Yesterday I followed a thread of exchanges between Dr. Kevin Cosby and another individual. Dr. Cosby made a valid and undebatable statement when he said: “The Bible is not wrong but your interpretation is.” The greatest failure of sermon preparation is poor interpretation of the text. Exegesis is important to Biblical scholars because it allows us to critically interpret and attempt to explain the meaning of a Biblical text – and be rigorously accountable for that interpretation.
Over and over again, I witness and watch sermons where the individual has incredible vocal skills and has the charisma to match; however, while the sermon moved people by its sound it failed in its substance.
Lance Pape in his book “The Scandal of Having Something to Say” challenges his readers to pursue the world of the text. The answer to a simple questions such as:
Who was the original audience?
What is the date of the text
What are the historical situations and issues surrounding the text?
What are the social, political, and religious situations in the world of the text?
The biggest question before transitioning from exegesis to the sermon is: What did this passage mean to its original hearers?
I am not the best preacher. But, week after week I try to get better at the task of exegesis. If I am faithful to the text in my interpretation in the study, I will be faithful to the church in my deliver in the sanctuary.
So, in the words of Dr. Richard Gaines of Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington, KY – “Enjoy the text.”