Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Expository Preaching

A Contrast In Pastors

I recently did my own little project.  I spoke to two very different pastors of traditional churches (traditional in the sense that they are not house churches).  I asked them the same basic questions.  I wanted to highlight their answers (which I have summarized here) and show the contrasts in their thinking.  The first pastor I will call John and the second I will call Rob.  John pastors a traditional Reformed church.  Rob pastors a seeker sensitive church.

John, age is late 50’s, Reformed in his theology.

What books are you reading?

I’m reading several books by a few Puritans.  Right now, I am reading Thomas Watson.  I just finished a book on the humor of Charles Spurgeon which I found delightful.

What style is your preaching?

Expository.

What are you preaching right now?

Through the Gospel of Mark.

How often do you preach on doctrine?

I try to deal with my text and include sound exegesis and doctrine in every sermon.  Sometimes, depending on the text, doctrine comes up more.  Sometimes not.  I want the text to lead me.

Lastly, how much time you spend in prayer and study in a given week on average?  

I would say 10 to 15 hours.

Rob, age is early 40’s, Baptist in his theology.  Non-Calvinist.

What books are you reading?

Right now I am reading Mark Batterson.  My favorite author is John Ortberg.

What style is your preaching?

Topical and series.

What are you preaching right now?

Actually we are working through the Gospel of John.  (Side question I asked: Is this expository preaching through John?  He said not in the technical sense but more focused on long sections).

How often do you preach on doctrine?

Um….I know doctrine is vital.  Not downplaying it at all.  We have a lot of seekers coming to church so I try to avoid anything that would lose them.  We talk about doctrine a lot in our home groups.

Lastly, how much time to you spend in prayer and study in a given week on average?  

I would say about 5 hours.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  Just depends on how busy I am.

Conclusions

First, let me state that I am not trying to attack Rob though it will appear that way.  I disagree with him and his church.  I am not a Calvinist so I didn’t agree with John either but it shows me why Calvinists are seeing a resurgence and we Arminians are not at this point.  I know of few Arminians preachers who actually preach Arminianism from the pulpit.

In this case, Rob is not an Arminian.  He is a seeker sensitive church plant from the SBC.  He would say that he is a non-Calvinist though he stated that he enjoys John Piper and David Platt.  Rob, however, often reflects non-Calvinist churches.  That are often shallow, lacking theological depth, and focused on getting results (in this case pragmatically) for the purpose of numbers.

John was very gracious.  He is a scholar.  He deeply loves the Lord (though I think Rob does too).  Both men want to see Jesus glorified though I believe John is more God-centered in his approach.  John, unlike Rob, seems to not care what the numbers say.  John’s church is only about 35.  Rob is running near 500.  That said, the theological depth of the average person in John’s church is deep while Rob’s is seriously lacking.  Even the music was noticeably different.  John’s church sang deep theological hymns while Rob’s sang the latest praise songs from the popular praise singers.

One final point.  What I found interesting in this short study was even the Bibles these men used.  John preaches from the King James Version.  Rob preaches from the New Living Translation.  Yet John dealt with his text.  Rob only skims it.  John developed his points from the text and allowed the text to dictate him.  Rob read the text and then only touched on points here and there from it.  John preached with Christ and His gospel as the focus.  Rob preached, it seemed to me, with the hearers as this focus.

My call to my fellow Arminians is learn from this.  Preach doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2).  Let us not shy away from the Word of God.  Furthermore, I pray for a revival of expository preaching among my fellow Arminians.  This goes for house churches as well.  God’s Word is the final authority and we must preach the Word with unction and to the glory of God.  Care not for the attention of men but rather long for the glory of God to be exalted.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/12/2016 at 11:47 AM

Signs of a Good Sermon

I listen to preaching a lot.  I mean a lot!  I drive for a living so I spend hours on the road so I fill my phone with preaching.  I listen to all types of preaching from Pentecostals to hard core Calvinists.  I subscribe to a few podcasts but I don’t mind finding a sermon title and just downloading it onto my phone and off I go.  While I am not a perfect critic of sermons, I have listened enough to know when I am about to hear a good sermon.  A few have surprised me along the way and started out bad but turned good or vise versa.  Yet I still enjoy listening to good preaching.

