All the following are excerpts from Text Driven Preaching. I want to challenge you to buy the book. It will greatly bless you.
Akin, D. L., Allen, D. L., & Mathews, N. L. (2010). Text-driven preaching: god’s word at the heart of every sermon. Nashville: B&H.
It should come as no surprise that the century that witnessed the greatest assault on biblical authority (the twentieth century) should also be the century that witnessed an unparalleled attack on expository preaching.
This book rests firmly on the biblical and theological foundation for exposition: God has spoken. God is not silent. He has revealed Himself in Jesus, who is the living Word, and in Scripture, which is the written Word. Therefore, the theological foundation for text-driven preaching is the fact that God has spoken!
It is the nature of Scripture itself that demands a text-driven approach to preaching. God is the ultimate author of all Scripture, according to 2 Tim 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” What Scripture says is indeed the Word of God.
Thus, God is viewed as the author even when He is not the speaker in Matt 19:4–5, and “Scripture says” is used when God Himself is the direct speaker of what is quoted, as in Rom 9:17. In three places, Scripture is called “God’s speech” (Gal 3:8,22; Rom 9:17). In the words of J. I. Packer, “Scripture is God preaching.”
By what hubris do we think we could possibly have anything more important to say than what God Himself has said through Scripture? It is the height of arrogance to substitute the words of men for the words of God. So much modern-day preaching is horizontal in dimension rather than vertical; that is, it is man-centered preaching that appeals to so-called felt needs rather than what exalts God before the people as the One who alone can meet genuine needs.
The church today is anemic spiritually for many reasons, but one of the major reasons has to be the loss of biblical content in so much of contemporary preaching. Pop-psychology sometimes substitutes for the Word of God. Feel-good messages on “Five Ways to Be Happy” and “Three Ways to Love Your Mother” have become the steady cotton candy diet fed to the average church. Today’s sermonic focus therefore is on application. But application, without textual warrant for such, does not “stick”; it needs the glue of textual meaning. Biblical content accordingly must precede application; how else can we possibly know what to apply? Thus, in the headlong rush to be relevant, People magazine and popular television shows have replaced Scripture as sermonic resources. There are other signs of this anemia: in some churches, the music portion of the worship service has lengthened, whereas the sermon time has diminished. No wonder so many spiritual teeth are decaying in our churches.
Eloquent nonsense abounds in many pulpits today; sometimes it is not even eloquent.
These days it seems everything is “purpose driven.” Glossing this valuable concept and applying it to preaching, we believe that true expository preaching should be “text driven.” By this, we mean that sermons should not only be based upon a text of Scripture but should also actually expound the meaning of that text. Too often preachers take a text and then straightway depart therefrom in the sermon. The biblical text becomes for many not the source of the sermon but merely a resource. Many a preacher uses a text of Scripture, but the sermon that follows is not derived from a text of Scripture.
The authors of this book believe the following components are essential to text-driven preaching. First, God has spoken His final word in His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1–2). Second, because Scripture is authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient, our motto is always Textus Rex—“the text is king.” Third, as Ned Mathews points out elsewhere,
The preacher submits to the authority of the text. Therefore, he shuns the reader-response approach of the postmodern hermeneutic which manages the text in such a way that the biblical author’s view is replaced by the reader’s own perspective. The preacher, as interpreter, to the degree possible in humankind, seeks to empty his presuppositions, biases, and previous conclusions as he approaches the text. His goal is to come to the text, as if for the first time, in order to be instructed by the text rather than to instruct the text.
A text-driven sermon is a sermon that develops a text by explaining, illustrating, and applying its meaning. Text-driven preaching stays true to the substance of the text, the structure of the text, and the spirit of the text.
Some preachers, instead of expounding the text, skirmish cleverly on its outskirts, pirouetting on trifles to the amazement of the congregation. Text-driven preachers refuse to let the congregation walk away without understanding what God is saying to them through the text. It is in this way that people encounter God. It is not outside of the text of Scripture but through the text of Scripture that people encounter God.