Is there a way of approaching the task of preaching that ensures a local church receives a balanced diet of the Word? Is there a manner of proclamation that takes up “the whole counsel of God”, rather than allowing the preaching to be driven by the preacher’s every whim? The answer is,”YES!”
Rev. Dr. Jon D. Payne, series editor of The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the lectio continua method of reading and preaching, its benefits, and what we can expect from this exciting new expository commentary series on the NT.
As was touched upon yesterday, Dr. Payne is senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Douglasville, GA, and Visiting Lecturer in Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He is the author of John Owen and the Lord’s Supper (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2004), In The Splendor of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship for the 21st Century (Tolle Lege Press, 2008), and co-editor of and contributor to a forthcoming collection of essays celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism (Reformation Heritage Books, 2012). Dr. Payne is also a frequent contributor to Modern Reformation. Jon and his wife Marla have been married for thirteen years and have two children, Mary Hannah (9) and Hans (7).
KF: What is the lectio continua method of reading/preaching the Scriptures? What are the benefits of such a method?
JDP: The Lectio Continua method of reading and preaching the Scriptures is the regular, consecutive, systematic, verse by verse exposition of God’s Word. When executed faithfully, this method ensures that God’s Word is preached, and not something (or someone) else. Sadly, it has become increasingly difficult for committed believers to find a church where the “whole counsel of God” is faithfully proclaimed. Too often modern day preachers put style over substance, creativity over content. Sermons are filled with personal stories, clever anecdotes, and entertaining illustrations, and not with careful exegesis and exposition — a simple explanation and application of the text. At the root of this problem is a lack of belief in the inspiration, authority, sufficiency, and efficacy of God’s Word. We boldly confess a high view of Scripture, yet our preaching reveals something quite different.
The benefits of the lectio continua method of preaching are myriad. To name but a few:
- The whole counsel of God is trumpeted forth (Acts 20:27; Matthew 28:20).
- The difficult and thorny texts are not passed over (II Timothy 3:16-17).
- God’s people learn how to study the Bible as their ministers preach through OT and NT books.
- Faith is created and nourished in God’s elect through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
- The good news of Christ crucified, risen and exalted is preached from all of Scripture, thus underscoring the Christo-centric nature of the Bible (2 Corinthians 2:1-2).
- The indicatives and the imperatives are boldly proclaimed.
- The minister may not only choose “soap box” texts from which to preach.
- In time, the congregation will hear the entire Bible preached and read in morning and evening Lord’s Day worship (NOTE: In the last nine years our church has read and preached through well over half the Bible in public worship). See I Timothy 4:13.
- Ministers are marvelously free to preach with boldness and authority, since it is GOD’s Word that they are preaching, not man’s ideas.
- Through careful exegesis and preparation, ministers grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 6:4). I think that the burnout rate and the rise of immorality among ministers are due, in large part, to a lack of time in the study. Ministers who rely upon charm, charisma, style (ahem … dare I say, fashion), and intellectual gifts, and not upon God’s Spirit and Word, are easy prey for the Devil.
KF: What are the distinguishing marks of the Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament (LCECNT)? How often can we expect to see new volumes in this series?
JDP: The aim of the LCECNT is to provide biblical exposition that is unswervingly Reformed, Confessional, Christ-centered, Redemptive-Historical, and full of application. Each volume, as with every preacher, will have strengths and weaknesses. But we trust that the end result will serve as an example to future preachers, a resource for current preachers, and an encouragement to all members of Christ’s church who desire to grow in their understanding of God’s life-transforming Word. In other words, these expository commentaries are not just for pastors and theologians, they are meant to be read by Christians everywhere.
New volumes will appear every few months. The next three vols will appear this fall and winter, 2012:
- The Gospel of John by Terry Johnson
- First Corinthians by Kim Riddlebarger
- First Peter by Jon Payne
KF: How did the vision for this series develop?
JDP: Several years ago I read through D.M. Lloyd-Jones’s multivolume expository commentaries on Romans and Ephesians. As a young and impressionable seminary student, these lectio continua sermons had a significant impact on my life and ministry. Now teaching homiletics at RTS Atlanta, I am aware of the great need for students to recognize the value of preaching through books of the Bible. Many of them are coming out of churches where careful expository preaching is unknown. In addition, many pastors are losing confidence in God’s Word, and thus replacing systematic expository preaching with mostly topical the thematic sermons — of the poorer sort.
A couple of years ago it occurred to me that the wider church – ministers and laypeople included – could always use more serious biblical exposition in print, to help drive us back to biblical preaching in our congregations. Fresh and faithful expositions of God’s Word in print should be welcome in every generation. Many friends and colleagues have graciously agreed to participate in the series, and I trust that their contributions will be a blessing. Currently, the list of contributors includes Terry Johnson, Iain D. Campbell, Sinclair Ferguson, Ian Hamilton, J. Ligon Duncan, Harry Reeder, Kim Riddlebarger, Joel Beeke, JV Fesko, David W. Hall, Richard D. Phillips, et al. My earnest hope and prayer is that the series will be a help and encouragement to many.
I’d like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Payne for taking the time to answer a few questions about the series. Please take a moment to check out the following resources by Dr. Payne: John Owen on the Lord’s Supper and In the Splendor of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship for the 21st Century.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my review of Galatians, by J.V. Fesko – the first volume in the LCECNT series. Until then, CLICK HERE, to download a PDF sample of the series preface, introductions, and first chapter.
What manner of preaching is characteristic in your local church? In light of this preaching method, how would you say the people in your church view God’s Word?
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