So what does it take for me to say a sermon is good?  Let me just run through some points.

1.  The Text of Scripture.

First, does the teacher open with the text of Scripture.  Seeker guys and poor preachers often open with goofy skits, clips from television shows or movies, man-centered stories, or just an illustration that is neither good nor bad.  They just don’t start with the text.  A good teacher will always begin with the Bible, stay true to the Bible, and teach the text.  The text dominates.  The text is the focus.  The text produces the points.

Secondly, the Bible remains the focus throughout the sermon.  The focus is not on pleasing flesh.  The focus remains from the start to the end, the glory of God in His Word (2 Corinthians 4:5).  The Scriptures alone speak for God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  A good sermon will stay focused throughout on the Word of God.  The focus is not on “seven points to your joy” but the focus is the text to the glory of the King.

2.  Knowledge of the Text.

Does the teacher own the text?  Is it clear that the teacher has studied the text and they know it?  I love it when a good Bible teacher has even memorized the text because they have poured over the text over and over and over again.  Lazy teachers don’t do that.  They just pick out their title, find their points, find their proof-texts, and go.  The faithful Bible teacher (2 Timothy 2:2) will study the text until he has drained every ounce of life from it (and he will still find more when he comes back to it).  The faithful Bible teacher is hungry to hear from God in His holy Word (Psalm 1:1-2; 119:30).  The good Bible teacher will draw from the text, teach the text, show the context of the text, use proper exegesis to teach from the text, and never uses his text as a pre-text.

3.  Few Illustrations.

Illustrations are fine but some rob God of His glory.  Some illustrations make the illustration the focus rather than the text of Scripture.  The good Bible teacher wants you to remember his text and the teaching from the text instead of their illustrations.  This is why I think illustrations should be few and never take away from the glory of God in His Word.  Further, a good sermon will have biblical illustrations that show how the text is revealed in other parts of the Word of God.  Biblical illustrations are timeless while others often are not.  And again, you want people to hear the Word of God and not your word.  Your word doesn’t save sinners.  God’s Word saves sinners (Romans 10:17).

4.  Exaltation of Christ and Deification of Man.

The good sermon will always focus on the glory of Jesus Christ.  Jesus showed His disciples how He was revealed in all of Scripture (Luke 24:27).  From Genesis to Revelation, the focus is on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is our everything!  Jesus is the very reason we live and breath and He is our life (Colossians 3:1-3).  Jesus is the wisdom of God (Colossians 2:3).  Jesus must be the One that we want people to adore and honor.

And yet poor sermons will focus on man.  They will focus often on the teacher with the teacher constantly telling you stories about themselves or other people.  The sermon is full of points aimed at us rather than Christ.  The poor sermon will focus on how the text helps us.  The poor sermon will focus on flesh rather than the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Was this the preaching of Paul (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)?  Was this the preaching of Peter (2 Peter 1:16-21)?

Sermons should focus on Jesus and honor Him as Lord and Savior.

5.  Is the Gospel Preached?

Many sermons start off good but turn to law.  The well-meaning teacher wants to help us pray more, to witness more, to love our wives more, to honor God with our money more, to help us to sing more, etc. yet they turn to law instead of gospel to produce this.  The motivation for the disciple of Jesus is not law but gospel.  Every sermon should focus on the gospel and how the gospel helps us along the way.  None of us are capable of perfectly pleasing the Father.  Jesus did that for us.  None of us are perfectly able to keep the law.  Jesus did that for us.  Jesus is our salvation and when He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), it was done!  We now keep the law of Christ but not out of works mentality trying to produce righteous from God (Romans 4:5) but out of love for the Savior (John 14:15).  And yet we still struggle to perfectly obey Christ (1 John 2:1).  Thankfully, Jesus is our salvation and He is our high priest before God the Father (1 John 2:2).

