Let me ask that question again, please read it carefully and slowly. Does your pastor preach the Bible or does he preach from the Bible?
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:2 ESV
Ask just about any Christian if their pastor preaches the Bible and most will almost become indignant and state unequivocally that indeed their pastor does indeed preach the Scriptures. For some and I hope for many that is true.
All pastors have been given the solemn charge, the serious responsibility to preach the Word. When they entered the ministry whether a pastor realizes it or not, they accepted the responsibility to preach the Word and not to preach from the Word or about the Word.
Notice carefully Paul said:
“preach the Word”
then notice carefully what he didn’t say;
“preach from the Word”
Is there a difference between the two and what difference does it make?
There is a huge difference between preaching the Word and preaching from the Word. Though the difference is huge, it is subtle, so subtle in fact that many Christians don’t know the difference and many times they don’t understand the difference until it is too late.
Perhaps the best way for me to demonstrate what I’m talking about is to give you an example. A few months ago our house church was doing and in-depth study of the book of Philippians. in the book of Philippians there is a verse that is well known to most Christians. Philippians 4:13 says
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
I bet many of you could quote that verse just from reading the reference. But do you really understand what Paul is teaching the Philippians?
Many Christians have heard this verse but they have probably heard it preached all wrong. Pastors will grab this verse and unwittingly preach it in a man-centered way, in a humanistic fashion. How do they do that? Simple they preach from the verse instead of preaching the verse. They have the wrong focus on the verse, they put the focus at the beginning of the verse “I” instead of putting the focus at the end where it should be on Christ and what He is helping me to do.
See the point of the verse isn’t about you and your abilities. This verse is not about human potential or human capability. In fact it’s about the exact opposite. You can’t do everything, in fact you can’t do anything apart from Christ. It is our inability to cope that shows us that we must have Christ if we are going to do anything at all.
First of all the focus of the verse is on Christ and his ability not you and your ability. Second you have to consider the context of the verse. The Scriptures weren’t written in a vacuum, they were written to real people to address real problems. So what is the “anything” that Paul had said he could do?
The verses leading up to verse 13 describe the circumstances that Paul found himself in as he labored on behalf of the gospel. Specifically he describes learning how to be content in whatever situation he found himself in. He had learned how to handle short supply, he had learned to handle abundance. It was in those circumstances that he had learned that he could do anything because Christ was in him, and strengthening him. If you’ve heard this verse preached this way, then your pastor is preaching the word not preaching from the word.
Here is a simple test to see if a pastor or teacher is preaching the Word or preaching from the Word. When the message, the lesson is done who are you thinking about more? If you’re thinking more about Christ it’s probably because the actual Word was preached, if walk away thinking more about yourself you’ve probably heard something from the Word and not the Word itself.
Scripture is to be preached so that Christ is made much of, and us not so much!
That’s the kind of preaching we try and have every week in our house church, we try and make much of Christ!