Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why I Preach Expositionally (7)

Biblical exposition teaches biblical theology

Biblical theology is that branch of theological study which focuses on God’s progressive revelation through biblical history. As a discipline, Biblical Theology is vital for its focus on the big picture of the Bible. It guards the Christian from treating the Bible as a treasury of inspiring quotes, a collection of moral stories, or a guide for personal success. Biblical Theology reminds us that the Bible is one great story, God’s story of creation, corruption, redemption, and new creation. In this way, the Bible presents us with a unified and coherent view of reality. It is the lens by which we understand God, ourselves, salvation, and the world.

Graeme Goldsworthy writes:
“Biblical theology is the neglected handmaid of the preacher. While it would be facile and misleading to suggest that preaching can ever be an easy task, it is true to say that biblical theology enables the preacher to relate the various parts of the Bible in a way that prevents preaching on a text from becoming a formality or a springboard for a mass of moralizing exhortations.”

One of the primary failures of contemporary preaching within conservative churches is the lack of biblical theology in the pastor’s study and therefore in the pulpit. Preachers fail to make the connections for their flock. They preach biblical texts as if they were stories or bits of wisdom to be understood independently from the rest of biblical revelation. Promises made by God under the Old Covenant specifically to Israel concerning the Land are taken out of context and used to guarantee New Covenant people financial, familial, and emotional well-being. This is common because too many preachers do not understand the progressive nature of God’s revelation through Scripture. They do not understand that the arc of biblical history moves us inexorably toward the cross. As a result of this error, events such as David’s defeat of Goliath and Daniel in the lion’s den become mere spring boards to tell Christians how to defeat the giants they face or shut the mouths of the lions in their lives. I heard a preacher once who used Easter Sunday to tell the congregation how they can roll stones away in their lives. Biblical Theology guards against such nonsense.

Goldsworthy writes:
“The idea that evangelical pastors can be sent to have ministerial oversight of congregations without first having a solid grounding in biblical theology is one of the scandals of our time. Show me a church without a good appreciation of the Old Testament and biblical theology and I’ll show you a church with a weak understanding of the gospel.”

Without a sound grasp of Biblical Theology the preacher, and therefore his hearers, will not properly understand the law, the promises, or the Gospel. This failure is common as Christians frequently confuse law and Gospel and grasp for promises not made to them all the while missing the “yes” God has given them in Christ. Sound biblical exposition will always teach the nature of God’s self-revelation in Scripture. It will pass along to the hearer an understanding of the grand themes of the Bible and how they are connected. Most of all it will teach the hearer about the depth and grandeur of the Gospel.

Three excellent primers on Biblical Theology:
God's Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts
According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy
The Unfolding Mystery by Edmund Clowney

2 comments:

riccrowder said...

I always thought the Easter story worked well as the biblical basis for folding our clothes and making our bed when we get up in the morning.

Roll away those kidney-stones.

Todd Pruitt said...

Ric,

That made me laugh out loud. Now I can't wait till next year to use the kidney stones line!

Someone told me that the worst Easter "sermon" they heard was when the pastor said that Jesus would resurrect their wallets.