Jim Orrick, Ryan Fullerton, and Brian Payne
B & H Academic, 2017. 211 pp.
Encountering God through Expository Preaching offers the reader, who is likely a preacher, an advanced primer on the source, power, preparation, and act of biblical preaching. The authors make few assumptions about the reader’s commitment to or understanding of expository preaching in the modern era. With refreshing personalization, they remind preachers that the life of the preacher still matters. This principle runs throughout the volume as the authors offer their counsel with personal and pastoral illustrations.
This work is divided into three major sections. Beyond practical encouragement to the preacher, Part One defines and defends expository preaching and the practice of preaching through books of the Bible. It then frames the content of preaching by outlining four “horizons” of context, which include the immediate context, the covenantal context, the canonical context, and the contemporary context. The authors help the preacher to present a sermon that brings the eternal aim of Scripture to bear on the current lives of the listeners.
In this same section, the authors promote more than an academic treatment of the text, and move the reader to depend on the Holy Spirit in preaching. Ryan Fullerton writes, “When the Spirit illumines us, he brings the truth to us in a sweet clarity.” The charge is that the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the preacher will powerfully affect the listeners.
In Part Two, the authors turn their attention to practical instructions of sermon delivery. While preachers rely on the Word of God and the Spirit of God, good sermon delivery allows the congregation to experience God. Reading the text of Scripture well prepares the congregation to listen well. For two chapters, Jim Orrick walks the reader through four questions about the text that help the preacher build the sermon: (1) How does it fit? (2) What does it say? (3) How is it built? (4) Why does it stay? These questions help determine the content, form, and aim of the sermon.
In the third and final section of the book, the authors compare the various approaches to sermon delivery with full manuscript, with an outline, and without notes. They offer words of encouragement and warning for each option and then offer why preaching without notes is most preferred.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
As pastors grapple with best methods for reaching their community and discipling believers to make disciples, the preaching ministry is rightly under greater scrutiny. The temptation, however, is to forsake expository preaching for a less text-driven approach that seems more relevant, practical, and accessible for the audience. Rather than abandon expository preaching, the authors of Encountering God through Expository Preaching provide sound motivation and practical instruction for the preacher to preach with greater effect in this modern era.
The authors refuse to bow to the suggestion that biblical preaching must be merely the accurate explanation of a text. It is that, but preaching is the expression of God’s eternal purpose for people in every age through the power of the Holy Spirit. Preaching is rooted in the ancient text of the Holy Bible, delivered through a man filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore dynamic, practical, and life changing for the listeners.
For the novice and seasoned preacher alike, this volume gives theological foundations, eternal motivations, and pastoral tools for effective expository preaching.
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