Today I’m going to take time to respond to a clip from Pastor Matt Chandler. This is one of his well known sermons when he said, “The Bible’s Not About You”. His point is that many make the Bible about us when they teach the hero stories of the Bible. He uses David as an example and says with intensity, “You’re NOT David!” His desire is to help us to avoid infusing ourselves into the story. He wants them to know that we are not the main point of the story. Jesus is the staring role.
While I disagree with what Chandler and others are saying on this topic, I want to emphasize that I enjoy his teachings. He is a Charismatic and someone whom I agree with on many points. I think this brings up a great discussion that is based on a fundamental question, what is the Bible about?
Fundamentally I agree that the Bible is God’s redemptive story. That is the primary reason for the Scriptures. He is the lead actor and director. We are the supporting characters who are called to fulfill His plan. We are a part of the church, so we are in the Bible, in that sense. The Bible is not written to us. It not written for God because He lived through stories. It is written for us. It is for our benefit.
I differ on Chandlers conclusion of the message. His conclusion is that because the Bible is not about me, I cannot be David. I believe we can emulate David and should. We should embrace the idea that it is good to relate to many people in the Bible. Chandler points out that, “If Jesus is David, Goliath is sin and death, then who does that make me? The scared Israelite”. Honestly I can definitely relate to this. Sometimes I’m a scared Israelite. This is a perspective I haven’t thought about.
We should cherish the Bible and hold it with honor. When Micah 6:8 tells us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, is that a calling for us? I believe it is. Now this is not directly to us, but it is something we should absolutely do. Many of the Psalms are written by David. In the Bible the Prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin. If we are never David,how do we read Psalms 51 about David repenting from his sin? Would it be wrong of me to say, “Well I’m not David, so I don’t have to repent.” I think that would be error. There are times when we are David. Sometimes we kill our Goliaths and sometimes we fall into sin. It is rare to find a hero in the Bible without flaws. To me, it makes them more relatable. This shows us that Bible is true. You can be like David when he failed, and you can be like David when he succeeded. The hero story of David is wonderful because David gives the glory to God.
I believe that Chandler’s heart to is remind us that we cannot always make ourselves the hero every-time we teach the Bible. Jesus is the ultimate hero. Here are my thoughts, while this is good, there is nothing wrong with preaching that we can be like David. Jesus lived a perfect life on this Earth to save us for our sins and to be our example. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me”. Should Peter have taken the other disciples aside and said, “You’re NOT Jesus!” No this theme of laying ourselves down like Jesus did is something Biblical.
The Apostle Paul told the Men in Ephesus, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Was Paul being narcissistic and trying to make the men of Ephesus the hero? No he was simply using this as an example. When a preacher says, “Be like David! Have courage! You’re going to defeat that giant!” realize that this is something that God wants.
Rod Saunders (from the YouTube channel, Jew and Greek) makes a good note by saying, “Matt seems to wanna cast Christians in the role of the cowering Israelite soldiers with David representing Jesus defeating sin and death. But didn’t he say that the Bible is not about us? If that’s the case, then nobody in this story represents the believer. But the way I see it. David is the Christian who acts on the Word of God and sees victory. While the others are the Christians who live in unbelief and defeat.” Good point brother Rod! The wonderful part about David is that God calls all of us to rise up and be bold. Take a step out in faith and fight!
In Joshua 1:6 we read how the Lord told Joshua, “Be strong and courageous”. If we apply Chandler’s idea that the Bible is not about us and I’m not the hero of the story, we might miss a good application. Dr. Paul Maxwell makes a great point on this topic when he quotes John Calvin. Calvin’s interpretation of Joshua 1:9 says, “From this passage, therefore, let us learn that we can never be fit for executing difficult and arduous matters unless we exert our utmost endeavors, both because our abilities are weak, and Satan rudely assails us, and there is nothing we are more inclined to than to relax our efforts.” Now is Calvin wrong to relate this story to our lives and encourage us to also be courageous? No Calvin is correct in this passage. All of the Biblical stories are for our edification.
The Bible is about many things. It is about God, Jesus, Paul, Abraham, and yes the Bible can also be about you! It is about how we are called to love God and love people. There are primary meanings of a passage, there are applications, and there are types of Jesus.
The story of David and Goliath is one where the glory goes to God. David is the hero, and God is also the hero. David had faith and followed the Lord. That should be something we try to do. Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him. Does this mean I’m trying to be like Jesus, the hero of the story? Yes, it does! I want to be like the hero. I pray every day that I become more and more like hero Jesus.
We cannot forget application. If we remove application from our sermons, they will not feel grounded. We are called to apply these stories to our lives. My heart is this, stay balanced. I love what the Apostle Paul told the Ephesian Elders, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) (NKJV).
This sermon clip wouldn’t mean as much if it was said one time. To me it was when I saw this clip repeated over and over by those in the Reformed group. Then when it was repeated in the documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone that I began to write down my thoughts. Below you can watch the clip. On this issue, it falsely paints Steven Furtick, Joel Osteen, and John Gray in a negative light. This message gives the presumption that there is only one way to teach a text. Many other well known Preachers have preached the David and Goliath story this way. One of the greatest preachers was Charles Spurgeon. He preached a sermon that sounded just like Furtick if you read the end of it. On September 05, 1875 Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon called, The Lion-Slayer- The Giant Killer. He said:
“This church numbers nearly five thousand members, but if you are only five thousand cowards the battle will bring no glory to God. If we have one David among us, that one hero will do wonders; but think what an army would be if all the soldiers were Davids— it would be an ill case with the Philistines then. Oh that we were all Davids, that the weakest among us were as David, and David himself were better than he is, and became like an angel of the Lord! “
Notice how this sounds a lot like the quotes we heard in the clip. The best part about this quote is that Spurgeon is Reformed. I’m not trying to review the entire film because it is almost a 3 hour documentary, but I am here to point out that this preaching style is not just in America. Spurgeon lived in London. So perhaps this could have been better placed in a film called, “The London Gospel”.
Who is the Bible about?
C) David, Abraham, Moses, and other Biblical characters
It is D) all of the above. This is not one or the other. Like I have said before, Matt Chandler is a great Pastor. I just disagree on this point. To wrap this up, the goal of a sermon is rotate between three things: the passage and what the original author meant, myself and how it applies to my life, and Christ, how we see God’s redemptive story throughout the Bible. I think a good sermon begins with David, talks about how this relates to us, and ends with Christ.
Link to Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on David and Goliath. https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/the-lion-slayer-the-giant-killer/#flipbook/
American Gospel Clip: