Lloyd-Jones has also helped me think about the mechanics of sermon preparation. In the past, I think I’ve erred by relying almost exclusively on commentaries in my preparation, in addition of course to prayerful reflection on the text. As I’ve grown I’ve learned that I really need to use systematic theology in my sermon preparation. I need to look at my passage through the lens of doctrine. A lot of times commentaries are focused on particular concerns, and I’ve found that using systematic theology as well as commentaries adds another layer of richness to my understanding of the passage.
“Systematic theology, this body of truth which is derived from the Scripture, should always be present as a background and as a controlling influence on his preaching” (66).
“If you have truly understood the verse or passage you will arrive at a doctrine, a particular doctrine, which is part of the whole message of the Bible. It is your business to search for this and to seek it diligently” (76).
I’m sure this could be taken too far, or misunderstood. For example, I don’t think there is one doctrine for every single passage, in a formulaic way. Nevertheless, I think Lloyd-Jones is saying something important here, and its helpful me to add a new stage in my sermon preparation. The logical order of sermon preparation used to be:
(1) exegesis of the biblical text –> (2) application of that text to people –> (3) organization of all the material into sermon form (including illustration, thesis, main points, etc).
Now I try to do this: (1) exegesis of the text –> (2) systematization of that exegesis in light of doctrine –> (3) application based on the relevance of that doctrine for my listeners –> (4) organization of all the material into sermon form.
What I find is that this new second stage not only enriches my basic content by helping me view the meaning of the text within a larger context and from a number of different angles, but it also opens up new avenues in terms of application.
I don’t know if anybody else finds this necessary, but it helps me a ton!