Biblical Preaching [ARTICLE – Kevin Folger]

heartland-connect-article_biblical preaching - Kevin Folger

By Kevin Folger, Pastor of Cleveland Baptist Church

Throughout the pages of Scripture, we find that God puts an emphasis on preaching, or proclaiming, God’s truth. In both the Old and New Testaments, we find men of God that were heralds of the truth of God. One key passage in the New Testament where Paul emphasized being a preacher of the Word to his young charge, Timothy, is found in II Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” It is imperative to notice that preaching has a specified source. “The Word” is a reference to the Scriptures, or as we would say, the Bible. To be genuine or authentic in our calling as preachers we would then have to make sure we are preaching the Word!

Let’s define what the term preaching means. The New Testament uses the word “preach” in II Timothy 4:2. Strong’s concordance defines that word as “to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel):—preacher, proclaim, publish.” G. Cambell Morgan defined preaching as “the proclamation of the Word, the truth as the truth has been revealed.” In Dr. Tom Farrell’s book, Preaching that Pleases God, Dr. Farrell gives his own definition. He asks and answers, “What is preaching? I would summarize the definitions by saying that preaching is the powerful, precise, persuasive proclamation of the Word of God, by the man of God, anointed by the Spirit of God. Preaching is not a secular discussion of human ideas, but a scriptural declaration of God’s truth!”

So now that we understand what preaching is, we must consider what is necessary to be Biblical in our preaching? To truly be Biblical in preaching, one must prepare. This preparation is the study of truth and taking of truth into our own hearts and lives. Study would involve preparation of the preacher using the Word of God. A preacher must listen to God before he can speak for Him. God always deals with a preacher before He deals with people.

The text or passage from which we preach should be a complete unit of Biblical thought which will serve as the fabric or provide the structure for the sermon. The preacher would need to study that text, understanding the truth God is communicating through the passage of Scripture. When the preacher approaches the text and studies it, he will be looking for some key elements that will help him discover what is being communicated through the text.

Once the preacher has studied the text, he would then need to discover the central truth, or overall idea of the text, and then prepare his heart to proclaim that truth. Haddon Robinson, in his book Biblical Preaching, states: “Students of public speaking and preaching have argued for centuries that effective communication demands a single theme.” How do we discover the truth of the text?

  • We should approach the text submissively, without preconceived ideas, notions or thoughts. It is important that the Bible forms our thoughts, rather than our having a thought and finding a passage to fit our ideas.
  • We should approach the text simply, letting the Scripture say what it means.
  • We approach the text as a student, digging into the passage to get the truth.

Second Timothy 2:15 admonishes, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The preacher must also discover what is being communicated through the text. There are a few elements we should be looking for. The first element would be language because words are important. God has selected words to communicate the truth. We must consider why God chose certain words.  The second important element is the culture. Understanding the culture helps us clearly understand the depths of what is being said.  The final important element is the background of the text. Was there something at play in the lives of the people that would cause these words to be stated in this way, at this time? Obviously, a preacher must study to find these important truths so that he may better understand the passage.

Finally, one of the most important aspects of Biblical preaching is applying the truth to our lives. Without application, preaching has no life and becomes just a speech. Dr. Farrell gives these three points to making the application powerful.

  • Make it personal; bring it down and home to where people live.
  • Make it perpetual throughout the sermon; apply it to life, particularly in the conclusion.
  • Make it practical by addressing three questions: a) What is required? b) Why is it required? c) How can this be fulfilled?

In preaching, we open the Word of God to see what it says; we then discover what it means; and finally we learn what we are supposed to do with it. Biblical preaching does all of those things.

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