Preaching: The Sacred Task

Text: Hebrews 4:12,13; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

God requires much of a preacher. That’s because a Church’s worship never rises above the view of God proclaimed from the pulpit. A high view of God, proclaiming the high majesty, holiness and Sovereignty of God leads to high worship of God. A weak and low view of God leads to weak and low worship of God. There is much at stake in all this…

Mandates of Expository Preaching

Article: Mandates of Expository Preaching by Eric Davis (original source here)

Expository preaching is that type of preaching which seeks to approach the word of God in a manner befitting of the God of the word. As such, its aim is to submit to the authorial intent of a passage, unpacking the meaning in its grammatical and historical context, then explaining, illustrating, and applying the text accordingly.

Therefore, expository preaching is that method of preaching which keeps most in step with the way in which the Holy Spirit inspired the word. It seeks full submission to what the Spirit laid down in Scripture.

Recently, John MacArthur taught a seminar in a doctorate program at the Master’s Seminary for expository preaching titled, “Mandates of Expository Preaching.” With over 50 years experience in weekly expository preaching, the church does well to listen to what he has to say on the matter. Here is a summary of what was taught.

Expository preaching establishes the authority of God over the mind of the hearer.

Churches whose teaching and preaching are more loosely tied to sound exposition from Scripture can tend towards demagoguery. In those cases, the authority is more in the guy than God. That is an unsafe place to be, both as a leadership and congregation.

Expository preaching is a safer place to be simply because the ministry philosophy is submission to every word of God. And submission to the word of God is submission to the God of the word.

The primary duty of the pastor is to establish that God is the authority, not him (Titus 2:15). Preaching is to be authoritative which means it must have a transcendent and divine authority. Our authority is a delegated authority. When you are an expositor of Scripture, you are constantly declaring the authority of the word of God.

Expository preaching affirms the lordship of Christ over the church.

There is a de facto assault by self-appointed, narcissistic pastors who present themselves as if they’re the head of the church by making the dominance of their personality the functional head of the church. Pastors won’t verbally deny the headship of Christ over the church, but they do in practice. They do so when they remove the Bible from its governing position in the church. Doing so usurps the place which belongs only to Christ. Continue reading

How to Make an Effective Preacher

How to Make an Effective Preacher – Author Unknown by Clint Archer (original source here)

John MacArthur, as the President of our seminary, read this out at my graduation ceremony. It has haunted me and inspired me since I became a pastor eleven years ago. When I am tempted to rethink and retool the focus of my ministry, I read and reread this lyrical piece of sage advice, and I am reassured that the priority of my calling is preaching God’s word in God’s way to God’s people.

As much as I love spending time with my flock, socializing and fellowshipping, counseling and discipling, I frequently remind myself that those tasks are essential, but not primary, and must happen only if/when the sermon preparation is complete for Sunday.

My goal is to deliver a well-crafted, thoroughly researched, biblically faithful, theologically sound, and practically applicable world class sermon every week. I will never enter the pulpit unprepared or even underprepared. In times of illness or urgent pastoral duties I have asked others at the last minute (who had been tasked with having “one in the chamber” at all times) to cover for me. But I have never once tried to wing it while standing before the sacred desk.

So, I’d like to share these hardcore marching orders to you, the congregation, to help your pastor be an effective preacher…

Fling him into his office. Tear the “Office” sign from the door and nail on the sign, “Study.”

Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before a holy God and a holy text and broken hearts and a superficial flock.

Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows about God.

Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through. And let him come out only when he’s bruised and beaten into being a blessing. Shut his mouth forever from spouting remarks, and stop his tongue forever from tripping lightly over every nonessential. Require him to have something to say before he dares break the silence. Bend his knees in the lonesome valley.

Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for God. And make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit. And make him preach the Word of the living God!

Test him. Quiz him. Examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, batting averages, and political in-fighting. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir and raise a chant and haunt him with it night and day: “Sir, we would see Jesus!”

When at long last he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he does not, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper and digest the television commentaries, and think through the day’s superficial problems, and manage the community’s weary drives, and bless the sordid baked potatoes and green beans, ad infinitum, better than he can.

Command him not to come back until he’s read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom. And give him no escape until he’s back against the wall of the Word.

And sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left — God’s Word.

Let him be totally ignorant of the down-street gossip, but give him a chapter and order him to walk around it, camp on it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it backward and forward, until all he says about it rings with the truth of eternity.

And when he’s burned out by the flaming Word, when he’s consumed at last by the fiery grace blazing through him, and when he’s privileged to translate the truth of God to man, finally transferred from earth to heaven, then bear him away gently and blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly.

Place a two-edged sword in his coffin, and raise the tomb triumphant.

For he was a brave soldier of the Word. And ere he died, he had become a man of God.

Why Did God Choose Preaching As His Means?

From Thomas Goodwin’s Works, 11:362:

But why of all things else hath he chosen his word to do this?

Ans. 1. He hath chosen preaching of the word, because it is the weakest means of all others, and therefore his power would the more appear unto his own glory in it. What is weaker than a word? and yet God created the world by it, for he only said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light,’ &c. But you will say, That was his own word spoken by himself. I answer, that now to manifest his power the more, he will take the voice of a frail man speaking his word for him; and what is weaker than a man’s breath? Indeed, ‘in the word of a king there is power’ (as Solomon speaks), but what power is there in the words of a mean and weak man? Yes, there is a great power, and the reason why God chose this means is given, 1 Cor. 1.18 to ver. 28. It is to shew his power and wisdom unto his own, and to confound the world. They know not God in his wisdom, by reason of their own wisdom which they are so full of, and by reason of their high esteem of worldly learning and eloquence, accounting the plain, naked, and slow style of the word to be but foolishness; that is, a foolish and an empty doctrine, contrary to their reason, and utterly unlike to work any great matter (as the Athenians thought); but God chose it the rather: ‘It pleased him, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe,’ ver. 21, to shew that his foolishness is wiser than men’s wisdom. And if his foolishness be so, then what is his wisdom? He sent his apostles forth, a company of poor fishermen; and were they likely men to conquer the world by commanding living men to believe on one crucified, especially when the conditions were such as these, that men rich, and learned, and great, should wholly deny themselves and their own wisdom, and become fools; was this ever likely? Well, but see, ver. 20, how the apostle triumphs upon this occasion: ‘Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer?’ They are clear put down, they have lost ground both among Jews and Gentiles by this foolish and weak means, this preaching of Christ crucified; all their wit and carnal arguments could not prevail so much as one of the apostle’s sermons. And so when Luther, Calvin, and those other divines came once to preach, where were the schoolmen and learned of the world? Popery fell down before preaching, like Dagon before the ark of God. And God appointed this way, that his wisdom might appear to the confusion of the wise, that so his power might the more appear to the praise of his grace towards them that are called, and to the confusion of Satan, and, ver. 25, to shew that ‘the weakness of God is stronger than men.’ If God can by a word work such effects as all creatures are not able to work, then what would his strength do if put to it? What will that power do for his elect in another world? And this means did God appoint, thereby also to confound the power of Satan, as the strength of Jericho was subdued by the blast of ranis’ horns. Thus, Ps. viii. ver, 2, it is said, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength.’ Through the weakest means God hath ordained the greatest strength; and why? ‘To still the enemy,’ to confound Satan, that he should not boast of his conquest. God therefore chose preaching, that it might be his own power unto salvation.

Expository Preaching

What took me a couple of hours to teach on last week’s Dividing Line broadcasts, Shai Linne sums up in just a few minutes:

Preacher: Preach the Word (Part 1)

Preacher: Preach the Word (Part 2)

Hermeneutics & Preaching Resources

In expository preaching, the meaning of the passage is the message of the sermon. To understanding the meaning of a passage or text it is necessary to be engaged in exegesis (drawing out of the text what is actually in the text). To do this with accuracy involves hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation). Here are 4 teachings I did on Dr. James White’s Dividing Line show which give a basic introduction to the subject:

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION SERIES (4 SHOWS)

KEYS TO BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION (1)

KEYS TO BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION (2)

KEYS TO BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION (3)
We started with Rich Pierce providing commentary about PC&D’s new song ‘Jesus, Only Jesus,’ and how this song exposes the Oneness views of this group. Then the rest of the show was the continuation of my teaching series on ‘rules of interpretation’ discussing the end times, the book of Revelation and why we need to avoid hyper allegorical methods of interpretation.

KEYS TO BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION (4) – APPLICATION
Rich Pierce started off today’s Dividing Line show with a brief (approx. 10 minutes) follow up regarding his comments from Tuesday regarding PC&D and the song “Jesus, Only Jesus.” Then I concluded the series on biblical interpretation by taking the rules we have discussed and applying them to John chapter 3.

RECOMMENDED LECTURES:

From the Master’s Seminary:

Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. Steve Lawson: The Fundamentals of Expository Preaching (10 lectures) – at this link.

Dr. Steve Lawson: The Mechanics of Preaching (13 Lectures) – at this link.

Dr. Steve Lawson: Expository Preaching of the Psalms (12 Lectures)
at this link.