Why “Book, Chapter, and Verse” Preaching?

Text: Nehemiah 8:8

After the wall around Jerusalem had been rebuilt, the people gathered to hear the law read to them. Ezra and the Levites read from the law and explained it so that the people understood what it meant. This is the same thing we should do today – we want people to understand what God’s word means. How can we accomplish this? Through “book, chapter, and verse” preaching. Let us consider why “book, chapter, and verse” preaching is important.

First, What Is “Book, Chapter, and Verse” (BCV) Preaching?

  • Preaching that attempts to accurately represent the truth of God’s word
  • Seeks to prove its truthfulness by citing specific passages (BCV) and explaining those passages
  • Allows the hearer to locate the passages under consideration and see them for themselves

The Bible Is the Truth (Psalm 119:160)

  • The psalmist declared that the sum/entirety of God’s word is truth – Jesus said the same (John 17:17); if we want to know the truth, we must go to the Bible; God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and the Bible contains His words (2 Timothy 3:16); therefore, it is true
  • This is an unchanging standard (Psalm 119:89; 1 Peter 1:25) – unlike human opinions that are always changing; we do not want people to follow what we say just because it sounds good (2 Timothy 4:3; Proverbs 14:12); if we want to point people to the truth, we must point them to the Scriptures

Divinely-Given Obligation (1 Peter 4:11)

  • To “speak as the oracles of God” is not just to claim to speak for God, it means to speak His words – we cannot know His will unless He reveals it (1 Corinthians 2:10-12); therefore, we cannot claim to speak for God if we are not appealing to Scripture
  • Those who do not “speak as the oracles of God” will be punished (Deuteronomy 18:20) – preaching a different gospel causes one to be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9)

To Appeal to Those Who Are Honest (Luke 8:5-8, 11, 15)

  • Jesus described the word being preached to several different types of people – the only one that would be fruitful was the “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15); once they heard, they would hold fast to it (2 Timothy 1:13); but they first had to hear it
  • There are people out there with “an honest and good heart” – does no good without hearing (Romans 10:17); therefore, we must be sowing the seed and doing so “as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11); many will reject this, but those who are honest will accept it (cf. Acts 17:11)

Bibles Are Readily Available (Acts 8:30-35)

  • There’s a reason why the Bible doesn’t contain BCV preaching – chapter/verse divisions were made later (cf. Hebrews 4:4; Genesis 2:2); but the principle is true that whenever possible, the one taught should have the passage before them
  • The Scriptures are widely accessible today, in print and digital format – by citing BCV, the listener can have the passage in front of them; this allows them to test it immediately (Acts 17:11); this means there is less of an opportunity for the devil to come and take away the word (Luke 8:12)


  • Why do we emphasize “book, chapter, and verse” preaching? – because the Bible is the truth and we have an obligation to accurately represent it when teaching; we are trying to reach those who are honest and we want them to see the truth for themselves
  • Different men have different preaching “styles” – but this is not a matter of “style”; we don’t use BCV preaching simply because we prefer it; we use it because it is the type of preaching that needs to be done

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