There are many ways and methods of preaching the Bible. The majority of pastors preach through sermon series based on topics or issues. A four-week series on the family here. A five-week series on five biblical characters there. While there is nothing inherently wrong with preaching through topics, as it can definitely be done expositionally, I have been exposed to a method of weekly preaching that highlights expository preaching in ways that topical preaching simply cannot.
Lectio Continua is a method of preaching verse by verse through books of the Bible. Historically, this method of preaching was made famous by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Matthew Henry, among others. I have personally benefited from the preaching ministries of John MacArthur, John Piper, and David Platt who all use this method. While many church members and pastors cringe at the prospect of a sermon series lasting 8-12 months going through just one book of the Bible, there are at least fifteen benefits of preaching verse-by-verse through the Bible. Consider each of them and feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
15 Benefits of Preaching Verse-by-Verse
Preaching verse-by-verse through the Bible…
1. Helps the preacher grow personally in knowledge and obedience by his disciplined exposure to God’s Word.
2. Helps the preacher conserve time and energy used in choosing a sermon for each week. The text sets the agenda
3. Balances the preacher’s area of “expertise” and preferred topics with the breadth of God’s thoughts in the Bible. In other words, it combats one’s tendency to choose a canon within the canon.
4. Sensitive matters can be addressed without the appearance of pointing a finger at persons or problems in the church.
5. Gives the preacher accountability to not avoid skipping over what does not suit his taste or temperament on any given Sunday.
6. Promotes biblical literacy in the preacher’s congregation by teaching them through example how to study their Bibles. That is, it teaches a reproducible method of Bible study.
7. Forces the preacher to address a greater number of issues than what readily springs to mind.
8. Much research time can be saved because each new sermon does not require a new study of the book’s or the passage’s author, background, context, and cause.
9. Increases the likelihood of the pastor preaching the whole counsel of God over time.
10. Increases the pastor’s God-given prophetic authority in the pulpit by grounding his preaching in the divinely intended meaning of the text.
11. Increases the trustworthiness of the pastor’s preaching in the eyes of the congregation.
12. Increases the pastor’s God-given blessing in the pulpit by remaining faithful to the intention of the One who sent him to preach.
13. Increases the congregation’s trust in the inspiration, inerrancy, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture.
14. Decreases their likelihood of being deceived by false teaching.
15. Best communicates that we need all 1189 chapters and 31,012 verses of the Bible for our salvation.
–each of these points were derived from a lecture given by Dr. Brian Payne at Boyce College.
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.