Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Exerpt-The Future of Expository Preaching

I have decided to take some time this week to look at a message that has really blessed my heart. Dr. Bryan Chapel, president of Covenant Theological Seminary in Kentucky, gave a presentation in March of 2004 on what he saw as the future of expository preaching. I have been particularly encouraged by what he sees as the future of expository preaching. I pray that you will be encouraged as well.

The hope that I have for expository, Christ-centered preaching may, perhaps, best be discerned by considering the consequences of its absence. I do not mean to be exhaustive in this listing, but rather to hint at significant pressures that I believe will press us to keep preaching expositorily in the future. Expository, Christ-centered preaching will be important for our future because without it we deny God’s people Christ’s light, voice, bread, body and heart.

The Purpose of Scripture (The Light of Christ)

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. The Old Testament figures appear in order to indicate that Jesus is the culmination of their message and all that they represent. As Jesus tells his disciples elsewhere, “‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Lk 24:44-45). The expositor’s goal is to dianoigo and diermenuo (‘open” and “unfold”) the meaning of the Scriptures. Since their culminating and comprehensive purpose is to reveal the glory of Christ’s person and work, exposition cannot avoid him without abandoning Scripture’s aim. The intended purpose of all Scripture is further revealed by the simple reminder that all Scripture is God-breathed and given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (1 Tm 3:16; 1 Pt 1:20-21). The Spirit’s mission, Jesus tells us, is to testify of him (Jn 14:26; 15:26). Thus, if we are to say what the Scriptures say—Scriptures inspired by that same Spirit whose mission is to testify of Jesus—then we must preach Christ in all the Scriptures. The Spirit intends for us to see how he is testifying of Christ in all the Scriptures. We do not fully understand or rightly interpret the Bible if we do not see Christ as the obedient Adam, the faithful Israel, the just Judge, the true King, the fulfilling Prophet, the church’s body and our ultimate Hope. With infinite wisdom the Spirit uses the Scriptures to show us many kinds of persons, events and revelations to illumine both dead-ends and bridges that will instruct us on our journey toward full understanding of the grace that is in Christ alone.

We must remember that the same Spirit that inspires the Scriptures resides in the believing heart. The regenerate are internally wired by the Spirit to receive the message of the Word he inspired. Expository preaching not only trusts this two-way circuitry, but also uses it to answer a world that says there can be no transcendent and transferable truth. Expository preachers have a future only because we depend upon this supernatural process that gives us and our people confidence that we can understand what the Bible communicates (1 Cor 2:9-14). At the same time, this circuitry that unites the mind of heaven and the heart of the believer warns us that a disconnect will occur if our message is not what the Spirit intends. He intends to communicate Christ; that is the Spirit’s mission. Thus, only messages with the Savior’s savor will have the taste of spiritual certitude for which our culture longs.

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