The Problem with Much Preaching Today—And Biblical Theology as the Remedy
- Diagnosis—The Problem with Much Preaching Today (Part 1)
- Discovery—What is Biblical Theology (Part 2)
- Direction—How To Do Biblical Theology When Preaching (Part 3)
Diagnosis—The Problem with Much Preaching Today (Part 1)
Within the association of churches to which I belong—the Southern Baptist Convention—the battle for the inerrancy of Scripture may have been won. Yet neither we nor other evangelical denominations or churches who have won similar battles should congratulate ourselves too quickly. For conservative churches may embrace the inerrancy of Scripture, but still deny in practice the sufficiency of God’s word. We may say that Scripture is God’s inerrant word, yet still fail to proclaim it seriously from our pulpits.
There is in fact a famine for the word of God in many evangelical churches today. Sermon series feature in their titles television shows like Gilligan’s Island, Bonanza, and Mary Tyler Moore. Preaching often concentrates on steps to a successful marriage or how to raise children in our culture. Sermons on family issues, of course, are fitting and needed, but two problems often surface. First, what the Scriptures actually say about these subjects is often neglected. How many sermons on marriage faithfully and urgently set forth what Paul actually says about the roles of men and women (Eph. 5:22-33)? Or are we embarrassed by what the Scriptures say?
Second, and perhaps more seriously, such sermons are almost always preached on the horizontal level. They become the congregation’s staple week-in and week-out, and the theological worldview that permeates God’s word and that provides the foundation for all of life is passed over in silence. Our pastors turn into moralists like Dear Abby, giving advice on how to live a happy life week after week.
Many congregations do not realize what’s happening because the moral life that such preaching commends accords, at least in part, with Scripture. It speaks to the felt needs of both believers and unbelievers.
Pastors also believe they must fill their sermons with stories and illustrations, so that the anecdotes flesh out the moral point enunciated. Every good preacher will use illustrations. But sermons can become so chock-full of stories that they are bereft of any theology.
I have heard evangelicals say rather frequently that evangelical churches are doing fine in theology because congregations are not complaining about what we teach them. Such a comment is quite frightening. We as pastors have the responsibility to proclaim „the whole counsel of God“ (Acts 20:27). We cannot rely on congregational polling to determine whether we are fulfilling our calling. We must rely on what the Scriptures demand. It may be the case that a congregation has never been seriously taught God’s word, so that they are unaware of where we as pastors are failing.
Paul warns us that „fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock“ (Acts 20:29). And elsewhere he says that „the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths“ (2 Tim. 4:3-4). If we assess our preaching by what congregations desire, we may be cooking a recipe for heresy. I am not saying that our congregations are heretical, only that God’s word rather than popular opinion must be the test of faithfulness. It is the calling of pastors to feed the flock with God’s word, not to please people with what they desire to hear.
Too often our congregations are poorly trained by those of us who preach. Consider what happens when we feed a congregation with a steady diet of moralistic preaching. They may learn to be kind, forgiving, loving, and a good husband or wife (all good things of course!). Their hearts may be warmed and even edified. But as long as the theological foundation is neglected, the wolf of heresy lurks ever more closely. How? Not because the pastor himself is heretical. He may be fully orthodox and faithful in his own theology. Yet he assumes theology in all his preaching, and so neglects to preach to his people the storyline and theology of the Bible.
In the next generation or two, therefore, the congregation may inadvertently and unknowingly call a more liberal pastor. This new pastor will also preach that people should be good, kind, and loving. He will also emphasize the importance of good marriages and dynamic relationships. The people in the pew may not even discern the difference, since the theology sounds just like the theology of the conservative pastor who preceded him. And in a sense, it is, for the conservative pastor never proclaimed or preached his theology. The conservative pastor believed in the inerrancy of Scripture but not its sufficiency, for he did not proclaim all that the Scriptures teach to his congregation.
