My pastoral reading group is currently working through Tim Keller’s new book on preaching, appropriately titled ‘Preaching.’ The sub-title is helpful: “Communicating faith in an age of skepticism.” Keller is a pastor in New York and has been faithfully expositing the text for years in a place that is often hostile to the gospel. His commitment to the authority of Scripture and the importance of preaching Christ from every passage is unfortunately rare in our current age of skepticism. In reading the book, I feel as if I am able to learn from someone who has been doing what I am trying to do for the last 30-40 years. It is helpful to hear his thoughts on how to preach well.
Here are some good quotes:
“Preaching should not be a human performance that merely entertains nor a dry recitation of principles. Spiritual eloquence should arise out of the preacher’s almost desperate love for the gospel truth itself and the people for whom accepting the truth is a matter of life and death.”
“You can’t properly preach any text—putting it into its rightful place in the whole Bible—unless you show how its themes find their fulfillment in the person of Christ.”
“Unless your understanding of the Bible—and your confidence in its inspiration and authority—are deep and comprehensive, you will not be able to do the hard work necessary to understand and present it convincingly. Your lack of conviction will also show up in your public teaching, blunting its impact. Instead of proclaiming, warning, and inviting, you will be sharing, musing, and conjecturing.”
“We tend to think of the Bible as a book of answers to our questions, and it is that. However, if we really let the text speak, we may find that God will show us that we are not even asking the right questions.”
“It is crucial in our preaching that we do not simply tell people all the ways they must be moral and good without relating such exhortation to the gospel. Nor should we simply tell them over and over that they can be saved only by free grace without showing how salvation changes our lives.”
It is a good book and a wealth of information for those wanting to be faithful preachers (and for those who want to better understand what faithful preaching looks like). The need for expositors who believe the Word and seek to preach Christ from every text is great in our day. I pray Keller’s example will encourage others toward faithful exposition.