Preaching Paperback – 31 Oct 2013
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About the Author
Jason C. Meyer (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church and associate professor of New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary. Prior to coming to Bethlehem, he served as dean of chapel and assistant professor of Christian Studies at Louisiana College. He is the author of Preaching: A Biblical Theology.
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don't Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, Bloodlines, and Does God Desire All to Be Saved?
Top Customer Reviews
That’s how I’d sum up Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason Meyer.
It’s a book that has some simply outstanding chapters, so much so, that if they were all put together, they would make a great little book on the subject. But it is also a book that has a long section in the middle that didn’t quite hit the target, which was frustrating.
The opening two chapters on the What and How of Preaching, that set preaching within the larger context of the ministry of the Word, were really helpful. Meyer’s thesis is that “the ministry of the word in Scripture is stewarding and heralding God’s word in such a way that people encounter God through his word” and that this “stewarding and heralding must be carried out faithfully and fearlessly”.
Following this we have a long section, from chapters 3 through to the end of chapter 16, which begins with a condensed biblical theology of the ministry of the word, which is then expanded on over 11 chapters. This was probably the weakest part of the book. (To be fair to Meyer, he does give busy pastors the permission to skip the part of the book). It would have been great if there could have been in this section more specific and detailed application about what each of 10 scenes he divides the Bible story into uniquely has teach about the ministry of the word.
After this, the remainder of the book is great. The chapters on the What, How and Why of Expository Preaching provided a great definition “preaching must re-present the word of God in such a way that the preacher represents the God of the word so that people respond to God”, a memorable method “share, show, shepherd”, and a clear defence for it.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
What makes this book unique is that the author shows how "the whole Bible alone can give a holistic answer to what preaching is." Meyer brilliantly and cogently examines what the whole of the Scriptures have to say broadly about the ministry of the Word and specifically in light of what this means for the expository preacher. The ultimate reason of preaching isn't for the transfer of information, but to have an encounter with the living God.
Meyer takes the reader on a biblically saturated journey from Genesis to Revelation and unpacks what the entire Scriptures have to say about the ministry of the Word. He does a remarkable job of conveying how preaching the Word is grounded within the big picture story line of the gospel. Christ is the plot-line of the Scriptures and Meyer helps the minister build a foundation for preaching, paradigms for preaching, and demonstrates how biblical and systematic theology guides the preacher in ministering the Word so that we and our hearers encounter the glory of God in Christ.
I highly recommend this book for beginning and seasoned preachers, but also for all Christians. It is packed full with excellent illustrations, robust theological truths, and insightful applications. By helping us to interpret the whole Bible through the lenses of redemption Meyer helps us to see that Jesus is at the forefront of every passage we preach. I believe that any believer reading this book will come to understand the gospel better, and strive to minister the word with Jesus at the center of our proclamation so that we and our listeners will truly encounter our Awesome God.
I. THE BIG PICTURE: BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
Meyer presents his thesis in the first chapter. He argues, "The ministry of the Word in Scripture is stewarding and heralding God's word in such a way that people encounter God through his word." In reality, the stewardship presented here is a three-way arrangement: There is a necessary stewardship of truth between God and the preacher and between the preacher and his congregation. Ultimately, the stewardship rests in the members of the congregation who have a responsibility to hear God's Word and be changed by it.
One of the major themes here is the resolution that God will bring; a resolution that will address a creation that is presently groaning. God will bring a new creation through the majestic King, the Lord Jesus Christ - all through the promised seed of the woman.
