Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is the author of many best selling titles on apologetics, evangelism, pastoral ministry, and spirituality.
Author-pastor Timothy Keller offers his vision or manifesto of what Christian Preaching is and why it is important. Keller moves from describing a sermon’s source in the text of Scripture, to its audience in the context of human culture, and finally to its route through the subtext of the preacher’s heart. He looks at preaching as a practitioner, rather than as a theoretician. While providing an appendix on the “writing of expository messages,” he leaves the details of how sermons should be prepared to other works on the subject.
Table of Contents
Part One: Serving the Word
1. Preaching the Word
2. Preaching the Gospel Every Time
3. Preaching Christ from All of Scripture
Part Two: Reaching the People
4. Preaching Christ to the Culture
5. Preaching and the (Late) Modern Mind
6. Preaching Christ to the Heart
Part Three: In Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power
7. Preaching and the Spirit
Appendix: Writing an Expository Message
Preaching the Word
Keller opens this chapter with a return to the first Protestant work dedicated to preaching, William Perkins The Art of Prophesying. At a time when many in ministry thought biblical exposition had to be supplemented by eloquence and moving rhetoric, Perkins called the pastor to preach as if he really believed the Bible was what it claimed to be: the all sufficient word of God. Keller turns to methods of preaching that align with that conviction.
Citing Hughes Oliphant Old’s massive survey of preaching in Church history, Keller boils down preaching genres that remain respectful of the text to “expositional” and “topical.” Where expositional sermons is the “unfolding of the ideas with a single biblical text,” a topical sermon “[communicates] a biblical idea from a number of texts.” Keller suggests that both forms of preaching have their appropriate place. In fact, every expository sermon will have topical elements as the preacher relates textual details to wider biblical and systematic teaching; and every topical sermon ought to provide at least basic exposition of the many texts it covers. Nonetheless, expositional preaching should be the regular diet of a preaching ministry. Keller lists six reasons why.
Keller majors on the first reason extensively, echoing Perkins: “expository preaching is the best method for displaying your conviction that the whole Bible is true.… A full confidence and rich grasp of the authority and inspiration of the Bible is absolutely crucial for a sustained, life-changing ministry of Bible teaching and preaching.” Approaching the text this way forces the preacher to grapple with exciting, mystifying, and politically incorrect passages of Scripture. It demonstrates that Scripture challenges our culture’s assumptions as well as the preacher’s own.
Second, “a careful expository sermon makes it easier for the hearers to recognize that the authority rests not in the speaker’s opinions or reasoning but in God, in his revelation through the text itself.”
Third, “expository preaching enables God to set the agenda for your Christian community.”
Fourth, “expository preaching lets the text set the agenda for the preacher as well.”
Fifth, “expository sermons teaches your audience how to read their own bibles, how to think through a passage and figure it out.”
Sixth, “[expository sermons] should lead you to see even more clearly the one main biblical theme,” i.e., the gospel, which is the ultimate context for every text in Scripture.
Having listed several arguments in favor of expository preaching, Keller provides some caveats and warnings. In the recent past, expository sermons have been associated with sermon series covering entire books of the Bible that drag on for months if not years.[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism