The Imperative of Preaching By Marco Gonzalez
Before I begin, a few things need to be clarified. I am not a preacher, nor do I claim to be. I have no experience in pastoral ministry. In fact, I have only taken one homiletics course and have only organized three sermons. This article is not an attempt to point figures or criticize individuals, but to analyze modern-day evangelical preaching. Therefore, in my own humble attempt, I hope this may give passion to preachers/teachers to â€œpreach the word.
Inside my Greek Bible are signatures. These signatures are from men who have fueled my passion for scripture. Theses signatures include: John Piper, John Macarthur, Al Mohler, and Sinclair Ferguson. Before any of these men signed my Bible, I placed a quote above them by Richard Baxter, â€œI preached as to never preach again and as a dying man to dying men.â€
I had all these men sign my Bible not because I put their ministries above scripture, but because these men exemplify Biblical pastors/preachers. I do not believe that anyone who has heard a sermon by any of these men can deny they preach the word in and out of season. However, besides these menâ€™s preaching (and many others not mentioned), evangelicalism is plagued with unBiblical preaching.
A few months ago, I was searching for a church. I visited over 10 different churches. Two out of the ten sermons preached were preached expositionaly. The other nine rarely preached from scripture. This is an example of the decadence of Biblical preaching in 21st century evangelicalism. I wholeheartedly believe the dissipation and Biblical illiteracy of Christians is due to a lack of expositional preaching. While there have been rising improvements in evangelical preaching, there is much more work to be done. Much of the problem lies with our pastoral brethren.
A need to fill the pews and excite their people has lead us into a dissolution of what Biblical preaching actually is. I have had numerous conversations with people over evangelicalismâ€™s current attitude toward preaching. Most of whom I have spoken with have little to no idea what expository preaching is.
The only way to correctly interpret the Bible is to read it in its context. The nature of expository preaching is verse by verse and chapter by chapter. The advantages of such a style of preaching are numerous. This method of preaching forces our pastors to interpret the Bible correctly. The pastor who preaches verse by verse inevitably preaches the text, not his own preconceived notions concerning scripture. It forces our pastors through a laborious study of scripture. It is one thing to preach from the Bible, it is another thing to correctly interpret the Bible.
The congregation can learn numerous lessons from expository preaching. A church that has expository preaching will be a church filled with Christians passionate for Christ and scripture (in addition, to understanding the congruency of the Bible, the contextual basis of a passage, and holistically looking at scripture.) This can only happen if preaching is placed as the primacy of the church. In other words, only if preaching is the centrality of worshipping corporately together will we find ourselves surrounded by doctrinal purity. Iâ€™m tired of preachers imagining they have an audible word from God; as if God spoke to them as he did to Moses. Expository preaching brings us back to the sufficiency of scripture. It is the dependence on scripture and the inspiration the Holy Spirit has provided through men who wrote scripture.
God does speak to us. Itâ€™s right in front of us and pastors have failed to look. It is of course Scripture. The supreme rule of faith and life is before us and pastors have chosen to tickle peopleâ€™s ears. Donâ€™t get me wrong in what Iâ€™m saying. This is not merely our pastorâ€™s fault. It is greatly caused by inadequate theological institutions raising up men for pastoral ministry. Liberal theology and modernism still plague many of our seminaries nation- wide; furthermore, the ideology of â€œChristianity is Life, not doctrineâ€ is pure blasphemy. In other words, itâ€™s not about what you believe, but how you work out your faith. This has lead us to the decadence and depravity of evangelical preaching. Itâ€™s time, my brothers, to raise up God-honoring seminaries and Biblical institutions that produce men who can deliver us from the debauchery of unfaithful preaching. We may deliberate time and time again with people who believe evangelicalism in its current state is fine. But we need to deal with the root issue: pastoral ministry. Believe me when I say I have discussed and spoken to numerous people about preaching, most of whom have failed to see the importance.
The problem is they go back to their churches and their pastors who they love dearly; the problem is that these pastors are unaware of how to properly handle pastoral preaching Biblically. There is hope with Al Mohler and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary raising up expository preachers, as well as the Masters Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary, and many other seminaries not mentioned. But more must be done to improve the dissolution of pastoral ministry. We need the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit to call men to pour their lives into scripture and the power of scripture into the lives of their congregation. Not just for the future, but for the age we live in. We need men who are unashamed to preach the gospel. We need Men who realize the plight and disposition of man and the light of the gospel; moreover, we need men who understand the imperative of preaching as the means of grace toward their congregation.