Monday, March 26, 2012

Preaching: A Beginners' Guide (1)

  1. What is preaching?
It is perhaps easier to say what preaching is not than what it is. It is not the sharing of some golden thoughts on a biblical text. Preaching is not a Bible Study. It is not a lecture. Preaching is not stand up comedy. What is it then? Very simply, preaching is the proclamation of the word of God by men to other human beings. Preaching then, has four main components: The Man suitably gifted and called. The Message, the word of God. The Medium, spoken proclamation. The Motivation: to benefit other human beings, Colossians 1:28. But perhaps my definition is a little prosaic. According to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preaching is “theology on fire”.

  1. A preacher’s starter kit
1) Prayer

A man must not presume to speak for God unless he has first spoken to God, Acts 6:4.

2) A good Bible translation

Preaching involves the accurate explanation of Scripture. A paraphrase like the Good News Bible will not do. Use a proper, reliable translation such as; AV, NKJV, ESV, NIV. The ‘Bible Gateway’ website is fully searchable and gives access to a wide range of translations.

3) Bible Commentaries

C. H. Spurgeon on the use of commentaries,

It seems odd, that certain men, who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others…. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries… A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences.

Old masters such as John Calvin and Matthew Henry are available for free online. Volumes in the Welwyn Bible Commentary series (Evangelical Press) are usually worth consulting.

The ‘Logos Bible Software’ package comes complete with a range of commentaries and has a useful interlinear Bible translation feature. 

4) Biblical theology

Biblical theology is the study of progressive revelation, instilling an awareness of the basic plot line of the Bible from creation to new creation. It also attempts to trace the development major biblical themes, such as the coming of the promised “seed”, covenant, inheritance, the person and work of the Messiah, etc.  This discipline will help the preacher understand where his text stands in the redemptive-historical flow of biblical revelation.

5) Systematic Theology

Systematic theology aims at giving us a grasp of the whole counsel of God. Systematics sets out biblical revelation in a logical arrangement of topics from God to the Last Things. This enables the preacher to understand the interrelationship between the various doctrines of the Bible. It also provides a safeguard against interpreting a text in such a way that what is said is a contradiction of what is written elsewhere in Scripture. The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689 is like a mini-systematic theology. Familiarity with the confession will help ensure that your preaching is doctrinally orthodox.

6) Books on preaching

Preaching and Preachers, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Hodder)
Preaching Simply Explained by Stuart Olyott (Evangelical Press).  


Leslie Wolf said...

Great post. I have known a few preachers in my day who could benefit from points 3-5, if not also 1-2 and 6.

Ben said...

Good stuff. Your first point prompted deep longings within me: if only those most basic things were more widely understood.

But can I suggest a minor rule for preachers: always avoid alliteration. Not only because the headings can become somewhat forced and silly (though yours are not), but because exposition must be ruled by the text rather than an artificial grid imposed on it. And because it's a cliché, and never helps anyone remember anything.

SammyBoy said...



Gonna guess that was intentional. ; )

I very much appreciate the commentary about commentaries. I'm running in a circle that has a goodly number of preachers who think we should never use commentaries, but only issue forth with what the Spirit provides, because no Christian ever needs to study anything other than the Word itself., on the premise that anything but the Bible is just men's words and ideas.

Makes me wonder if, when they get into the pulpit to preach, they just read the scripture for the day and then sing the invitation song.