Preaching is Biblical

May 13th, 2012| Topic: aBeLOG, Definition | 0

Preaching is Biblical

In the account in Nehemiah, of the post-exilic gathering of God’s people to renew their covenant with Yahweh, there is no question that the Word of God is given prominence. Preaching is to be biblical: there is this one book that must be preached in the assembly of the people of God. No more. No less.

And all the people gathered as one …, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.
Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly ….
He read from it … from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
And they read from the book, from the law of God ….
Nehemiah 8:1–3, 8

In fact, the larger account in Nehemiah 7:73b–10:39 is actually tripartite, each part involving an assembly. And in each assembly the Torah is read: 7:73b–8:12; and 8:13–18; and 9:1–10:39. Noteworthy in this regard is that of the twenty-one references to “Torah” in Nehemiah, all but two are found in this section containing the covenant renewal account (7:73b–10:39).

In the accounting of this drama, the book of the law rightly occupied center stage; indeed, covenant renewal (and I’ll talk about this in another post) is always Scripture-centered and forms the basis of all realignment to God’s will—the goal of preaching, whereby the priorities and purposes of God are established and realized in the life of the community.

In construing the corpus of Scripture as the canonical Word of God, the church recognizes at least three features of this unique work that is particularly pertinent to preaching. It is perennial: it has unlimited durability with perpetual significance for the people of God. Scripture is relevant and material in every new generation, addressing the present (“every” present) as if it were its only audience or readership. The Bible itself consistently affirms the value of its message for future generations.

Not only is the Bible perennial, it is also plural—it provides the basis of infinitely varied application throughout the history of the church. It speaks, in some sense, in generic terms (e.g., “love your neighbor”), leaving it to the individual Christian to identify who one’s neighbor is (Raj or Rani, Jack or Jill). Theoretically, a limitless diversity of specific application is possible in the limitless diversity of circumstances in which God’s people are situated—the limitless diversity of culture, geography, time, or language.

And, of course, not only is the Bible perennial and plural, it is prescriptive—it has a normative quality, making itself binding upon the faith and practice of the community that recognizes it as Scripture and preaches it as the inspired Word of God.

No other book is as authoritative—perennial, plural, and prescriptive. Thus: preaching is—it must be!—biblical.

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