Acts 20:27 tells us that as Paul said farewell to the elders of the church in Ephesus, he told them, “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” I believe that everyone who teaches the Bible should aspire to this goal. In fact, we call ourselves a “Bible” church because we want to maintain this focus on the authority and sufficiency of all Scripture in our teaching. But how do we fulfill this objective?
Some churches teach topically, focusing on whatever seems relevant to where people are at. Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century British preacher, would not even preach a series. He selected passages from different parts of the Bible each week to address the needs of his congregation. But under this approach even the most well-intentioned pastor can inadvertently skip over hard passages to focus on his favorite ones.
A far different approach would be to start at Genesis 1 and go chapter by chapter, verse by verse all the way to the end of Revelation 22. But if we covered a chapter each Sunday, such a journey would take around 23 years, and we would not even reach the New Testament until the end of year 18. So, the time required would create an imbalance. A child could grow up without ever hearing Sunday morning teaching from the New Testament!
So, my approach has been to teach in series that go verse by verse through a section of the Bible. Once I complete a section, I select a different portion of Scripture for a new series. I try to maintain a balance between Old Testament and New Testament, between different genres (narrative, poetry, teaching, etc.), and between the different topics that come out in those sections of Scripture.
If you visit the Calvary East YouTube channel, you will find that over the past 8 years we have covered Judges, Song of Solomon, two series in Psalms, and a topical study of Proverbs from the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we have completed an overview of the Life of Christ, the entirety of Luke’s Gospel, Ephesians, Colossians, Hebrews, and Revelation. I have also taught two theological series, one on the Reformation and the Religious Maze series that we just finished in December.
So, what’s next? As I mentioned in the final week of the Religious Maze series, I think we face a strong temptation to get wrapped up in a culture war rather than focusing on eternity. So, I would like to examine two sections of Scripture that teach us to wait upon the Lord.
On January 17, I plan to begin a series through Exodus 1-18. Those chapters recount the story of how Moses learned to be a humble leader waiting upon God to work in circumstances that seemed impossible. Since this is a narrative, it makes sense to cover larger sections. I think it should work well to cover around 30-40 verses each week, so that we finish in early May.
We will then take a break from Exodus and head over to 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Paul’s New Testament letters that address several issues related to waiting for Christ’s return. That should carry us through the end of the summer. I have not decided anything beyond that, but I am considering a series on the opening chapters of the book of Isaiah. Of course, I’m open to God changing my plans, but that’s what I am thinking at the moment.
May God will lead us all to become more like Christ in the coming year!
– Bryan Craddock