How To Preach
Part 3: How to Preach the Bible | Wednesday December 29, 2021 | Union Chapel
Call To worship
Ps 115:1 Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your faithful love, because of your truth.
Father, please give me the physical strength and spiritual energy to speak your Word with faithfulness, clarity, authority, passion, wisdom, humility, and liberty.”
Living By The Book
Part 3: How to Preach the Bible
We have already looked at What is the bible, - Why talked about how the bible is God’s word, breathed out by God, and people moved along by the Holy Spirit wrote God’s word. It is true, it authoritative for our lives, it is without error, and has been copied and past down faithfully,
Then we did a quick overview in Part 2: How to Interpret the Bible - 1. Why does bible interpretation matter? 1. Because there is a right way to interpret and a wrong way.
2. Goal of interpretation Author’s intended meaning; 3. Spirit enabled
4. Science and Art
With the bible and its interpretation and application rightly understood and our foundation we know move to the preaching of God’s word.
1. Authority of God’s Word
2. Preaching the Word of Truth
3. Expository Preaching
1. Authority of God’s Word
Understanding the foundation of the what the Bible is foundational for preaching and hearing sermons preached. As one pastor recounts his first pastorate, when he was young, and the previous seasoned pastor introduced him with the sermon by saying
- “I want to preach tonight from the subject, ‘What can that boy tell me?’” …“That’s the question I have been hearing around town from members of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church,” he said. “What can that boy tell me when my marriage is in trouble? What can that boy tell me when I am having trouble with my children? What can that boy tell me when I am having trouble with my job? He’s only seventeen. He hasn’t experienced anything yet. What can that boy tell me?”
After his introduction, the room was captivated. Where was this sermon going? To be honest, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know where this sermon was going, either. Pastor Hill methodically worked through several passages of Scripture, arguing for authority of God’s Word from each one. After preaching for an hour, he climactically stated, “So what can that boy tell me? He can tell you whatever the Word of God tells him to tell you!”
That message was a landmark for my life and ministry. It forged in me a confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture, even though I had not yet heard that doctrinal term. The sermon established my credibility with my congregation, as I was a very young man taking leadership of a very established church. The message also became a compass that pointed me to my primary responsibility to preach and teach the Word of God. I did not need to be a church growth guru to lead well. I did not have to be married twenty-five years to help families. I did not need to be grey-haired to practice spiritual wisdom. I only needed to study the Word of God, teach it faithfully, and lead the church according to its unfailing truth.
Here’s the bottom line: truth is truth, whether I experience it or not. The Lord does not need my experience to validate His Word
So I take Paul’s charge seriously - 2 Tim 4:1–2 2Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: 2Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.
2. Preaching the Word of Truth
1. MINISTERING TO AN AUDIENCE OF ONE Seeing ministry as service to God, not a performance for man
2 Tim 4:3–5 2Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. 2Timothy 4:4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2Timothy 4:5 But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Preach the truth even if that is not what people want to hear. Not altering or changing the truth because of the culture, or if I make someone mad.
“As we minister to others, we must remember that the purpose and passion of all that we say and do should be for God and His glory, not man and his felt needs. We are to live and serve for the glory of God, not to win the approval of man.” - Ps 115:1 Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your faithful love, because of your truth.
Balanced with flexibility in delivery, flexibility in preaching style, as Paul’s statement being all things to all people.
1 Cor 9:18–22 1Corinthians 9:18 What then is my reward? To preach the gospel and offer it free of charge and not make full use of my rights in the gospel. 1Corinthians 9:19 Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. 1Corinthians 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. 1Corinthians 9:21 To those who are without the law, like one without the law—though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ—to win those without the law. 1Corinthians 9:22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.
So the content of the truth is always the same, but the packaging and how it is delivered can vary depending on the pastor and congregation.
And as Im trying my best to communicate and rightly teach God’s word, I am far from perfect, yet God can still work through imperfect means. As
2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
3. Expository Preaching
“Unfortunately, biblical preaching is not a high priority for many people looking for a church. Secondary things like music styles, ministry programs, and congregational prominence are often deemed more important than biblical preaching. In some instances, church shoppers consider a congregation’s available parking spaces before they ever consider that congregation’s doctrinal positions.”
What makes a good sermon good? A good sermon is one that faithfully proclaims and applies the meaning of God’s Word.
