By Tony Merida
A few years ago, Dr. Chuck Kelley gave me this “Torah Pointer.” It is
used for the reading of the Torah, indicating the sacredness of the
text. Dr. Kelley gave this to me to illustrate this simple charge: “Keep
your finger on the text when you teach and preach.”
I was thinking about his gracious gift as I was preparing to preach on this passage:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly
believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you
have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make
you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is
breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may
be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence
of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and
by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season
and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience
and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound
teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves
teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to
the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Timothy 3:14-4:4 ESV
Timothy is being urged to keep his finger on the text as he continues in the ministry of the Word.
The opposite of this, of course, is to get away from the text.
And that seems to be quite popular. It was then, and it is now.
So what is preaching? Preaching is saying what God has said in his
Word and declaring what God has done in Christ. When the Word of God is
truly preached, the voice of God is truly heard. In contrast, when the
words of man are at center stage, then the words of man are heard
(though often mistaken for the Word of God).
Ranting is not preaching.
Ranting may be entertaining. It may get you on YouTube. It may even
get you a large podcast following. But it isn’t preaching. Preaching is
rooted in the text.
What I’ve observed of late is a fashionable trend among a lot of
popular preachers to go on these thirty-minute rants about issues like
manhood, church planting, Calvinism, the President of the U.S., or how
While we need to apply the text to a given congregation, does this
mean we just use a verse to jump into some agenda of ours? No. That’s
not preaching. I have one word for the ranters out there: Keep your
finger on the text when you teach and preach. And I will try to do the
God has not called us to rant; he has called us to preach the Word –
faithfully, consistently, pastorally, patiently, and theologically.
Prosperity gospel preachers and other false teachers use the rant
method, and this same method seems to be employed by others, but they
don’t get called out because they are orthodox theologically.
Let’s remember that the thirty-minute rant is dangerous. Why?
• It is dangerous because you lose authority when you leave Scripture.
• It is dangerous because you are feeding the flesh of people. Every
generation has people who want to find teachers to “suit their own
• It is dangerous because it feeds the cult of personality movement
in our culture. People come wondering, “What will he say this week?”
instead of preparing to hear a faithful exposition of Holy Scripture.
• It is dangerous because it disregards our holy mandate as preachers
and teachers. We will be held accountable for how we’ve handled the
Word (James 3:1, Heb. 13:7, 17).
• It is dangerous because we don’t want people putting their faith in man’s wisdom but in God’s Word.
May God raise up a new generation of faithful, responsible expositors
of Scripture who keep their finger on the text as they teach and