Engaging Exposition (3): Seven Foundational Convictions And Commitments For Preaching And Teaching The Word of God
1. Preaching Must Be Text-Driven So That It Truly Honors What Is In The Divine Revelation.
Expository preaching allows the Scripture text to determine both the substance and the structure of the message. How one structures the Scriptures will determine how one structures the sermon. The Scriptural text drives and determines, shapes and forms sermon development as it relates to the explanation of the biblical text.
2. Preaching must honor the principle of authorial intent, recognizing that the ultimate author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit, God Himself.
The Bible is best described as the Word of God written in the words of men. However, we must never forget it is ultimately the Word of God, and the divine author’s intended meaning as deposited in the text should be honored. David Alan Black notes, “It is within these parameters of authorial intent and grammatical form that faithful biblical interpretation takes place.”
3. Scripture must be interpreted and understood as it was given to the original audience. The text cannot mean today what it did not mean then.
A fundamental principle in preaching is that “…the best homiletical outlines of a passage are those that are derived from the text itself.” (D. Black). The faithful expositor must not eisegete the text, reading into it the preconceived notions of his own imagination or interest. As evangelical expositors we must continue to affirm that “the meaning is one, though the applications are many.”
4. Pulpit proclamation must affirm that the historical-grammatical-theological interpretation will best discover both the truth of the text and the theology of the
Doctrinal/theological preaching is noticeably absent in the modern pulpit. Theological and biblical illiteracy is the heavy price being paid. As the preacher exegetes both his text and audience, he should be sensitive to the theological truths contained in and supported by the text. We believe exegesis must drive theology. A theological system must be shaped by Scripture and not the reverse.
5. Effective biblical instruction will take serious and develop the implications of what Jesus said about the Christological nature of Scripture (John 5:39; Luke 24: 25-27, 44-47).
Preaching that does not exalt, magnify and glorify the Lord Jesus is not Christian Preaching. Preaching that does not present the gospel and call men and women to repent of sin and place their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not gospel preaching.
Faithful exposition will be Christological in focus, inner-canonical in context, and inter-textual in building a biblical theology. It will carefully interpret Scripture in the greater context of the grand redemptive storyline of Scripture (Creation – Fall – Redemption – Consummation). Applying what can be called “a comprehensive Christocentric hermeneutic,” we will examine “the little narratives” and “pericopes” in light of the “big narrative,” the great redemptive narrative centered in Christ.
6. From beginning to end, from the study to the pulpit, the entire process of biblical exposition must take place in absolute and complete submission to the Holy Spirit.
All that we do in preparation and proclamation of the Bible should take place in humble submission to the Holy Spirit. In the study, as we analyze the text, study the grammar, parse the verbs, consult the commentaries, and gather the raw materials for the message, we should seek His guidance and confess our total dependence on Him.
When we stand to preach, to minister the Word to our people, we must plead for His filling and direction. Word and Spirit was a hallmark of the Reformers, and it must be the same with us.
7. Changed lives for the glory of God is always the goal for which we strive. Therefore it is a sin, of the most serious sort, to preach the Word of God in a boring and
We repeatedly tell our students, “What you say is more important than how you say it, but how you say it has never been more important.” The wise preacher will exegete both Scripture and culture. He understands that he must know each equally well. And, he knows that what he says he must say well.
Luther said: “Let us then consider it certain and conclusively established that the soul can do without all things except the Word of God, and that where this is not there is no help for the soul in anything else whatever. But if it has the Word it is rich and lacks nothing, since this Word is the Word of life, of truth, of light, of peace, of righteousness, of salvation, of joy, of liberty, of wisdom, of power, of grace, of glory, and of every blessing beyond our power to estimate.” (Martin Luther, “A Treatise on Christian Liberty,” in Three Treatises. 23.)