The gospel then must take precedence over the law.  The law reveals my sinfulness before a holy God (1 Timothy 1:8-11) but the grace of God is what helps (or assists me in the words of Charles Wesley) to obey the Lord God (Titus 2:12).  Because we are now under grace and not law, we aim to please the Lord (Romans 6:1-4).  The gospel is our focus and Jesus is our perfect example that we walked after (1 John 2:6).  However, we are not saved by our works but by the grace of God given to us freely in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) so that we might now do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  To quote the Lutherans: God doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does.  Grace works in us (1 Corinthians 15:10).  Grace is what the good sermon must proclaim!

6.  A Call to Repent.

I think a good sermon should also include a call to repent.  Not all agree with me here.  I have heard many good sermons that didn’t end with a call to repent.  Some just end.  Yet I think that we should always call people to forsake their sins and place their faith in Christ alone for salvation.  We don’t have to do an altar call but we should call people to repentance.  The Lord may be gracious to save the humble (2 Timothy 2:24-26).  I understand that not every text of Scripture is dealing with salvation but if our focus is on Christ (as it should be), then we will glorify Christ who is the Savior of all men but especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10). If Christ is truly glorified, how can we not proclaim that He will save sinners who come to Him (Luke 19:10)?  How can we preach Christ but miss calling people to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31)?

Conclusion

I suppose I could write more (and I know I could).  Good sermons are hard to find.  The seeker church has destroyed good preaching.  Since pragmatism now reigns in the Western Church, poor preaching is often passed along as good preaching (because of the crowds).  Good expository preaching is hard to find.  I have been asking the Father to raise up more and more faithful Bible teachers who will be expositors of His inerrant and infallible Word.  The duty of the Bible teacher is not to entertain.  It is to train (Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 4:2).  I pray that you don’t find yourself in Luke 6:26!

The Seeker Church Lectionary

Its’ February so you know what that means from the seeker/relevant/postmodern churches don’t you?  It means that the lectionary points them to preach goofy sermon series’ on sex and marriage.  Don’t get me wrong, we should address these issues when the Bible does address them.  If you preach verse-by-verse through the Bible, you will no doubt have to deal with the issues of sex and marriage often.  The Bible is full of stories about these issues and much in the New Testament deals with this as disciples of Jesus.  Yet the seeker churches always will be found preaching on these subjects during this month because of Valentine’s day (and to draw a crowd which is the bottom line).

One need not think too hard to figure out the seeker church lectionary.  Typically the lectionary will point to the Christian calendar and will have the Bible teacher teach lessons around the season.  If we are nearing Resurrection Sunday, the lectionary would have you preach on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  If we are nearing Christmas, the lectionary would have you preach on the incarnation of God.  The lectionary was created to keep the focus on the Bible.  While I don’t use a lectionary, I appreciate seeking to keep the church focused on biblical truths throughout the year.  The seeker lectionary, however, doesn’t revolve around the Bible nor the Christian calendar.  It revolves around the culture and around the cultural calendar.  I will grant that the American culture calendar does revolve around many Christian holidays but the seeker lectionary revolves around the culture and especially the worldly-minded culture (notice the John Bunyan reference).  I’m not sure who sets the seeker lectionary anymore.  In the 1990’s it was Willow Creek and Bill Hybels.  In the early 2000’s it was Rick Warren and Purpose-driven Church.  In the mid 2000’s it turned toward the emergent movement but has seen swayed from them (thank the Lord as the emergents are now full-blown liberals and out of the “evangelical” camp).  I would say, if I had to guess, that Andy Stanley plays a big role in the lectionary but he is not the only one.

