From Peter Forsyth, The Work Of Christ; Cf. The Work of Christ at Amazon
Corinthians 5:14-6:2; Romans 5:1-11; Colossians 1:10-29; Ephesians 2:16
The great need of the religious world today is a return to the Bible. That is necessary for two reasons, negative and positive. Negatively, because the most serious feature of the hour in the life of the Church is the neglect of the Bible for personal use and study by religious people. Positively, because we have today enormous advantages in connection with that return to the Bible. Modern scholarship has made of the Bible a new Book. It has in a certain sense rediscovered it. You might say that the soul of the Reformation was the rediscovery of the Bible; and in a wider sense that is true today also. We have, through the labors of more than a century of the finest scholarship in all the world, come to understand the Bible, in its original sense, as it was never understood before. These instructed scribes draw forth from their treasury things as new as old. It is the old Book, and it is a new Book. It is the old Book, and the precious Book, because of its power of unceasing self-renovation. The spirit that lives within the Bible is a spirit of constant self-preservation. One way of describing the Reformation is to say that, since the early Gnostic centuries, it was the greatest effort that ever took place in the Church for the self-preservation of Christianity. Remember, the Church was not reformed from the outside, but from the inside. It was the Church reforming the Church. It was the Church’s faith that arose, under the Holy Spirit, and reformed the Church. So it is with the Bible. Whatever renovation we find in connection with the Bible – I do not here man renovation of ourselves, but renovation of our way of understanding the Book – arises out of the Bible itself. This remains true today, as it was true in the Reformation time, although it is now true in a somewhat different application. The Bible is still the best commentary upon itself. I have always done much in my ministry in the way of expounding the Bible, and I would say to the younger ministers particularly who are here, Do not be afraid of that manner of preaching. I have known young ministers who were over-scrupulous I have known them say, “If I take a long text people will think it is because I am lazy and do not want the labour of getting a sermon out of a small one.” Never mind such foolish people. Do not be afraid of long texts, long passages. Preach less from verses and more from paragraphs. If I had my time over again I would do a great deal more in that way than I have done. Read but one lesson, and read it with elucidatory comments. Of course some people can do that better than others. There is always the danger that if a person try it who has no sort of knack in that direction, the people will feel they have been let in for two sermons instead of one; and, excellent as these might be, people do not like to feel they have been got to church upon false pretenses. It might even given an excuse to certain people for omitting one of the services altogether, on the plea they had put in the requisite amount of attention at one service. I would also admit that if you do this it will not reduce your labour. It will really add what might amount to another sermon to your weekly work. It is no use doing it if you do it on the spur of the moment. If you just say things that occur to your mind while you are reading, you may say some banal, or some nonsensical and fantastic things. It means careful preparation. The lesson should be prepared as truly as the prayer should be prepared, and as the sermon should be prepared. You have to work your way through the chapter with the aid of the best commentary that you can get; and you have to exercise continual judgment in doing so lest you be dragged away into little matters of detail instead of keeping to the larger lines of thought in the passage in hand. Then, if you do as I say, there is this other advantage, that you can take a particular verse out of the long passage for your sermon; and thus you come to the sermon with an audience which you yourself have prepared to listen to you. You have created your own atmosphere, and you have done it on a Bible basis.
Now I will confess against myself that sometimes, as I preach about here and there, and have done as I have been recommending you to do, people have come to me afterwards and said, as nicely as they could, that the sermon was all very well, but in respect of the reading of the Scripture, they never heard it after that fashion; they had never realized how vivid Scripture could become. That simply results from paying attention to the chapter with the best help. You will find, I am sure, that your congregation will welcome it.