At around 11:35 on a Sunday morning is usually when I say a closing prayer to my sermon. Then we sing a hymn and provide a time for people to come to respond to the Word they just heard. Then we have our Deacon of the Week come up and close in prayer. After a considerable time fellowshipping with church members and guests alike, we head home. I usually grab a nap because of the absence of the accumulated adrenaline, causing exhaustion which I’ve written about elsewhere.
I am an expositor by training and by conviction after 30 years of pastoral ministry. The premise behind expository preaching is that the point of the text becomes the point of the sermon. I not only like that, I need that. I need to know that the sermon that I preach to the people whom God has entrusted me to shepherd is tethered not by my particular ‘druthers,’ but by the inspired, authoritative, infallible, and sufficient Word of God which is able to equip for every good work (cf. 2 Timothy 3:17).
Yet, expository preaching does not merely expose the Bible. It also exposes the heart of the preacher. Preachers are people, too. And when pastors begin to focus on their own platform or the running of the church or on any other matter at the expense of studying and readying himself to preach God’s Word, that exposes a problem in their motives. We’ve seen all too many want to chase that gold ring of celebrity and influence. Yet, when pastors spend time in studying God’s Word, then the relationship and fellowship with the Triune God is in place and all that ultimately matters is the worship and pleasing of Him and shepherding the flock that is among them (see 1 Peter 5:1-5). The study of God’s Word will expose the motives of the pastor.
Expository preaching also exposes the character of the culture. God’s Word outlines God’s design for His world. In Genesis 1-2, we found at least eighteen different areas that God designed in which the culture is moving away (and at some point in the future, I’ll outline those ways). When the Scriptures come up against the culture, Carl Trueman’s prophetic reminder in 2010 is coming true:
…the beautiful young things of the reformed renaissance have a hard choice to make in the next decade. You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist.Carl Trueman, Reformation21.org
Here we are twelve years removed from Trueman’s words. It’s hard to argue with the premise. The Scriptures expose the culture’s direction and motives. And I fear that the harder we try to get a seat at the culture’s table exposes more of our desire to be liked by the broader scope of society, which will lead to compromise. “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12).
Lastly, the Scriptures expose the heart of the church. Is the church staying obedient to the direction laid out in Scripture? Is Christ a means to a church’s end or is Christ the end? Do our churches follow Christ and His commands even if they may go counter to the culture not just outside the church but inside? Every church has a culture, and that culture is informed by certain convictions and values. From where do those values originate?
If God gives a design in His Word, that design is good for His people and His creation. Will people take that to a problematic extreme at times? Of course! That’s why we need to operate by going ad fontes (to the source).
What are some other things that the Scriptures expose?