Anyone who fills John Piper’s shoes deserves to be heard. That’s my attitude about Jason C. Meyer, the young pastor who recently accepted the call to serve as Senior Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John Piper writes the forward to Meyer’s new book, A Biblical Theology of Preaching. Piper eagerly endorses the new work and celebrates the “expository commitments of Jason Meyer,” (a phrase that should lure every expository preacher to this book).
I. THE BIG PICTURE: BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
Meyer presents his thesis in the first chapter. He argues, “The ministry of the Word in Scripture is stewarding and heralding God’s word in such a way that people encounter God through his word.” In reality, the stewardship presented here is a three-way arrangement: There is a necessary stewardship of truth between God and the preacher and between the preacher and his congregation. Ultimately, the stewardship rests in the members of the congregation who have a responsibility to hear God’s Word and be changed by it.
One of the major themes here is the resolution that God will bring; a resolution that will address a creation that is presently groaning. God will bring a new creation through the majestic King, the Lord Jesus Christ – all through the promised seed of the woman.
II. A SURVEY OF PARADIGM SHIFTS IN THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
Part two is a panoramic look at Scripture and a survey of paradigm shifts. The author presents ten paradigms as it relates to stewardship of the Word. These shifts are outlined below:
- The Stewardship of the Covenant of Creation
- The Stewardship of the Covenant of Promise
- The Stewardship of the Covenant of Law
- The Stewardship of Joshua, the Judges, and Samuel
- The Stewardship of the Covenant of Kingship
- The Stewardship of the Prophets
- The Stewardship of Psalmists and Scribes
- The Stewardship of the Son
- The Stewardship of the Apostles
- The Stewardship of the Pastor
Meyer gives readers a chance to pass on section two. However, in my mind, expository preachers should be urged to press through this excellent material as the author makes direct application to ministry. One set of principles that emerge in Chapter 6 is especially helpful:
- God’s word is bursting at the seams with life-giving power and man’s word is not.
- Sin and rebellion stem from a failure to steward God’s word.
- God’s word is a word of blessing when followed and a curse-bearing word of judgment when broken.
- Even after God’s word is broken, it provides the promise of redemption with the announcement of a coming deliverer.
- Redemption results from hearing and trusting God’s work of redemption promised by his word.
Meyer works hard to show the positive examples (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel) and negative examples (Balaam, Eli) of biblical stewardship as they surface in the redemptive plot-line of Scripture.
III. EXPOSITORY PREACHING TODAY
Part three is the “skeletal structure” of the book and provides readers with the rationale for expository preaching. Meyer helps readers understand the what, the how, and the why of expository preaching. Anyone who surveys these chapters will be convinced of the necessity to preach expository sermons. The unconvinced probably should not be preaching.
IV. SOUNDINGS FROM SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
Part four includes several reflections that build on the previous sections. One helpful sentence makes this section especially worth reading: “I am not to be a lead questioner of the text as a model for my students, but a lead worshipper over the text – modeling worshipful engagement with God through the text for my students.”
The strengths and weaknesses of topical preaching are given. But in the final analysis, local church ministry should be undergirded by expository preaching. Meyer notes, “A preaching ministry with a steady diet of expository preaching is the best strategy for the long-term health of the body of Christ.”
A Biblical Theology of Preaching is a much-needed book in an age that is drowning in proof-text preaching, topical preaching, and man-centered methodology. Meyer’s sounds the alarm and invites preachers to wield the Word of God in the way that God intends with power, authority, and faithfulness.