II. A SURVEY OF PARADIGM SHIFTS IN THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
Part two is a panoramic look at Scripture and a survey of paradigm shifts. The author presents ten paradigms as it relates to stewardship of the Word. These shifts are outlined below:
The Stewardship of the Covenant of Creation
The Stewardship of the Covenant of Promise
The Stewardship of the Covenant of Law
The Stewardship of Joshua, the Judges, and Samuel
The Stewardship of the Covenant of Kingship
The Stewardship of the Prophets
The Stewardship of Psalmists and Scribes
The Stewardship of the Son
The Stewardship of the Apostles
The Stewardship of the Pastor
Meyer gives readers a chance to pass on section two. However, in my mind, expository preachers should be urged to press through this excellent material as the author makes direct application to ministry. One set of principles that emerge in Chapter 6 is especially helpful:
God's word is bursting at the seams with life-giving power and man's word is not.
Sin and rebellion stem from a failure to steward God's word.
God's word is a word of blessing when followed and a curse-bearing word of judgment when broken.
Even after God's word is broken, it provides the promise of redemption with the announcement of a coming deliverer.
Redemption results from hearing and trusting God's work of redemption promised by his word.
Meyer works hard to show the positive examples (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel) and negative examples (Balaam, Eli) of biblical stewardship as they surface in the redemptive plot-line of Scripture.
III. EXPOSITORY PREACHING TODAY
Part three is the "skeletal structure" of the book and provides readers with the rationale for expository preaching. Meyer helps readers understand the what, the how, and the why of expository preaching. Anyone who surveys these chapters will be convinced of the necessity to preach expository sermons. The unconvinced probably should not be preaching.
IV. SOUNDINGS FROM SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
Part four includes several reflections that build on the previous sections. One helpful sentence makes this section especially worth reading: "I am not to be a lead questioner of the text as a model for my students, but a lead worshipper over the text - modeling worshipful engagement with God through the text for my students."
The strengths and weaknesses of topical preaching are given. But in the final analysis, local church ministry should be undergirded by expository preaching. Meyer notes, "A preaching ministry with a steady diet of expository preaching is the best strategy for the long-term health of the body of Christ."
A Biblical Theology of Preaching is a much-needed book in an age that is drowning in proof-text preaching, topical preaching, and man-centered methodology. Meyer's sounds the alarm and invites preachers to wield the Word of God in the way that God intends with power, authority, and faithfulness.
It is difficult to identify just one highlight of the book, so I will go with two. First, Chapter 4 alone is worth the book’s weight in gold. Meyer states that it is the most important chapter in the book “because it is foundation for everything else” argued for in the book. I would go further than that and say that the chapter is foundational for everything else, period. Yes, this is a bit of an overstatement, but the way that Meyer walks through the biblical storyline is simply exhaustive and far-reaching. It is a beautiful depiction of the interlocking story of redemption, with Christ shining forth in his brilliance as the one on which all of the hope of the world rests. Secondly, the immensely practical nature of the book is quite refreshing. Parts 1, 3, and 4 are practical by nature. Part 5 is explicitly application in its entirety. But even Part 2, the part where most of the rigorous biblical theological work is displayed, is filled with practical illustrations and explicit application as Meyer closes almost every chapter with implications to the modern preacher and reader.
It is clear that I wholeheartedly agree with the thesis of the book. Not only because my heart was moved by it, but mostly because it was demonstrably biblical and Meyer strenuously shows his work. The skeptical reader might be tempted to say, at least early on in the book, that Meyer’s connection between modern preaching and the biblical theology of the ministry of the word is a loose one. But I would argue that the reader who combs through the treasure trove of Part 2 cannot walk away unconvinced of this connection. If there is any weakness to this work, it might be on the side of homiletics. My own tendencies lean into methods and step-by-step ways of doing things. But then again, this is explicitly not the aim of this book and methodology could possibly become a crutch on which a preacher begins to lean on instead of desperately clinging to God and the power of the Holy Spirit. In short, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. As I have already said, I cannot conceive of a more thoroughly biblical, heart-stirring, helpful, or practical book on preaching.
