Our church members know that on Sunday mornings we are studying the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) verse by verse. This has meant that we have had to wrestle with some very difficult passages of Scripture (e.g., passages on lust, divorce, remarriage, etc.). As I was reflecting on this recently, I was reminded once again of the benefits of preaching through a book of the Bible or a section of a book of the Bible (like the Sermon on the Mount). You see, when a pastor preaches verse by verse through a book like this, he is forced to deal with and preach on certain passages and subjects that are difficult. If, on the other hand, a pastor preaches a topical series (for example, a series on love, or the family, etc.), then he can pick and choose which passages of Scripture to preach. Inevitably, in these situations, the pastor will choose passages that he is familiar with, or passages that are “easier” to interpret and apply to his congregation. What tends to happen is that if a church has a steady diet of these kinds of topical sermon series, then the congregation rarely studies those “hard” passages of Scripture that we might tend to avoid because they make us uncomfortable. However, when you’re preaching through a book, or a section like the Sermon on the Mount, you don’t get to pick and choose which passages to preach. You preach the “easy” ones as well as the “hard” ones, and everything in between. And this is exactly what we need. Studying a book in this way is akin to eating a well balanced meal. We might like the dessert best, but the truth is we need the vegetables too. I’m grateful for the Bible, and I’m grateful for a church that desires to hear from the whole counsel of God.