Friday, March 13, 2009

Brief Thoughts on the Goal of Preaching, no. 3

Wednesday, I started reflecting on the goal of preaching. I said first that the goal is to enter into the work that the triune God is already doing in the midst of his people--it is his work, not mine. I said yesterday that I also aimed for people to delight and hope in God as their greatest good as a result of the preaching of God's Word. 

The way these things are accomplished are through the exposition of God's Word. And so, at a very basic level, I have a three-fold goal: to explain the biblical text, to apply the biblical text to our world, our calling in that world, and our hearts, and to model a sincere passion for God's glory that results from the biblical text. 

These things go together--like a three-legged stool. Leave out the explanation of the text and all that remains is passionate exhortation that feeds a moralism that burns God's people out. Leave out the application of the text and all that remains is passionate teaching that feeds people's minds but doesn't transform their hearts. Leave out passion for God's glory and all that remains is a fairly dry Bible study which fails to demonstrate the life-and-death nature of encountering God and his word.  

What that means is that though my preaching explains the text, it is not meant to be an in-depth technical treatment of a particular text. I can do that and I do that when I teach a Bible class; but preaching is not that kind of thing. That is not to say that I don't teach or do my homework when I preach--I do and am constantly pointing people to what the Bible says (often you'll hear me say, "Look at verse 4; see what it says there..."). 

But preaching is ultimately about persuasion--I'm holding a brief for the great King who has sent me as his ambassador. I am before the congregation to persuade them that God is the greatest being in the universe, the only one who can truly satisfy their deepest longings and desires. One of the means that he has given me to persuade his people is his Word and he calls me to explain it and apply it with great passion for the King's glory. 

And my hope is that people will move from the preaching of God's Word so persuaded and live with great joy, great hope, and great faith--great delight--in this King who loved us, died and rose for us, lives and intercedes for us, and will return again for us.

No comments: