As I continue to review this wonderful book “What Is A Healthy Church?” I want to thank all of you for taking the time to follow this blog. The response has been outstanding and I pray that it enhances your walk with God and understanding of truth. Just to inform you, I have only 2 copies of this book left and, if you would like one, let me know (we have given these away on the first come first serve basis). Several of you have shared with me that you have already completed this little book: if you want to see this in more detail, let me encourage you to get Mark Dever’s book “Nine Marks Of A Healthy Church” as it covers the same major points but gives much more detailed information. The deeper interest we have in this, the stronger church we will become. I know this thought flies in the face of the “consumer approach” most people have towards church today. We have been duped into believing that what church is really about is…us! We want a church that fits our schedule, our likes/dislikes and it should really be for us! The attitude is that “if you can’t entertain me enough or offer me enough, I will head down the road and find another store…I mean church”. From what I see in the Word of God, when we are part of the Church family we are not shopping, we are entering a covenant with one another. If I am going to enter a covenant to be part of a family - I would certainly have some expectations. So what should we look for? Well, Dever handles this especially well in our book. So let’s discuss the first mark.
Expositional Preaching: This is one of the areas that many preachers may claim to be, but very few preachers really are. This is preaching that exposes the Word of God - it puts it at front and center. We should be a people that when we come to Worship, we understand that we are to worship around the Word of God. It is not just inerrant, it is sufficient. It is sufficient to show us how to worship, how to live, how to conduct our worship, how to hold one another accountable. When the focus is on the Word of God what we are in fact stating is that God’s Word is the only authority in our lives- it is what we live and die by - it is what we expect to hear when we worship and what we long to live by when we go home. Dever explains Expository Preaching this way: “There are many types of preaching. Topical preaching, for example, gathers up one or more Scriptures on a particular topic, such as the topic of prayer or the topic of giving, Biographical preaching takes the life of someone in the Bible and portrays the individual’s life as a display of God’s grace and as an example of hope and faithfulness. And these other types may be employed helpfully on occasion. But the regular diet of the church should consist of the explanation and application of particular portions of God’s Word.” Even when we do a topical study it should be our passion to still go to Scripture and dig in the Word of God. I love the statement that this type of preaching “is not so much about how a preacher says what he says, but about how a preacher decides what to say.” In short, society can’t dictate to me what to preach, a frustration can’t dictate to me what to preach, but we get our subject matter, and even our thoughts about the subject matter, from the Word of God.
We are at a place in our culture that “preaching” is such a negative term. How many times have you heard someone say: “Don’t preach to me!”? So we have pastors who will change the term: they will have a “relevant talk” or they will have a “short discussion,” but can I remind you that the Word of God has called the Pastor to “Preach the Word.” In 2nd Tim. 4:2 Paul exhorts Timothy to “Preach” and in Titus 1:3 Paul says the Word was “manifested through preaching….” In 1st Corithians 1:18 Paul speaks that the world sees the “Preaching” of the cross as foolishness. Yet this is the way God has ordained for His Church to grow. It is no accident that as the idea of preaching has faltered in our churches, biblical ignorance has flourished. We have become a people more intent on finding a “style” we like rather than expecting the man of God to preach the Word of God. Trinity, let me thank you for being people who want preaching and expect preaching. May God deepen our love for this - that we may grow into a deeper knowledge of Him.