The Pastor/Teacher’s Toolkit – Cross-Reference Explorer

toolkit, cross-ref explorer

One of the best ways to interpret Scripture is by using Scripture, or in other words, using cross-references. In the Bible there are around 340,000 cross-references ( that can help you explore the unity and common themes between the Old and New Testaments. On top of biblical cross-referencing, WORDsearch can help you explore your entire library to find mentions of the verse you are looking for to help you build out a sermon or lesson.

As we saw with the last Quick Tip, one of the most time-saving features of WORDsearch is the Cross-Reference Explorer. The Cross-Reference Explorer is a powerful and easy tool to find critical notes, historical and cultural information, and insights from others on God’s Word.

Let’s take a deeper look into how to use Cross-Reference Explorer when creating a sermon or lesson.

Let’s say we are creating a sermon on the baptism of Jesus, what it meant, and where it is alluded to in the Old Testament.

If you open a Bible open to Matthew 3:13-17, verse 16 states, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” we can easily see the biblical cross-references by clicking on the little number 4 in brackets. This means there are four other Scripture references related to the verse. From this, we see that John 12:28 and Luke 9:35 also mention Jesus’ baptism, showing us that it must be significant.

We also get two Old Testament references with Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1.

cross reference explorer

Now that we have our cross-reference verses, we can see what the other books in our library have to say about them. Let’s say we want to know more about the cross-reference of Isaiah 42:1 first.

Open the Cross-Reference Explorer and type in Isaiah 42:1.


Here we see many references to the verse, but we’re interested in the ones that specifically relate to Matthew 3:17. After reading a few entries, we can go back and type in Matthew 3:17 in the search bar to go back to our original verse.

Here are just a few things we can learn:

  • In the Bible Background Commentary, we learn how Matthew writes his gospel this way so that his readers would see allusions “not only to Psalm 2:7,” which we saw earlier as a cross-reference, but “also to the suffering servant of Isaiah 42:1-4.”
  • Isaiah 42:1, we’re informed,  is a fulfilled Messianic prophecy of the Messiah being filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • Matthew Henry Concise explains that Jesus’ baptism shows the full Trinity at work — Jesus the man, the Holy Spirit descending, and God the Father speaking.
  • In Wells of Living Water from a sermon titled the “Preaching and Baptism of John”, we discover an application of how to apply this message to the audience personally. How important is baptism to us?
  • Instead of searching through all the topics in my Sermon Help Illustration books, using the Cross-Reference Explorer, we can find two illustrations mentioning Matthew 3:17 in 6,000 Plus Illustrations for Communicating Biblical Truths, one bringing to light the importance of Fathers telling their children, “You’re mine,” to help them feel secure.

With all of this information, I can structure my sermon around how the Old Testament points to Christ, the importance of His baptism, and the importance of baptism for us. By understanding the Old Testament allusions to this event, we gain a much richer knowledge of the New Testament. Using the Cross-Reference Explorer, you can craft a much fuller and deeper sermon.

What is your favorite part of using Cross-Reference Explorer? Share with us in the comments below!

Quick Tip – Sort Through Thousands of Cross-References in Seconds

Depending on the size of your library, your WORDsearch books can contain thousands of references to Bible verses. If you want to study a specific verse of Scripture, it can seem overwhelming to even know where to begin.

The Cross-Reference Explorer shows you every single time a certain verse is found in every single one of your books. This is one of the most time-saving features of WORDsearch.

Let’s say you are doing a study on John 3:16. The Cross-Reference Explorer will search your entire library to show you every time John 3:16 is referenced. The best part? It only takes a few seconds.

