allow me to share something funny that happened to me when I was ministering in Guatemala years ago in a non-
denominational church. I gave my text passage and before I could start reading my text, suddenly the whole congregation
leaped to their feet. I continued reading even though I could not for the life of me understand what had been their cue.
Politely they were seated when I finished reading. Not long into the sermon I made reference to another verse and was
flipping through my Bible to find the passage when I realized the saints had once again stood up. That is when I connected
the dots and understood that they had been taught reverence for the Bible and the way they demonstrated reverence was
to stand anytime the Word was read. During that sermon they did quite a bit of standing and sitting! I just kept on preaching.
I commended the pastor after the service for his training in this regard. It is not necessary that you have your people stand
when the Bible is read, but it is good to build into them a respect for God’s Word – knowledge of the Truth and full
obedience in faith is the very best demonstration of reverence for the Bible.
I share with you another little thing I learned that might help you in your church. I selected someone with an anointed voice
to read our text passage; I used one of my “Levites.” (a woman on our Worship Team) Introducing another voice into the
sermon was a good thing. One thing that happens is that your congregation will not fall into the error of just associating
Holy Scripture with your voice, but will find that whoever reads the Word can release its awesome power and can plumb its
depths for all of God’s riches. I suppose it goes without saying that who you select is very important. It should be someone
who is a proficient reader and whose diction is good. This additional voice will add flavor to your sermon.
I am asked from time to time what version or translation of the Bible I use personally. I use the New King James version
from which to preach and teach. My reason is really quite simple: I don’t want to have to interpret from 17th century
Elizabethan English into modern American English. I am already saddled with the task of translating words and thoughts
from ancient cultures a world away and that is sufficient task for me. That is of course only my preference. I suggest you
use whichever version of the Bible that is easiest for you. One additional thought is that many of the people who hear you
preach might be sinners or baby believers who cannot grasp old King James English; they may find the “thee’s” and “thou’
s” a little too stuffy and too religious sounding. One of the things I have always attempted to do is to remove all possible
obstacles that I can that might hinder the people’s receptivity to the Truth.
Read the biblical passage at the right. Can you see that Paul emphasizes the importance of knowledge three times in this
short passage? Knowledge of God’s word must be very important to us all. That is why you must lead your people into it. To
some people you will be the primary conduit from the very throne of God. They will not study the Bible on their own, so
what you deliver to them will be all they receive. You better make it good. You better make it right. Indeed you will because
the Spirit of Truth is right there with you to insure that you do. Praise the name of the Lord!