An expositional sermon is that the sermon has the same main point as the Scripture text. Or in other words an expositional sermon – “In that way it brings out of the text what the Holy Spirit put there.”
“Rather than beginning with a human need or concern as the impetus for the sermon, the expository sermon deliberately reverses the action and has the sermon originate in the exposition of the Biblical text itself.”
“Expositional preaching is the kind of preaching that, quite simply, exposes God’s Word. It takes a particular passage of Scripture, explains that passage, and then applies the meaning of the passage to the life of the congregation. It’s the kind of preaching most geared to get at what God says to his people, as well as to those who are not his people. A commitment to expositional preaching is a commitment to hear God’s Word.”
“The practice of expositional preaching presumes a belief that what God says is authoritative for his people. It presumes that his people should hear it and need to hear it, lest our congregations be deprived of what God intends to use for shaping us after his image. It presumes that God intends the church to learn from both Testaments, as well as from every genre of Scripture—Law, History, Wisdom, Prophesy, Gospels, and Epistles. An expositional preacher who moves straight through books of the Bible and who regularly rotates between the different Testaments and genres of Scripture, I believe, is like a mother who serves her children food from every food group, not just their two or three favorite meals.”
“Ultimately, there are only two ways to preach—by exposition or by imposition. Either your preaching explains the God-intended meaning of the text or it sinfully imposes human speculation onto the text.
How will allowing Scripture itself to determine the preaching agenda help a pastor avoid the following common preaching pitfalls:
a) Riding hobby horses?
b) Avoiding the hard parts?
Method least likely to stray from Scripture
Teaches people how to read the bible
Confidence to the preacher and authorizes the sermon
Forces the preacher to handle tough questions
Whole counsel of God
Every element of a church’s weekly gatherings should be filled with God’s Word. Through them the Word of Christ dwells in the church richly, building it up.
Read the Bible (1 Tim. 4:13)
• Preach the Bible (2 Tim. 4:2)
• Pray the Bible (1 Tim. 2:8)
• Sing the Bible (Col. 3:16)
• “See” the Bible, in the “visible words” of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:17–34)
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (which first appeared in 1979): “The title of this work defines its purpose. Written primarily by expositors for expositors, it aims to provide preachers, teachers, and students of the Bible with a new and comprehensive commentary on the books of the Old and New Testaments.
What expositional is not
In contrast to a sermon that lifts bible verses or phrases out of the bible to make other points, while those other points may be true and gleaned from other places in the bible, non-expositional sermons miss the main point of their sermon scripture.
Another possible pitfall in preaching is an over focus on contextualization, being relevant for today, “spend more time reading and meditating on our contextual setting than we do on God’s Word.”
Preachers who spend more time making messages that are memorable, and attention-grabbing and ignoring the “historical, literary, and theological contours of the text.”
Another possible pitfall is letting the broader application of a text over shadow the main point of the passage, and becoming the main point of the sermon, for example you preached on 1 Sameul 2, is not primary about being a good parent, while there could be some application for parents, we can miss the main point, which about God’s holiness, the worship of God, and pointing to Christ the perfect high priest.
Now you can have different styles of expositional sermons such as topical, as long as the verses used for that topic are rightly explained, rightly expounding their true meaning, not forcing them into the topic at hand. And to avoid pitfalls, of misusing scripture for the topic at hand, it is wise and most beneficial to preach through books of the bible, which also gives you the context in which those verse are in.
And again this is rooted in the foundational understanding of what the Bible is, we want to rightly explain God’s inspired word.
Expository preaching is hard work. It is not always the most “enjoyable” style of preaching for a congregation to hear. After all, an expository sermon is governed by the truth of the text, not the agenda of the pulpit or pew. Perhaps that’s why most high-profile pastors today handle the Word of God so loosely. Expository preaching may not easily lend itself to “vision casting” and other ways pastors want to use the pulpit to lead the congregation. We live in a biblically illiterate culture, where many churchgoers will not endure sound doctrine. Many people view expository preaching as synonymous with boring preaching.
There are many reasons given to make a case against expository preaching, though I believe all of the arguments against it can be rebutted. There is one primary reason why you should strive to preach and teach in such a way that properly explains and clearly applies biblical texts: what the Bible is. If you answer yes to the following questions, you should be preaching expositionally:
Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?
Do you believe God wrote a book?
Do you believe that all Scripture is breathed out by God?
Do you believe it is profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction, and instruction in righteousness?
