I’m interested in why people visit our church, and I would guess you are interested, too. So I’ve asked our visitors, “What brought you to our church?” One consistent reason they are giving me goes something like this, “We want biblical preaching, and we have had a hard time finding it.” Maybe that sounds strange in light of so many churches in our area, but I’ve found this same issue in many of the places I’ve lived and visited. So what’s behind this troubling dearth of biblical/expository preaching?
…numerous influential voices within evangelicalism suggest that the age of the expository sermon is now past. In its place, some contemporary preachers now substitute messages intentionally designed to reach secular or superficial congregations–messages which avoid preaching a biblical text, and thus avoid a potentially embarrassing confrontation with biblical truth. (Al Mohler)
I agree with Mohler, and I see the results of his discerning view (he wrote that in 2004) being lived out in many, many pulpits today. It is tragic that any “preacher” would circumvent preaching from a biblical text in order to “avoid a potentially embarrassing confrontation with biblical truth” – especially when you consider this: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1:16), and this: “…you have known the sacred writings [Scripture] which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God [preacher] may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15-16).
Scripture makes us wise unto salvation, and the truth of God’s word counsels and guides us in godly living, and the Bible fully equips each of us for every good work of service to one another as the family of God. We need more of the Scripture in our lives, not less.
Our church could be known for many things: a great student ministry, inspiring music, super-duper elders, warm-hearted people, etc. (all good things). None of that saves us and, apart from God’s word, it doesn’t sanctify us. God’s truth saves and sanctifies (cf. Jn. 17:13-17). That’s why I preach and teach the Bible! And that, above all things, is what I hope and pray our own church family will be most known for in this community – we are people of the word of God.
The pulpit should be central, the focal point, of any church’s life and ministry. This isn’t because of the man behind it, but because of the God above it and His truth proclaimed from it. I have several quotes in my office which remind each day what my task is as a preacher of the gospel: “We are not sent into the pulpit to show our wit and eloquence but to set the consciences of men on fire.” And this, “The question is not, ‘have I preached well?’ but ‘have I served God and Christ and have I served the people of God?’ Charles Simeon’s questions about a sermon were: ‘does it uniformly tend to humble the sinner, to exalt the Savior, to promote holiness?”’
The great Puritan pastor Richard Baxter said of his own preaching, “I preach as never sure to preach again and as a dying man to dying men.” That’s good stuff! Ask the Lord to keep your pastor’s preaching faithful to the Bible – everything depends on it.