Tuesday, March 16, 2010

True Preaching Part 2: "The Voice of the Bible"

In the book "The Passion-Driven Sermon" by Jim Shaddix the author gives the Pastor a strong arguement for expository preaching. He gives the layman a strong arguement for why he should sit underneath this type of preaching. He describes how preaching is like bringing a voice to the Bible. The goal for a Pastor is that the congregation will hear clearly God's voice through the Bible in the sermon.

Pastors are to maximize the actual truths of the Bible. The author gives an illustration out of Nehemiah. If you have heard any sermon or read a book about Nehemiah it probably had to do with leadership. Yes, Nehemiah deals with leadership, but this is secondary to the actual story. The story is about God being faithful to His covenant people. The Bible is all about God, always! Bad preaching takes these secondary issues and heightens them to paramount levels.

This is why it is so necessary for a Pastor to be locked away in his study to first discover - what is God saying. To often Pastors start at the end of the sermon-process asking, "What is this text saying to me?" This can be dangerous because we put our subjective spin on the Bible. The first step in all good Bible study is to determine what God is simply saying. What is He saying to the original audience? What were the implications for them? Why did God say this particular thing to them? Only after this preliminary hard work is done can a Pastor ask, "Now, how does this original message effect me today?"

Another bad habit we Pastors have is to isolate a verse for our own use and limit God's message. We love to do this with Micah about robbing from God. Yes, that passage does speak about robbing from God through our tithes and offerings, but the complete picture of that prophetic book is so staggering, it should cause the Spirit of God to break out into a revival! Pastor, be careful about how you use God's Word. Do you not realize this is God's Word? Not just a book!

As the Pastor seeks to magnify God's voice through his sermon, the congregation should magnify the message through their listening.

The author gives three important principles from Scripture for how a congregation should respond to expository preaching. First, going back to Nehemiah it says the people called for Ezra to bring the Book, the law of Moses, that it might be read to them. So Ezra and the Levite priests read it and explained it to the people from early morning until midday. The people responded with raised hands, "Amens," and bowing prostrate in worship before the Lord. They revered the written word of God. Second, in Acts the new disciples committed themselves to the apostles teaching. In fact it says the lost watched from the peripheral being in amazement at all that was happening in this band of beleivers. Can you imagine the respect and awe of the lost who saw Ananias and Sapphira drop dead at the entrance to their meeting place? There was a holy reverance for the things of these Jesus followers. Third, listening must be combined with conviction. If we beleivers demand the Word to be brought to us and expect God to speak then conviction will follow. Paul told the Corinthians that an unbeliever coming in and hearing a prophet speak would come under conviction as opposed to hearing unintelligable tongues being spoken. The power of God is displayed in biblical expository sermons. It is conviction that we need most, not warm fuzzies.

Pastor, magnify the voice the God through His Word in your sermon. People are hungry for a word from God. You have the privilege and responsibility to bring Him to them. Don't waste their time with dog and pony shows. Leave the entertainment to the entertainers! Preach the Word!

Christian, listen to the preached word as if your life depends upon it. Expect your Pastor to bring you a Thanksgiving meal in his sermon. If you don't see the Lord lifted up from his sermon, pray for him, and you might even need to let him know, "I can watch Youtube videos at home, bring me the Book on Sunday!"

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