"Should we preach like Jesus?" conferences asks

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – “Should we resist the preaching of the Apostle Paul and the model he used in order to emulate the Lord Jesus? Is it even really possible to preach like Jesus?”

Adam Dooley, pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala., posited this question at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s annual spring expository preaching workshop, March 4.

“Preaching like Jesus is much more difficult than you might think,” Dooley said. “And Jesus really isn’t the best model for our preaching.”

“Preaching like Jesus is much more difficult than you might think. And Jesus really isn’t the best model for our preaching.” Adam Dooley, pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile. Ala.

Dooley explained that preachers cannot match Jesus’ authority, manufacture His awareness or mirror His agenda when they preach.

“Our authority is derived from the Scripture while Jesus’ authority produced Scripture,” Dooley said.

“When Jesus stood to preach before any number of people, He knew every hidden motive, He knew every secret sin, He knew every raw emotion, He knew every carnal agenda, and likewise He knew every genuine, heartfelt response and every true expression of repentance. And we will never possess this kind of awareness when we preach.”

Dooley admitted that while preachers cannot preach like Jesus, they can learn from the preaching of Jesus.

“While the aforementioned distinctions make preaching like Jesus an impossible assignment in the purest sense, this doesn’t mean there aren’t particulars of his preaching worthy of our emulation.”

Dooley was joined at the conference by Southwestern’s preaching faculty, seminary president Paige Patterson, and other guest presenters Jerry Vines, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and Mac Brunson, current pastor of FBC Jacksonville. This year’s workshop focused on the theme of preaching the New Testament Gospels.

Steven Smith, dean of the College at Southwestern, spoke on the structure of Gospel narratives, using the story of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” from Luke 16:19-31 as an example.

“The meaning of a text may have more to do with the author’s use of the text than the words of the text,” said Smith.

“The meaning of a text may have more to do with the author’s use of the text than the words of the text.” Steven Smith, dean of the College at Southwestern

Smith explained that individual passages within the Gospels derive their meaning from their context and the overall purposes of the authors. He demonstrated how zooming out from a passage to its immediate environment and then further to the overall themes of the book give clarity to the interpretation of the passage.

“If we refuse to see the individual stories as parts of a larger whole, inevitably we’ll use these stories to teach moral lessons,” Smith said. “Wouldn’t you rather have [the congregation] see what Luke wanted us to see? Don’t you want to create that same proper distance and perspective that Luke was trying to create for us?”

Prior to Smith’s session, Southwestern Dean of Theology David Allen gave advice on preaching parables, using what he considered the most difficult parable in the Gospels as an example. Allen taught on Luke 16:1-13, the parable of the shrewd manager.

“The parable is about the importance of Christians being shrewd in making the most of all their resources to put them into use for Kingdom purposes in light of eschatological accountability,” Allen said.

“If businessmen ran their businesses like most Christians run their lives, they would be bankrupt.”

“If businessmen ran their businesses like most Christians run their lives, they would be bankrupt.” David Allen, Southwestern's Dean of the School of Theology

Brunson led a session on preaching through the Gospel of John. He noted the emphasis by John on Christ’s deity and examined differences between John’s Gospel and the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).

Patterson then followed Brunson’s session with an exposition of John 1.

“When the light of God shined into this world, darkness fled in every direction,” Patterson said. “From the incarnation to the miracles of our Lord to His crucifixion on the cross to His resurrection on the third day and His ascension, the light of God shone into the world. Darkness thought it had [light] wrestled to the ground, but it couldn’t keep [light] down, and light always prevails over darkness.”

Vines shared from his experience with biographical exposition—preaching expository sermons on particular Bible personalities. Prior to preaching in a seminary chapel service, Vines was presented with a book published in his honor, which included contributions by Dooley, Smith, Allen, Brunson, Patterson and others.

Matthew McKellar, associate professor of preaching at Southwestern, also presented an exposition on Jesus’ showdown with the Sadducees regarding a woman married to seven brothers and the resurrection.

“Jesus links, in an inextricable way in this passage, the knowledge of Scripture with the power of God,” McKellar said.

“It does not take a scoffing infidel to dishonor God; all it takes is a superficial exegete. It does not take a scoffing infidel on the street corner, all it takes is a lazy preacher. All it takes is a guy who waits until Saturday night to crank out a sermonette for Christianettes.”

 

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    Adam Dooley, pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala., explains why preachers cannot preach like Jesus at the Expository Preaching Workshop, March 4. (SWBTS Photo/Adam Tarleton)

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    Adam Dooley, pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala., explains why preachers cannot preach like Jesus at the Expository Preaching Workshop, March 4. (SWBTS Photo/Adam Tarleton)

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    Southwestern Dean of Theology David Allen explains the parable of the shrewd manager during the Expository Preaching Workshop, March 4. (SWBTS Photo/Jason Davis)

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    Southwestern's annual Expository Preaching Workshop trained hundreds of pastors and students in preaching the New Testament Gospels, March 4-5. (SWBTS Photo/Adam Tarleton)

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    College at Southwestern dean Steven Smith teaches on how to use the structure of a passage in its context to understand its meaning at the Expository Preaching Workshop, March 4. (SWBTS Photo/Adam Tarleton)

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    Jerry Vines answers questions during the Expository Preaching Workshop, March 5. (SWBTS Photo/Jason Davis)

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    Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., teaches on preaching through the Gospel of John. (SWBTS Photo/Jason Davis)

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    Southwestern president Paige Patterson preaches an exposition on John 1 during the Expository Preaching Workshop, March 5. (SWBTS Photo/Adam Tarleton)

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