Do you believe the Word of God is sufficient to make the man of God competent and fully equipped for every good work?
How you preach reveals what you believe about the Bible
To the intention of the Bible:
On the question of where meaning is to be lodged (i.e., in the text, in the community, or in the individual reader), we answer that it is in the text
Amos 8:11 Look, the days are coming— this is the declaration of the Lord GOD— when I will send a famine through the land: not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.
Christian, pray for your pastor—that he will commit himself to study Scripture rigorously, carefully, and earnestly. Pray that God will lead him to understand the Word, to apply it to his own life, and to apply it wisely to the church’s life
Pray also for other churches in your neighborhood, city, nation, and around the world that preach and teach God’s Word. Finally, pray that our churches would commit to hearing God’s Word preached expositionally, so that the agenda of each church will be increasingly shaped by God’s agenda in Scripture
Father, please give me the physical strength and spiritual energy to speak your Word with faithfulness, clarity, authority, passion, wisdom, humility, and liberty
Gal 1:9–10 Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him! Galatians 1:10 For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Questions Preachers Ask
Here are some diagnostic questions you can use to guide you in your sermon preparation from beginning to end.
Have I prayed for God’s help as I begin my work?
How has the author organized this text?
General: Is there a repeated word, phrase, or idea in the text?
Narrative: How is the text divided into scenes? Is it organized around geography or shifts in characters? What is the plot? (What is the conflict, or what is providing dramatic tension? What is the climax or turning point? Is the tension resolved? If so, how?)
Discourse: How does the grammar or logic of the passage show the flow of ideas?
Poetry: How does the tone or subject of this poem shift?
What does the organization reveal about the author’s intended emphasis?
How does the immediate literary context—the passages on both sides of the text—inform the meaning of the text? Why is this passage here in this place?
What was the historical situation faced by the first audience or, depending on genre, the first readers?
How does the passage fit within a larger section?
What is the essence of this book?
How is the passage informing and informed by the melodic line?
What is the theme of the text?
CONTEXTUALIZATION AND TODAY
Do I know the people who will be hearing this sermon? Have I pledged myself in love to them? Have I been in prayer for them throughout my preparation?
What shape and emphasis will I bring to my sermon? Does that shape and emphasis reflect the structure and emphasis of the text?
What aim or intention does the biblical author have for his readers?
Narrative: How are the characters in the text responding to God’s truth, or to God’s Anointed?
Discourse/poetry: How does the author want his readers to respond?
Does my application follow from the author’s aim?
Is my application the primary application of the text, or merely a possible one?
Does my application undermine the text? Does it contradict other biblical texts?
Am I leaning on the text to say what I want to say? Or am I bringing out of Scripture only what is there?
“The term exegesis is derived from a transliteration of the Greek word ἐξήγησις, meaning a “narration” or “explanation” (this noun form, however, does not occur in the New Testament, and only once in the Vaticanus form of the Septuagint [Greek translation of the Old Testament]—Judg. 7:15). The Greek verbal form is ἐξηγέομαι, which literally rendered means “to lead out of” (note the prefix ἐξ). In the Septuagint ἐξηγέομαι mainly translates the Hebrew verb סָפַר, which in the intensive stem means “to recount, tell, or declare.” In the New Testament this verb occurs only once in John and five times in Luke-Acts.5 In John 1:18, we read that it is the “only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, who has exegeted [the Father to us].” Luke recorded that famous walk on the road to Emmaus, after which Cleopas and his companion “explained,” “exegeted,” or just simply “related” these events to the others later that evening (Luke 24:35). Likewise, Cornelius “explained” to the others his vision (Acts 10:8); Paul and Barnabas “exegeted” what the “signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles” meant (Acts 15:12); Peter “exegeted” how God first visited the Gentiles (Acts 15:14); and Paul “exegeted in detail” what God had accomplished through his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 21:19).”
Bobby Jamieson, Hearing God’s Word: Expositional Preaching, ed. Mark Dever, 9Marks Healthy Church Study Guides (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012).
H. B. Charles Jr., On Pastoring: A Short Guide to Living, Leading, and Ministering as a Pastor (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016)
——— On Preaching: Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of Preaching. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014.
David Helm, Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today, ed. Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman, 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014).
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1981).
————. Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.
List of definitions by prominent Preachers
DA Carson Short article on benefits of Expository Preaching.
DA Carson – Three-part Sermon Audio