In the second edition of his classic text Christ-Centered Preaching (Baker), Bryan Chapell observes, “The goal of a preacher’s exegesis is to be able to state (usually in the main points and subpoints) the universal truths established by a text for the congregation. The accompanying explanation supports these points of truth principle and is furthered by illustration and application. The danger, of course, is that contemporary concerns will sway a preacher’s interpretation. A preacher must remain aware of the temptation to soften, recast or change a passage’s truths in light of a congregation’s situation or sensitivities. Still, though the danger to abandon scriptural truth in the light of the congregational pressures is great, we must remain careful not to abort biblical truth by delivering words and stating conclusions that have not breathed the air of our listeners in the sermon’s preparation.

“Discerning the human background and the persuasive focus of a passage prepares pastors to relate the explanatory material to similar concerns faced by a present congregation and provides direction for a message’s organization. Without relating explanations of a text to the concerns of a congregation, there are no fences to corral the thousands of explanatory alternatives, other than time constraints and a preacher’s personal interests. Neither of these is more holy than the desire to explain matters in such a way that they can and will be heard.”

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