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Sermon Preparation and Biblical Interpretation

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

12:28 PM

Phases of Sermon Preparation

Preaching Christ from the OT:

1. Exegesis
What is it saying?
Let scripture interpret scripture
2. Exposition
What does it mean?

TIP: Don't mess up this order!

3. Application
What do I do?
Apply this to the wounded, divorced, single, self-righteous, reluctant, skeptical, etc.
Example: Moses - received pattern from heaven (1), the Lord spoke to him (2), Solomon comes after
and finishes temple (3)
Goal of a sermon: Gospel-centered humility combined with Spirit-empowered activity

Building a Sermon and Approaching Scripture

1. Know your audience
Time frame, sermon structure, where they are in their walk, what's happening in the world, in the
church, in the local area
2. Know what you are trying to say
Preachers either have to say something OR have something to say (make sure you are the latter)
Get to the point, be able to summarize it in a sentence (stick with one text)
Know the material cold, own it!

3. Use your resources

Know the validity of sources, handle the word of truth rightly (different translations, dictionaries,
4. Don't proclaim the Bible, proclaim the Gospel
Don't just say "The Bible says" - get to Jesus! He is the good news.
Main goal: How do I see Jesus in this text?
5. Look to Jesus for how to connect to an audience
His ministry is the perfect example
Stop, listen, and pray - ask the Holy Spirit to show you

Biblical Interpretation Principles


Avoid Interpretive Pitfalls

Eisegesis - don't read into the text what you want it to say
Superficial spiritualizing - make sure you contextualize the text you're focusing on, no cherry picking
Hyper-allegorizing - don't make stuff up, the Bible doesn't say what the Bible doesn't say
Scripture is your best interpreter for scripture!

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Close the Gaps

Language gap - Hebrew is a pictorial, metaphorical language, be sensitive to this
Culture gap - cultural norms then and now, such as employment, teenage pregnancy, marriage, etc.
Geography gap - be aware of typography, i.e. "down to Jericho" or "up to Jerusalem"
History gap - thousands of years have passed but God's word still applies
Partner With the Holy Spirit
Pray and ask the Spirit to reveal the interpretation
TIP: Word Study - look up where else the author uses certain words (i.e. Matthew's use of "friend" with
Judas; see Vine's Dictionary of NT Words, Treasury of Scripture Knowledge)

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Center Church - Ch. 1 Questions

Sunday, November 9, 2014

9:45 PM

Questions for Discussion and Reflection

1. In what sense are each of these not the gospel?
a. Everything the Bible teaches
b. A way of life; something we do
c. Joining Christ's kingdom program; a divine rehabilitation plan for the world
If the gospel is not everything, what is the gospel?
Since the gospel is a message about how we have been rescued from peril, not everything the
Bible teaches is actually part of the gospel. Rather, everything the Bible teaches is necessary
and/or beneficial background for understanding the gospel (p. 29)
The gospel is not primarily a way of life, because it is not something we do, it is something that has
been done for us and something that we must respond to in one way or another (p. 29)
The gospel is not a divine rehabilitation program, it is an accomplished substitutionary work. We
are not joining something with the gospel, but rather receiving something. If we mistake these
actions, the gospel simply becomes another salvation by works message instead of salvation by
faith (p.30-31)
The gospel is a message about how we have been rescued from peril. It is good news about what
Jesus Christ, the son of God, has done to put right our previously broken relationship with God
that we could not fix on our own, to save us to eternal life and eventually destroy sin forever (p.
29-30). Three words: God saves sinners!

