How would you advise a pastor who is unsure of which text to preach next?

2 Min Read

LAWSON: You need to preach verse by verse through entire books of the Bible. You need to start with chapter 1 verse 1 and preach systematically, sequentially, consecutively, verse by verse, through the entire book.

There can be exceptions, such as an unusual occurrence that has happened in the world or the church, in which case, you would stop and preach an individual message. But the meat and potatoes of the preaching feast that you serve your congregation should be verse by verse. So, there should be no Saturday night panic—“What am I supposed to preach tomorrow?” Call anyone in your church, and they’ll tell you what you’re supposed to preach tomorrow: the next verse because you’re going through a book in the Bible.

I am not going to, but I could give ten reasons why you should preach that way. I am only going to give you one: it’s the way God wrote it. God did not give us a topical index. He gave us a library of sixty-six books. God did not give us individual verses. He gave us sixty-six books. Doesn’t it make sense to preach the Bible the way God wrote it, the way He gave it? If God wanted us to preach individual verses, don’t you think He would have given us individual verses? He did not. We received it in sixty-six different installments. Each book has its own argument, development of thought, historical background, etc.

Our responsibility as preachers of the Word of God is to preach the Word as God has given it to us. Have there been exceptions to this that have been successful? Of course. Charles Haddon Spurgeon would be one. But by and large, for the rest of us mere mortals, this is how we are to preach. John Calvin preached verse by verse through entire books in the Bible.

BINGHAM: In a church that preaches that way, it is remarkable that you can think the pastor is picking a text just for you or just for that moment. Providentially, however, it’s just the Lord speaking to the congregation.

LAWSON: It is unbelievable, Nathan. I don’t even have time to tell you how many times I’ve come to crucial issues in the church, even crises, and of all times, these verses come up. When that happens, I’m almost hesitant to preach that day’s text because they are going to think this is a hit job. However, everyone knows we’ve been in this book for a year and a half. For such a time as this, God has set the menu and the agenda, and this is where we are this Sunday. Of course, every passage speaks to the issue of the moment, but some more than others because of its timeliness.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Steven Lawson and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email or message us on Facebook or Twitter.