I recently finished preaching through the book of Habakkuk. This short Old Testament book is so relevant to our world today. The prophet’s lament over the Babylonian invasion is mirrored in our day as the Russian war machine grinds down Ukrainian cities. The Covid pandemic raises age-old questions about human suffering that Habakkuk also raises. Theologically, Habakkuk provides rich reflection on “the just shall live by faith” (Hab 2:4), lament, and prayer. From a biblical-historical standpoint, Habakkuk introduces people to one of the most important events for understanding the Old Testament–the Exile. This series was one of the most profound Old Testament exegetical series that I have done over the last twenty years.
Using Heath Thomas’s commentary on Habakkuk as my go-to reference, I constructed an eight week series. In a couple sermons, I focused on a smaller section of text to have more time for a deeper treatment. For instance, later biblical books and influential theologians quote Habakkuk 2:4, so I spent more time on that passage; even though structurally it belonged to a larger section. Likewise, I broke off Habakkuk 3:1-2 from the psalm/prayer of chapter 3 in order to speak about the larger theme of prayer and lament in Hebrew writing. As you preach through the book, you will find your own areas of focus. Below are links to the sermon audio. I hope they prompt you to look deeper into this rich and relevant prophetic book.
Part 1 of A Biblical Theology of Preaching examined the biblical foundations of preaching. These foundations included: God speaks, God’s Word continues, and God’s Word is essential and effective. This post (appropriately, but not creatively call “Part 2”) focuses on application of those foundations to the practice of preaching.
Dr. Joseph Greene preaching at a men’s retreat.
Preaching Built on Biblical Foundations
God speaks and his word must continue to be promulgated because it is essential for effectively redeeming the world to him. These foundational tenets give birth to a more developed theology of preaching when the whole canon is considered. Preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ have additional blessings and responsibilities which are based on the aforementioned foundations.
Preaching must be Biblically Consistent/Based
Both testaments contain warnings to accurately proclaim the word of God. In Deut 13:1-5 even a prophet who performs signs is to be killed if he councils against following the given commandments of the Lord. The Bible assumes a given body of revelation that future revelation must agree with / fulfill. Continue reading →
The last several posts have explored the academic discipline and practice of “Biblical Theology.” I would like to continue that theme over the next couple months by presenting an example of Biblical Theology that traces a theme throughout scripture. In particular, I will present a Biblical Theology of preaching.
A biblical theology of preaching cannot be undertaken without a clarification of terms. By biblical theology we mean a “theological interpretation of Scripture in and for the church. It proceeds with historical and literary sensitivity and seeks to analyze and synthesize the Bible’s teaching about God and his relations to the world on its own terms, maintaining sight of the Bible’s overarching narrative and Christocentric focus.” A biblical theology of preaching, therefore, seeks to understand preaching as it is presented in the contexts of the biblical texts while relating those presentations to the wider canon. This process must be allowed to define preaching on the Bible’s own terms if it is to truly be a biblical theology. Continue reading →
Below is a preaching outline/manuscript (with explanatory comments) for Revelation 5. I recently preached on this passage in a couple different churches, and this outline served as the framework for each sermon. Even though I don’t read my sermons, I prefer an outline that is more like a full manuscript. For me, the process of writing it out solidifies the best way to say it, making it easier to remember.
Notes on the outline: * I put the sermon texts (ESV) in italics because it makes it easier to glance down and find my place in the outline as I work through the text. * For the same reason, section headings are in bold, as well as important points. * I often underline lists of examples/points/thoughts. * Things in parentheses are not in my original outline but are explanatory notes for the benefit of people reading this blog.
*INTRODUCTION: (Tailor to each church.)
*CONTEXT: Revelation chs. 1-3 contain messages to 7 churches of the apostle John’s day. But in Revelation 4:1, the message turns to a vision about things in the future. Revelation 4:1: After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” John is brought into the heavenly throne room of God and is shown a vision of the last days of human history!
Revelation 5:1-4Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
In the Bible, God spoke through and to particular people at a particular time in history. How can we rightly understand the Spirit-inspired author’s meaning as intended, so we can communicate and apply that inspired meaning to contemporary hearers (including ourselves)? These questions are answered through biblical interpretation (a.k.a. hermeneutics). Too often, Christians misinterpret the author’s intention because they do not understand elements from the author’s world, or they read their own worldview, culture, and literary conventions into the author’s writing in a way far different than the author would have intended. A basic knowledge of interpretative methods helps avoid misinterpretation. In an effort to give a simplified “how-to” of interpretation, I have created the following “10 How-to Steps of Biblical Interpretation.”
A Basic “How-to” of Biblical Interpretation
Grant Osborne’s Hermeneutical Spiral is a terrific book on biblical interpretation and should be on every Christian worker’s reading list. For those who cannot work through its 500 pages of interpretive meatiness, the following steps will borrow from and distill Osborne’s (and other’s) work to produce a how-to for interpreting the Bible. Continue reading →