Why Expository Preaching, Again?

This Sunday our church dove back into 2 Samuel, picking up right where we’d left off in November. The return gave us a good opportunity to revisit a foundational question: Why expository preaching?

Why do we preach chapter by chapter, verse by verse, through every word of books like 2 Samuel or Acts or 1 and 2 Thessalonians? Why are we committed to that style of preaching at CSBC? Four quick reasons:

1. Because God’s people are hungry.

Do you remember the story where Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness? Matthew tells us, after that time “Jesus was hungry” (Mt. 4:2). Satan came to tempt Jesus in that moment of hunger, and this is how Jesus responded, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). What we are hungry for is a food this world cannot provide. You and I are hungry for “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Not a word. Not some words. Not the words you like. Every word.

But what normal Christian is going to wake up in the morning and say, “You know what? I’m hungry for some 2 Samuel today.” Not gonna happen. Maybe a light appetite for something from the Sermon on the Mount or an inclination to read Philippians 4:13 for the thirty-millionth time, or maybe a quick bite of whatever the verse of the day is on your phone. But certainly nothing off the beaten path.

Expository preaching is like when you have never had Thai food before, and your friend is like, “Listen, you are gonna love it–you just have to give it a try! Come with me, and I’ll show you what to order.” And reluctantly you go, and you’re like, “Wow. Thai food is amazing. I would have never thought.” Later that week, you find yourself actually hungry for Pad Thai and Chicken Satay and Curry, and Friday night you say something you’ve never said before, “You know, let’s get take out from that Thai place again.”

That’s what expository preaching does. The preacher is supposed to take you to all these exotic places–parts of the Bible Christians never read–Zechariah, Nehemiah, 2 Samuel, Titus, Leviticus, and show you what to order. Once you’ve tasted it, you’re like, “Wow. This isn’t so scary. In fact, this is amazing.” And now all the sudden you’ve got this new hunger. You’re discouraged on a Friday evening, and you find yourself saying, “You know what, I could go for some 2 Samuel.”

2. Because it’s my job.

Paul commands Timothy: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim. 4:13). In his second letter, he reiterates the point: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). It is the pastor’s job to know how to take a fork and knife to the Scriptures and cut it up into bite-sized pieces for the people of God.

Jesus commissions Peter with this solemn responsibility: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). If you are a pastor, your job is to lead the sheep to pasture.

3. Because the Word saves.

Paul holds up preaching as a particular medium through which God saves: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). But if the preacher enters the pulpit with a few funny one-liners, an inspirational story or two, and a closing nugget of wisdom—does that preaching have the power to save? Paul continues, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

The Scriptures are where we find Christ crucified. This is why James encourages us to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

4. Because the Word is a rock.

Can you imagine coming to church after the week we’ve had, after the unthinkable has happened—deranged Americans stormed our nation’s capitol with the intent to overthrow an election by force, some claiming to want to assassinate certain lawmakers and elected officials? Imagine experiencing such ground-shaking uncertainty during the week, sitting trembling in the pew, to find your pastor only has a few warm-and-fuzzy personal tales to comfort you?

No. We need a rock. We need an unshakeable foundation. We need something that never changes. We need to look into heaven and see a King who sits on a throne that will never be threatened by insurrectionists. We need to behold a Lord whose throne will never be occupied by some arrogant anarchist posing for a pic.

Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). This Jesus does not need our help to stay in power. Why would we worship him if he did? He does not depend on us. We depend on him—for life, breath, existence itself.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

(photo credit)

Published by Chad C. Ashby

Instructor of Literature, Math, and Theology at Greenville Classical Academy Greenville, SC

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