New Testament Preaching, 7 questions

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by rlvaughn, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    Not sure this should go here, but since preaching is a big part of pastoral ministry...

    The New Testament book of Acts records from around 12 to 36 sermons – according to what you count as a sermon (e.g. is Acts 1:15-22 a sermon) and whether you count the mentions of sermons/preaching that do not record any of the content of the sermon.
    • 1. What kinds of sermons are recorded in the New Testament? How many of them, if any, follow the pattern of our modern sermon types?
    • 2. Did Jesus preach topical sermons, textual sermons, none of the above, some of the above, all or the above, or something else?
    • 3. What kind of sermons did Peter, Paul or any of the disciples preach?
    • 4. Does the command to "preach the word" mean any certain kind of sermon?
    • 5. Is sermon "style" driven by a scriptural mandate, personal preference, education or something else?
    • 6. To what extent do we follow the sermon examples of Jesus and the apostles, considering they spoke with a degree of inspiration and authority we do not have?
    • 7. Were what we call sermons -- a single individual engaging in discourse or "lecture" to a crowd of people -- the basis of teaching and edification in the gathering of the church, or more for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to unevangelized peoples, or both, or neither?
     
  2. Revmitchell

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    There is no sermons style discussed or exemplified in scripture. The sermon styles of our day are merely personal preference. The so called Expository sermons are an attempt at fidelity to the scripture but the proponents of it often over blow the safe guards they intend to find in that sermon style. Topical sermons can be done in a expository manner just as can any other sermon style and are no less a sermon from God than anything else.
     
  3. TCassidy

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    Mostly Topical. None.

    Mostly Topical.

    Mostly Topical.

    It can indicate a certain type of preaching but that does not necessarily forbid others. "Preach the word" seems to indicate an Expository or Commentary type sermon.

    Personal preference followed by education. (Most preaches don't know what an Expository sermon is, let alone how to preach one.) :)
    We don't. We lack the direct inspiration of God. We preach FROM the inspired word, we don't preach the inspired word.

    Both. True preaching is multifaceted in both methodology and targeted hearers.
     
  4. Revmitchell

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    You might want to be careful of responses that indicate they know what "most" preachers are doing. since they are not in everyone's church from week to week it is best not to accuse others, whom they do not know, of doing what they cannot verify.,
     
  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    One reason I think it is worthwhile to raise these questions is because it seems fairly common for expository preaching to be promoted as the only way we ought to preach. If you push back against that most folks will back down a bit, but it is very general rhetoric (at least in certain circles) that this is the "right" way to preach.

    As far as a definition, here is one from the Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching. Expository preaching is "preaching a Scriptural text allowing the theme, structure and call to action to come from the text itself." I use this as an example of what most preachers I know mean when they speak of expository preaching.
     
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  6. Revmitchell

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    I know what it is they are just wrong to say that it is the only correct way. Way over blown.
     
  7. rlvaughn

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    Revmitchell, my first paragraph was intended to you regarding your comment. My comment in the second paragraph had no implication whether you know or do not know what expository preaching. I gave the definition in general for the post and an explanation to all as to what I am talking about, based on what most people I hear claim it is; and also in part because of TCassidy's comment -- because I do find that some people do define it differently.

    The definition above is the one used by people I know advocating it as the "only" or "real" or at least "best" way to preach. Your (the rest of you) mileage may vary.
     
  8. rlvaughn

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    Here are some of my thoughts on answering the questions.

    There are several "kinds" of sermons or "methods of sermonizing" recorded in the New Testament. Some might be considered topical. Several relate God's redemptive history. Some might be called testimonies. Some are or include support or defense of doctrine (Acts 15), practice (Acts 2) or are even "legal" (Acts 26). None are like the modern expository sermon. The closest might be the preaching of Philip to the eunuch. Though we are not told the details of Philip's words, we know that his teaching began with a text and a question about the meaning of that text and he expounded from there.

    I have not fully investigated the sermons of Jesus in regard to method or style. I have a list and am going over them again. He seems to a wide variety of teaching "styles". Do a few possibly resemble the modern text-driven sermon? Possibly. Initially I'd say most all do not.

