How To Preach A Confusing Text

The Gospel Coalition has a great blog today on ‘How To Preach A Text When You Don’t Know What It Means.’ In it, Michael Patton (great first name!) shows the difference between preaching and teaching and lists the following examples:

  • Preaching is exhortation; teaching is education.
  • Preaching is the discharge of the gospel of hope; teaching is discipleship of the gospel of hope.
  • Preaching puts wind in the sails; teaching put an anchor in the ground.
  • Preaching raises our eyes to the things we know with great conviction; teaching helps us to understand what things we can have legitimate conviction about.
  • Preaching tells you which option is correct; teaching gives you all the options.

To me, it gets down to the basic question of why do we preach? We should preach to proclaim the Good News of what Christ has done in our lives, how Christ continues to work in our lives and what Christ will eventually do when he returns. He ends the article saying,

Sometimes we need to settle for good sermons with wrong texts. Sometimes we are going to be unsure of the exact interpretation of a passage of Scripture, but we don’t have to sacrifice giving our congregations something to believe due to the obscurity of our text. We can still preach the Word with full integrity by focusing on the principles that are universally true even if we end up being wrong about our interpretation. It is important that you let people know there is some legitimate debate and what you are about to preach could be wrong. But assure them that the principles that you preach are not wrong as they are found in other places in Scripture. That is how you preach a sermon when you are not sure what the passage means.

Give them something to believe.

Do you have something to believe? Do you have the conviction it takes to preach a sermon on a confusing text or do you simply give up?

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