Our ignorance of biblical theology surfaces constantly. Two occasions in the last ten years (one in a large stadium by a speaker whose name I cannot recall) in which a speaker invited people to come forward stick out in my mind. The sermon in the stadium was intended to be an evangelistic sermon, but I can honestly say that the gospel was not proclaimed at all. Nothing was said about Christ crucified and risen, or why he was crucified and risen. Nothing was said about why faith saves instead of works. Thousands came forward, and were no doubt duly recorded as saved. But I scratched my head and wondered what was really happening. I prayed that at least some would be truly converted, perhaps because they already knew the content of the gospel from hearing it on other occasions. The same was true in a church service where I visited. The preacher extended a stirring invitation to „come forward“ and „be saved,“ but he gave no explanation of the gospel!
Such preaching may fill up our churches with unconverted people, who are doubly dangerous: they have been assured by pastors that they are converted and can never lose their salvation, but they are still lost. Then from that day forward, these same people are exhorted week after week with our new gospel for these postmodern times: be nice.
Discovery—What is Biblical Theology (Part 2)
The solution to the problems of shallow preaching described in part 1 is really quite simple: pastors must learn how to use biblical theology in their preaching. Yet learning how to do that requires us to begin by asking, what is biblical theology?
Biblical vs. Systematic Theology
Biblical theology, in contrast to systematic theology, focuses on the biblical storyline.
Systematic theology, though it is informed by biblical theology, is atemporal. Don Carson argues that biblical theology
stands closer to the text than systematic theology, aims to achieve genuine sensitivity with respect to the distinctiveness of each corpus, and seeks to connect the diverse corpora using their own categories. Ideally, therefore, biblical theology stands as a kind of bridge discipline between responsible exegesis and responsible systematic theology (even though each of these inevitably influences the other two).
In other words, biblical theology restricts itself more consciously to the message of the text or corpus under consideration. It asks what themes are central to the biblical writers in their historical context, and attempts to discern the coherence of such themes. Biblical theology focuses on the storyline of Scripture—the unfolding of God’s plan in redemptive history. As we will consider more carefully in part 3, this means that we should interpret and then preach every text in the context of its relationship to the whole storyline of the Bible.
Systematic theology, on the other hand, poses questions to the text that reflect the questions or philosophical concerns of the day. Systematicians can also—to good end— explore themes that are implicit in biblical writings but do not receive sustained attention in the biblical text. Still, it should be apparent that any systematic theology worthy of the name builds upon biblical theology.
The distinctive accent of biblical theology, as Brian Rosner notes, is that it „lets the biblical text set the agenda.“ Kevin Vanhoozer articulates the specific role of biblical theology in saying, „‘Biblical theology’ is the name of an interpretive approach to the Bible which assumes that the word of God is textually mediated through the diverse literary, and historically conditioned, words of human beings.“ Or, „To state the claim more positively, biblical theology corresponds to the interests of the texts themselves.“
Carson expresses well the contribution of biblical theology:
But ideally, biblical theology, as its name implies, even as it works inductively from the diverse texts of the Bible, seeks to uncover and articulate the unity of all the biblical texts taken together, resorting primarily to the categories of those texts themselves. In this sense it is canonical biblical theology, ‘whole-Bible’ biblical theology.
Biblical theology may limit itself to the theology of Genesis, the Pentateuch, Matthew, Romans, or even all of Paul. And yet biblical theology may also comprehend the entire canon of Scripture, in which the storyline of the Scriptures as a whole is integrated. Too often expositional preachers limit themselves to Leviticus, Matthew, or Revelation without considering the place they inhabit in the storyline of redemptive history. They isolate one part of the Scripture from another, and hence preach in a truncated way instead of proclaiming the whole counsel of God. Gerhard Hasel rightly remarks that we need to do biblical theology in a way „that seeks to do justice to all dimensions of reality to which the biblical texts testify.“ Doing such theology is not merely the task for seminary professors; it is the responsibility of every preacher of the word!
We think again about the differences between systematic and biblical theology, for which Carson charts the way. Systematic theology considers the contribution of historical theology, and hence mines the work of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and countless others in formulating the teaching of Scripture. Systematic theology attempts to speak forth the word of God directly to our cultural setting and our day. Obviously, then, any good preacher must be rooted in systematics to speak a profound and powerful word to his contemporaries.
