“…the good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and practice it, and to teach His statues and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:9c-10).
Preaching that Honors the Lord
By Lewis C. Lampley
In his book, The Supremacy of God in Preaching, John Piper insists that “the goal of preaching is the glory of God, the ground of preaching is the cross of Christ, and the gift of preaching is the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Biblical preaching from the NT is, by definition, the task of bringing about an encounter between people of the present culture and the Word of God - first spoken in the first century. In other words, the task of exegesis is to discover that Word and its meaning in the first-century church. The task of preaching in to know well both the exegesis of the text and the people to whom that Word is now to be spoken again, as a living Word to them.
It is important to discover the meaning of the text because every text still means what its original author meant, and no text can ever mean what it never meant. In this article, I want to suggest where to begin.
Getting started (allow approximately one hour and forty minutes)
Matters of content (allow approximately hour and twenty five minutes)
Contextual questions (allow approximately one hour and twenty minutes)
Secondary literature (approximately one hour and twenty minutes)
Biblical Theological context (allow approximately sixty minutes)
Application (allow approximately sixty minutes)
I. Getting Started (Allow approximately one hour and twenty minutes)
It is critical at the outset that you have a good preliminary sense on the context and the content of your passage. To do this effectively you will need to do the following:
Read the larger context. Do not be anxious to get at the meaning of your text that you fail to take time to have a good general sense as to where it fits in the Biblical book you are preaching from.
Read the passage repeatedly. Now do the same thing with your chosen preaching passage or text. Go over the passage out loud. Try to get a feel for it as a unit conveying God’s Word to you and your congregation.
Make your own translation. Making your own translation has several benefits. One is that it will help you to notice things about the passage that you would not notice in just reading.
Compile a list of alternatives. In the process of making your own translation, you need to keep a list of translational alternatives that are textual, grammatical, or linguistic/stylistic in nature.
Analyze the structure. One further way of looking at the text in a preliminary fashion can also prove to be of immense value.
Start a sermon use list. In the manner as you compiled the list of alternatives. What to include? Include the very things that you would feel cheated about if you did not know them.
II. Matters of content (allow approximately one hour and twenty five minutes
Check significant textual issues
Note any grammar that is unusual, ambiguous, or otherwise important.
Make a list of key terms.
Do a mini word study for any crucial terms.
Investigate important historical, cultural and geographical matters.
III. Contextual questions (allow approximately one hour and twenty
Examine the historical context.
Examine the literary content.
IV. Secondary literature (approximately one hour and twenty minutes)
Read other literature.
V. Biblical Theological context (allow approximately sixty minutes)
Analyze the passage’s relation and use to theology. Question the passage.
In other words, to what theological doctrines does the passage add light? What are its theological concerns?
Might the passage raise any questions or difficulties about some theological issue or stance that needs an explanation? How major or minor are the theological issues upon which the passage touches?
Where does the passage seem to fit within the full system of truth contained in Christian theology? How is the passage to be harmonized with the greater theological whole?
Are its theological concerns m ore or less explicit (or implicit)? How can you use the passage to help make your congregation more theologically consistent or, at least, more theologically alert?
VI. Application (allow approximately sixty minutes)
List the like issues in the passage.
Clarify the possible nature and area of application.
Identify the audience and categories of application.
Moving From Exegesis To The Sermon
1. Spend some time reflecting on the text and in prayer
2. Begin with a sense of purpose
3. Decide on the introduction and conclusion
4. Construct an outline
5. Build/construct the message/sermon with design to expound, illustrate, and apply the text
6. Deliver the message/sermon in the power of the Holy Spirit in order that the message is maximized and the messenger is minimized.
THE PURPOSE STATEMENT
The goal of the sermon is to glorify God, to proclaim Christ, to be preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, to expound the text accurately, to illustrate the text clearly, and to apply the text practically. How then, should we live and preach? WE SHOULD LIVE CORAM DEO “BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD” and SOLI DEO GLORIA ‘FOR THE GLORY OF GOD ALONE.”
Preach the Word!