Book Review: Preaching

preaching

Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian (PCA) Church in New York City. This is Keller’s 15th book, three of which have been on the New York Times bestseller list.

Keller’s book looks at the three levels of ministering the Word. Level 1 is the informal teaching and counseling of the Word which is the responsibility of all Christians. Level 2 includes greater analyses and might include writing, blogging, teaching, moderating and mentoring. Level 3 involves the preaching of sermons. Keller’s book seeks to be a resource at all three levels, but focuses heavily on levels 2 and 3.

Keller is known for engaging the culture. He stresses that contextualization of Scripture is not the same as accommodation of sin. The message must be understandable to the listener so they can comprehend the truth and see where they fall short. The same God honoring message might be taught differently based on the socio-economic, historical, geographic or language variations between audiences. Contextualization must never alter or sacrifice biblical truths. One might ask how to teach the story of the woman at the well to a culture that has never seen a well. Is it most important to focus on the compassion of Christ or the structure that helps hydrate a community?

Preaching is not simply the explanation of the text at hand, but utilizing the text to engage the listeners. The hearers must be engaged without altering or sacrificing Scripture. When a preacher or teacher expounds Scripture they must demonstrate how only Christ can save us. Jesus must be the end result of every Sunday school class or sermon.

Preachers of the gospel must show in their words they remember the emptiness of a life without Christ. A preacher must allow the listeners to hear in his voice that he is, even after decades, amazed and grateful of the grace and mercy Jesus has shown him.

The preacher must engage the culture, but not be a slave to it. Hip cultural references in sermons run the risk of the preacher pointing to his own knowledge and relevance instead of the timeless truths in Scripture. The purpose of understanding the audience and their culture is to show how Christ differs from those things that have enslaved man.

Keller stresses that good preaching is the work of the Holy Spirit and not the preacher. The preacher must stick to the infallible Word of God, prayer and truth. Preaching is a privilege and should be treated as such.

This is a wonderful book for all levels. Admittedly, it is more appropriate for teachers and preachers, but offers much for all. Keller brings to this book the experience of preaching for decades and thorough biblical exegesis to help the reader see what our Father commands of those who share the gospel with others.

About Mike

Mike, 49, grew up in California and spent 38 years of his life there. He received an undergraduate degree in Political Science, graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and is pursuing a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. Before accepting God’s call to fulltime missions, Mike worked in the California State Senate for 12 years. He became a Christian at the age of 20. Mike was a Ruling Elder at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church(PCA) for seven years. While at Soaring Oaks, Mike served as the Director of the High School Youth Group, Sunday school teacher, and instructor of evangelism. His cross-cultural missions experience includes five short term trips to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Peru (Lima and Cusco) through Mission to the World (MTW). He has volunteered with World Relief by teaching and counseling international refugees. Mike has also attended cross-cultural church planting conferences in New York and Orlando and completed the Perspectives course on the World Christian Movement. He attended Bible Study Fellowship for two years. He is a certified instructor through Evangelism Explosion and is a certified trainer of the Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention program. He completed MTW‘s Disaster Response Training. Mike is an experienced speaker and author. Over 70 of Mike's articles on missions have been published and he has written three books. He is a trained and experienced mentor, discipler, leader and a passionate teacher of small groups and Bible studies. Mike received an undergraduate degree in Political Science, graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. Before accepting God’s call to fulltime missions, Mike was a Ruling Elder, Youth Group Leader, adult Sunday school teacher and evangelism instructor at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church in Elk Grove, CA. Mike is an experienced speaker and author. Over 70 of Mike's articles on missions have been published and he has written three books. He is a trained and experienced mentor, discipler, leader and a passionate teacher of small groups and Bible studies. From 2007 to 2017 Mike served as a fulltime missionary for MTW. Mike served as Team Leader, Church Planter, and Seminary Professor. Mike and his wife Erin served in Honduras in Central America and Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa. Mike currently serves as the Director of the MTW West Coast Hub where he trains and mentors new missionaries from CA, AZ, & NV. Mike is also busy writing his next book.
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