Biblical theology is more inductive and foundational. Carson rightly says that biblical theology is a „mediating discipline,“ whereas systematic theology is a „culminating discipline.“ We can say, then, that biblical theology is intermediate, functioning as a bridge between the historical and literary study of Scripture and dogmatic theology.
Biblical theology, then, works from the text in its historical context. That’s not to say that biblical theology is a purely neutral or objective enterprise. The notion that we can neatly separate what it meant from what it means, as Krister Stendahl claimed, is a chimera. Scobie says the following about biblical theology:
Its presuppositions, based on a Christian faith commitment, include belief that the Bible conveys a divine revelation, that the Word of God in Scripture constitutes the norm of Christian faith and life, and that all the varied material in both Old and New Testaments can in some way be related to the plan and purpose of the one God of the whole Bible. Such a Biblical Theology stands somewhere between what the Bible ‘meant’ and what it ‘means’.
It follows, then, that biblical theology is not confined to only the New Testament or the Old Testament, but that it considers both Testaments together as the word of God. Indeed, biblical theology works from the notion that the canon of Scripture functions as its norm, and thus both Testaments are needed to unpack the theology of Scripture.
BALANCING THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT
There is a wonderful dialectic between the Old Testament and the New Testament in doing biblical theology. The New Testament represents the culmination of the history of redemption begun in the Old Testament, and hence biblical theology is by definition a narrative theology. It captures the story of God’s saving work in history. The historical unfolding of what God has done may be described as salvation history or redemptive history.
It is also fruitful to consider the Scriptures from the standpoint of promise and fulfillment: what is promised in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. We must beware of erasing the historical particularity of Old Testament revelation, so that we expunge the historical context in which it was birthed. On the other hand, we must acknowledge the progress of revelation from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Such progress of revelation recognizes the preliminary nature of the Old Testament and the definitive word that comes in the New Testament. To say that the Old Testament is preliminary does not cancel out its crucial role, for we can only understand the New Testament when we have also grasped the meaning of the Old Testament, and vice-versa.
Some are hesitant to embrace typology, but such an approach is fundamental to biblical theology, since it is a category employed by the biblical writers themselves. What is typology? Typology is the divinely intended correspondences between events, persons, and institutions in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in Christ in the New, as when Matthew refers in his Gospel to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’ return from Egypt in the language of the Israel’s departure from Egypt (Matt. 2:15; Ex. 4:22, 23; Hos. 11:1). Of course, not only do the New Testament authors observe these „divinely-intended correspondences.“ The Old Testament authors do as well. For instance, both Isaiah and Hosea predict a new exodus that will be patterned after the first exodus. In the same way, the Old Testament expects a new David who will be even greater than the first David. We see in the Old Testament itself, then, an escalation in typology, so that the fulfillment of the type is always greater than the type itself. Jesus is not only a new David, but the greater David.
Typology acknowledges a divine pattern and purpose in history. God is the final author of Scripture—the story is a divine drama. And God knows the end from the beginning, so that we as readers can see adumbrations of the final fulfillment in the Old Testament.
* * * * *
1. D. A. Carson, „Systematic and Biblical Theology,“ in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (eds. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000), 94. Another definition is set forth by Charles H. H. Scobie, „Biblical Theology may be defined as the ordered study of the understanding of the revelation of God contained in the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments“ („The Challenge of Biblical Theology,“ Tyndale Bulletin 42 : 36).
2. Brian S. Rosner, „Biblical Theology,“ in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, 5.
3. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, „Exegesis and Hermeneutics,“ in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, 56.
4. Ibid., 56.
5. Carson, „Systematic and Biblical Theology,“ 100.
6. Gerhard Hasel, „Biblical Theology: Then, Now, and Tomorrow,“ Horizons of Biblical Theology 4 (1982): 66.
7. For the following discussion, see Carson, „Systematic and Biblical Theology,“ 101-02.
8. Scobie, „The Challenge of Biblical Theology,“ 50-51.
9. For a fuller introduction to typology, see David L. Baker, Two Testaments, One Bible (IVP, 1976), chapter 7.
Direction—How To Do Biblical Theology When Preaching (Part 3 )
When preaching the Scriptures, it is vital to grasp where the book we are studying falls on the redemptive historical time line. At the risk of oversimplifying, doing good biblical theology while preaching consists of two basic steps: look backward and then look at the whole.
