Preaching the gospel by expounding the Bible
Preaching the gospel, teaching the gospel and touting oneself as “gospel-centered” has become, I’m afraid, very trendy in evangelical circles today. In fact, I’ve often found myself using the phrase ad infinitum merely for the sake of others “standing in awe” of my commitment to gospel-centerdeness. Subsequently, I have had to repent on numerous occasions for seeking the favor of man rather than the favor of God. That being said, being gospel-centered and gospel-saturated is what we need to embody as Christians. So what does that look like? In this chapter Jensen/Grimmond (authors of “The Archer and the Arrow”) seek to convey what this means and how to do it.
They start by explaining how one should explain the Bible. Their conviction (and mine too) is that we should exposit the Bible; expositing the Bible simply means to expound the Bible. But even in the word “expound” we may run into several perspectives or misunderstandings. So, they define the word expound as an individual who “starts with the Scripture and then explains it, opens up its meaning, and uses it to ‘prove’ the truth about God and Christ and the gospel” (Grimmond/Jensen, pp. 40).
Firstly, expounding the Bible will best be seen through expository preaching, which we’ve already mentioned previously. But what exactly is expository preaching. Without getting into the onslaught of perspectives and definitions that exist, let me simply say that expository preaching is “planning to preach the whole of the Bible” in its context. This does several things: (1) it ensures that our people become Bible-people; we want the people in our church to be exposed to the many types of literature found in the Bible, and subsequently, point them through that text to Jesus (in some capacity) and (2) this enables the people in our churches to be exposed to the fullness of God – “preaching like this will force us to deal with the Holy God who judges as we as the faithful God who keeps His Word” (Jensen/Grimmond, pp., 41).
So, how does a preacher do this week-in-and-week-out? Great question! At this point, I believe it’s worth noting in their entirety several paragraphs that speak to the title of this book and hopefully will answer the aforementioned question.
We want to suggest that preaching is like archery, and sermon preparation is like flitching (the process of making arrows). An archer’s job is to deliver the arrowhead deep into the heart of his target. In order to do the job well, the right arrows are required. Some arrows fly further but are less accurate. Some arrows are better for piercing armour but more expensive to produce. Different arrows are required to do different jobs. The preacher’s job is to flitch the appropriate arrows (sermons) and then fire (preach) them well. But in order to understand the illustration you need to know something about arrows. Arrows have three essential components – an arrow-head, a shaft and the feathers. The arrowhead is the part of the arrow that does the damage. It pierces the target and cuts to the heart…At the point of the arrowhead is the gospel, the declaration that Jesus is Lord and Savior. The cutting edges of the arrowhead are the implications of that reality. This can include things like ethics, philosophy, apologetics, personal godliness and kategoria (which is pointing out the questions that the gospel asks of the world, rather than apologetics, which is answering the questions that the world asks of the gospel). The kind of head that you fit to your arrow should be governed primarily by the text being preached, but also secondarily by the context of the sermon. Our regular week-by-week Sunday sermons should simply be driven by the text for that day, but in other circumstances (weddings, funerals, and so on), the demands and purposes of the occasion will affect the text chosen and the nature of the arrowhead. (Grimmond, Jensen, pp. 43).
In my next summary post of the book “The Archer and the Arrow” I’ll summarize the latter part of the book, which deals with the target of the sermon, the sheep whom God has entrusted the pator(s) with, and the risks the preacher takes when he preaches the Bible.