Are There Really Only Three Passages?

I recently heard a friend make an excellent point.  Apparently there are only three passages in the Bible.  How do we know this?  Well, there seem to be only three sermon outlines, so obviously there are only three texts.  The sermon outlines are as follows:

1. Jesus died for your sins, repent and believe, when you die you’ll go to heaven

2. Read the Bible more, pray more, evangelise more

3. Have more faith, be more obedient.

That’s pretty convincing (if you base your research on the majority of sermons preached).  But perhaps the research is flawed?  Perhaps there are more than three texts in the Bible?  Perhaps these three outlines don’t really reflect the beautiful variety and complexity of the Bible?

Of course, there are probably a couple of handfuls of major themes that trace their way through the Bible.  However, what an amazing selection of texts.  Which one are you preaching tomorrow?  Does it have a more specific outline and main thought than these three listed above?  Let’s make sure it shows.

9 thoughts on “Are There Really Only Three Passages?

  1. This is a very important article that needs to be read to every preacher. Take stock of your sermons…Do you only preach these sermons? Well it is time to think more deeply about the texts that you are reading….

    God Bless…

  2. Learning that the preaching/teaching of the Gospel started in Genesis was a shock to me. I believed the only text for the Gospel was found in John 3:16 and of course the Roman Road verses.

    The flaw of presenting the gospel from three texts is you missed the point of the need of salvation and the gospel.

    And the reason for so much superficial converts in our evangelism today comes from the an understanding of the gospel in the first place.

  3. Haddon Robinson says that there are only a handful of basic themes and that all of them are nuances of those. He never would say how many in class, but my bet is it is less than 10.

  4. You must have pestered Haddon enough, because he always said to us that there are 8-10 big big ideas in the Bible. He started listing them once, but trailed off before he got too far!

    • No I never pestered him about it. I just remember him saying it many times.

      The problem is that we must find Christ in every passage and I believe that the Gospel is all throughout. But we have to dig down to the depth of the Gospel in each passage and find more than just the three things you are talking about.

    • Your comment illustrates the carnality and indifference to true discipleship that characterizes today’s church. Hopefully your shallow thinking does not reflect your true spiritual standing. All believers must devote their lives to actively pursuing and emulating Christ in all that we do. Move on from the milk & demand the meat! Hebrews 5:12, I Timothy 6:12. There must be a balance; because of what Christ has done for us (including the finished work of our salvation), we should completely surrender ourselves daily & take up our crosses!

  5. I am aware that I am commenting on only one aspect of the question, nevertheless I think it needs to be addressed. According to N.T. Wright and others, the first category is flawed and I am guessing that is what Mr. Cox is refering to. “Going to heaven when I die” is certainly a significant reason why there is so much lukewarm Christianity. Walk an isle, say a prayer, go to heaven when you die…challenges few.

    God is up to so much more than just saving a Noah’s Ark full of believers so he can sail them off to heaven when they die…He is renewing the whole creation! A line from Barbara Brown Taylor says it well “The church shall be…the divine gene pool from which the world shall be recreated in God’s image.” “Repent and believe” is the divine command to get on board with this project via discipleship, the divinely ordained means through which the human transformation of the project takes place, birthing Spirit-led people who actually get involved in what they pray for when they pray from the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done, on EARTH as it is in heaven.

    Preaching this category as ought to be preached might just set the world on fire.

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