LOOK BACKWARD—ANTECEDENT THEOLOGY
Walter Kaiser reminds us that we should consider the antecedent theology of each book as we preach the Scriptures.
For instance, when we preach the book of Exodus, we will scarcely interpret the message of Exodus rightly if we read it apart from its preceding context. And the preceding context for Exodus is the message conveyed in Genesis. We learn in Genesis that God is the creator of all things, and that he made human beings in his image, so that human beings would extend the Lord’s rule over the entire world. Adam and Eve, however, failed to trust God and to obey the divine mandate. Creation was followed by the Fall, which introduced death and misery into the world. Nonetheless, the Lord promised that final victory would come through the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15). Intense conflict would ensue between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. But the former would prevail. We see in the rest of Genesis the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, and we learn that the seed of the serpent is remarkably powerful: Cain slays Abel; the wicked overwhelm the righteous until only Noah and his family remain; human beings conspire to make a name for themselves in building the tower of Babel. Still, the Lord remains sovereign. He judges Cain. He destroys all but Noah and his family in the flood. And he frustrates the designs of human beings at Babel.
The Lord makes a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, pledging that the victory promised in Gen 3:15 will come through their seed. The Lord will grant to them seed, land, and universal blessing. Genesis especially focuses on the promise regarding seed. In other words, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob don’t possess the land of promise, nor do they bless the entire world during their generation. But Genesis concludes with the account of the twelve children the Lord granted Jacob.
So how is it that this „antecedent theology“ of Genesis is crucial for reading the book of Exodus? It’s foundational, because when Exodus opens with Israel multiplying exceedingly, we immediately recognize that the Abrahamic promise of many descendants from Genesis is being fulfilled. Not only that, thinking back to Genesis 3, we realize that Pharaoh is an offspring of the serpent, while Israel represents the seed of the woman. Pharaoh’s attempt to kill all the male infants represents the designs of the seed of the serpent, as the battle between the seeds, which Genesis forecasted, continues.
As we continue to move through Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch, we can see that the liberation of Israel from Egypt and the promise that they will conquer Canaan also represents a fulfillment of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham. The promise of land is now beginning to be fulfilled. Furthermore, Israel now functions, in a way, as a new Adam in a new land. Like Adam they are to live in faith and obedience in the space that the Lord has given them.
If we were to read Exodus without being informed by the antecedent message of Genesis, we would not perceive the significance of the story. We would read the text apart from its context, and fall prey to an arbitrary reading.
The importance of antecedent theology is evident throughout the canon, and we must content ourselves with a few other examples here. For instance:
- The conquest under Joshua must be interpreted in light of the covenant with Abraham, so that the possession of Canaan is understood as the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that he would enjoy the land of Canaan.
- On the other hand, the exile of both the northern (722 B.C.) and southern kingdoms (586 B.C.) threatened in the prophets and recorded in several books represents the fulfillment of the covenant curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-28. If preachers and congregations do not know the antecedent theology of the Mosaic covenant and the curses threatened in that covenant, they will scarcely be able to discern the import of both Israel and Judah being sent into exile.
- The promise of the new David (texts) reflects the covenant previously made with David that his dynasty would last forever.
- The Day of the Lord, which is so prominent in the prophets, must be interpreted in light of the promise made to Abraham.
And the same is true in the NT of course.
- We can scarcely understand the importance of the kingdom of God in the synoptics if we do not know the story line of the Old Testament, and are ignorant of God’s covenants and promises to Israel.
- The significance of Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of Man, and the Son of God is all rooted in previous revelation.
- The book of Acts, as Luke indicates in his introduction, is a continuation of what Jesus began to do and teach, and hence it is informed both by the Old Testament and the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- The epistles are also grounded in the great saving work accomplished by Jesus Christ, and explicate and apply the saving message and the fulfillment of God’s promises to established churches.
- Finally, Revelation makes sense as the culmination of the story. It is not just a bit added at the end to provide some end-time excitement. The many allusions to the Old Testament demonstrate that Revelation is sketched against the backdrop of Old Testament revelation. Nor does the book make any sense unless one sees that it stands as the completion of all that Jesus Christ taught and did.
