Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ: TV Dinner Preaching

Note: I have a blog up over at Said at Southern that you might find him interesting. It's on one song written by a folkish Christian artist named Derek Webb. You might enjoy it.

I sketched out a basic argument for preaching Christ from all the Scriptures yesterday, and was delighted to read the comments on the post. G. F. was kind, Paul asked a great question, and Jed answered it (though I'll supplement Jed's answer tomorrow). Bryan Chapell's Christ-Centered Preaching is not a perfect book, but it is excellent. Very faithful, thoughtful, thorough treatment of preaching. If you are a young preacher, and you want to preach expositorily, and you want to personally obey Luke 24 (the hermeneutical key), then you need to get this book, and read it all.

There really is no excuse for not preaching Christ from all of Scripture, especially when books like Chapell's are out there. To the preacher wondering exactly how to apply the hermeneutical key, Chapell gives a helpful answer. To summarize it, he notes that the faithful preacher must relate how the given passage relates to Christ. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it's more than this. It steers one away from the erroneous idea that every text directly declares the Christ. Not every text does. For example, not every Proverb is intended to point with extreme directness to Christ. But most Proverbs do in some way relate. On the matter of wisdom, then, the faithful preacher could first exposit what the text would have meant to the original hearer, then talk about how we all need godly, biblical wisdom, and then talk about how Christ is Himself wisdom incarnate. In this style of preaching we avoid the error of putting Christ into a mind who did not know Him even as we apply the hermeneutical key without fanciful allegory.

If you who are reading this are a Christian, you should be hearing preaching on a regular basis that uses this model. If you are hearing sermons on the Old Testament in which Christ is mentioned only cursorily or if He is only pasted on at the end, when the gospel is given (which is, though not ideal, still the right thing to do--we must always preach the gospel), then your preacher needs to grow in his understanding of biblical hermeneutics. Though he does not know it, his preaching lacks an essential characteristic of Christian preaching. He is not starving his people, but neither is he feeding them a full, healthy meal. He is serving up tv dinners, which may taste good and even have some good elements to them, but which on the whole are lacking and insufficiently nutritious. You see, when Christ opened the Word on the dusty road, and when He told His disciples that all Scripture pointed to Him, He was speaking to you, and to me, and to our pastors, and to every pastor (and Christian) that would ever live. He wasn't conducting the world's first hermeneutics class, or initiating the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Theology. He was showing them how to preach the Word, in order that they would not preach it wrongly. Though they may not have realized just how cataclysmic this little show-and-tell exercise was, they were being given the essential tool to understand all of the Bible. It is clear from the Book of Acts that they and their counterparts could not preach the way they always had. Acts is composed of sermons that expound Old Testament passages and reveal Christ in them. These sermons demonstrate for us the way--the only way--we may truly preach Christ faithfully.

You were not standing on the road with Christ the day He unlocked the OT, and indeed all of the Bible. I was not either. But do not think that you are not addressed in Luke 24. Every pastor (every Christian!) that has, is, and will preach stands behind the two disciples. Every one of us stands beside Christ, and learns from Him how to preach. Now, then: are we preaching in this way? Are our churches? Or have we shaken off Christ's words as dust from our feet?


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