The Word Must Be Preached
Paul wrote to Timothy and commanded him to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim 4:2). This command was not only for Timothy, but for all churches throughout the world until the Lord returns.
One reason biblical preaching is so important is that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). This means preaching is critical to the church of God. According to the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century, the pure preaching of the Word marks a true church. Without it, a church is not a church.
Today there is a great famine in the church!
God’s people need God’s Word. The unbeliever must hear the gospel from the Word to be saved (Romans 10:14-15). The believer must hear the Word of God to be sanctified and edified. But instead of the Word being preached, God’s people are starving for the Word to be preached and taught to them. It almost feels like what the Amos prophesied to Israel in his day.
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.
“People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD,
But they will not find it.
“In that day the beautiful virgins
And the young men will faint from thirst.” (Amos 8:11-13)
Today people drive for an hour or more to find a church that preaches the Word. Stories, gimmicks, and dramas have replaced true biblical preaching. Dr Steven J Lawson, in his book entitled “A Famine in the Land,” accurately described much of what is seen in the church today when he said:
A new way of “doing” church is emerging. In this radical paradigm shift, exposition is being replaced with entertainment, preaching with performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics. The pulpit, once the focal point of the church, is now being overshadowed by a variety of church-growth techniques. No church can rise any higher than its pulpit. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church.”
Others have made similar assessments. Old Testament scholar Walt Kaiser has said that Christ’s church has been fed ‘junk food’ where “all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her.” His final analysis is “a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God (Amos 8:11) continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church.”
Our Commitment to Expository Preaching
At Grace Bible Church of Boerne we are committed to biblical, passionate verse-by-verse expository preaching that glorifies God, edifies believers, and evangelizes the lost. Sunday-by-Sunday exposition of the Word is the steady diet every believer needs.
Expository preaching is defined as preaching that honors the Spirit-inspired intent of the passage. Therefore the sermon is driven by the original meaning of the text which is discovered through historical, grammatical interpretation and exegesis (cf. 2 Tim 2:15). The meaning of the Scripture passage becomes the main point of the sermon to be explained and applied to the listeners.
An expository preacher must explain the meaning of the text. The practice of discovering the meaning of the text is called biblical exegesis. To rightly divide the word of truth (Hebrews 4:12), exegesis must be done with a literal, grammatical-historical hermeneutic system. Grammatical means the Bible is studied in the original language Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic (only parts of Daniel and Ezra are in Aramaic). Therefore the preacher must study the original word meanings, the grammar, and how the sentence is put together (syntax). The historical context of the passage within the Bible and in history must also be considered. This includes the time, culture, situation, and which covenant the text is found in. Lastly, a faithful expository of the word must seek to be literal in his interpretation. This means that we take the words for what they mean in their normal, or plain sense first, unless the author indicates otherwise.
To simply explain the text is not expository preaching. The passage must be applied to the heart, mind, and affections of the hearers. Charles Spurgeon famously said, “Where the application begins, there the sermon begins.” Application serves to answer one of the biggest questions in the audiences’ mind: “so what?” Christians do not want or need to merely hear a lecture on what occurred during biblical times, but rather desire to have the Scripture applied in their everyday life. Application is necessary because the Word of God preached requires the listener to conform to it.
The Benefits of Expository Preaching
Preaching expositionally verse-by-verse through books of the Bible has great benefits to the church.
- It allows God to speak, not man
- The Spirit-inspired argument/main point is expressed (each verse, each book was written for a purpose)
- It increases Biblical literacy
- Exposes a congregation to the full range of Scripture, the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27).
- Preacher cannot preach his favorites, has to preach the hard stuff
- It prevents preachers from unwittingly shaping the way their hearers read their bibles
Most importantly expository preaching glorifies God and our Lord Jesus Christ. John MacArthur has rightly said,
"So when you look for a church, look for a church where the preaching centers on God, on His glory and not on you. Where God is constantly being exalted. Look for a church that exalts Christ, not where they sneak Him in here and there."
It is time for the modern church to reclaim expository preaching. Let us stand with Christ, the Apostles, and the saints of old as we seek to exposit the Word of God faithfully in a day and age where such has become increasingly unpopular. Let us agree with what the Doctor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, said, “I would say without hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.”