This is not to say that the storyline of redemption has the same centrality in all the books of the canon. We might think of wisdom books like Song of Solomon, Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and Psalms. Yet even in these instances, the biblical authors presuppose the foundational truths of creation and fall from Genesis, as well as Israel’s special role as God’s covenant people. Sometimes they even articulate this role, as when the Psalms relate the story of Israel. Still, we are reminded of the diversity of the canon, and recognize that not every piece of literature has the same function.
The main truth for preachers here is that they must preach in such a way that they integrate their sermons into the larger biblical story of redemptive history. Those in the pews need to see the big picture of what God has been doing, and how each part of Scripture contributes to that picture. Which brings us to…
LOOK AT THE WHOLE—CANONICAL PREACHING
As preachers, we must not restrict ourselves only to antecedent theology. We must also consider the whole of Scripture, the canonical witness that we now have in the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we only preach antecedent theology, we will not accurately divide the word of truth; nor will we bring the Lord’s message to the people of our day.
When we preach the first chapters of Genesis, then, we must also proclaim that the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, and that the fall of creation into futility will be reversed through the work of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:18-25). Our hearers must see that the old creation is not the last word, but that there is a new creation in Christ Jesus. We must show them from the book of Revelation that the end is better than the beginning, and that the blessings of the original creation will be super-sized (so to speak) in the new creation.
So too, what can we as preachers say when preaching from Leviticus if we do not preach Leviticus in light of the fulfillment that has come in Jesus Christ? Surely we must proclaim that the OT sacrifices have been fulfilled in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Further, the regulations regarding food laws and cleanness must be interpreted canonically, so that we grasp that the Lord does not call upon us to follow the food laws or cleanliness regulations. These regulations point to something greater: to the holiness and new lives we are to live as believers (1 Cor 5:6-8; 1 Pet 1:15-16).
Nor is it the case, as the New Testament plainly teaches, that believers are still under the Mosaic law (Gal 3:15-4:7; 2 Cor 3:7-18). The old covenant was intended to be in force for a certain period of salvation history. Now that the fulfillment in Christ has dawned, we are no longer under the covenant the Lord instituted with Israel. Hence, it is a mistake to think that the laws binding on Israel as a nation should serve as the paradigm for nation states today—as promulgated by Theonomists in our day. We must recognize in our preaching the difference between Israel as the people of God and the church of Jesus Christ. Israel was God’s theocratic people, representing both God’s covenant people and a political entity. But the church of Jesus Christ is not a political entity with a charter of laws for nation states. The church is composed of people from every people, tongue, tribe, and nation. Failure to appreciate this difference between the old and new covenant could wreak havoc on our congregations.
If we don’t understand the differences between the old covenant and new, we will have a difficult time, for instance, proclaiming the possession of the land in Joshua. Surely the promise for the church of Jesus Christ is not that we will possess the land of Canaan some day! Rather, upon reading the New Testament, we learn that the promise of the land is understood typologically and also escalated into a final fulfillment in the New Testament. Hebrews explains that the promise of rest given under Joshua was never intended to be the final rest for the people of God (Heb 3:7-4:13). Paul explains that the land promise for Abraham cannot be confined to Canaan but has been universalized to include the whole world (Rom 4:13). We discover in Hebrews that we as believers do not wait for an earthly city but a heavenly city (Heb 11:10, 14-16; 13:14), a city to come. Or, as John puts it in Revelation 21-22, we await the heavenly Jerusalem, which is nothing other than a new creation. In other words, if we preach from Joshua, and we do not emphasize our inheritance in Christ and the new creation, then we have failed miserably to communicate the storyline of Scripture in expositing the book. We have truncated the message so that our people have failed to see how all of Scripture is fulfilled in Christ, and how all the promises of God are „yes“ and „amen“ in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).
