About Me

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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

Knowing the Text You Preach

Charles e Whisnant

When I was growing up my Dad was my pastor, and I heard him preach for over 17 years (if you count my childhood).  When he opened his bible and preached I just took his word that what he was saying was true.  Is this called child like faith?  I don’t remember or really knew how he prepared sermons each week.  

My desire was to preach and teach the word of God.  As I look back in those years, I am grateful that my Dad had a good library of Christian books.  I remember that I would read and study from the books by  A.W. Pink, and  H.A. Ironside, of course we had Oliver B Greene books too.  Dad had the Treasure of David by Charles Spurgeon which I read a lot while teaching Psalms in the Youth Class.  These studies gave me a good foundation, even if I didn’t know it.

In Seminary I was never exposed to any of these theologians or preachers or teachers.  While they taught books of the Bible they never taught us how to come to a good biblical interpretation of scripture.

Of course we were always having theological challenges in the theology class.  Dr. George Norris made sure that we were challenged in our thinking.  The doctrines of the Bible was always a challenge to me, and one that I always was willing to get involved in.
Some of the most heated debates were over election and sovereignty of God. Of course as a  19 year old I was not up to great details on the subjects. I had not heard of John Calvin yet.
Now 45 years later the theological challenges are still rampant in many forms today.  The people in the pew are still uninformed and still have trouble with Biblical truths.  Theological debate over doctrines of the Trinity, Christ, and Scripture just to name a few are still on the hot seat of debate.  Even the doctrine of separation is heating up.  And this is nothing compared to the truth about the doctrine of salvation, election and heaven and hell.
Of course it all starts with the understanding  and explanation of the teaching of Scripture. The debate over the authority of the Bible, is in fact if  the Bible is really the Word of God and if it is  really true in the first place.
Then you have the area of biblical interpretation. Now in my early days preaching was more about application then interpretation. The idea is to be able to understand and interpreted the Bible, this is called Hermeneutics: the science of interpreting the text of Scripture. What is the methodology of interpreting texts, especially the books of the Bible? It’s the branch of theology that is concerned with explaining or interpreting religious concepts, theories, and principles.
The understanding of scripture of course is vital in the lives of pastors/teachers and pew sitters alike.  Much of the problem of what makes it unnecessarily complicated, though, is that those within the church sometimes pick up tools for interpreting the Bible without giving a thorough inspection or asking whether they are the right tools to apply to Scripture. After all what we hold in our hand and place on the pulpit  each week as we teach should not be treated like any other book.
When you go to interpreted the Bible and you are the interpreter of the Word of God, what tools do you have before you that is going to help you hollow out the precious nuggets:  that are firmly and sometimes seems elusive but clearly in the text?
Something that seems abstract such as knowledge or information, and regarded as very precious are to be sought out with care.  Too often I am afraid the theologians and pastors/teachers will use a grid, a method and approach that starts hammering away at the meaning of a passage of Scripture, only to find that the results conflict with what Scripture (i.e. the God-breathed revelation record of God’s saving words/deeds in history) and what it demands (i.e. obedience of faith among all the nations for the sake of the crucified and raised Messiah: Romans 1:5)
I often wonder over the years, just how the preacher before me was getting his information about the sermon he was preaching.  I can tell you what he was preaching and the verses he was using just didn’t seem to match up.
The tools that many of my fellow preachers wanted you to believe they were using was not what they were using.  Many preachers and teachers want the pew-sitters to believe they received the sermon from the Holy Spirit.  I really didn’t believe that, because I couldn’t believe the Holy Spirit would tell them what I was hearing.
Many times I was confused if they were preaching the title of the sermon or the text they were using.
Of course one should honor the title, but preach the text, true but more than that, one should preach the title by using the text.  Way too often preachers have a great sermon title which they do very well in explaining but they don’t use the text to prove their thought.