Merely quoting verses is not “staying on the line” if you miss the intention of the author in the passage. After all, even Satan quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13).
In a recent article called, “Have Bible Quoters Replaced Bible Readers?“, Russell Moore explains why only quoting Scripture (as opposed to reading it well) is dangerous. Moore shares the following explanation from David Niehuis of how the issue often manifests itself:
“Some of my students attend popular non-denominational churches led by entrepreneurial leaders who claim to be ‘Bible believing’ and strive to offer sermons that are ‘relevant’ for successful Christian living. . . . Unfortunately, in too many cases, this formula results in a preacher appealing to a short text of Scripture, out of context, in order to support a predetermined set of ‘biblical principles’ to guide the congregants’ daily lives. The only Bible these students encounter, sadly, is the version that is carefully distilled according to the theological and ideological concerns that have shaped the spiritual formation of the lead pastor.”
Moore continues to diagnose the issue:
This is not a matter of the educated versus the uneducated. The same problem exists among both. I have noticed people who were experts in the grammar of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles who didn’t really get the flow of the old, old story. But if the Bible is God’s Word, and it is, we must raise up people who don’t merely believe it but also know what it says.
We encourage you to read the article in its entirety. We also encourage you to think through how you can lead the people under your care toward greater Bible literacy by modeling faithful Bible reading and by training others in the Scriptures. As David Jackman has said, it’s not enough to consult the Bible only when we need direction or an answer, we need God’s message in the Bible to sit in the driver’s seat of the church.
For practical ways to make the Bible user-friendly from the pulpit, read this article.