The text-driven preacher must recognize that there are four basic types of meaning conveyed in every text and context: referential, situational, structural and semantic. Referential meaning is that which is being talked about; the subject matter of a text. Situational meaning is information pertaining to the participants in a communication act; matters of environment, social status, etc. Structural meaning has to do with the arrangement of the information in the text itself; the grammar and syntax of a text. Semantics has to do with the structure of meaning and is in some sense the confluence of referential, situational and structural meaning. Read More »
The painstaking work of exegesis is the foundation for text-driven preaching. Exegesis precedes theology, and theology is derived from careful exegesis. To preach well, it is vital to understand certain basics about the nature of language and meaning. Read More »
All preaching rests upon certain convictions about the nature of God, the Scriptures, and the Gospel. James Barr said he doubted whether the Bible itself, regardless of one’s view of inspiration, can furnish the preacher with a model for sermon form and content that could be conceived as normative.1 Such a statement is clearly informed by a less than evangelical view of biblical authority. Contrast this with Haddon Robinson’s statement: “Expository preaching, therefore, emerges not merely as a type of sermon—one among many—but as the theological outgrowth of a high view of inspiration. Expository preaching then originates as a philosophy rather than a method.”2 Read More »
On any given Sunday in today’s preaching pantheon, one can observe a diverse group of devotees, some paying homage to the chapel of “creativity,” others sitting at the feet of the “culturally relevant.” Some are transfixed at the nave marked “narrative,” while others have their hearts strangely warmed at the chasse of “pop-psychology.” There is never a shortage of worshippers at the “new homiletic” altar, and the “topical” shrine always receives its share of Sunday patrons. Fearful that some as of yet undiscovered homiletical “method” might be missed, the gatekeepers of the pantheon have installed an altar inscribed “to the unknown preaching method.” It is that method which I declare unto you. Actually, the method itself is not “unknown” at all, and like the true church on earth, it has always had its practitioners in every era of church history. In fact, it is the oldest method in the preaching pantheon, having been used by the earliest preachers as far back as the apostolic era of the church. It is called “expository preaching.” Read More »
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from David L. Allen’s commentary, 1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family, in the Preaching the Word Series, edited by R. Kent Hughes. Read More »
I have always been partial to train whistles. My grandparents lived about a half mile from the railroad tracks in the little lazy mill town of Lindale, Ga. I would hear the train whistle blow day and night. My favorite time to listen was late on a fall night. Everything else in the house was quiet and tranquil. Suddenly, off in the distance, the first whistle pierced the darkness. The whistle grew louder as the train neared. After the powerful locomotives passed the crossing and the whistle stopped, the only sound was the rhythmical clickety-clack clickety-clack of the wheels as car after car rolled past and then disappeared into the darkness. I don’t know why, but somehow it brought to me a sense of comfort. Read More »
“God never uses a man greatly until he hurts him deeply.” So said A. W. Tozer. Few men can attest to this truth like John Donne, the 17th century English preacher, poet, and Dean of St. Paul’s Church in London from 1621 until his death in 1631. Today Donne is more known for his poetry than for his preaching, but he was a master at both. Oddly, Donne lay in virtual obscurity for the average person until the first quarter of the 20th century when T.S. Eliot’s recommendation that Donne be published anew catapulted him into the status of a major English poet. Read More »
So as not to be found unwilling to follow my own admonition to my preaching students (I tell them they “must read 3 books a week for the rest of your life” in order to continually improve their preaching effectiveness), one of my three books this week is Charles Seife’s Proofiness: How You’re Being Fooled by the Numbers. Seife’s book is nothing short of fascinating and should be read by all, but especially preachers. Preachers must make sure their “facts” tell the truth! Read More »
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the blog SBC Today.
The release of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” has engendered a Convention-wide discussion and made nation-wide news. Tongues have been wagging and fingers have been pecking computer keyboards ceaselessly these past few weeks. The Statement has received both acclaim and criticism. In reflecting on the tsunami of words, and as a conversation partner along with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I have asked the Lord to help me be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. I hope the following thoughts will be helpful as we continue the conversation in the days ahead. By way of brief personal background, I have served the local church for 26 years, 21 of those years as a senior pastor of two churches. I have served two theological institutions in the classroom since 1985. In addition, I served on the Board of Trustees at one of our SBC Seminaries for 12 years. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a signatory of the document. Read More »
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a preaching series from Southwestern Dean of Theology David Allen. To view the series, click here.
A text-driven sermon is a sermon that expresses the main and subordinate information of a given text so that modern day hearers understand the meaning that the original audience would have understood. One does not necessarily have to package this information in a traditional deductive outline in order to accomplish this! However, the preacher must undertake careful exegetical work in grammatical, syntactical and semantic structure of the text in order to determine what the author has encoded as main and subordinate information in the text. The sermon should stay true to the substance, structure, sense, and spirit of the text. Only when this is done right and done well can valid application be given in a sermon. Application without exposition is groundless. Exposition without application is pedantic. Both must be coupled together with clear, pungent, illustration. Read More »