If we preach the Scriptures canonically, using biblical theology, then we will proclaim Christ from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We must avoid the danger, of course, of simplistic allegorizing or forced connections between the testaments. We will not fall prey to such errors if we have properly done the work of biblical theology and followed the hermeneutic of the apostolic writers themselves. The apostolic writers, after all, believed that the Old Testament itself pointed to Christ and was fulfilled in him. And they were taught their hermeneutic by Jesus Christ himself, just as he opened the Scriptures to Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). In this regard, some have claimed that the heremeneutic of the apostles was inspired but should not be imitated today. Such a view is flawed because it suggests that the fulfillment the apostles saw in the Old Testament does not accord with what the texts truly mean. If this is the case, the connections drawn between the testaments are arbitrary, and the apostles (and Christ himself!) do not serve as models for interpreting the Old Testament today.
If we believe, however, that the apostles were inspired and wise readers of the Old Testament, then we have a pattern for reading all of the Old Testament in light of the fulfillment accomplished in Jesus Christ. The storyline and structures of the Old Testament all point towards him and are completed in him. When we read about the promise of Abraham in the Old Testament, we realize that it is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. The shadows of Old Testament sacrifices find their substance in Christ. For instance:
- Feasts like Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles point to Christ as the Passover sacrifice, to the gift of the Spirit, and to Jesus as the Light of the world.
- Believers are no longer required to observe the Sabbath, for it’s also one of the shadows of the old covenant (Col 2:16-17; cf. Rom 14:5) and belongs to the Sinai covenant that is no longer in force for believers (Gal 3:15-4:7; 2 Cor 3:4-18; Heb 7:11-10:18). The Sabbath looks forward to the rest that has begun for us now in Christ and that will be consummated in the heavenly rest in the last day (Heb 3:12-4:11).
- The temple anticipates Christ as the true temple, while circumcision finds its consummation in the circumcision of the heart anchored in the cross of Christ and secured by the work of the Spirit.
- David as the king of Israel and a man after God’s own heart does not represent the apex of the kingship; David is a type of Jesus Christ. Christ, the greater David, was sinless. He is the messianic king who through his ministry, death, and resurrection has inaugurated the promises God has made to his people.
If we do not preach the Old Testament in terms of the whole canon, we will either restrict ourselves to moral lessons from the Old Testament, or, what is just as likely, we will rarely preach from the Old Testament. As Christians we know that much of the Old Testament no longer speaks directly to our situation today. For example, God has not promised to liberate us from political bondage as he freed Israel from Egypt. The land of Israel is politically volatile today, but Christians do not believe that their joy will come from living in Israel, nor do they think that worship consists in going to the temple to offer sacrifice. However, if we do not preach the Old Testament canonically, in light of biblical theology, it will too often be passed over in Christian preaching. In doing so, we not only rob ourselves of wonderful treasures from the word of God, but we also fail to see the depth and multifaceted character of biblical revelation. We put ourselves in a position where we do not read the Old Testament as Jesus and the apostles did, and hence we do not see that the God’s promises are „yes“ and „amen“ in Jesus Christ.
Reading the Old Testament canonically does not mean that the Old Testament is not read in its historical cultural context. The first task of every interpreter is to read the Old Testament in its own right, discerning the meaning of the biblical author when it was written. Further, as we argued above, each OT book must be read in light of its antecedent theology, so that the storyline of Scripture is grasped. But we also must read all of Scripture canonically, so that the Old Testament is read in light of the whole story—the fulfillment that has come in Jesus Christ.
In short, we should always consider the perspective of the whole—of the divine author—in doing biblical theology and in preaching of God’s word. We should read the Scriptures both from front to back and back to front. We should always consider the developing story as well as the end of the story.
Our task as preachers is to proclaim the whole counsel of God. We will not fulfill our calling if as preachers we fail to do biblical theology. We may get many compliments from our people for our moral lessons and our illustrations, but we are not faithfully serving our congregations if they do not understand how the whole of Scripture points to Christ, and if they do not gain a better understanding from us of the storyline of the Bible. May God help us to be faithful teachers and preachers, so that every person under our charge will be presented perfect in Christ.
* * * * *
1. Walter Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 134-40.
2. Richard N. Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).
3. For the importance of Christ-centeredness in our preaching, see Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000); Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999); Edmund P. Clowney, Preaching Christ in All of Scripture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003).