The journey begins…
I had the opportunity to attend The Charles Simeon Trust workshop on Biblical Exposition from May 29-31 in Washington D.C. I began my journey down the “pathway of preparation” one early Wednesday morning, accompanied by my faithful companion Jon Lowery. We both traveled with the intent to not only grow in our ability to teach God’s word but also to learn to deepen our own knowledge and understanding. Once there we had the ability to fellowship with other brothers in Christ from various theological and geographical backgrounds. It just proved that even where there may be differences, what remains true is a faithful commitment to understanding and staying true to God’s Word.
Pathway to Preparation
During my time at the 3-day workshop, I learned to apply several principles of effective biblical exposition when preparing to teach or preach. The first and most important to remember (at least my opinion) is to Stay on the Line. Staying on the line simply means that we neither add to, nor subtract from the text that is being preached or taught. One way to avoid being tempted to stray from the text is to follow the proper “pathway.”
The pathway properly walks us through the steps to carefully exposit God’s Word, taking the biblical text from its original context to today. If we deviate from the path, we run into several pitfalls in communicating the text properly: moralizing, legalizing, or contextualizing. Now I could write several blogs about just this concept alone, but I want to focus on two areas that I personally found most helpful.
Attending the workshop helped me to identify a pitfall where I tend to prioritize communicating application over detailing the author’s intent. That isn’t necessarily wrong in my personal studies, however when communicating to an audience I realize they need to follow how I moved through the text to application. To help you understand structure, picture this:
Do you remember being in school learning to write an essay? Did your teacher walk you through the process of outlining your thoughts to organize what you were going to write about? Just like your school essay, each biblical passage also has a structure, or outline that emphasizes the author’s main points. Identifying this structure reveals the author’s emphasis. The original author’s outline should influence our own preaching outline, which ensures we stay on the line while preparing us to effectively communicate the passage to today’s audience.
Text and Framework
Another principle I found valuable is understanding the influence of our framework on the text. We all have a framework, be it theological, political, social, and/or cultural. Our experiences form our understanding of the people we engage, the places we go, and even the things we read. In other words, our framework shapes our reading of the Bible. However, the primacy of the biblical text and its meaning must remain intact even when it challenges our framework, otherwise we run the risk of imposing our interpretation onto the text. This is something to bear in mind even during personal devotions so that we avoid influencing the meaning of the text based on our own perceptions and how it relates to our lives.
While I am sure there is more than one way to skin a cat, or uh…sermon, the Simeon Trust workshops have provided a helpful methodology of biblical exposition to pastors for almost two decades, being instructed and supported by prominent pastors like Mark Dever, D.A. Carson, and J.I. Packer. This was a great experience for me, and I am grateful to Immanuel for the opportunity to attend. I also pray that this summary helps you in uncovering a new way to grow in God’s Word!
If you would like to learn more, Simeon Trust has regular workshops and online lessons as well. Visit https://simeontrust.org/ for more information.