By Jeramie Rinne
Can expository preaching be consistently evangelistic?
Preachers sometimes shy away from expositing books of the Bible because they suspect that approach is good for teaching theology to mature Christians, but bad for helping unbelievers understand the gospel.
This concern grows when pastors contemplate preaching an Old Testament book. How could a study of the life of Abraham or a series in Haggai make the gospel clear, Sunday after Sunday? Do we simply slap an evangelistic trailer onto the end of the sermon? “For our non-Christian friends here today, I’d like to end this message about Abraham’s circumcision by telling you about how you can receive the free gift of eternal life.” Cue the altar call.
There is another, more organic way to proclaim the gospel faithfully Sunday after Sunday, even from the Old Testament. It’s by employing biblical theology.
THE BIG STORY
What is biblical theology? We might define it as the study of the Bible’s overall storyline. Together, the 66 books of the Bible tell a single narrative of God’s mission to save a people and establish a kingdom for his glory through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament sets the stage for and leads us to Jesus. The Gospels reveal him and his work. The rest of the New Testament unfolds the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection, all the way until God fully accomplishes his mission. The more we grasp this overarching plot, the more we can see how our preaching text relates to the gospel.
Preaching a passage of Scripture with an awareness of biblical theology is like having “court sense” in basketball. Good basketball players don’t just focus on dribbling the ball to the hoop. They are aware of the location of their teammates and defenders on the court as well as the flow of play. Similarly, good exposition doesn’t merely provide a running commentary on the verses at hand. It also has a court sense of what else is going on before and after the text, and how it all relates to overall progression of God’s big story. Read the rest at 9 Marks