2. How can an individual or ministry go about distinguishing between "the gospel" and "the results of
the gospel"?
One must understand the fact that we are saved by faith alone but not by a faith that remains
alone. Good works will most certainly follow a true gospel believer, but they can never justify one.
Good works are the response to the good news! The gospel is a report about the completed work
of Christ on our behalf. It is this news that creates a new way of life, a life of love, but the life of
love is not itself the gospel (p. 30-31).
3. What other "conversational pathways" have you found to be fruitful in relating the gospel to nonChristians? To Christians?
The "what is my purpose/why am I here" question (non-Christians)
The "why am I going through this" question (both Christians and non-Christians)
4. What happens when the gospel is proclaimed without its results, or when its results are pursued
without proclamation?
When the gospel is proclaimed without its results, this can lead to antinomianism (relativism), or
the belief that God loves us and accepts us all as we are, with no transformation or change in
response. As a result, no one will be changed or transformed or delivered from bondage, and
people will remain under the weight of guilt and shame (p. 36-37).
When the results are pursued without proclamation, this can lead to legalism (moralism), or a
salvation-by-works message that places the burden of our salvation on ourselves. Even if a
legalistic message is not preached, the gospel's good results can be pursued so heavily that they
can potentially be mistaken for the gospel and eventually become an idol within an individual or
church ministry. In this case as well, people will not be saved because the true gospel is not being
preached in its fullness (p. 36-37).

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Class 1: Gospel Theology Pt. 1

Monday, November 10, 2014

6:38 PM

[Based primarily on chapter 1 of Center Church]

Class Expectations
1. Monthly Assignments
2. Oral Presentations
3. Reading/Book Purchases
Goals/Hopes for the Class
Some of you will plant a church
Some of you will be valuable leaders for this church or another church
Some of you will take what we learn and bring it into the "marketplace"
Keeping a Balanced View
The World:
The Bible:
Big picture narrative
Doctrine (what do we believe?)
Our goal with gospel-centered leadership is to bridge the gap between these two categories - how we
do that is called a theological vision (p.17)
The result of focusing too much on the World results in:
capitulation, heresy, conformity, watering down of the gospel
The result of focusing too much on the Bible results in:
legalism, moralism, self-salvation, achievement, religion and ritual, hostility towards culture, pride
Paul's theological vision = 1 Cor. 9:19-23
He delivers good NEWS, not good advice (p.29)
Always uses the term THEREFORE - showing what the RESULT of the gospel should look like
Are you living FOR acceptance or FROM acceptance? Make sure your answer is the latter.
Doctrinal Foundation >> Theological Vision >> Ministry Expression (chart on p.20)
Gospel Theology Overview
- Gospel narrative and truths - chart on p.33
- "It is not the amount of our faith but the object of our faith that saves us." (p.36)
- "Every form of ministry is empowered by the gospel, based on the gospel, and is a result of the
gospel." (p.36)

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Class 2: Gospel Theology Pt. 2

Sunday, December 7, 2014

9:47 PM

[Based primarily on chapters 2-3 of Center Church]

Gospel Themes
- "At the heart of all the biblical writers' theology is redemption through substitution." (p.40)
- Home/Exile, Yahweh/Covenant, Kingdom (p.41 chart)
- "It is instructive to see how his audience's capacities and beliefs shape the way Paul presents and argues
for the gospel." (p.44)
- "The gospel is so rich that it can be communicated in a form that fits every situation. It is a singular
message, but it is not a simple message." (p.44)
Keller Gems
"Truth without grace isn't really truth, and grace without truth isn't really grace." (p.48)
The gospel changes us - love, relationships, sexuality, family, race, culture, authority, guilt, joy, etc. (p.49-51)
"Gospel-relying Christians will exhibit both moral conviction and compassion with flexibility." (p.49)
"We are hopeful about everyone, even the 'hard cases', because we were saved only because of grace, not
because we were people likely to become Christians." (p.50)
"Most of our problems in life come from a lack of proper orientation to the gospel." (p.51)
How to Read the Bible: Two Ways

Systematic Theological Method (STM)

Also known as synchronic method
Topical, based on unity of the Scriptures
Based on principles
Answers the question "what must I do to be saved?"


Redemptive Historical Method (RHM)

Also known as diachronic method
Narrative, story based
Highlights point and purpose of the story
Answers the question "what hope is there for the world?"

