God's people long for challenging and life-changing preaching, even if they don't fully know it. Yet, most cultural Christians would request a topical sermon packaged in a bite-sized, easily digestible form. In other words, they want a magic pill. They think it is tedious to listen to a preacher drone on for an hour about grammar, history, and ancient texts, especially while lunch awaits. There is a sense that I agree with them. I believe it is a travesty and a sin to make preaching God's Word boring. And I recognize the tendency toward preaching that is drier than the Sahara.
I fully understand that some Christians have adverse reactions to expository preaching (EP) because they don't find it interesting to consider the meaning and implications of every verse. Nor do they want to consider the historical and biblical contexts. Expository listening is arduous work. Yet, I truly believe God's promise that His Word will not return empty when we proclaim it as He intended (Isaiah 55:11). He promises His Word will accomplish what pleases Him. Despite the tendency toward dry content, EP is life-changing for many reasons.
When I first heard EP, I responded by asking, "Where has this been all my life?" God revealed to me that His Word was what my soul needed, which would prove life-changing. Over the next few weeks, I want to share a few reasons EP is life-changing for God's people:
Expository Preaching Feeds the Sheep!
In John 21:17, Jesus commanded Peter, "Tend My sheep." He wanted Peter to care for His people just as He would. Expository preaching (EP), which is the systematic preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), instills a godly desire for the Word of God in the listener. We share our love and passion for God's Word when we preach verse-by-verse without losing sight of the broader context of Scripture. EP also encourages the listener to study the Bible personally and to understand it as God intended.
Providing sustenance is a large part of tending to any animal's needs. We can't just give an animal affection and expect them to thrive. God's people are no different in that way. I would argue that EP best provides sustenance for God's people.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Amos proclaimed,
"Behold, days are coming," declares Lord Yahweh,
"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 Yahweh.
"People will wander from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the Word of Yahweh,
But they will not find it. Amos 8:11
Yahweh's declaration is straightforward. There would come a time when Yahweh's people would have plenty to eat and drink, but they would still hunger and thirst. These would come from a need to hear the words of Yahweh. In this context, the prophecy applied to Israel, but we can see the application in our lives. Yahweh's people need His Word to be strengthened and to thrive. EP is the best way to provide the food of Yahweh's Word.
In Part Two of this series, we will see that expository preaching fortifies our families and churches against this culture!