Preaching on difficult passages

When I wrote about the preacher’s job not being to “explain the Bible passage”, I commented that although we can trust Scripture to be clear, this doesn’t mean that all Bible passages are uniformly easy. So, what should the you do when asked to preach on what looks like a difficult Bible passage? Here are a few thoughts.

  1. Distinguish “this is difficult to understand” from “this is difficult to believe or to obey.”
  2. Admit your fallibility. Don’t be scared to admit that you don’t understand everything.
  3. Stick with the passage. How often are we tempted to use the hard passage to springboard to a theme or other passage that seems to preach more easily. Wrestle with it.
  4. Let your wrestling with the passage enter into your prayer life. This is when our prayers during preparation move from formulaic to real. We need the Holy Spirit’s help and so we have to talk things through with him.
  5. Give them Jesus. Don’t lose sight of the main thing and don’t send the congregation out unfed. Remember that this is the aim, not to educate but to help people hear God and feed on Christ through his word.
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