In our town I have noticed that the seeker churches are preaching on sex this month but using the wicked “Fifty shades of grey” movie to help.  Again, notice that the Bible does not take focus here.  The focus in not the text of Scripture.  The focus is always on the shock value of sex.  Sex sells in our wicked culture.  It’s one of the top reasons that I don’t own nor watch TV.  Sex fills our culture.  If you want to draw a worldly crowd preach on what they want most: sex, money, and pleasure.  The idols of sex and sports are the two biggest I know of among men.  The men at my work live and breathe for sex and sports.  Their lives revolve around those two issues.  Pleasure is in there as well with all their “toys” such as motorcycles and other things (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

What is the faithful disciple to do?  How do we react to the seeker lectionary or our culture?

First, be faithful to God.  Don’t bother trying to make friends with the world (James 4:4).  Don’t bother trying to appease the world.  It will never happen.  If you truly follow Jesus, if you truly preach repentance, if you truly love Jesus above all others and all things, the world will despise you (John 15:18-25; 1 Peter 4:12-19; 1 John 2:15-17).  The world will never love the disciple of Jesus nor the disciple of Jesus loving the world.  The two are at war with each other (Ephesians 6:12).

Secondly, be faithful to preach the Word of God.  Leonard Ravenhill use to tell the young men who came to him for advice on preaching to read 1 and 2 Timothy each month.  Ravenhill believed that we must heed the words of Paul the Apostle in 1 and 2 Timothy in this sinful world that we find ourselves preaching in and to.  I recommend expository teaching.  Expository preaching avoids goofy sermon series’ and is faithful to teach the text.  The focus in expository preaching is on the Word of God and its full authority.  Expository preaching takes very seriously the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:20 and the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:2.  I recommend reading this book on expository preaching.

Thirdly, address the issues of sex, money, greed, power, etc. as the text dictates and not the culture.  Don’t allow the culture to determine your Bible teaching.  Remember our focus must be on exalting Christ and His kingdom.  We are here to preach Him (2 Corinthians 4:5).  We are to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19) and our focus is on that one issue.  We are called to be faithful to the One who saved us.  The culture should not drive our Bible teaching.  The text of Scripture should.  If the topics come up in your text, deal with them.  If they don’t, deal with what you have at hand.  Be text driven by the words given to us by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16) and not by the culture.

Lastly, the bottom line for me is faithfulness to the King.  Jesus said that He would judge us based on faithfulness or unfaithfulness (Matthew 25:29-30).  Paul told Timothy to appoint faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2).  Faithfulness is the key.  God is not looking for talented men.  He is not looking for culturally relevant men.  He is looking for faithful men to proclaim His Word.  I want to be found faithful.  I don’t care if the world finds me odd.  I don’t care if people make fun of me for preaching on the streets or for calling people to repent.  I don’t care if people bash me for standing in front of abortion clinics to call the women to repentance.  I don’t care if the world ignores me.  I want to be faithful the King.  He is the One who saves sinners in the first place (John 1:12-13; 6:44).  My job is to lift Him up (John 12:32)!

May the Lord help us to be found faithful.

How To Know If Your Bible Teacher Is Truly Biblical?

There is a simple way to know if your Bible teacher is focused on teaching the Bible or not.  These simple rules are easy to use.

1.  Expository Preaching.

Does your Bible teacher preach the text?  Does your Bible teacher take their text and deal with it?

2.  Points Back To the Bible.

Does your Bible teacher point back to the Bible over and over again?  Do they build their points directly from the Bible?

3.  Focused on the Text Above Stories.

Does your Bible teacher stay focused on teaching the text of Scripture or do they tell more stories?  Stories are not bad but should never take away from the authority nor focus of the text.

4.  Your Learn the Text Above Stories.

Does your Bible teacher help you to understand the text of Scripture or do you just remember their stories?  Again, the text of Scripture should be our focus.