Book Review of “Preaching: A Biblical Theology” by Jason Meyer
Among the countless books on preaching available to the modern pastor, Jason C. Meyer’s Preaching: A Biblical Theology, stands out as a unique and indispensable resource. I echo the words of John Piper when he says in the forward to the book, “I know of nothing like what he has done here in tracing the stewarding of God’s word from Genesis to Revelation” (12). The uniqueness of Meyer’s work stands out precisely in the fact that he does not simply focus his study on preaching to the places where scripture explicitly uses the “preaching” word group. Instead, he guides the reader into the textual world of the Bible where we encounter the God who continually speaks His word to His people and expects them to do something with it. In Meyer’s own words, “I think the whole Bible alone can give us a holistic answer to what preaching is” (14). In Preaching, Meyer solidly grounds the nature and importance of Biblical preaching by situating it within its broader context of ministry of the word.
The book is laid out in five parts. In the following review, I will discuss each one in turn. In Part One (chapters 1-5), Meyer gives his thesis for the book. The five chapters in this part are concerned with giving a Biblical theology of the ministry of the word. In Chapter 1, Meyer gives his thesis as follows: “The ministry of the word in Scripture is stewarding and heralding God’s word in such a way that people encounter God through his word” (21). There are three components to this thesis which are sequentially related. The first is the “stewarding” phase. All throughout the Bible, we find that people are entrusted with the words of God. A particular person is given a particular message from God and is expected to receive it faithfully (1 Cor 4:1-2).
The second “phase” of the ministry of the word as it pertains to preaching is the “heralding phase.” In Meyer’s words, “the connection between stewarding and heralding is simple. God entrusts the word and then calls the preacher to herald it” (24). The “heraldic nature” of the task of preaching is what distinguishes it from “teaching” the word. This is a very helpful distinction since scripture seems to use the terms interchangeably (Matt 7:28, Rom 2:21). Meyer explains that both are concerned with entrusting what has been entrusted to others (2 Tim 2:2), and thus fall under the same phase in the ministry of the word. The difference is one of emphasis. Preaching emphasizes the “heraldic tone of the delivery, while the word teaching places more stress on the entrusted content that the herald as teacher must unpack” (25). In other words, preaching then focuses more on how the content is delivered, and teaching focuses on the content of what is said (24).
The final phase of the ministry of the word is the “encountering” phase. Preachers are called to steward and herald God’s word in such a way so that their hearers encounter God. Our hearers must encounter and steward God’s word for themselves. In this phase, the encounter can bring life or death based on the response flowing from the heart of the hearer. In the words of Paul, “we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Cor 2:15-16). New birth comes to people through the word of God, but only the power of God’s Spirit can make the message of Christ be a sweet aroma of life. Yet the word of God can also further harden those who hear it (Is 6:8), leading to their death. Our task as heralds of the word is to steward the word in such a way so that we are able to herald it faithfully. Meyer explains that “if a steward faithfully speaks the word, then he is not held guilty for someone else’s response” (28).
Chapter 2 unpacks the first chapter with a plea for faithful stewarding, fearless heralding, and reverent encountering of the word. The preacher himself must also “encounter” the word reverently during the stewarding phase if he is to steward and herald it reverently and faithfully (34-35). The rest of Part One was worth the price of the book. In chapter 4, Meyer takes the reader on a breathtaking, whole Bible overview of the role of God’s word in the drama of scripture. For readers wanting to get their arms around the message of the whole Bible in twenty four pages, this chapter is a must read.
Part Two (chapters 6-16) provides the biblical support for Meyer’s three-fold paradigm of stewardship. In his own words, it provides the “structural supports for part one” (15). Basically, this section traces what Meyer refers to as “paradigm shifts” in the ministry of the word throughout the unfolding of God’s revelation. From Adam to Jesus to the teachers of the early church, God’s people are continually called to steward His word faithfully in the face opposition from those who echo the famous question of the serpent, “did God really say” (Gen 3:1). The purpose of these chapters is for preachers to “come away with the feeling that [they] are surrounded by a great cloud of stewards and heralds to help cheer [them] on in [their] ministry of the word” (72).
