"2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,"
What often amazes me with the statement, “Today’s lesson,” is how many church members view expositional preaching as some sort of advanced Sunday school class. Members in various churches where I’ve served through the years have told me they didn’t consider my style of delivery as preaching, which just happens to be expositional in nature. Frequently I follow their statement with two or three questions.
Normally my first question is, “What do you consider preaching?” The answers are usually long and disjointed which often ends with, “I don’t really know how to explain it pastor.” My follow-up question is typically, “Well who do you consider to be the two greatest preachers in the Bible?” As expected these answers vary but rarely do I hear the names of Christ Jesus and the Apostle Paul. My third question, “What do you consider to be the style or manner in which Christ Jesus and the Apostle Paul spoke?” By no means is this a scientific poll but greater than 90% of the time I would say their answer is “teaching.”
The word exposition means to “expound or explain.” So expositional preaching simply means to explain the Scriptures from a historical and grammatical context in order to bring understanding to the listener. In a sense expositional preaching is teaching. The main goal of this type of preaching is to state accurately what a particular passage of Scripture says, to a particular group of people, at a particular time in history. Once this goal is achieved, and only then, can we begin to draw out the principles and applications that are meaningful for Christians in this day and age. Some of you may have heard expositional preaching described as, “book by book, verse by verse, line by line, and word by word.” This is a simple explanation that often satisfies but in no way conveys the depth of work and study associated with this style of preaching.
This type of preaching is easily seen in Paul’s letters, particularly in the Book of Romans as he writes as a polemicist. And even though many would suggest Christ Jesus was more of a storyteller I would beg to differ; He would often follow His parables with the expounding of Old Testament passages and explanations given to His disciples in private. Second Timothy is a Pastoral Epistle in which the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy, his protégé, to follow this mode of instruction. Note the following verse: 2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
So what’s my point? My point is that without this type of preaching from the pulpits of our Churches in America we are destined to die. Our young people are walking away from the Church by droves every year because they have not been taught the doctrines which are foundational to our faith.
It appears many pastors and Church leaders are afraid to tackle the tough questions that these young people have in regards to science and ethics and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because many of our pastors and Church leaders have become lazy in their studies, or possibly they are intimidated by scientist and other secular leaders with advanced degrees. I’m constantly reading trying to stay abreast of not what only is afoot culturally, but also new scientific findings in order to answer the questions that I know my listeners will eventually ask. I can only speak for myself but I’m sure many other pastors feel as I do, and I don’t care how many advanced degrees a person has because I am confident The Word of God is able to stand on its own.
I realize pastors are often pulled in many directions because of the multiple responsibilities and duties we shoulder, but our first priority as a minister of the Gospel should be our devotion to prayer and study in order to edify the body of Christ. Clearly the Apostles of the early Church set the standard for pastors today from a priority standpoint: Acts 6:4 (ESV) “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
I want to encourage you to do three things. One, take a few minutes each day to pray for your pastor/pastors and that he/they will preach and teach the Word of God with boldness and without regret. Two, encourage your pastor/s and teachers to go beyond the status quo and dig deep into the Scriptures in order to edify the body of Christ. And three watch Ken Ham’s video below which is only three minutes long and relates too much of what I’ve written about this week.
Blessings in the Name of Christ,