- Preaching connects us to all to all those elements listed above (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13; Titus 1:9; 2:1)
- Preaching is an essential component of a local church (Rom. 10:14; 16:25; Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Tim. 4:13-16; 1 Tim. 5:17; 2 Tim. 4:1-2)
- Preaching is imbued with the power of God (Rom 10:13-17; 1 Thess. 2:13)
- Preaching allows the glory of God to shine (1 Cor. 1:21; 2:4; 2 Cor. 4:5)
If preaching is so important in the life of the church, we should expect a high standard of the preaching in our own church.
Now, I am not telling you to go pester your pastor on every point of difference you have with their preaching. The congregation I belong to can certainly testify that I have not preached infallibly behind the pulpit, though I aim for nothing less! Mistakes will be made in the pulpit, because no pastor has perfect theology, and we are all learning together. I am also not advocating that you hound every church in the city whose theology you disagree with. That’s a waste of time, and won’t benefit anybody. What is beneficial is identify biblical preaching, because then you can immerse yourself in the life of that church, obeying the Word of God as it is preached rightly. As we progress, I’m certainly not presenting myself as the high standard—but I think we can and should have a baseline when it comes to preaching, and strive for it.
So what constitutes “biblical” preaching?
Perhaps we should ask, “What does the Bible think is ‘biblical’ preaching?”
By this, I mean, how does the Bible itself present preaching done correctly? We can find some examples throughout the Bible…
- “the Levites, explained the law to the people” (Nehemiah 8:7)
- Jesus “explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27)
- Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3)
- approved workman are “accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)
- “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2)
- “Teach and preach these principles” (1 Timothy 6:2c)
- “Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?‘ And he said, ‘Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He does not open His mouth. In humiliation His judgment was taken away; who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth.” The eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:30-35)
I’ll stop there.
From the Old Testament to the New Testament, a pattern emerges: explanation, teaching, and preaching (which is proclamation). In other words, the Bible’s own “opinion” of correct preaching is at least the explanation and teaching of the meaning of the Scriptures, and the proclamation of it’s truths.
A preacher’s primary job is to give a sense of the Scriptures meaning, and then exhort people to respond.
Biblical preaching is expository preaching.
Mark Dever helpfully explained expositional preaching as explaining a Scripture’s main point, then explaining and proclaiming that main point in a sermon. Or even more succinctly, “Making the main point of the text the main point of the sermon.”
So according to the New Testament epistles (letters written to early churches), a church must include expository preaching as part of it’s worship gathering.
But, you say,
There are a lot of types of preaching! Some preachers preach for 15 minutes, others for an hour; some preach on a single verse, and others preach whole chapters or even books; in between these are so many different styles of preaching: storytelling, verse-by-verse, series, etc. How do you know which one is good?
I’ve heard some of my own friends elevate sermon styles over others, and denigrate others for preaching in a way that they do not like. Notice that this has nothing to do with faithful preaching, but preaching preference.
The requirement of faithful preaching is expository not stylistic. In fact, different styles of preaching are useful, as well as expository, that is, they can explain the Bible using different methods of communication. Here are a few (though not all)… Read the rest of this entry