Wednesday, July 25, 2007

By way of review we have been discussing the dire need for expository preaching in contemporary pulpits today. Here is my working outline:

Expository Preaching has three purposes:

1. Exposing the congregation to the knowledge of God
2. Explaining the meaning of a text to know and understand the meaning of Scripture
3. Exhortation to the congregation leading them to obedience and to response

Today we are going to focus on the third purpose of expository preaching. By the way, this list is in no way exhaustive, just a simple clear-cut outline that captures much of what expository preaching is - or ought to be.

Exhortation to the congregation leading them to obedience and to response.

We will look at the absolute necessity of exhorting the people of God to apply the biblical truths to their lives so as to see a fruitful change toward godliness. Think of this sad - but true - reality:
"As the 20th century closes, a great deal of concern has been expressed about the lack of moral convictions on the part of the average churchgoer. A George Gallup poll taken in 1984 revealed that more people were going to church than ever before, yet NO lifting of moral standards in American society took place. In 1999, little has changed [and even in 2007, for that matter]. Nine out of ten adults indicate a religious preference of one kind or another and say that they attend church on at least some occasions...Despite increased church attendance, however, recent surveys indicate that the average American perceives "religion as a whole" to be losing its influence on American life" (Vines and Shaddox, Power in the Pulpit, 181).
So we must recognize that application is important. No, it would not be overstating the matter to say that application is absolutely essential. Our people need to see how the Word of God applies to their lives so that a change is enacted in the way they live. This is the power of the Word of God. It changes lives. This is called sanctification. This is a necessity in the life of every Christian man and woman.

Mr. John Stott, in his excellent book, Between Two Worlds, made some astute observations about applying the truths of God's Word to modern congregations. He noted that:
"Application is absolutely essential. Through application we are able to span the gap between the world of the Bible and the world of today. This is the metaphor of "bridge-building." This is what is mandated today in our pulpits" (Stott, Between Two Worlds), 137-38.
So let us (or me!) not lose focus. The need for expository preaching is to exhort our people leading them to a response and to obedience. This is what Paul commanded Timothy to do as he pastored a church in Ephesus:

1 Timothy 4:13 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

I close with one final quote from Vines and Shaddox:
"Our goal in preaching is to produce Christlike character in our people. As we interpret the Scripture, capture its practical and devotional nature, and bring its life-changing truths to bear on the daily lives and needs of our hearers, the Holy Spirit will bring about the desired transformation" (Power in the Pulpit, 189).


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