A worship service in which all words spoken, from first to last, are words from Scripture—such a service will be rigged and ready to sail into the waters that flow from the throne room of God (Rev. 22). God has chosen, in mysterious divine wisdom, this collection of documents that comprise our Bible to be the means by which we are formed to be the people of faith. God has chosen, in mysterious divine wisdom, this Bible to be one of the means by which Christ is presented to us in our gathered worship. God has chosen, in mysterious divine wisdom, this Bible to be the means of our comfort, judgment, instruction, hope, lament, and vision. It would be a great folly for us to fill our worship service with words—mountains of words—that do not find their source in this God-appointed well.
—Leanne Van Dyk, “Proclamation: Revelation, Christology,” A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony, 69-70.
The first business of the Church at all times is to be attentive to the Word of God.
—William Nicholls, Jacob’s Ladder: The Meaning of Worship, 39
Word must always precede, and also create, sacrament and praise, confession and blessing.
—Paul F. M. Zahl, “Formal-Liturgical Worship,” in Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views, 34
Scripture should constitute the very content for much of what we say, sing, and pray in worship. When this is the case, Scripture permeates the service from beginning to end. Scripture forms the basis for all of worship.
—Constance Cherry, The Worship Architect, 80
God’s sacred Word . . . is that inestimable treasure that excelleth all the riches of the earth.
—translators of the King James Version, 1611
“This Book [is] the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.” With these words the Moderator of the Church of Scotland hands a Bible to the new monarch in Britain’s coronation service.
—Preface to the English Standard Version
That the sermon, if it is to be a Christian sermon at all, must be an honest attempt to expound a passage of Scripture should go without saying. To by-pass Scripture at this point is like trying to celebrate the Holy Supper without bread or wine; it is to show that one is ignorant of the commandments and promises which determine Christian worship.
But it is not enough just to take a text. To take a text and then proceed to use it as a peg on which to hang one’s own thoughts is as bad as having no text at all: it is to handle the Word of God deceitfully and to insult the Lord who wills to speak to his people through the words of Scripture. But to say that preaching must be expository is not to say that it must not be topical in the sense of having direct relevance to contemporary events. On the contrary, the scriptural passage has not been properly heard and understood, until it relevance to the actual concrete situation of the congregation has been recognized; and the more patiently and honestly expository preaching is, the more relevant and contemporary does it become. Of course it is true that there is a sort of exposition that leaves everything in the air, but that is no proper exposition. A scriptural passage is not properly expounded until its relevance to the hearers becomes plain.
—C. E. B. Cranfield, “Divine and Human Action,” Interpretation 12:4 (October, 1958):393