First, click on the Cross-Reference Explorer icon to open up the tool. A few notes about the window that opens up:

  • The first bar at the top is where you choose the verse you want to search. Here we’ll use John 3:16. You can either type in the verse or use the drop-down to select, just like when you are navigating a Bible.
  • The little icon next to the verse chooser lets you arrange your windows either side-by-side or over/under. The usefulness of this icon depends on how many books you have open or what you determine to be more readable.
  • Just like in Bibles and commentaries, there is a sync icon. This comes in handy when you have a Bible or commentary open and want the Cross-Reference Explorer to follow your Bible navigation. If synced, the Cross-Reference Explorer will automatically update and find cross-references for whatever verse you are currently on. Pretty cool.
  • By default, the Cross-Reference Explorer will use all of your books, but you can also use a collection.

cross reference explorer, wordsearch bible

Once we type John 3:16 into the verse chooser and hit enter, the results will display organized by book category. We can expand the categories in our results to see which books reference the verse, and we can expand individual books to see the different places within the book that reference the verse and how many times.

The results show us that John 3:16 is mentioned 31 times in the Bible Knowledge Commentary and in five devotionals in Daily Light on the Daily Path.

The red parentheses show how many references are in that section of the book. From there, you can click on any of the results to read more, or open the book in a new window for further study.

cross reference explorer, wordsearch bible

Can you imagine trying to do this in your printed books? It would take a long time. With the Cross-Reference Explorer, it takes a few seconds. The Cross-Reference Explorer is a powerful and easy tool to find critical notes, historical and cultural information, and insights from others on God’s Word. Whether you want to see where the verse appears in your different texts or you want to build out your sermon, it can help you find any Bible verse, anywhere in your WORDsearch library.

Let us know how the Cross-Reference Explorer has helped you in your study in the comments below!

Guest Post – Does Seventy-Seven Times Equal 490?

77Understanding cross-references is important for the preacher and teacher. Cross-references often add life, meaning and depth to a passage of Scripture.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matt 18:21-22 NIV

The common footnote in this verse explains “seventy-seven times” as “seventy times seven.” Most of us realize that seventy times seven (490) is much larger than seventy-seven (77). However, are we missing the point of what Jesus was saying?

A common method of rabbinical communication during Jesus’ time was cross-referencing. Specifically, when Rabbis would mention even a couple words from a verse of Scripture, it would bring to mind ideas, emotions and teachings associated with the verse from which it was mentioned.

In our example, “seventy-seven times” is a quote back to Genesis:

Lamech said to his wives, 

‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times. – Genesis 4:23-24 NIV

Lamech was a descendant of Cain, the murderer of his brother Abel. Earlier in Genesis 4, the story of Cain killing his brother in a fit of jealousy and rage is recounted. Immediately following the retelling is this quote from Lamech on avenging seventy-seven times.

The hearers of Jesus’ teaching this day would have known this Scripture reference. They would have had a mental picture of Cain and Lamech, and their thirst for out of control vengeance. Their hunger for over the top payback would have been in their thinking while listening to Jesus.

Also, the number seven throughout Genesis and Scripture symbolized completeness, finality. Lamech’s intention is this: If someone broke his arm, he would snap their neck. He was eager to pay back double, or triple. He would go one up or further on any offense committed towards him.

Now here’s the punch line of Jesus’ teaching: We should be as eager to forgive far beyond any offense towards us as Lamech was eager to repay any offense towards him. Our forgiveness should be far above the sin, just as Lamech’s revenge was far above the offense. We should unleash forgiveness as Lamech unleashed vengeance. 

This whole forgiveness teaching doesn’t focus on the amount of forgiveness. The main point is our inner drive to forgive. The invisible heart of ours that we are often so reluctant to face is the focus. Our desires should be to forgive without restraint. Then we are forgiving as Jesus’ taught. 

Who knew that forgiving seventy-seven times meant much more than forgiving as often as you can?

Please God, help me to change. Help my desires to match your Word. Help me to want to forgive in an uncontrolled and unrestrained fashion. Thank you.

What cross-references have you discovered that gave you further insight into a passage of Scripture?

bradandresBrad Andres is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. He is the author of The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto and a regular contributor to His passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize their God given potential for life. To hear more of Brad’s thoughts, check out his website at, find him on Facebook, follow him onTwitter, or circle him on Google+.

