As a cultural observer, preacher, and one concerned about the church, I’ve been thinking much about preaching. If people are to build their lives upon something that does not lead to skepticism, despair, and disastrous choices, they must have truth. By truth we mean that which is true for all people in all places at all times. By truth we mean the truth about our experience, ultimate questions, and the nature of reality: in short, the truth about everything. That is what expository preaching does: it grounds the preacher’s message in the truth.
Think philosophically for just a moment. The origin of the universe cannot be explained in a way that is philosophically consistent apart from the biblical worldview. Attempts to explain our origin apart from the creative act of God breakdown in that one cannot make a claim that is inconsistent with his worldview. Those with non-biblical worldviews wind up with these inconsistencies at many levels.
For example, the atheist cannot say there is no God and be consistent with his own worldview. For him, knowledge is the result of observation. The problem is that he cannot investigate the entire universe to determine there is no God.
Moreover, he must explain the existence of the universe in accordance with natural law. That law says that something cannot come from nothing and yet that is exactly what he proposes in various hypotheses concerning the origin of the universe.
The Christian, on the other hand, affirms that revelation is also a source of knowledge. God’s existence is not inconsistent on a Christian worldview. We know He exists because He has revealed Himself to us.
Further, it makes sense to say that God created the universe and natural law for He exists outside of nature. Natural law remains intact as the universe did not pop into existence out of nothing. God created it out of nothing which is to say something quite different.
If then, God exists, He is the truth about everything including our origin, our problem, the solution to our problem, and the goal of history. If we are to know Him, that is, the truth, then He must reveal Himself to us. He has done so in His word. Hence, expository preaching grounds one’s message in the truth and reality of God.
Expository preaching grounds the preacher’s message in the truth in another way as well. Preachers, like everyone, are prone to inject their own opinion into what they say. The problem is that the preacher’s opinion is not authoritative (it is not ultimate truth). Expository preaching is the surest way for the preacher to avoid substituting his opinion for the truth. That is not to say that a preacher cannot take a text and say something completely different than what the text says. That happens too often. However, if one relentlessly adheres to the text of Scripture, his words will find their ground in God’s revelation, he will be speaking as one with authority, and he will be automatically relevant. He will be a mouthpiece for God and not just another pundit with an interesting (or worthless) outlook on something. He will be faithful to God and light to his people.
Christ must be exalted and sinners must be saved. We cannot overuse Richard Baxter’s comment, “I preached as never sure to preach again, and, as a dying man to dying men.” We must have truth. And, that is why we must have expository preaching in our churches today.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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