Moving Beyond the Basics to Preaching and Teaching from the Overflow

Is it possible to teach and preach biblically without feeling the need to preach on instrumental music, the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, and who is and who is not going to hell? I decided some time back that we have covered those issues enough (sometimes well and sometimes not so well) that it is very rare that I ever bring those things up in a Bible class discussion. I have known other people who seemed like that is all they wanted to talk about and if you didn’t, you just weren’t sound.

Can you imagine if back in those elementary school days your teacher started teaching you math with simple addition and subtraction. Good. You got the basics…you would hope to eventually move on to fractions, multiplication and one day algebra. Instead, every year in school you got more addition and more subtraction. There was no next step. According to your math teacher, knowing those two things was all it took to be a mature student of mathematics! We wouldn’t accept that. We shouldn’t accept that when it comes to our knowledge of the Bible either. We have heard all the arguments about why we don’t use instruments. We know why we take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Those are both very good things. But we cannot get so stagnant in our teaching that we fail to provide people with spiritual nourishment. We cannot fail to help people see the next step and move them beyond the basics. I honestly wonder if that is all some people are comfortable discussing and maybe haven’t personally challenged themselves to grow beyond that.

The sheep rarely outpace the shepherd. Because of that, our leaders, preachers, and teachers need to be ready to lead from the front. They need to be willing to step out in faith, grow in their own personal study and preach/teach from the overflow. I cannot believe reaffirming our stances on instruments and the Lord’s Supper is preaching or teaching from the overflow.

0 Responses to Moving Beyond the Basics to Preaching and Teaching from the Overflow

  1. WesWoodell says:

    Doesn’t the Bible imply that it’s unhealthy to teach on the basics all the time without moving deeper?

    What’s the Scripture in Hebrews?

  2. Hank says:

    “Is it possible to teach and preach biblically without feeling the need to preach on instrumental music, the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, and who is and who is not going to hell?”

    I think the only way to “teach and preach biblically” is to teach and preach on every subject God decided to include in his book. Of course, certain subjects (themes) warrant more time and attention than others. Paul “decided to know nothing…except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Therefore, he placed most of his emphasis upon the cross of Christ but he (along with the other NT writers), certainly taught other things which seem to be “taboo” in many religious circles today. Three of those things are the three you mention (Whether or not it’s God’s will to worship him with instruments, to take the Lord’s supper every Sunday, and to talk about who’s going to hell).

    I too, believe that way too many people spend way too much time hammering the things you here mention and I believe it’s because the more fault they find in others — the more “right” they FEEL themselves. Having said that, I don’t believe that our response ought to be to deliberately avoid discussing them. And while many people have heard the arguments as to why we don’t use instruments and why we take the Lord’s supper every Sunday…probably just as many have NEVER heard them and/or couldn’t even begin to explain the reason(s) why.

    Basically, I don’t believe that moving people “beyond the basics” would ever require us to stop “reaffirming our stances on instruments and the Lord’s Supper.”

    I think what we need to guard against is being overly influenced by the teaching around us. Like teaching every week on the neccessity of baptism simply because the majority the Chrsitian word denies it. But we should surely reaffirm (from time to time) why we believe what we do about everything. Especially those things which our religious friends so frequently teach against.

    Like Paul, every Bible teacher should never shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God.

  3. Unfortunately, for some “preaching from the overflow” limits them to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc. As ministers we need to grow in our relationship with Jesus. In order to preach from the overflow we must first be filled up. Maybe we need to be willing to study a little deeper as preachers and elders in the church. Thanks Matt for a great article!

  4. mattdabbs says:

    Hank,

    I am glad you wrote that because I think that is a very balancing statement. What you wrote is a very healthy take on the matter. I think part of the deal is we have to know who we are talking to. For the most part, in our Bible classes we are talking with fairly mature people who know the gist of these things. I am sure there are some exceptions but for the most part I think that is true. But in our preaching the audience is certainly wider and there is a greater chance someone there does not understand some core principles in scripture.

  5. brian says:

    nice illustration with Math,.

    also, we need to recognize that the fundamentals of the Faith are not what makes us distinct from other christian groups, but much of the OT, and especially the book of Genesis.

  6. Hank says:

    You are probably right in suggesting that Bible class attendees are as a whole more mature than the crowd who skips our classes and show up only for the “main event.” Still, I would argue that even in our classes there are many who are unable to give the basic reasons for why we do what we do. Sadly, I think part of the reason for that is because some of them don’t even feel the need to know that stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taught a class on a given topic and then ask questions about it a week later and some who were in both classes act as if they’ve never heard about the matter (perhaps a reflection on my teaching). At the same time, those who don’t care enough to learn will never know.

    Yesterday, Jim mentioned some Barna polls in his sermon and I would be curious to poll our own people (one for those who regularly attend our classes and another for those who come only for “church”), and find out just how much we really do know — about the basics as well as the things “beyond the basics.”

    I think that would be a good idea because the NT writers repeated themselves again and again when it came to the things their audiences never learned (or quickly forgot). Especially those things that the world around them said were not so.

    Having said all that, I have learned much from being in your classes, I look forward to being in every one of them, and would not be surprised if your students pay more attention than some of mine have in the past.

  7. mattdabbs says:

    It is really a tough deal for me because part of me realizes that fewer and fewer people are informed on those things as our young people become our old people. But then I realize that many have heard it so many times that I usually leave it alone in Bible class. I agree there are times we can present this information but I think it needs to be done well and with an air of humility and care of the text to let the text speak for itself. We cannot preach it out of obligation, rather because it is truth from scripture. So maybe sometime we will talk about these things in class or at least give a similar survey to our class as the Barna survey Jim mentioned. It might have some really interesting results.

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