    When expository preaching is considered in what is its most common definition, we are hard pressed to find Peter, Paul, Stephen, James and others -- or even Jesus -- preaching these types of sermons.

    The command to "preach the word" cannot strictly mean text-driven expository sermons, unless we are ready to admit that Peter, Paul, Stephen and others did not "preach the word". The one who laid down the mandate in 2 Timothy 4:2 did not preach that way, as far as I find in the record.

    This question requires outside investigation or survey of preachers and is not part of textual investigations in the bible. It is my opinion (and nothing more) that text-driven expository preaching, though couched in scriptural mandate, is just as often mandated by logic, seminary training and personal preference.

    If the sermon examples of Jesus and the apostles are not examples for us, we have no New Testament examples to follow. Nevertheless, the imitation of these sermons must be mediated by several considerations. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the eternal omniscient Son of God. His sermons were perfect. They are perfect examples of how a perfect God can preach and teach. He didn't just read and quote the book, but spoke with absolute authority. He said "I say unto you!" Such is too high and ultimately unattainable for fallible men preaching the word. This does not mean we do not look to Christ for guidance in preaching -- just that we must be sound and reasonable in how we approach it. The apostles spoke by direct inspiration and they also had a degree of authority we do not have. In a sense they were composing Scripture where we are reading and interpreting it. There are parts of the biblical examples we cannot attain; they are the examples we have. We preach the same message (the word), from the same authority (God), by the same power (the Spirit) to the same kinds of people (unbelievers and believers). A preacher brother explained how he sees the difference this way: one difference between the sermons we see in the Scriptures and the sermons today is that their sermons were more revelatory and ours are explanatory.

    One difference from the New Testament times is our combination of following the single preaching pastor model and the always one-sided lecture to a group of people. A single individual delivering a discourse to a crowd is seen mostly in the examples of preaching the gospel to unbelievers. But even on those occasions there is often a level of interaction between the crowd (or someone "in the crowd") and the preacher that is unseen in the modern pulpit delivery method. It is my sense that the teaching of gathered believers often took on a more interactive style of communication -- one that included dialogue and also that might be stopped if someone else had a word of teaching (Cf. 1 Corinthians 14).

    I do not object to expository sermons or text-driven preaching. More of my preaching than not fits in that category. But I object to narrowly identifying this one type of sermon -- expository -- with "preaching the word". Preaching the word is presenting the truth of the word of God in many different ways. One preaching style or method does not exhaust the command to "preach the word".
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    I posted an "All the sermons in Acts" chart on my blog. Some of you might want to look at it. (The last column is not visible on the right side, but there was very little information in it anyway.)
     
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  10. rlvaughn

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    I am working on an "All the sermons of Jesus" spreadsheet like the one I did for "All the sermons in Acts". It is much harder, at least for me, to list what I think might be considered "sermons" or "addresses", even though He is teaching most all the time.. A lot of Jesus teaching is not what we moderns think of as sermons. There is a lot of interactive dialogue, and quite often in the midst of confrontations.
     
  11. Jerome

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    From Charles Spurgeon, "Our Lord's Trial Before the Sanhedrin":

    "This morning I would not only preach the doctrines that come out of the cross, but the cross itself. I suppose that was one of the great differences between the first preaching of all and the preaching after the Reformation. After the Reformation we had clearly ringing out from all pulpits the doctrine of justification by faith and other glorious truths, which I hope will be made more and more prominent; but the first fathers of the church proclaimed the same truths in a less theological manner. If they dwell little upon justification by faith they were wonderfully full upon the blood and its cleansing power, the wounds and their healing efficacy, the death of Jesus and our eternal life. We will go back to their style for a while, and preach the facts about our Lord Jesus Christ rather than the doctrinal inferences from it. Oh, that the Holy Spirit would so bring the sorrows of our Lord near to each heart that every one of us may know the fellowship of his sufferings, and possess faith in his salvation and reverent love for his person."
     
  12. TCassidy

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    Spurgeon. Good man. Often preached from the ERV of 1881, was anti Dispensationalism and was a strong 5 point Calvinist. Yep. Good man. :)
     

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