In Part Three (chapters 17-19), Meyer moves from the paradigms of stewardship in scripture, to the “What,” “How,” and “Why” of expository preaching today. God is no longer speaking as he did in the past (238) and so the paradigm of stewardship today will look different in some ways, though still fitting within the paradigm laid out in Part One. He agrees with J.I. Packer who says that “scripture is God preaching” (239). Scripture is free of error, but our preaching is not free of error. In chapter 17 Meyer lays out three “R’s” for preaching today. He explains that preaching must: “(1) re-present the word of God in such a way that the preacher (2) represents the God of the word (3) so that people respond to God” (240). In other words, the stewarding phase no longer includes hearing new messages from God, but “re-presenting” the word that God has already spoken in scripture. The preacher must accurately, authentically, and clearly re-present God’s word (241) in such a way so as to give scripture a “voice.”
In chapter 18, Meyer avoids technicalities in message composition, and gives an overview of the “how” of expository preaching. Faithful preachers must share what the point of the passage is, show why that point is the point from the passage, and shepherd where the text leads when applied to their congregations (258). Our people will learn to read their Bibles from us. Are we showing them how by the way we preach (260)?
For those still wrestling with the whole idea of expository preaching, Chapter 19 is the place to go. Meyer provides six interlocking arguments to answer the common challenge that expository preaching is not biblical since we do not find examples of it being done in the Bible (270). Readers will most likely find that some of the six arguments are more persuasive than others, but when taken together, I found them very persuasive. In short, if readers have been convinced that the three-fold paradigm laid out throughout the book is biblical, they will have been “hooked” into affirming the necessity of expository preaching for faithful heralding of the word.
Meyer has titled Part Four (chapters 20-22) as “Soundings from Systematic Theology.” This section of the book really serves as a further defense of the necessity of expository preaching in our churches today. If scripture is the inspired, inerrant word of God, then it makes sense for preachers to stick as closely to it as possible. Topical preaching will lead to topical thinking (286). If we want our people to think exegetically, we need to preach in a way that helps them read their Bibles rightly and apply them to their lives. Chapter 22 helpfully explains that topical preaching is not an “enemy” if done in an expository way. The danger comes from a steady diet of topical preaching.
Finally, Part Five (chapter 23) functions as a concluding plea for preachers to “put their faith in the power of God’s word” (303) and “give the text a voice and not a makeover” (302). In other words, preachers are not to view themselves as creators of words, but stewards of the words of their Creator. Perhaps the strongest plea in this section is the plea to preach Christ in all of scriptures. Meyer writes that “we can always strive to preach the Savior better, but we could never preach a better Savior” (306). Will people come away from our preaching with a sense of the glory of the savior, the greatness of their sin, and the beauty of the cross?
By way of evaluation, I could not imagine a better way Meyer could have gone about the task of unfolding the heart of Preaching. His work is thoroughly biblical, extremely practical, and written in a way that moved my heart to want to faithfully herald the excellencies of Jesus Christ from all of scripture. I hope that this text becomes a gold standard in Evangelical preaching classes for years to come. Meyer’s three categories of stewarding, heralding, and encountering the word flow naturally from scripture and are not something he foists upon scripture. Part two of the book goes through great lengths to show the accuracy of his paradigm. I honestly cannot think of anything to “disagree with” in this book other than his suggestion that some readers could skip over part two (14-15). This section is a treasure trove of help for readers of the Bible and I would hate to see someone skip it for the sake of time.
When Meyer engages with the critics of Expository preaching in Chapter 19, he does so in a way that is fair to those who disagree with him, and yet firm in his convictions. This book does not engage in “bashing” topical preaching, no matter how tempting it may have been. For example, Meyer could have shared humorous examples of topical “bloopers” to give emotive appeal for rejecting topical preaching, but he does not. I truly believe that someone who was a big proponent of topical preaching could read the challenges in this book without feeling like they had been characterized by straw man arguments.
