Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Preachers - Preach the Text

On top of Masada in Israel, looking down, with the Dead Sea in the background.

At Redeemer we preach through the biblical texts. This is because our Christian theistic Grand Narrative is found in the Bible. The Book. This is our book. This is our distinctive. It is inexhaustible in its wisdom. Times and seasons pass, yet The Book remains. Why preach anything else? 

I've spent a lifetime studying and teaching alternative wisdom literature, as found in the other religions and in philosophy. "Philosophy," etymologically, means "the love of wisdom" (philo + sophia). As interesting as these sources are, Christianity's Grand Narrative has captured my heart and mind. Why substitute the wisdom of God for human wisdom? Why preach human wisdom with a few biblical footnotes tagged on? Why view preaching from the fear of not keeping the people entertained?


As a pastor, I must familiarize my people with the God-inspired Text. I put away the microwave and use a kettle. Increasing biblical literacy in a church is a simmering, slow cooker. Al Mohler writes:


"If you want to see quick results, the preaching of the Word just might not be the way to go. If you are going to find results in terms of statistics, numbers, and visible response, it just might be that there are other mechanisms, other programs, and other means that will produce that faster. The question is whether it produces Christians." ("Mohler Cites Preaching's Centrality")


Mohler's question is, as he knows, a rhetorical question. The answer is, "No." 'Where such preaching is not found, there is no church, no matter what it calls itself or poses to be.'" (Ib.)


Alistair Begg has said, "The reason most preaching is ignored today is that it deserves to be." Therefore, in these times, the irreducible good news of Jesus must be preached at all costs, and in all its beauty and fullness. Mohler concludes:



"The gospel is simply the most transformative, the most powerful, the most explosive message there is. If you have trouble finding something to preach, I guarantee you that you are not preaching the gospel. This is explosive, it's controversial, it's transforming. The gospel according to the apostle Paul is not simply offered to us on a platter for our convenience or our investigation or our tasting.
It is thrown at us like hot blazing rock, spewing from the crater of a volcano. It is dangerous stuff. Our task is to preach the Word and make known the mystery. But making known that mystery requires diligent, painstaking, systematic, rigorous, expository preaching because we have to paint the entire canvas." (Ib.)