If you are looking for some resources on Christocentric preaching, I highly recommend The Proclamation Trust. I just finished reading Sinclair B. Ferguson’s excellent article on “Preaching Christ From The Old Testament.” Many of their resources are free and others are at affordable prices.
In addition, if you are searching how to practically craft and deliver sermons while keeping in mind the Bible’s salvation-history time-line, I suggest downloading the free sermon manuscripts from Dick Lucas.
Here is a great quote from Ferguson’s pamphlet,
…there is not an Old Testament historical-biographical account of any length that does not involve dying and rising, humiliation and exaltation, being brought down and being raised up, experiencing opposition and then deliverance, suffering want and then experiencing extraordinary provision. This is not merely the form of good story-telling. It is the embodiment of the gospel pattern. (p. 17)
“What I am trying to say is this: exegesis is a lifetime employment, not a weekly one. It is a bit like keeping a ball rolling by giving it regular nudges, rather than each time starting it up fresh from a complete stop. Sometimes the nudge will be a mere tap, and at other times a powerful shove, but the ball keeps going, almost on its own accord, unless all nudging, tapping and showing stop. This crude analogy may help to release some of us from an absurd burden of false guilt and a crippling sense of our insufficiency. We may work on specific texts one at a time, but over time, we progressively build up insight, understanding and confidence. Our call is not to do everything we should do (anyway, who determines what that is?), but to do everything we can do, given our constantly shifting circumstances. The trick is never to let the ball stop completely, even if at times-even many time-we can give it no more than a mere, a single tap.”
(Richard J. Erickson, A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Exegesis, p. 205)
I am not a baseball fan, but my best-pastor friend described this past Sunday as interleague play. Supposedly, there are times in major league baseball when teams that are not in the same league play each other for the sake of the fans. They are playing the same sport, but playing before a different people.
This past Sunday, Phillip and I switched pulpits and did some “interleague preaching.” We have talked about doing this for the past two years, but we finally got it together for this past Sunday.
Phillip continued my series through the New Testament book of Mark. I did a piggy-back message on suffering since he just closed a series on the Old Testament book of Job.
It was a great time and it is fun to preach in your best- pastor-friend’s church. Has anyone tried this before? I would love hear about your experience.
Greg Heisler, in his wonderful book Spirit-Led Preaching, gives a great quote on expositional preaching:
Expository preaching in and of itself is no guarantee that the Holy Spirit will empower the preacher’s message. Like any other kind of preaching, it can be mechanically flawless but completely lifeless if the Spirit does not empower it. The best definition of expository preaching will combine the theological catalyst of Word and Spirit working together through the preacher’s Spirit-filled life, and this ultimately points to Jesus Christ and all his glory. It’s time to emphasize the Spirit’s role in preaching from the very beginning, by rightly defining and explicitly emphasizing the Spirit’s key role in the homiletical process (p. 20).
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First of all, thanks to Matt Perry for inviting me to contribute to this blog. I hope your trust is well-placed.
I have been wrestling with the issue of the altar call for a long time. Now that I am no longer in a traditional, southern church, the altar call seems to be awkward for the people of my congregation. I am fully convinced that an encounter with the Word of God through expository preaching demands a human response, but is a good old fashioned altar call the best way to ask folks to respond? I have to confess that it is the only model I have ever seen, and I have not been very successful in discovering a suitable alternative. What methods have the rest of you seen or used?
An English preacher of the last generation used to say that he cared very little what he said the first half hour, but he cared a very great deal what he said the last fifteen minutes. I remember reading many years ago an address published to students by Henry Ward Beecher, in which he gave a very striking account of a sermon by Jonathan Edwards. Beecher says that in the elaborated doctrinal part of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon the great preacher was only getting his guns into position, but that in his applications he opened fire on the enemy. There are too many of us, I am afraid, who take so much time getting our guns into position that we have to finish without firing a shot. We say that we leave the truth to do its own work. We trust to the hearts and consciences of our hearers to apply it. Depend upon it, gentlemen, this is a great and fatal mistake (Source Unknown, quoted in Preaching).