Reading Through the Interpretive Lenses of the Gospel Writers


Based on genealogy
Refers to Genesis - Herod as the new Pharaoh, Jesus as true and better Moses
Jesus tempted in the wilderness just as Moses and the Israelites were
Compare Moses' commandment from Mt. Sinai to Jesus's commandments from Sermon on the Mount
Gospel of Matthew functions as the new Pentateuch (much of Matthew's audience were Gentiles, not
Jews, so they weren't familiar with the original Pentateuch


Recurring theme of suffering followed by glory (see Road to Emmaus story)
Refers to O.T. scripture stories of suffering followed by glory
Jesus is the true and better Daniel, true and better Joseph, true and better King and Judge
The O.T. does not come alive until you know Jesus and see God's narrative
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- The O.T. does not come alive until you know Jesus and see God's narrative

Recurring theme of creation and a new beginning ("In the beginning was the Word")
God separates and fills - the creation story in Genesis is a foreshadowing pattern of our redemption
God separates us from death through Jesus, and fills us with the Holy Spirit for good works
With God, darkness comes before the light - the morning is final! ("It was night, and then it was
- Jesus is the true and better Adam, and will bring forth the true and better Creation

Scriptural lens = Creation [Paradise] -> Fall [Idolatry] -> Redemption [Jesus] -> Culmination [Heaven]

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Class 3-4: Gospel Renewal

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

8:36 PM

[Based primarily on chapters 4-5 of Center Church]

Three ways of responding to God: Religion, Irreligion, and the Gospel (chart on p.65)
Two Types of Church Extremes
Conservative - legalistic, religious, no drinking, smoking, swearing, dancing, etc., works righteousness
Liberal - relativistic, irreligious, main message is social change, tolerance, universalism
Both extremes involve a system of good deeds - both are "cheap law"
Christianity can be summed up in one word: SUBSTITUTION
- Sin is us substituting ourselves for God
- Salvation is God substituting himself for us
Conservative way to respond to secularism involves an overemphasis on truth
Liberal way to respond to secularism involves an overemphasis on love
However, both love and truth on their own fall short of the glory of God and Gospel of Christ
Only the scandal of the cross can bring balance to these two realities - The Gospel
"You can't have love without blood"
Important Notes about Gospel Renewal
- "Many ministries spend more time defending the faith than propagating it." (p.74)
- "It is possible to get an "A" grade on a doctrinal test and describe accurately the doctrines of our
salvation, yet be blind to their true implications and power." (p.74)
- " it is often not so much the actual content of what a Christian says but their gospel-renewed
spirit and character that has an impact."
- "The gospel must be used to cut away both the moralism and the licentiousness that destroy real
spiritual life and power." (p.76)
- "ultimately, we can only prepare for revival; we can't really bring it about. God must send it."
Ways to Apply the Gospel
- Preaching the word
- Training of lay leaders to minister the gospel to others
- Small groups and experience meetings (p.75 sidebar)
- Simple, personal conversation
- Pastoral counseling by pastors, elders, church leaders, etc.
Preaching for Gospel Renewal (p.77-79)
1. Preach to distinguish between religion and the gospel
2. Preach both the holiness and the love of God to convey the richness of grace
3. Preach not only to make the truth clear but also to make it real
4. Preach Christ from every text
5. Preach to both Christians and non-Christians at once

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Class 5-6: Gospel Contextualization

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

9:00 PM

[Based primarily on chapters 7-9 of Center Church]

