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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Models for Biblical Preaching" (various)

TITLE: Models for Biblical Preaching: Expository Sermons from the Old Testament
AUTHOR/EDITORS: Haddon Robinson and Patricia Batten
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014, (208 pages).

If we survey the number of Church sermons, chances are the number of sermons on the New Testament will outnumber those of the Old Testament. In a culture that tends to gravitate toward most things new, some may even consider the Old Testament too archaic and irrelevant for contemporary times.  While biblical scholars and theologians are able to describe a lot of what the ancient contexts mean, preachers trying making a bridge to connect the ancient to the present day can still find it extremely challenging.  This book of expository preaching from the Old Testament demonstrates 11 ways on how to expound the Old Testament passages in such a way as to aim at the minds of listeners, and empower the hearts of believers.

Based on the Big Idea sermon philosophy credited largely to Dr Haddon Robinson, all the sermons are from former students of the popular professor at both Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Denver Seminary. If Robinson's "Biblical Preaching" is about the theory, this book is essentially about the practice of it.  The first ten sermons are expository sermons while the final one is an evangelistic one. All of them are given using Old Testament texts as their primary preaching texts. Pastor Bryan Wilkerson kicks off with Genesis 22:1-19, looking at how Abraham's faith was demonstrated at Mount Moriah, that the test was not about Abraham's love for his son, but more of his faith in God. Pastor Eric Dokken expounds on Exodus 20:7, the third commandment's significance of not misusing the name of God. For in treasuring the name of God, we are treasuring God himself. Pastor Steve Mathewson tackles the difficult topic in Judges 3:12-30, of how a dark and gloomy book that tells of a seemingly hopeless situation, can have a sudden turnaround of God's deliverance. Patricia Batten, co-author of the book, preaches from Psalm 73 that whenever we doubt God's goodness, we need to learn to seek God in order to restore hope and trust in His goodness. Professor Sid Buzzell uses Proverbs 22:1 as a parting word to graduates, to learn to distinguish the sounds from the noises of this world, in order to know what are true riches of life. Dr Scott Wenig explores Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 to show us that only God is the center of all life. Ramona Spilman deals with the major prophet Isaiah 43:1-3a, and preaches in the voice of a character, and to allow the audience to eavesdrop into the narrative. Professor Kent Edwards preaches Jeremiah 1 on the topic of calling, how God had called Jeremiah to ministry, and what it means for us in modern days. Pastor Torrey Robinson unpacks Daniel 4 to challenge people on giving. He speaks in the first person of Nebuchadnezzar, using the insanity motif to drive home the message of stewardship. Professor Matthew Kim studies the character of Jonah, looking at Jonah 1-4 to highlight the need for Christians to care for what God cares about. Finally, Chris Dolson gives us an evangelistic sermon to show us that God is not simply All-Love, He is also Justice. 

Every contributor to this book was interviewed with several questions about the entire sermon preparation process. Other than the sermons, these interview questions provide readers a spectrum of insights and ideas of how good preachers prepare their messages. Some preach with notes while others preach without them. Some use the conventional first person approach while others narrate as a first person perspective. Some are pastors while others are professors. All of them have managed to develop their unique styles and preparation methods. They even have tips for the young aspiring preacher. For me, the interviews are very assuring. It tells me that there is no one way to prepare for the sermon. In fact, there is a sense of diversity around unity of the Big-Idea preaching philosophy. This is another powerful reason why Dr Robinson's preaching method is so popular. It is simple enough to allow individuals to remain focused on one main message. It is flexible enough to permit sophistication and varieties of preaching styles.  As a preacher myself, I continue to learn new ways on how to improve and make my sermons better for the sake of the gospel and the audience. Use this book as a way to hone your own skills. If it can shed a light into our unique preaching abilities, it would have worth every cent.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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