5.  Is Jesus exalted?

And finally, do you sense that Jesus is being exalted from the text?  Charles Spurgeon said that he always took his text and then makes a bee line to the cross.  The Lord Jesus is the One that all faithful Bible teachers should seek to exalt.  Do you remember the Lord Jesus above the teacher?  Does the teacher exalt Jesus or themselves in their teaching?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/03/2015 at 10:44 AM

Why Pragmatism Reigns in the Modern Western Church

Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth are determined by practical consequences.  If a church has large numbers because of its programs, its rock band “worship” team, its shallow preaching, its non-doctrinal position, then it is deemed good.  If a church is the opposite with a focus on preaching, on prayer, on confrontational evangelism, on preaching against sin, on confronting sin in the camp, or singing songs that are doctrinally sound and God-exalting, then it is deemed bad (but only if the numbers are low).  In our day, success is viewed in size terms and behind the scenes with money.

In the Bible, faithfulness is placed above success.  After all, many in the Bible where not successful but they were faithful.  Even Jesus, who once had the crowds following Him until He began to preach the radical demands of discipleship (Luke 14:25-35; John 6:60-66), must be viewed as a “failure” according to modern church growth and seeker sensitive churches yet His disciples turned the world upside down with the gospel.  Paul died a lonely man in prison (2 Timothy 4:16-17) but he was faithful (2 Timothy 4:18).  Noah preached the judgment of God to his generation but he only saw his family repent and believe and were saved from God’s judgment (1 Peter 3:20) yet Noah was faithful.

The fact is that Jesus said He would welcome faithful disciples into His everlasting kingdom (Matthew 25:21).  Faithfulness is what God is after.  Faithfulness to His Word.  Faithfulness to the gospel.  Faithfulness to follow Christ no matter what.  Sadly, few want this today.

The modern church wants success.  Preachers (if you can call them this for they are not preaching the Bible but only proof-texting from it) are out for power and control.  The drive is to be bigger, to be bolder, to out-do the other guy.  The competition among pastors is gross.  The drive for more money and power seems to drive them.  Pastors today rally around methodology and not theology.  Theology is not even a serious issue.  This is why seeker churches have no trouble modeling this guy or that guy with no thought to their theology.  They are willing to embrace whoever because of pragmatism.  I remember having a conversation once with a pastor about the modalist, TD Jakes, in which he defended Jakes not by looking at his theology but his “anointing” and his numbers.  How could we reject Jakes when it is clear that God is using him?  This is pragmatism.

In the modern pragmatic church, numbers often equal success.  Larger numbers equals more money.  More money equals more programs and bigger buildings.  But what you win them with is what you win them to.  This is why seeker churches are doctrinally shallow.  This is why I consistently meet lost sinners who know nothing of the gospel but claim to be members of such and such seeker church.  This is why you can meet a “youth pastor” on the street and ask him to explain to you how to become a disciple of Jesus and he has no clue.  His entire outlook is pragmatic.

This is why pragmatic churches deplore churches that are Christ-centered and Christ-exalting.  While seeker churches give lip service to Jesus, Jesus is used as a means to an end.  They use Jesus to lure the people into their promise that He will give them a better life now, that He will give them hope.  They fail to mention that the “seeker” is a lost sinner who needs to repent.  They fail to mention that the “seeker” is an enemy of God apart from faith in Christ (Romans 5:10).  They fail to tell “seekers” that they must turn from their wicked ways and turn to Christ alone and completely for eternal salvation.  Instead, they preach a Jesus who is just this cool, hip, shallow guy who loved them so much He died for them.  But they ignore why He had to die.  They ignore the fact that Jesus died for our sins and that it was our sins that brought the wrath of God down upon His Son (John 3:36; Galatians 1:4).

Pragmatic churches are perfect for this “selfie” generation.  It’s all about me.  It’s not about the wrath of God.  It’s not about the holy law of God.  It’s not about the coming judgment of God.  It’s not about eternal damnation.  It’s about my best life now.  This is what counts and this is what matters.  And this preaching gets results.  This preaching gets numbers and power and money.  The preaching of the cross gets you one thing: a cross.

