Many of the people in your church have a friend or family member who has their standing invitation to join them for worship. When they show up unexpectedly, what will they hear on that particular Sunday? Regardless of the text for that day and regardless of the subject or theme, they need to hear the gospel. They need to hear some articulation of the essence of what we are all about.
But what if that Sunday is a special occasion like Mother’s Day or Baccalaureate Sunday? What if the text that day happens to be from the Old Testament? What if there’s a stewardship emphasis that day?
Will that first-time visitor hear the gospel from the Old Testament text chosen for that day? Or instead will he or she only be presented with a moral example and a set of behavior imperatives? Certainly those things aren’t bad but are they enough? In that setting, are we presenting the best articulation of the whole counsel of God so that the Holy Spirit might use our feeble words to turn their heart to the Lord God?
The reality these days is that we rarely have the same crowd on any given Sunday. So it becomes paramount that a preacher ensures that his proclamation of the gospel is consistent and not random, whether he is preaching an “evangelistic” sermon or not.
How does this happen? Biblical theology is the safeguard in these situations.
What is biblical theology? It is the comprehensive understanding of the story-line of redemptive history. It is the restatement of key biblical themes and components of the Christ story in all of Scripture. It is the totality of God’s revelation of Jesus Christ in Holy Scripture.
How then does biblical theology address the problem mentioned above? It becomes the tool by which mere moralistic preaching is avoided and the means by which Christ is proclaimed from every text, even when there is no mention of His name.
In every exposition of a text of a sermon, the question must be asked, “What does this text tell us of Christ and the gospel?” Without biblical theology, the answer to that question becomes dicey. When Paul told the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified”? (1 Cor. 2:2), he was not saying that every sermon only dealt with the death of Jesus. He was saying that all of his preaching was centered in and tied to the person and work of Christ Jesus.
How is this best done? How is biblical theology employed in this pursuit?
How do you do it? What resources or disciplines have you found to be effective?