Perhaps the biggest highlight for me was Meyer’s paradigm of “share, show, and shepherd” found in chapter 18. This “how to” chapter leaves room for various styles of sermon construction, while clearly laying out the heart of what pastors must accomplish in their preaching. A pastor must be faithful to clearly share what the point of the passage is, to show why that is the point of the passage, and then shepherd the flock where the text leads through helpful applications geared toward his people’s specific life situations. Central to this paradigm is the “principle of verification” (258). This principle demands that preachers not only share the main point of a text, but also show why it is the main point from the text. This is important because it helps people evaluate what we say without pulling rank on them in a “just trust me” type of way. We must do all we can to communicate that both preacher and listener are under the authority of the word. The verification principle also ensures that preachers are shepherding people into healthy was of reading their Bibles. If our people are regularly left shaking their heads and thinking, “I could never have seen that,” then we may not be practicing the principle of verification.
In conclusion, I heartily recommend this book to all preachers who are looking to gain a greater grasp on what preaching is Biblically, and how to grow in their faithfulness as stewards and heralds of God’s word. In the words of C.J. Mahaney, “Going… going… gone. Jason Meyer hits it out of the park” (1). I could not agree with him more.
Preaching A Biblical Theology is broken up into five parts. Part one explores a biblical theology of the ministry of Word through “what and how of preaching”, the link between structure and story, the role of the Word in the drama of Scripture. Part two examines creation, promise, law, stewardship in the books of History, Prophets, Wisdom literature and the New Testament. Part three explains the what, how and why of expository preaching. Part four explores preaching and Scripture, preaching and sin and the issue of topical preaching. Part five looks at the importance of stewardship for today. The book concludes with three appendixes—looking at the heart behind the book, how this book is different and the available literature on preaching today.
In the opening of this review I noted that I read almost every available preaching book that comes out. While I’ve read broadly in the literature on preaching what makes this book unique is how Dr. Meyer approaches the topic of preaching. Most books on preaching focus on “how” to preach, and others on exegesis. Given the rise of the Gospel-centered and biblical theology movements in the evangelicalism what Preaching A Biblical Theology does is help the reader to learn how preaching is to be grounded in the Word of God. Furthermore, the author helps his readers to see that the task of preaching is a holy endeavor not just some activity but a means God uses to awaken the dead to new life. This means preaching is a holy task given by God to the Church and her officers to wield with great care.
Since every Christian is a theologian every Christian ought to know about the importance of preaching. This is precisely why Preaching a Biblical Theology is so important—it takes the storyline of the Bible and helps new and seasoned preachers and teachers understand not just the importance of preaching but why grounding our preaching and teaching in the Bible is so vital to the healthy and grow of the Church.
Lastly, what I appreciate about this book is it is not only deep but is also eminently practical. The author guides his reader through the Bible and along the way shows the reader how his reading of the Word affects one’s view of preaching and thus of teaching and caring for the people of God. It is this trifecta of biblical fidelity, Gospel-centeredness and practical help that makes Preaching: A Biblical Theology one of the most helpful books on preaching I’ve read in quite some years. Preaching should be required reading in seminary classes on the topic of preaching along with Christ-Centered Preaching by Dr. Bryan Chappel.
Preaching A Biblical Theology is as Dr. M. Lloyd-Jones said in his book Preaching and Preachers, “theology on fire”. It is for this reason and many others that I heartily recommend Preaching A Biblical Theology--- whether you are new to the task of preaching or you’ve been preaching for quite some time or you just enjoy reading books on preaching this book will help you by teaching you the truth of God’s Word. I pray the Lord uses this book by Dr. Meyer in powerful ways to awaken new preachers to the truth of biblical preaching and refreshes seasoned preachers to the importance of biblical preaching.