My Favorite Study Tool…WORDsearch by Dr. Rod Mattoon

index~~element123I have been asked to write about how I use WORDsearch in my message preparations and
studies. Let me say up front that I use WORDsearch almost every single day because I study every
day. There are two main features that help me immensely.
1. The “Topics” button.
A. Subject Research
This tool enables me to do in-depth studies on any particular subject I want to research. For
example, I am preaching through the book of Job right now and wanted to find material on “Trials.”
By finding verses and information about “trials,” I can then form an outline on this particular subject
or incorporate the principles into my message. If I need verses about “trials,” I search in my books
that are topic-index books. The Naves Topic book, Thompson Chain Reference, and Dake’s Topics
are very helpful. They would be a good addition to your library. If I need outline ideas, I search in
my outline books.
B. Illustrations
The “Topics” button also helps me to search for illustrations on a certain topic. WS books
that are about illustrations and quotes are very helpful. I highly recommend that you get every
sermon illustration book you can get through WS. They are worth their weight in gold.
C. Word Studies
If I want to find research on a Greek or Hebrew word, I type that word into the blank and
search in my language books. I like Wuest Word Studies, Vines Dictionary, Vincent Word Studies,
BDAG, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English lexicon, and AMG Complete Word Study Dictionary.
These books are very helpful. Word studies in the Greek or Hebrew are so important because they
reveal great truths about words that are lost in the translation from Hebrew or Greek into English.
Wonderful treasures of the Bible are hidden in the study of Greek and Hebrew words. John
MacArthur does a great job on Greek word studies and so does Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT).
2. The “Cross-Ref” button.
I like to preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible. This week I am preparing
messages on Job 13:20-28. To find material on this portion of Scripture, I type in Job 13:20 in the
box. I can search all of my books in my WORDsearch library which presently has 4373 volumes.
Everything in my library that has material on Job 13:20-28 will pop up. What a blessing and a time
saver! If I want to shorten the search, I can make a list of my favorite books or search only in my
Bible commentaries.
I have consistently found good material and exposition from the Pulpit Commentary, the
Biblical Illustrator, John Butler’s books, John Phillips, Barnes Notes, John MacArthur, the Bible
Exposition Commentary by Wiersbe, and the Bible Knowledge Commentary. I also like to search
my own books for research that I have done in the past.
I like to use the Cross-Ref button to also search for illustrations on the passage I am
researching. Type in the reference and search in your sermon illustration books. Very helpful.
I hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you and that you will learn to get the fullest
benefit of using the WORDsearch software.

Check out a special sale on the books recommended in this post here.

Dr. Rod Mattoon was saved at the age of 15 in August of 1971 on a mission trip to Camp of the Woods near Dryden, Ontario, Canada. On the same night that he was saved, Mattoon dedicated his life to the ministry of the word of God.

He became active in his home church, Calvary Baptist, in Normal, Illinois, where he was trained in aspects of the ministry by Dr. Ron Allen, Dr. Arno Weniger Jr., and Dr. Greg McLaughlin. Dr. Mattoon’s first message was preached at the age of 16 on April 7th, 1972, on “The Tick of Time” from 2 Corinthians 6:2.

From 1973-1977, he attended Hyles-Anderson College. It was there that he met his wife Linda. They were married in 1977 and have since had seven wonderful kids. Mattoon graduated with honors from college that same year and went on to earn his doctor of ministry degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Dothan, Alabama.

In Texas, Mattoon served as an assistant pastor in two churches and took his first senior pastorate at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Jacksonville. He has been the pastor of Lincoln Land Baptist Church in Springfield, Illinois since 1991. The emphasis of his ministry at Lincoln Land has been evangelistic, expository Bible preaching. He is the author of the Treasures from the Scriptures books that can be found on WORDsearch here.