Chapter 1 of “The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text” should be required reading for every preacher. Sydney Greidanus explains what, theologically, we are actually doing when preaching Scripture.
I found it useful to summarise each paragraph of the chapter* in my own words.
P1. There is a connection between the Bible and contemporary preaching (2 Tim 3:16-4:2). What it is it?
P2. In OT times the prophets preached God’s word with power.
P3. The prophets were self-consciously preaching God’s word.
p4. Since it was God’s word, the prophets’ proclamation carried authority.
P 5. God’s words always accomplish things.
p 6. Likewise: the prophets words set in motion the content of the message.
p8. The preaching of the prophets was part and parcel of God’s redemptive activity on earth.
p 9. The redemptive events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection must be proclaimed in order to become effective.
p 10. God first sent apostles to proclaim His word about Jesus Christ.
p 11. The apostles represented God in their preaching (as ‘heralds’ and ‘ambassadors’).
p 12. Like the prophets, the apostles proclaimed the very word of God.
p 13. Like the prophets, the preaching of the Apostles accomplished God’s purposes: it was itself a redemptive event.
p 14. One difference between apostles and prophets was their sources for preaching. The source of the prophets’ preaching was what they had received in visions, dreams, or audible words. The sources of the apostles’ preaching was what they ‘had seen and heard’ (NT tradition) and the Hebrew Scriptures which they expounded.
p 15. The New Testament uses as many as 33 different verbs to describe what we call preaching.
p 16. C.H. Dodd promoted a sharp distinction between preaching and teaching.
p 17. But the NT does not separate preaching and teaching into rigid, ironclad categories. (Thus the church needs preaching as well as teaching; the unbelieving world needs teaching as well as preaching).
The Contemporary Preacher
P 18. Preachers today are neither OT prophets or NT apostles.
P 19. But we can preach God’s Word providing we use the Scriptures as our source (see Paul’s instruction to Timothy – not an Apostle – to preach the Word. 2 Tim 4:2).
P 20. We can still be ambassadors and heralds, but only if we speak the written word of God. (To say “thus says the Lord” we must first of all say “thus the Lord was written).
P 20. When preachers today faithfully proclaim God’s written word, the word of God is God’s deed today. Contemporary preaching becomes nothing less than a redemptive event!
P 21. The preacher cannot boast however: his authority and power reside entirely in the word of God.
P 22. Preachers must therefore bind themselves tightly to the Word of God if they would see God work with power and might through their preaching.
* The chapter is actually a bit longer than the 22 paragraphs I have summarised. Greidanus goes on to discuss expository preaching and the form of biblical preaching.