As I think about preaching I am increasingly convinced that we need to communicate the redemptive relevance of the biblical text. I am sure that seems obvious, but many fall into one of the following errors and half-measures:
1. Preaching the details and history of the text, without making the redemptive relevance clear. This could be preaching a text as if it were a historical lecture, or it could be applying a text as if what we need is example to follow and instruction to implement.
2. Preaching the good news using a biblical text, without demonstrating clearly how the message comes from that text. This could be a theologically brilliant presentation, but if it is unclear how you got there from the passage presented, then you are not honouring the theology of the gospel brilliantly. You might be a good communicator, your message might be technically accurate in every detail, but if there is a leap from text to message, then you are undermining the foundational reality that God is a good communicator.
3. Preaching our own message with only token reference to the text. This is the neither/or option. It uses the text as launch pad, or as a curiosity, or as a source of wording, but we preach what we want to say, and it is not the message of the text. If what we want to say is redemptive rather than merely therapeutic or pressuring, then maybe we drift up into option 2.
I think we will tend to drift into one of these options by default. Let’s be prayerful and careful to preach the redemptive relevance of the biblical text instead.