Yet Jesus warned us in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

My earnest prayer is that the Church would rise up and cast off the gimmicks of this world.  Cast off cheap “Christian” music that doesn’t exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and declare His glory.  Cast off shallow preaching for expository preaching that is biblically focused.  Cast off dead prayer meetings that don’t truly seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).  Cast off friendship evangelism that is the evangelical copout for not preaching the gospel to the lost but instead declare the gospel to the sinners.  Cast off churches that are focused on pragmatism and lack any doctrinal preaching, any doctrinal discernment.  Instead, love the truth and defend it (Jude 3-4).

I urge you to pray.  Pray for the Church.  Pray against pragmatism.  Pray for God to raise up godly leaders who will preach the gospel with no focus on being men-pleasers (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).  Pray for a revival of expository preaching in our age.  Pray for the Lord to glorify His name in His Church just as He has promised He would (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 3:21).  Pray for sinners to repent of their sins and turn to Christ in true repentance and faith (Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-6).  I urge you to pray (Luke 18:1)!

Ten Reasons To Do Expository Teaching

I remember hearing John MacArthur say that he wrote down over fifty reasons to be committed to expository preaching.  I possibly could write down that many myself but will stick with just ten.  Expository teaching is dear to my heart.  I believe it to be the best way to teach people the Scriptures.  But I am jumping ahead of myself so let me state my ten reasons.  These are not given in any order.

1.  Expository Teaching Exalts Christ As Head of His Church (Colossians 1:18).

Expository teaching is Christ-focused.  The Bible teacher is aware that his responsibility before God is to exalt Christ through the text.  Spurgeon said that he takes his text and then makes a bee-line to the cross.  The Bible was given to us by God to reveal His Son (John 20:31).  The entire purpose of the Bible is to show the coming of the Messiah and His eternal reign.  Our focus then in teaching must be to show Christ in the Scriptures (Luke 24:27).

2.  Expository Teaching Avoids Seeking To Please the Flesh.

Too often series preaching (that is topical in nature) is focused on pleasing the flesh and giving people what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  I know of some churches that ask the church to give them suggestions on what they would like to hear preach.  I also know of churches that go out into the world and ask sinners what they would like to hear preached (to draw them to church).  However, I don’t hear much these days about hearing from God in His Word.  Expository teaching is focused on the Word of God.  Certainly one can develop a series from the text but the focus is on Christ and the Word and not the flesh.  If anything, the faithful Bible teacher wants to kill the flesh by the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 2:15-17).  Expository teaching keeps the focus on the Word and not on the opinions of the flesh.

3.  Expository Teaching Teaches People How To Correctly Study the Bible.

People don’t know how to study the Bible correctly so they don’t.  In many churches, people don’t even read the Bible during the week but allow the Bible teacher to do that for them.  All of us, as disciples of Jesus, must be in the Word (John 8:31-32).  The Word keeps us from error (1 Timothy 4:16).  The Word protects us against the lies of Satan (Ephesians 6:17; James 1:21).  How few though know how to study the Bible.  Expository teaching shows the people of God how to study the Word of God by going verse-by-verse through the Scriptures comparing Scripture with Scripture.

4.  Expository Teaching Creates A Biblical-Worldview.

Topical teaching can provide Christian opinions about the world but expository teaching shows the people of God the biblical view by going deep into the Word.  When we preach verse-by-verse through the Bible, we are showing people the full council of God.  We are revealing God’s thoughts, God’s ways, God’s actions toward sin, toward humility, toward repentance.  People learn about how God feels above the points of the preacher.

5.  Expository Teaching Exalts the Bible as the Final Authority.

If we truly believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, this should be displayed in our teaching.  Verse-by-verse teaching is committed to the full authority of the Bible.  Every word counts.  Nothing is to be missed or skipped.  If God gave us His Word (2 Timothy 3:16) then every part of it is vital.  We must not avoid tough passages simply because we are lazy but we must go deep into God’s Word to allow it to have its full authority over the Church.

