Over at Challies’ second live-blogging post on the Shepherds’ Conference, following John MacArthur’s dismissal of amillenialism, Steve Lawson struck a blow for the kind of preaching I have been talking about in my series on the T4G Statement Article 4. The last post in that series was entitled Must Expository Preaching Always be a Series? I have also posted often in the past about the vital point that Steve Lawson made:
“Two deadly dangers face the church as it advances into the 21st century.The first threat is the wholesale devaluing of preaching itself. In this paradigm shift, biblical preaching is being displaced by other things. Exposition is being replaced by entertainment; theology for theatrics; [the] unfolding drama of redemption is being replaced by just plain drama. Preaching is out, dialogue is in. Straightforward exposition is being demoted to secondary status. As bad as this is, of even greater concern is another error. It is an error that befalls even those who are able preachers. The error is that their preaching is little more than a data dump. Preaching has become clinical, cold, sterile, and stagnant. It is precision without power or light without heat.</p
Dispassionate preaching is a lie. If the preacher is not consumed with [the] passage for the message, how can those who hear it believe it? This is what must be recaptured by the men at this conference who are not in danger of giving up the pulpit to entertainment, but who can become listless and lifeless in expositing the Scriptures. The kind of preaching [that] burst onto the scene in the first century. It was powerful and passionate. Acts is full of sermons, and when they are all added up, twenty-five percent of the text of the book is dedicated to recording the words of these sermons. This underscores how important apostolic preaching is. It suggests to us the kind of preaching we are to emulate. It is not just expository preaching we need, but expository preaching of a certain tone and thrust. We need apostolic expository preaching. We need to preach not just what they preached, but as they preached.”
Tim’s report is very helpful and detailed, and goes on to explain Steve’s view of what apostolic preaching should look like. I especially liked this section, in which he claims that Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is the model we should use for our expository preaching:
Read the text. Beginning in verse 16 he reads the text. This is where expository preaching begins for it makes God the real preacher.
Explain the text. This is what the word “expository” means — simply explain the text. There is an inseparable connection between verse 21 and verse 22. In this verse he now begins to explain the text of the former verse.
Support the text. What Peter will now do, having explained the text, [is to] undergird it with other cross-references. He supports the central theme and traces it through the course of Scripture. He will now give four strategic cross-references that bolster his explanation. He will show that the full counsel of God speaks with unity and clarity on this truth. These serve as pillars to undergird the message.
Synthesize the text. In verse 36 he summarizes the text, bringing it down to the bottom line. He gives the bottom line conclusion that the whole sermon has been leading to.
Apply the text. This cannot be an expository sermon without this step. Now comes the crescendo of the sermon. Here is the action point, the imperative voice. This sermon is so powerful that the listeners give the invitation. “What must we do?” The authority of the Word of God has been pressed to their heart, their conscience has been awakened and the Spirit has stirred their hearts. Now Peter gives the application. Here is what you must do. Expository sermons must get to the “you.” In this case: “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
It starts with the text, stays with the text, and drives home the text.
Continued at Shepherds’ Conference III – C. J. Mahaney Asked to Preach by John MacArthur