NOTE: This article is an excerpt from an excellent little book on preaching, The Expositor in the Pulpit, by the Greek scholar Marvin R. Vincent. The book is the content of his lectures given to students at Union Theological Seminary in 1884. The book is a must read for expository preachers and teachers. This section appears on pp. 32-33.
Look the Bible squarely in the face. Do not be afraid of the results of exposition. Do not evade them because they contradict your own preconceptions. Inspiration knows what it ought to say. The Bible gives the law. It takes no counsel with you about its contents. You are simply to take what you find there.
Your own ingenuity will often suggest tempting interpretations; but your invariable answer to this seductive Balak must be: “I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.” Far on in your ministry you will know what it is to have a chapter or a text suggest a novel and striking line of thought, and to feel that the sermon is as good as made, only to see your pet fancy dissolved under the touch of sound exegesis. Never try to rebuild it.
Sometimes it will seem as though the true meaning of your text yields you baser ore than your own thought about it; but work your shaft resolutely on the line of the Word, and you will soon be undeceived. God’s thought is always richer than man’s. You may groan over avanished sermon, but your people will rejoice in a better one.
This article originally appeared on http://drdavidlallen.com