Is It Wrong To Teach Topical Bible Lessons?

It seems that some are emphasizing textual (expository) sermons so much these days, it’s like they think to preach a topical sermon would be wrong. But Isaiah 28:9-10 teaches us that a perfectly valid way of teaching “doctrine” is “precept must be upon precept, … line upon line, … here a little, and there a little.”

As a matter of fact, almost all of the sermons or lessons in the New Testament are topical. For example the most famous sermon in the Bible, Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount (Matt 5-7) touches upon a large variety of topics and Old Testament passages. Peter’s first gospel sermon in Acts 2 quotes extensively from at least three different Old Testament texts, but has a common theme/topic (“Jesus Christ, and him crucified” – I Cor 2:2) throughout. And just a casual reading of Stephen’s Acts 7 sermon informs us that it references many different Old Testament passages; it about as far from a one text expository sermon as you can get.

Some say topical preaching allows the preacher to avoid touchy subjects. That is true, but so does textual preaching. I once heard a sermon by a “textual only” type preacher on a text that mentioned fasting, but no comment was made concerning Christians fasting today. If a preacher is not intent on preaching “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), he is going to leave off talking about some subjects whether he is preaching topical or textual sermons.

Do I think topical preaching is superior to expository preaching? Absolutely not! I think the long standing custom of using the Bible classes (Sunday School) for studying assigned texts of the scriptures, and using many of the worship services for topical sermons is a good tradition. That way we get a healthy diet of both types of teaching, with one method not unnecessarily emphasized over the other.

The main thing we need to remember is that it is our duty to “preach the word” (II Tim 4:2). As long as we do that, it doesn’t matter so much whether it is via topical or textual arrangement.


One Response to “Is It Wrong To Teach Topical Bible Lessons?”

  1. Murphy Priestley Says:

    Thanks for the good article on “Is It Wrong to teach topical Bible

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