Monday, May 12, 2008

DTMW4I: Keith Shearer

In email correspondence, Keith Shearer offered the following Top Ten list for Biblical Exposition:

10. Expository preaching demands that both the preacher and the congregation deal with the whole Bible. Some Bible portions will end up being neglected (often because of perceived difficulty or sense of irrelevance) unless there is a systematic intent to preach through every book of the Bible. When I preached through Leviticus several years ago, it was the first time anyone in our church had ever heard an exposition of that entire Book, even though some had attended "Bible-teaching" churches for over eighty years!

9. The pastor cannot only forecast where the preaching calendar is headed (this minimizes Saturday night panic, and also helps musicians and other worship participants to know how to plan), but he can personally live in the text for months and encourage the whole church to do the same. (emphasis added)

8. Every human need or topic will eventually be covered in the course of preaching through books of the Bible. If you only preach topically, you will miss a lot of topics.

7. The congregation receives a vast collection of Biblical truth to compare and contrast, that is, with which to do theology. Statements can be made like, "Remember in Exodus we saw this", or "In Romans we saw this", etc. But if you have not preached through those books you cannot build upon them with your congregation. Preaching based on creeds, lectionaries, hot topics, etc. will not produce this vast collection.

6. The congregation gets to have a Biblical benchmark to measure growth and significant events. For example, "I was saved while we were in Matthew", or "My family started coming when we were in Acts", or "Our marriage was saved while we were in First Peter". Maybe no one but me thinks this is exciting, but I find it a thrilling way to measure life and ministry.

5. Everyone can see how God moves personal or world events to match what the preacher is preaching from the Word, rather than the preacher trying to manipulate sermon topics in order to be relevant. I was preaching through Acts when the 9/11 disaster happened. We were all amazed at how the message for the next Sunday was totally matched to the times, even though everyone knew the passage was assigned sequentially from Acts months ahead. This displays God at work in the life of the Church. People are amazed that "That sermon was just for me" even though the passage was announce months ahead. No one can accuse the preacher, this way, of choosing sermon material to personally pick on them. (By the way, preachers, have you noticed how whenever you think a certain sermon would be very good for a certain person, inevitably that person is not there that Sunday?)

4. Preaching through the Bible keeps passages in context. This guards against improper forms of "proof-texting", misinterpretation, and the imposition of the preacher's pet points.

3. The Bible is eternal truth. The eternal is always relevant. The selection of particular Bible verses or concepts to attempt to be relevant will cause one's preaching to become time-bound instead of eternal. Therefore, the quest for relevance in preaching tends to make the preaching irrelevant (at least fairly quickly).

2. God gets the glory, because the preaching was the proclamation of His truth. When someone says to the preacher, "Good sermon!", the preacher need not be set up for temptation to pride. All the preacher needs to do is respond, "The Word of God!", to which we all say, "Thanks be to God!". The message was not about the preacher's brilliance or eloquence, but rather the faithful proclamation of the Word for the Glory of God alone.

1. Expository preaching is the essential, high act of worship in the assembled church. It is commanded: First Timothy 4:13, "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching." Second Timothy 4:2, "Preach the Word"!! Without Biblical exposition, the church has not worshipped. The message is an offering by both the preacher and the hearers to God. It is an offering of obedience and the sacrifice of praise. Other details of worship (giving, music, prayers, etc.) are not worship unless they flow to and from the proclamation of the Word.

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Keith Shearer, Ph.D., is senior pastor of New Beginnings Grace Brethren Church in Myerstown, PA. He has an extensive international Bible teaching ministry and was elected Moderator of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches for the 2005-06 conference year. He also has blog.

1 comment:

Darby Livingston said...

Thanks, Danny, for the introduction. I've enjoyed reading Keith's blog and look forward to returning.