In his book on Biblical Preaching, Haddon Robinson includes a quote from Matthew Simpson that all of us who teach and preach the Word of God would do well to heed:
His throne is the pulpit; he stands in Christ’s stead; his message is the Word of God; around him are immortal souls; the Savior, unseen, is beside him; the Holy Spirit broods over the congregation; angels gaze upon the scene, and heaven and hell await the issue. What associations, and what vast responsibility!” (Lectures on Preaching, New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1879, p. 166).
Having served at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church for 3 1/2 years, I am just now beginning to understand the vast responsibility I have in being not only their pastor but also their preacher of the Word of God. I hear of people who, after having a particular issue come up in their life, say that the Word of God addresses that issue clearly and completely. “It was as if you were speaking directly to me!” Well, I
wasn’t, but God was through me. Is there any way to plan something like this? No way! Is there any way God sovereignly know about this? Absolutely! And so my responsibility is to first know God through His Word, and thus He will help us know our people through the fellowship
of the Holy Spirit — “the tie that binds!” The terror and the triumph of pulpit ministry — what an amazing God who calls us in Christ!
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Click here for some sessions by Alistair Begg, Derek Thomas, Voddie Baucham, Ed Lobb, Tim Challies,and many others.
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J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Durham, N.C. is posting a great series on myths to preaching to the next generation. J.D.’s became pastor of the Summit Church several years back when the church was averaging around 300 people. Now, Summit had 3500 at just one of its Easter services. And J.D. has built his church on expository preaching! Very exciting. Here is a snippet of his latest post, click here to read the entire essay.
Myth #4 was “Expository” Preaching Ensures That You are Preaching the Gospel.” Having tried to explain how you can preach expositionally and still miss the Gospel, I now want to make a brief case for whyyou should, generally speaking, preach expositionally. At least, these are the reasons I do… by “expositionally” I mean systematically moving through books of the Bible week by week as you teach.
1. It teaches people to read the Word of God. A “master teacher,” in the Jewish sense, not only taught content, he taught technique. Preaching topically, even if we generally cover all that someone needs to know about the Christian life, does not people how to grow on their own in Christ.
The Protestant Reformation put the Bible back into the hands of the people. Creative, slick sermons often take the Bible back out of the hands of those same people, by leaving people amazed at our ingenuity and quite sure they could “never” be able to do what we do with the Bible! When someone says to me, “Wow, Pastor J.D., you get so much more out of a passage than I do!”, I DO NOT take it as a compliment. Haven’t I just convinced them that they need to hear from me more than they need the Word of God? Rather, I love it when they say, “Duh… J.D., now that you say that, I see that anyone with half a brain and an open mind could see that. Why the heck are we paying you so much?”
My wife is always on me about DEMONSTRATING where I’m getting my points from the text. She says, correctly, that it doesn’t matter if my points are coming from the text–if people can’t see that I am getting them from the text, then I am teaching people to put their faith in me and not the Bible! (Dangit, why did I marry such a smart, godly woman?)
It’s the old saying, “Build a man a fire, warm him for an hour; teach a man to build a fire, warm him for a decade; set a man on fire, warm him for the rest of his life,” or something like that…
2. Preaching expositionally forces you to deal with subjects you would not otherwise have thought of. If it’s true that all Scripture is inspired of God, and that all of it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and training in righteousness, then every part of Scripture contains something I need to know.
You see, I find there are about 15 subjects that on my own I gravitate toward, and, if I preach topically, I will build my sermons around those topics. But these do not cover the scope of the Word of God. They leave people malnourished.
I LOVE getting into a book of the Bible, on the other hand, and discovering some incredibly helpful discussion that addresses something everyone needed or wanted to know, that I never would have thought of myself, had I not been working through the book!
John R. W. Stott points out in his classic The Preacher’s Portrait that Paul tells Timothy that
- Christocentric Preaching
- Speaking with Conviction (Taylor Mali)
- Keep the Ball Rolling
- Interleague Preaching
- Sound Mechanics and Spiritual Dynamics
- Altar calls – Is there a better way to have people respond?
- The Value of Application (G. Campbell Morgan)
- What a Vast Responsibility!
- BASICS 2007 Conference Sessions Up
- Myths of Preaching to the Next Generation
- Preaching on Divorce
- Series on Pastoral Visitation