Is it right for a preacher to preach his opinion as Bible doctrine?
No. I have included this question because I want to go on record as stating that I have no right to teach my opinion as Bible doctrine and neither does any other person have the right to so do. The Bible says in Colossians 3:17 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Everything that I say as a preacher must be authorized by God. Everything that I do in my life must be authorized by God. In 1 Peter 4:11 Peter writes, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31 “whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Everything that I say must 1) be authorized by God, 2) be as the oracles of God, and 3) be to the glory of God. So no, I have no right to preach my opinion as doctrine. This is not to say that when I get in the pulpit to preach the gospel that I have no right to preach the truth of God’s word as I believe it is the truth. It is incumbent upon me, therefore, to make sure that everything that I say whether in Bible class or from the pulpit is the truth of God’s word and that my words have a “thus saith the Lord” behind them.
Now, this does not mean or imply that everything that I say must be inspired of God. That is, it does not mean that all I do is get up in the pulpit and read the Bible. That would not be preaching the gospel at all–that would simply be reading the scriptures. We read in Ezra 7:10 the following words, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” Then we read in Nehemiah 8:5, 6, and 8 “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground�. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” I want you to notice the connection between these two verses. 1) Ezra prepared to teach. 2) Ezra read in the book of the law. 3) Ezra gave the sense. 4) Ezra caused them to understand the reading. I would be no preacher at all if I did not prepare the things that I preached. I would be no preacher at all if I did not explain what the scriptures mean. I would be no preacher at all if I made no direct and personal applications from God’s word. I would be no preacher at all if I didn’t help others to understand the meaning of the words of God. That, according to the Bible, is part of what the preacher’s job is to do. Now, wherein lies the rub?
There have been on more than one occasion situations where individuals disagree as to what God’s word means. There have been on more than one occasion situations where individuals disagreed on how to apply God’s word to their life. There are some who have studied the scriptures less than others. There are some who do not have a complete understanding about what the Bible says is sin and is not sin. Different people have different levels of understanding and different attitudes toward God’s word. What does one do when two people disagree about how to apply God’s word; that is, what does the Bible teach that we ought to do when one brother believes that something is a sin whereas another brother merely believes that something is opinion? You study the word of God to see if there are any areas of the scripture in which you have overlooked (Acts 17:11). You pray to God for wisdom (James 1:5). If you believe that it is a matter of opinion, you do not act in any way so as to cause your brother to stumble. Romans 15:1, 2 says “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.” If the conflict continues, then you take it to the eldership and let them resolve the dilemma. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” If the decision of the elders is unfavorable toward you and you cannot live with that decision, then you need to move on to another location where you can worship in peace. If, however, you choose to stay, you must stay with the knowledge that you have an obligation within God’s word to submit to the eldership. You have no authority within the scriptures to sow division within the local church. Everything that is given within the scriptures is given so that there will be peace and harmony within the local congregation. The person who willfully ignores all of the above scriptural passages sins against God in so doing, whether his understanding of the disagreement is right or wrong. There is a right way and a wrong way to handle these matters whether we ourselves are right or wrong. The eldership has the strongest say in these matters.