Being biblical is like being a woven fabric. Woven fabric can be very strong, or it can be flimsy. Two sets of threads are woven together at right angles. When the warp and the weft threads are both numerous and tight, then the fabric will have real strength.
Warp – imagine this to be your understanding of the Bible, book by book. Each book is like a thread, and the more you know it the stronger the thread. Know the structure, the flow, the situation, the purpose, the details that make it what it is. To be biblical we need to be people who get to know Bible books. (In fact, each Bible book turns out to be like woven fabric too, but pushing the analogy to woven fabric made up of the threads of woven fabric might become too complex for non-weavers like me!)
Weft – imagine this to be your understanding of the Bible, theme by theme. Great themes are like a thread, and the more you know them, them the stronger the thread. Know the themes and where they touch down in the flow of the canon. Some touch down only periodically (think Melchizedek – Gen.14, Psa.110, Hebrews 7), while others are woven throughout almost every page (think sin and its effects, for instance).
Too many people in our churches have great gaps in the fabric of their biblical awareness. Great blocks of books are untouched. Thematic threads are unknown. Sadly, too many preachers have bare patches and weak weaving in their biblical knowledge. A collection of proof texts and favourite passages, combined with one or two key themes, will not make for biblical preaching, or even biblical living.
Three quick suggestions:
1. Be sure to be reading the whole Bible – sweep through it to get the big picture. You will find that reading good chunks will captivate in a way that close study alone never can. You will start to see how the books flow and how they flow together. You will start to become familiar with themes that may have remained hidden in close study alone.
2. Be sure to study the Bible book by book – take a book and let it get to grips with you. The building blocks, or perhaps, the warp threads of our biblical understanding has to be book by book for there to be any substance and strength to our being biblical as believers and then as preachers. Get to know the fabric of each book: the sections as they build, the themes as they weave through.
3. Be sure to enjoy the biblical themes – start to identify and follow the themes of Scripture. Some have done this exclusively, following threads without awareness of context. This is a weak approach. Others have ignored the themes and only focused on one passage at a time. This also is weak. We need both. Start to enjoy the promise theme starting in Genesis 3:15 – I loved tracing the theme of both the promise and the presence of the Promiser in Pleased to Dwell. What about holiness, or God’s heart, or themes of sonship, of marriage, of divine surprise, etc.?
Pray and ask God to show you where the fabric of your biblical awareness is threadbare. Read and weave and enjoy.