Perusal* – July 2009, The Necessity of Expository Preaching

(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)

1 Timothy 4:6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

There was a time in the Western world when even lost souls understood something of the Word of God. Read from pastors and preachers of a hundred years ago and you will find that biblical knowledge was more prevalent than today. The Bible was, if you please, common language. But people did reverence the scriptures. They were used for hundreds of years as the foundation for most education in the western world. Pastors were schooled in the theology of God’s word and were taught that the only lasting change that is brought about in people is solely by the Holy Spirit and the rigorous exposition of the truth of God.

Expositional preaching is preaching which expounds what Scripture says in a particular passage, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the congregation. It is a commitment to hearing God’s Word and to recovering the centrality of it in our worship. This manner of preaching was, at one time, the fundamental element for developing maturity in the life of believers. Pastors and congregations understood that the Word facilitated worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. They understood there is no worship until the Word of God is proclaimed. They left their entertainment outside of the church and humbly, reverently and respectfully anticipated God to speak to them about the beauty of His Son. The Word of the Lord held their attention because they longed for good news that comes only through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In our world of “my tolerance trumps your tolerance” the absolute truth of God’s word has been jettisoned for anecdotal or illustrative talks that only use Scripture as a launch pad. After all, can’t colorful stories or amusing routines share God’s intentions? Do we really need another long, boring sermon? Today the respect God’s people, His church, should have for His Word is mimicked, but often ignored.

The local church is the primary receptacle for His word and preachers are merely conduits through which the word of God flows freely and intelligently to teach His church. His word is enabled by His Spirit to do the work of God in His people. Let’s face it, we all have our agendas – expositional preaching assures that the only agenda the pastor has is found in the text’s agenda. The commitment of the pastor to faithfulness in preaching the text before him develops maturity in him and subsequently in the flock.

2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

God’s word is performative, that is, it performs what it prescribes. When Paul instructs Timothy to instruct the church at Ephesus he does so knowing that the biblical doctrine which enables him to be a good minister will also manifest itself in the lives of the people. Pastors should not try to preach some new thing or latest discovery but educate the church in the doctrines of our Lord. These in turn will produce “good soldiers”.

Preaching expositionally a pastor, over time, committed to the congregation where God has placed him, will preach the “whole counsel of God”. The people of God exposed to the truth of God consistently and systematically will increase the knowledge of the Holy, increase trust in the sufficiency of Scripture, and decrease the likelihood of being deceived by false teaching.

Sola Deo Gloria!

Pastor Carey