You know what a scene when volcano start to wrok. This is the scene of some pastor’s (especially if he recently graduated from a Bible college/seminary) preaching. Such is a presentation of theological lectures. No wonder Paul Tripp calls some young theologians, “theologeeks,” since they preach as a systematic theology lecturer, and such is a boring thing to hear, since there is nothing I can use in my life.
In the sixth principle of Puritan biblical interpretation, J. I. Packer presents, “Interpretation means making Scripture meaningful and relevant to those whom one addresses, and the work is not finished till the relevance of doctrine for their ‘reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness’ (2 Tim 3:16) has been shown” (A Quest For Godliness, p 104). Such is the principle being most neglected in today’s evangelical preaching.
Preaching is different from lecturing, since the purpose of preaching is to apply the biblical teachings to one’s private life, but lecturing is aiming to provide as much information to one’s pupils. In today’s evangelical circles, many sermons are preached as Biblical Exegetical lectures, rather than an application-aimed expository preaching. Though in many sermons there are such a part called “application,” but such “application” is too wild and formulated, and cannot shoot into each one’s heart as the arrows of truth, and this is one of the reasons why today’s pulpit is not so effective.
In the Puritan ages, the local congregation is normally small, and the minister knows each individual in his congregation, and the minister can make the application of their sermons being aimed to specific situations. Today, many of the congregations have large numbers of attendees, and it is a hard work for the minister to know everyone who sits during his preaching, but this is not the excuse to know one’s congregation and make the application realistic and faithful to the Scripture. As Packer says, “one must know what is in men’s heads as well as in their hearts… needs to study people as well as the Bible.”
It is important for us, as pastors, to remember that we are not preaching base on our thoughts, but the expository of the Scripture text. But, the good exegesis of the text is not the end, just as we who learn theology at seminaries. Rather, it is the beginning of application. Lest our sermons become theological volcano.