Mark Dever, in his book "Nine Marks Of A Healthy Church", outlines the key factors in biblical discipleship and growth. Today we'll look at the first two:
Expository verse by verse preaching is healthy for our growth and the growth of our pastors for several reasons.
A- it forces the preacher to preach Scripture in context with the surrounding verses. It is difficult to get away with forcing my own ideas into a verse when we are travelling through the whole book together.
B- it protects us from avoiding parts of Scripture that we don't like or find uncomfortable.
C- the preacher must search the Scriptures to learn from them rather than search for Scriptures that say what he has learnt.
D- the pastors major work becomes understanding what the text is actually saying so that he can teach it and apply it. Do you come to church to hear the opinions of some guy or to hear what God has spoken? I don't want to hear the latest 40 days of my best prayer of Jabez now. I want to hear from God and He has given us a revelation of Himself in the sacred Scriptures!
E - Finally, we all grow in our understanding of the Bible message in the bigger story of God's plan of redemption which leads us to the second key ingredient.
2. Biblical Theology
I am so grateful for systematic theology. Wayne Grudem's book is one of the most valuable books on my shelf. Systematic theology is studying what the whole of Scripture says on different subjects. But Biblical theology is the critical understanding the single story that runs through all of Scripture – Christ Himself.
Luke 24:25-27 reveals this when Jesus spoke to the unbelieving disciples after his resurrection:
And He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
It is important to remember that there was no New Testament at this time. Steven Smith from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary had this to say:
Christ understood that the witness of the Old Testament was a revelation of Himself . . . therefore, there is not a text that one can preach that will not ultimately point to Christ. The point is not that every text is about Jesus as a person. Rather, the point is that every text fits somewhere in the history of salvation. And, the point of the history of salvation ultimately is to exalt Christ (p94, Dying To Preach).
Is the sermon going to be about defeating the giants of sin in our lives just like David defeated Goliath. Or does David become the prototype of Jesus Christ , a type of Messiah who will be God’s representative to deliver many (Mark 10:45; Romans 5:19). That his method of bringing deliverance will be a scandal to his fellow Israelites and foolishness to the nations. However, in both David and Jesus Christ, we see the power of God and the wisdom of God at work through human weakness (1 Corinthians 1:24). And we see God's unfolding plan of how the Savior would be the son of David.
Theology that places Christ at the centre of all of Scripture is necessary for us to grow as disciples. More to come . . .
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