6.  Expository Teaching Doesn’t Avoid Difficult Texts.

I once heard a topical church going through the book of Romans.  They were skimming the book but claimed to be going verse-by-verse through it (they were done with the book in just about 6 weeks whereas it would probably take several years to go through the book).  They came to Romans 9-11 and avoided the text by just skimming through it.  The teacher didn’t teach the text at all nor did he deal with the Arminian-Calvinist debate over the text.  Being a seeker church, the people would not have known the theology behind the views on Romans 9-11 but the teacher didn’t even deal with any of the issues Romans 9-11 raises.  The faithful Bible teacher should be willing to tackle tough texts not for the sake of controversy but because verse-by-verse teaching demands it so.

7.  Expository Teaching Exposes People To Biblical Theology.

Unlike systematic theology, expository teaching shows how the Bible fits its theology together perfectly.  When we teach verse-by-verse, we are able to show how the doctrines of Scripture come together but instead of jumping around to prove our points, we take our text and allow the text to prove our point.

8.  Expository Teaching Heeds the Voice of God Above All Others.

I know of churches that have preaching calendars where the Bible teacher plans various sermon series’ around the holidays, vacations, etc.  I know of other churches that have preaching committees where people give input to the Bible teacher about what they would like to hear, what people are saying, where they feel he is lacking, etc.  Still yet, I know of many Bible teachers who search the Internet for the latest fads, latest cool sermon series, the latest sketch from “skit guys” or clips from popular shows.  All the while, the Word of God takes a backseat to all these voices.  Not so with expository teaching.  By making the Bible the focus in our teaching, we are listening to God and making His inerrant and infallible voice the one that we want to hear from (John 8:47).  Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice (John 10:27) and His voice is loud and clear when we lift up His Word.

9.  Expository Teaching Avoids Chasing the Latest Evangelical Fads.

Whether it be Purpose Driven Church, The Prayer of Jabez, Your Best Life Now, etc., the evangelical church seems to never lack fads.  Driven by pragmatism, the seeker church looks to the culture to help them plan what to preach and teach.  The evangelicals, longing for the pragmatic success of the seeker churches, looks to the seeker superstars to help them plan their teaching.  Yet the faithful expository teacher is looking to one place alone to help them: God’s Word.  Verse-by-verse teaching avoids the trap of fads that rob God of His glory and make the focus on the flesh.

10.  Expository Teaching Lifts Up the Means-Grace By Which Sinners Are Saved.

Romans 10:14-17 tells us that people must hear the gospel to be saved.  Jesus said that we must go and make disciples of all nations by teaching His Word (Matthew 28:19).  The means to regeneration is the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23).  Isaiah 55:11 promises that the Word of God will accomplish what God sent His Word out to accomplish.  People get saved by exposure to the Word.  The Word reveals our sinful hearts (Romans 7:7) and the Word shows our need for a Savior (Romans 3:19).  The Word reveals that Savior to us.  Faithful verse-by-verse teaching allows the means of regeneration to go forth and for the Word to bring true salvation to the lost.  I have heard countless testimonies of people who thought they were saved but when they begin to sit under a faithful Bible teacher going verse-by-verse through the Word, they begin to see their need for salvation and that they were not truly saved but only familiar with the things of God.  The Word produces true salvation (Matthew 7:24-27).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/03/2014 at 1:54 PM

Why I Prefer Expository Preaching Over Series Preaching

Expository preaching is the art in preaching verse by verse through the Bible.  Typically the Bible teacher will spend their time reading commentaries, examining the context over and over again, re-reading the text over and over again and meditating on the Word of God until the text is their own.  They begin to preach the text by showing how this section of Scripture fits not just within the context in which it is found but also how it fits into the overall plan and purposes of God.  Expository preaching seeks to teach the Word of God, to explain the Scriptures, and to show New Testament disciples who Christ is in the text and how it exalts Him.

