I just finished Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert’s book Preach: Theology Meets Practice and overall I enjoyed the book. Their book is not intended to be a work encompassing all the finer points of what preaching is, constructing a sermon or delivering a sermon, etc. Rather, it’s a glimpse into their habits of preparation, how they personally deliver the sermon and the often absent practice of reviewing the sermon, including godly criticism and godly encouragement. In the beginning they do spend some time discussing what expositional preaching is, as well as submitting to the reader what preaching actually does, but they clearly state if someone is reading their book they probably already subscribe to expositional preaching. Thus, there wasn’t a pressing need to make a cogent case for this type of preaching.
Nevertheless, they do define expositional preaching. Expositional preaching is preaching where the “main point of the biblical text being considered becomes the main point of the sermon being preached” (38) or put even more simply it’s “preaching that exposes God’s Word to God’s people, that opens it up to them and applies it to their hearts so that they may understand it and obey it” (36)
There were a multitude of strengths in their book. One strength is that they narrow down the focus of a sermon on two things: (1) edification of the saints and (2) evangelizing the non-Christian. Another helpful aspect of the book was Pastor Mark’s application grid. His words were beneficial as I routinely ask myself how I’m going to apply this to the hearers that come to Oak Park.
Here are the questions:
- How does the teaching in this point fit into the salvation-historical progression of the biblical story line?
- What does this text say to the non-Christian?
- What does it say to the larger society and to policy-makers?
- What does it say about Jesus?
- How does it apply to the individual Christian?
- Does it say anything in particular about issues of work or family?
- What does it say to my own local church, Oak Park Baptist Church?
One more strength will suffice. In chapter eight on delivering the sermon they ask the question, “what exactly is the appropriate tone for a Christian sermon?” (127). They answer with five aspects that the preacher should desire to have present in his sermon.
- Preaching should be biblical. Preaching is not drawing people into one theological group or another but rather drawing them to Christ (127).
- Preaching should be humble. “If we are seriously contemplating God and His grace in our preaching, then prideful self-congratulation will find no place in our sermons” (127).
- Preaching should be clear.
- Preaching should be sober and serious.
- Preaching should be infused with suffused with a joyful confidence.
The book is intensely practical and highly accessible. It’s a book you could place in the hands of a young preacher for guidance and wisdom, while also placing it in the hand of the seasoned pastor for a word of exhortation.