Interview with David Jackman on Expository Preaching, Gospel Ministry, and Scripture’s Authorial Intent

David Jackman Expository Preaching Gospel Ministry Authorial Intent in Scripture
Leadership Resources recently had the pleasure of hosting David Jackman, the former President of the Proclamation Trust and founder of the Cornhill Training Course, for a week long session talking expository preaching and training preachers.

The video below is an interview Todd Kelly (Leadership Resources‘ International Director) conducted with David Jackman in which they cover the heart of training preachers, the heart of expository preaching, authorial intent in Scripture, and how biblical genre affects the task of preaching.

Here is a quick guide to the video contents:

  • 0:00 — Introduction
  • 0:40 — John Milton Quote… “The sheep look up and are not fed.”
  • 2:20 — What is at the heart of training preachers for gospel ministry?
  • 3:43 — The Heart of Expository Preaching: Who is in the driver’s seat of your church?
  • 6:12— What are some of the marks of a sermon that takes the Bible seriously?
  • 8:10 — What is authorial intent? How should it shape the sermon and where should it lead us?
  • 10:45 — Application and Authorial Intent
  • 12:36 —  What is biblical genre, and how does it affect the task of preaching?

Here are a few quotes from the interview:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, and then it will flow richly into other people’s lives as you are the channel of His grace.”

“Where the Word of God is rightly handled, the voice of God is heard.” click to tweet!

Here’s a three-minute highlight from the video:

“The Word of God Became Boring…Because of Us”


Dear Friends and Partners,

“People find the Word of God boring. Now I realize that the Word of God became boring because of us…we made it boring!”


Pastor Ivan* was clearly embarrassed as he spoke these words. Fortunately, there was more. Because of what he is learning in TNT (Training National Trainers), he told us:“The Word of God is so interesting when we unpack it. Now, people are listening with deep interest. In fact, [while we’re preaching] we hear them exclaim: ‘Wow! Wow!’”

He’s no longer relying on psychology or other programs. “I have a deep conviction to build all of my ministry on the Word of God, because I see that only the Word of God changes the hearts of people.”

Because of TNT, Pastor Ivan said, “I’ve seen the heart of our Lord and I’ve started to love Him even more…my heart is filled with the Lord and his work.”


This transformation is going way beyond his own life and ministry. Ivan isn’t just any pastor. He’s a Regional Pastor with oversight for many other pastors in his denomination. He’s also the key leader in this particular TNT group, located in one of the Muslim-dominated, Central Asian “-stan” countries (hence the need to change his name*).

The training that is transforming him personally is multiplying to three other groups of pastors in his region. Soon, by God’s grace, it will become an unstoppable movement!


This TNT group is significantly underfunded. The thought of postponing or canceling this group is unthinkable, given the fruit we’re seeing. Would you please send a generous gift this month so we can continue to build into Pastor Ivan’s life, and many others like him?

And pray that a movement of God’s Word would spread into all of the “-stans”, to the glory of God!!!

With gratitude for you,

craig1Craig Parro



PS: I’m frustrated because this letter is so weak compared to the powerful way that God is working in and through Pastor Ivan. Please stop in our office so I can show you a recent video interview of Pastor Ivan (sadly, we can’t post it on the web). Check it out….your heart will be moved!

Preaching to the Soils: The Kinds of People to Consider as You Apply Scripture in Preaching (Expansive List)


“Apply yourself wholly to the Scriptures, and apply the Scriptures wholly to yourself.” 

—Johann Bengel

If we don’t apply God’s Word to our lives, we tend to become Christians who know a lot of information in their minds, but have unchanged hearts and lives.

Believers can only grow if they see, by God’s Spirit, the specific ways in which the truth of God’s Word can come into and affect their own life situation by changing who they are and how they live their lives.

One of the chief ways believers grow is by listening to God’s Word clearly explained and applied from the pulpit. It not only fills their mind with a relevant application of the Scripture, but also models proper application, equipping them to apply Scripture for themselves.

One question Tim Keller suggests in his new book on preaching for preachers applying Scripture to their audience is, “What does this text say to the groups represented by the “four soils” of the Mark 4 parable?”

The Mark 4 parable describes four different soils the preached word can fall on:

  1. Those who reject the faith
  2. Those who hear the Word with joy, but drift away due to trial and persecution
  3. Those who hear the Word, but are choked out by pleasures and cares of the world
  4. Those who receive the Word, accept it, and bear fruit

Thinking through these four types of listeners will help preachers apply Scripture to the beliefs and potential situations of their audience.

Keller expanded the four types of soils in the bullet-pointed list below to help preachers survey the spectrum of belief and experience that fill our pews each Sunday.

Download List as PDF

Related Resource: 9Marks Blank Sermon Application Grid (PDF)

Here are the different kinds of people you may be speaking to. Does the text speak to any of them?

  • Conscious unbeliever: is aware he is not a Christian.
    • Immoral pagan: Is living a blatantly immoral/illegal lifestyle.
    • Intellectual pagan: claims the faith is untenable or unreasonable.
    • Imitative pagan: Is fashionably skeptical, but not profound.
    • Genuine thinker: Has serious, well-conceived objections.
    • Religious non-Christian: Belongs to an organized religion, cult, or denomination with serious mistaken doctrine.
  • Nonchurched nominal Christian: Has belief in basic Christian doctrines, but with no or remote church connection.
  • Churched nominal Christian: Participates in church but is not regenerated.
    • Semi-active moralist: Is respectably moral but his religion is without assurance and is all a matter of duty.
    • Active self-righteous: Is very committed and involved in the church, with assurance of salvation based on good works.
  • Awakened: Is stirred and convicted over his sin but without gospel peace yet.
    • Curious: Is stirred up mainly in an intellectual way, full of questions and diligent in study.
    • Convicted with false peace: Without understanding the gospel, has been told that by walking an aisle, praying a prayer, or doing something, he is now right with God.
    • Comfortless: Is extremely aware of sins but not accepting or understanding of the gospel of grace.
  • Apostate: Was once active in the church but has repudiated the faith without regrets.
  • New Believer: Is recently converted.
    • Doubtful: Has many fears and hesitancies about his new faith.
    • Eager: Is beginning with joy and confidence and a zeal to learn and serve.
    • Overzealous: Has become somewhat proud and judgmental of others and is overconfident of his own abilities.
  • Mature/growing: Passes through nearly all of the basic conditions named below but progresses through them because he responds quickly to pastoral treatment or knows how to treat himself.
  • Afflicted: Lives under a burden or trouble that saps spiritual strength. (Generally we call a person afflicted who has not brought the trouble on himself.)
  • Physically afflicted: Is experiencing bodily decay.
    • The sick
    • The elderly
    • The disabled
  • Dying
  • Bereaved: Has lost a loved one or experienced some other major loss (e.g., a home through a fire)
  • Lonely
  • Persecuted/abused
  • Poor/economic troubles
  • Desertion: Is spiritually dry through the action of God, who removes a sense of his nearness despite the use of the means of grace.
  • Tempted: Is struggling with a sin or sins that are remaining attractive or strong.
    • Overtaken: Is tempted largely in the realm of the thoughts and desires.
    • Taken over: has had a sin become addictive behavior.
  • Immature: Is a spiritual baby who should be growing but is not.
    • Undisciplined: Is lazy in using the means of grace and gifts for ministry.
    • Self-satisfied: Has had pride choke his growth, is complacent, has perhaps become cynical and scornful of many other Christians.
    • Unbalanced: Has had either the intellectual, the emotional, or the volitional aspect of his faith become overemphasized.
    • Devotee of eccentric doctrine: Has become absorbed in a distorted teaching that hinders spiritual growth.
  • Depressed: Is not only experiencing negative feelings but also shirking Christian duties and being disobedient. If a person is a new believer, or tempted or afflicted or immature, and does not get proper treatment, he will become spiritually depressed. Besides these conditions, the following problems can lead to depression:
    • Anxious: Is depressed through worry or fear handled improperly.
    • Weary: Has become listless and dry through overwork.
    • Angry: Is depressed through bitterness or uncontrolled anger handled improperly.
    • Introspective: Dwells on failures and feelings and lacks assurance.
    • Guilty: Has a wounded conscience and has not reached repentance.
  • Backslid: Has gone beyond depression to a withdrawal from fellowship with God and with the church.
    • Tender: Is still easily convicted of his sins and susceptible to calls for repentance.
    • Hardening: Has become cynical, scornful, and difficult to convict.

Credit: From pages 289-292 of Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller, published on June 9, 2015 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright by Timothy Keller, 2015. Used with Permission.

Review of Tim Keller’s Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism

qI first became familiar with Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, several years ago after reading The Reason for God, and have since read many of his books and listened to countless sermons. He is a unique and pertinent voice in our generation because of his powerful gospel preaching that carefully contrasts biblical truth with cultural values, exalting Jesus Christ and what He offers to our desperate world.

When I heard that he was writing a book on preaching, I (along with many others) was eager to get my hands on a copy and dig in for powerful lessons from a man who God has used so much to reach this generation—and I was not disappointed.

In Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, Keller presents a preaching manifesto that targets “all those who are wrestling with how to communicate life-changing biblical truth to people at any level in an increasingly skeptical age. It will also serve as an introduction and foundation for working preachers and teachers in particular” (7).

Keller begins by explaining three levels of the ministry of the Word:

  • Level 1 of Word ministry is for every Christian—communicating Christian teaching with others in informal ways (many times in our personal lives).
  • Level 3 is the preaching of the Word in a formal setting.
  • Level 2 is in-between the informal ministry of Level 1 and preaching; various people who communicate the truth and need some study/preparation.

According to Keller, Level 2 ministers communicate truth in a variety of ways, including: writing, blogging, teaching, and leading small groups. This book targets mostly Levels 2 and 3, but is useful to communicators of truth on any level.

Preaching the Word to the People by the Spirit

Preaching is divided in three parts: “Serving the Word”, “Reaching the People”, and “In Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power.”

“Serving the Word”, consists of three chapters: “Preaching the Word”, “Preaching the Gospel Every Time”, and “Preaching Christ from All of Scripture.” This portion laid the biblical and Christological foundation for preaching, focusing on the truth set forth in a sermon.

In the chapter “Preaching the Gospel”, Keller helps preachers walk the line between legalism and antinomianism and shares examples of preaching the gospel from Old Testament figures and narratives like Jonah, Joseph, and Judges. These three chapters compliment each other well due to coming at related topics from different angles. The chapter on preaching Christ suggests categories for preaching Christ from biblical figures, themes, genres, major images, deliverance storylines, and instinct (to keep preaching Christ from being too formulaic or predictable).

Part Two deals with “Reaching the People”, and is divided in three chapters, “Preaching Christ to Culture”, “Preaching to the (Late) Modern Mind”, and “Preaching to the Heart”; all of which focus on communicating truth in a way relevant to our listeners.

“Preaching Christ to Culture” draws principles from Paul’s preaching in Acts 17 and suggests how we can reach believers and unbelievers influenced heavily by secularism. In “Preaching to the (Late) Modern Mind”, Keller identifies several baseline cultural narratives, affirms them when appropriate, but eventually shoves a wedge between them and Christianity to reveal both the truth of Christ and need for Him. This chapter is the book’s longest (and perhaps most difficult to practically apply), but might prove the most helpful for preachers like me who sometimes struggle getting inside the mind of secular people. “Preaching to the Heart” closes out Part Two and shares how preachers can captivate their listener’s minds, wills, and emotions to preach for greater transformation. While the entire book provides top-drawer value, what sets this apart from other preaching books is Part Two—which makes the book worth reading, even if it were the only section. (But please do read the rest!)

Part Three includes one chapter on preaching and the Holy Spirit which focuses on what we need to know about God’s Spirit at work in us and our preaching. Keller unpacks important elements of communication that ensure our preaching is authentic and drawn from the right motivations that will prove the most useful to God for the transformation of the hearers.

After the main portion of the book finishes, Keller shares a helpful 27-page appendix on how to write an expository message and then provides seventy pages of references and endnotes filled with further explanations of his earlier points and interaction with sources like preachers P.T. Forsyth, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, philosopher Charles Taylor, and cultural references that display secular presuppositions. Readers will want to keep a separate bookmark in this section due to the wealth of helpful information and resources listed. (I will certainly turn back for the three-and-a-half page list of different kinds of people filling our pews today ranging across the spectrum of belief from several types of conscious unbelievers, to backsliders, to mature believers, the depressed, etc.)

Top Drawer Resource for All Communicators of the Truth

Working my way through Preaching felt like a master artist was showing me around his studio and explaining his craft and process in detail. Although most of us will never be as gifted as Keller in preaching, readers will have their toolbox filled and mind sharpened to preach Christ to our secular culture in fresh and compelling ways. Personally, the middle section (“Reaching the People”) challenged me the most to diagnose the underlying cultural narratives found in myself and those to whom I preach. This means my being more intentional in conversations and prayerful reading for a better understanding of the large waves of thought sweeping through our culture.

Although Preaching isn’t a comprehensive tome on the subject, it does lay a strong foundation for preachers, not only by explaining why a certain type of preaching is needed, but also in guiding readers on how to implement it. This book doesn’t take the place of more comprehensive books like Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching, or Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, but it does belong on the shelf alongside them due to its top-level treatment of everything it covers.

If you’re a preacher looking to strengthen your preaching or a truth communicator at any level, Preaching will be an invaluable resource to help you communicate God’s Word to the heart of your listeners by the power of God’s Spirit. I suspect this book’s value will only grow over time as our culture and church is more influenced by secularism and more desperate for the lasting hope of a living Savior.

Editor’s Note: If you have been trained by Leadership Resources in biblical exposition, this book will be a helpful supplement to our training. It will sharpen your thinking of what it means to preach Christ (he even uses a similar illustration that we use), help you target a secular audience in your preaching and application, and preach to the heart of listeners by speaking from the heart with imagination. We recommend this book along with these 10 books on expository preaching.


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