Series preaching has become the new passion for evangelicals.  In my city I know of only a few expository churches.  Nearly all the churches in my area are series sermons and almost all are topical in nature.  The topics vary.  For example, a large Pentecostal church near us is preaching on heaven right now.  I suppose they are basing it off the horrible book, Heaven is for Real.  I hope not.  Another church is doing a series on Samson.  Another church is doing a series called “Real Life.”  Another church is doing their “summer” series and focusing on “Faith and Family.”

Sermon series are popular for several reasons all of which would be pragmatic.  Some preachers buy their sermon series’ from people such as Rick Warren.  Some steal sermons from famous preachers such as Ed Young.  Some will simply read a book and borrow concepts from that book.  Leonard Ravenhill use to say that he could listen to a preacher for five minutes and discern if his sermon came from God or a book.  Some preachers will do sermon series’ because they actually have a sermon committee who helps them plan preaching.  They will take a calendar and plan out their preaching.  Other churches have given surveys of their churches or even their area to see what people want the preacher to preach on and then he prepares sermons based on the surveys.  Other preachers just copy what the more successful churches are doing in hopes that they too can be that big.  Again, pragmatism is the dominant rule here.

Expository sermons are not popular for the above reasons and more.  For one, expository preaching requires you to work the text.  Sadly, few preachers seem to want to do that.  For instance, John MacArthur spends nearly 40 hours a week on his sermons.  Now obviously most churches are not as big as MacArthur’s church and MacArthur has the luxury of being able to have a staff that allows him to prepare that much.  Most do not.  Sermon series’ are easier to prepare than expository sermons and they require little from the preacher other than his ability to speak.  Expository sermons require labor in the Word, labor in word studies, labor in reading Bible commentaries, labor in developing the outline of the text and working through the text with the people.  In short, expository sermons do not feed the weak preacher and his desire to be “relevant” but instead force the preacher to actually wrestle with the Word of God.  Something that is not always easy nor fun (Hebrews 4:12-13) especially if the preacher is living a shallow life.

Expository sermons also typically drive off the goats.  Let’s face the fact that most churches are full of goats.  They are not following Christ at all during the week and show up either thinking that they are pleasing God by being at church or they just come because of habit.  Yet their hearts are far from God.  They don’t pray, don’t spend time in His presence during the week, never share their faith even to the own family members, and they don’t even think about God much during the week unless they use His name in vain or they get into trouble.  These goats love sermon series preaching.  They love having their ears tickled by the shallowness of the preaching (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  The last thing they want to hear is an expositor opening the Word of God to them and confronting them in their sins.

For the sheep, however, expository preaching is refreshing and it feeds them (John 21:15; 1 Peter 2:1-3).  Sheep long to move from milk to meat (Hebrews 5:11-6:3).  Sheep long to hear the voice of God speaking to them from His Word (John 8:47; 10:27).  Sheep are not sitting under godly leadership (Hebrews 13:7) because it is cool or relevant but they long to know Jesus and bless His name and make Him known among the nations.  Expository preaching opens the Word of God to the sheep and allows the Holy Spirit to do His deep work of convicting and sanctification (John 17:17).  Expository preaching develops the sheep to love Jesus more and more and to love His Word more and more and to seek to see Him in all the Scriptures.

By the way, an expositor can do sermon series’ based on their studies.  For example, one could find so many sermon series’ by preaching verse by verse through the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7.  One could literally spend many mouths camped out in Matthew 5-7 working through the text.

My prayer is that God will raise up more expositors of His Word.  We have thousands of churches that are pragmatic churches focused on numbers and on money but oh to have godly churches that are focused on the glory of God and living out the New Testament.  Oh to have men of God who are broken by the Word of God and long to make known God’s Word to both the lost and to the redeemed.  Oh to have men of God who labor in prayer and in study over the Word of God and who are passionate to make known the truth of God verse by verse to the people of God.  Oh to have churches that love Jesus more than anything and who are not interested in worldly results, milking goats, and living off stale bread.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/29/2014 at 1:39 PM

%d bloggers like this: