December 10, 2014

The Benefits of Sitting Under Expository Preaching

by Eric Davis

preach itNow and then, it’s good to stop and bask in the kindness of God with respect to what we have been given in the Bible. It is the word of God. God has spoken. God has spoken. And it’s all here in Holy Scripture. Not one word missing. Not one word misspoken. Not one word mistaken. Incredible.

“The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (Ps 12:6).

“The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting” (Ps 119:60).

The only thing that makes sense, then, is to preach Scripture in a way that seeks to stay surrendered to the biblical text so that the message is discernibly directed by the authorial intent of the particular passage. That is expository preaching. And because God’s word is so valuable, expository preaching imparts blessing in many ways.

 Consider a few benefits from sitting under regular expository preaching:

1. The benefit of hearing God’s agenda over man’s.

The Bible’s existence testifies that God has not left humanity to discover or fabricate his will for themselves. He has unveiled everything he wants us to know in just the right quantity and clarity in the 66 books of the Bible.

God has already told us what we need to know. It’s our job to exposit it. Since expository preaching follows the grammatical historical context of each verse, we can rest that God’s, not man’s, agenda will be heard from the pulpit. Expository preaching will safeguard churches against man’s hobby horse. Whatever the issue or topic, it cannot be over-done, or under-done. God has laid it out for us in perfection. It’s our job to keep in step through exposition.

  1. The benefit of Spirit-filling and Spirit-leading.

clearThe Bible came into existence as the Holy Spirit superintended the various human authors of Scripture to record his word in a way that every word of the original manuscripts were inerrant, infallible, and therefore, authoritative (2 Tim 3:16, 2 Pet 1:20-21). In doing so, there is a particular context with particular grammar involved in Scripture because God decided to speak into real life situations, through real people, in time and history.

What does this have to do with Spirit-leading? Generally speaking, to be led by something means to follow that thing. To not be led by something looks like having to grope in the dark and move by subjective hunch. By virtue of giving us the word of God (inspiration), the Holy Spirit has given us something better than grope and hunch: 66 books. So, we need not approach the knowledge of God as a proverbial pinning the tail on the donkey. But presuming to be Spirit-led and Spirit-filled in those ways is like a map-less and compass-less explorer presuming to be a prepared guide for his team. We have something better to lean on than a feeling, hunch, or fresh word when it comes to God-honoring preaching.

no needSo, the Spirit’s work of inspiration has removed the need for such things. Instead, we can be Spirit-led and Spirit-filled by being Scripture-restrained. Expository preaching maintains a Scripture-restrained direction by being led by what the Spirit has spoken. In doing so, it is a means of grace to best position us for Spirit-filling and Spirit-leading.

Additionally, the Apostle Paul gave two parallel commands in Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16. The only difference between the two passages is the commands: “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18) and “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col 3:16). The results of being filled with the Spirit are identical to those of being filled with the word in Colossians. So, feeding heavily on Scripture through expository preaching will best position us to be a Spirit-filled people.

  1. The benefit of learning how to study the Bible for yourself.

Expository preaching comes from expository studying. Much work is done leading up to the pulpit. Words are studied. Context is examined. History is revisited. Grammar is observed. There is a method to the discovery. By pulpit time, something profound happens. In addition to the glory of God unfolded from the word, the church is conditioned to the method of the preacher’s discovery. They begin to pick up on things like the importance of biblical context, the necessity of the historical scene, the wonder that Scripture interprets Scripture, and the richness of the Greek language. Before long, the preacher has equipped a congregation in responsible hermeneutics.

  1. The benefit of receiving God’s kind of sufficient care.

One of my mentor’s used to say something like, “You are either entering into a trial, in a trial, or coming out of a trial.” Or all some combination of all three. As such, we need God. We need his care. And one of the major ways that he is eager to lavish us with is through his word.

word“What does God say about this struggle with my boss?” “I really need to hear from God on this issue with my spouse, kids, and family.” “How will I endure this trial?” “Does God have any input on my anxiousness?”

He does. And more than input, he cares for us. One way he does is through his 66 books. We do not need new or fresh words from God because God is not deficient in care. Rather, we need to be renewed and refreshed in the power of God’s sufficient word. Everything we need is there.

“But what about this or that specific situation right now? I need to hear from God about taking this job or moving there.”

We may have to look a bit. But God has spoken about that job or moving to this place without speaking about that job or this place. We look to his word. In it, we see the supremacy and glory of Christ. We are saved by him, trust in him, cling to him, love him, and become more like him, all by God’s grace. In that way, we are positioned to make decisions about this job or moving to that place. Additionally, there are likely principles that speak to the wisdom of that job or this place. Is there a good church in that place? Will I be able to provide for my family with that job? Will that job or this place hinder my walk with Christ or getting care through a sound local church? God’s word is sufficient. Expository preaching opens the floodgates for us to bathe in his sufficient care.

  1. The benefit of hearing from God, not man.

If there are words which are not God’s, expository preaching will not preach them. By nature, it is surrendered to the text, and therefore surrendered to God. It seeks only to echo and explain the God-given words in Scripture. In doing so, it is positioned to purge the possibility of man’s opinion on the matter. The next thing it will say and explain is the next verse, and therefore, what God has said. It is fenced in by what God has said, which positions congregations to hear from God, not man.

  1. The benefit of a pastor who is under God’s transforming care.

The word of God is like God’s surgical-care team. Every verse serves as a member of his team, doing it’s transforming work on every needed spiritual square-inch of the pastor. By God’s grace, the result is that God is making him more like Christ.

careYour pastor has not arrived upon a spiritual mountain top. By virtue of his office, he has simply entered into an elevated level of divine surgery in order to be more useful, as he gives himself to his main priority of preparing to preach the word of God. By God’s grace, he must be biblically qualified (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9). But he is yet in need of great work. An expository preaching ministry keeps him from prematurely dodging surgery.

Preaching expositionally does not automatically mean that a pastor is elder qualified, or even converted. However, there is a sense in which weekly expository preaching keeps your preacher from dodging God’s sanctifying work in his life. He cannot leap-frog verses and chapters that might expose a spiritual nerve. He must see and come under the convicting, transforming power of the next verse. Every verse has an implication on him and his sin.

Each week he gets to sit, wrestle with, and bask in the glory of every verse. As he does, God teaches him, rebukes him, corrects him, transforms him, encourages him, enlivens him, invigorates him, and loves him. That is what your pastor needs.

  1. The benefit of beholding Christ.

Whether the things about him in “Moses and…all the prophets” (Luke 24:27), or the things about him in the gospels or epistles or Revelation, the glory of, Christ is everywhere in Scripture. And as much as an unglorified sinner can see Christ, expository preaching is a chief means to clear away the clouds and behold him.

Fine print: sitting under expository preaching does not make you right with God. While it is a means of grace, it is not the means of justifying grace. We are transferred from condemned criminals to cherished children in God’s sight through faith in Christ, not preaching. But sitting under expository preaching ensures that we are seeing as much color and shade of our Lord as possible.

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.