Contextualizing the Gospel
- What questions is the audience asking here and now?
- Embracing a servant-to-all mentality leads to "Gospel-aware evangelism"
- The Gospel must shape both our words (truth) and our delivery (method)
- We must let our knowledge of the Gospel shape how we share it
In other words, the way we share the truth must be as helpful as the truth itself
The Opposite of Contextualization: Syncretism
- Syncretism = the amalgamation (or attempted combining) of different religions, cultures, or
schools of thought
- The values of a culture become more important than the authority of Scripture (p.92-93)
1. Example 1: 20th century liberalism - got rid of supernatural aspect of Gospel in favor of moralistic
2. Example 2: 70s-90s - moral majority - started leaning towards legalism to battle relativism
Beautiful example of Gospel contextualization - missionary Don Richardson, book called Peace Child
- Involved bringing the gospel to the Sawi tribe in Papua, New Guinea (search online/YouTube for
Important Reminders From Keller
- "You can't expect people who are not yet believers to shed all their cultural sensitivities." (p.94)
- "We should not live in the illusion that we can share the gospel so as to make it all things to all
people at once." (p.95)
- "Everyone contextualizes, but few think much about how they are doing it. We should not only
contextualize but also think about how we do it." (p.97)
- "Scripture has supreme authority, and so it cannot be wrong and does not need to be corrected.
But a Christian communicator's understanding of the Bible may definitely be wrong - indeed, is
always partly so - and therefore must always be open to being corrected. The same goes for the
gospel communicator's understanding of the hearer's context, which can also benefit from more
insight and correction." (p.101)
- "Evangelicals seek to work in the middle of this spectrum [over- and under-contextualization],
insisting that while there are no universal, culture-free expressions of biblical teachings, the Bible
nonetheless expresses absolute and universal truths." (p.105)
- "If we need the approval of receiving culture too much (not enough gospel confidence), we will
compromise in order to be liked. If we are too proudly rooted in any one culture (not enough
gospel humility), we will be rigid and unable to adapt. Only the gospel gives us the balance we
need." (p.116)
Three Biblical Examples of Contextualization
1. Romans 1-2 and the mixed nature of culture (p.108-109)
2. 1 Corinthians 9 and flexibility toward culture (p.110-111)
3. 1 Corinthians 1 and the biblical balance (p.111-112)
Paul applies the gospel to confront and complete each society's baseline cultural narrative
Different Motivations for Appealing to the Hearer (p.114-115, based on D.A. Carson's writings)
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Different Motivations for Appealing to the Hearer (p.114-115, based on D.A. Carson's writings)
1. Come to God out of fear of judgement and death
2. Come to God out of a desire for release from the burden of guilt and shame
3. Come to God out of appreciation for the "attractiveness of truth"
4. Come to God to satisfy unfulfilled existential longings
5. Come to God for help with a problem
6. Come to God simply out of a desire to be loved
Gospel-driven humility and confidence are critical attitudes necessary for faithful and sound

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Class 7: Active Contextualization

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

9:32 PM

[Based primarily on chapter 10 of Center Church]

Confronting Idols
1. Identify the Idols
- If you don't see the idols, you can't properly present Christ
- Idolatry is nothing and everything at the same time
- Idolatry, when confronted, produces conflict
2. Expose the Idols
- Personal idols (money, romance, children)
- Religious idols (truth, spiritual gifts, morality)
- Cultural idols (reason, science, ethnicity)
3. Destroy the Idols
There are good and bad ideologies in every culture, and idols simply express the extremes of each
Culture is ALWAYS responding to the failure of its idols
A-B Doctrines
- The key to active contextualization is challenging the culture's errors (B-doctrine) on the basis of
something it (rightly) believes (A-doctrine)
- See p.123-126 for details and examples of A-B doctrine concept and implementation
- After we identify the cultural narrative and confront the idols, we can console them with the
redemptive narrative of the Gospel, that the "happy ending" to the culture's story can only be
found in Christ
Helpful Tips from Keller
- "To contextualize with balance and successfully reach people in a culture, we must both enter the
culture sympathetically and respectfully (similar to drilling) and confront the culture where it
contradicts biblical truth (similar to blasting)." (p.119)
- "Truth should not be simply declared into a vacuum - it must be delivered as a response to the
questions of particular people, and this means understanding their culture." (p.120)
- "If we are deeply involved in the lives, questions, and concerns of the people, then when we study
the Bible in order to preach it to the, we will see God's answers to their questions." (p.123)
- The "atonement grammars" are a great example of beginning to contextualize the Gospel
message (p.130-131)
- "The gospel is the deepest consolation you can offer to the human heart. Once you have taken
care to enter [the culture] and have found the courage to challenge the world of your hearers, be
sure to offer this consolation with the passion of one who has experienced it firsthand." (p.132)
Pressure Points of Western Culture (p.128-129)
1. The commodification of sex
2. The problem of human rights
3. The loss of cultural hope

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