In my time at Boyce College preparing for wherever and however God would have me minister to his people, I have developed a passion for expository preaching. I have come to believe that only when the message of the sermon is the message of the biblical text is true biblical preaching happening. I have written multiple posts about expository preaching and why it is not simply preferable, but necessary for the health of any church. We fall into error when we presume to place our own philosophical constructs or limited understanding on a text of Scripture.
However, I am merely a lowly student with little preaching experience and zero experience in leading a church. I have minuscule ideas about what it is like to preach week in and week out. And while this doesn’t eliminate the significance of my voice on the topic of expository preaching, I feel it best from time to time to allow the men with the experience to speak for themselves.
With pastors finishing up preparations or using today to relax with family, I hope to send some encouragement your way. The weekly preaching of the Bible may at times feel cumbersome or redundant. You may feel tempted to think, “Am I really making a difference? Does what I do every week really matter all that much? I assure you that your commitment to preach the Bible as God’s word is invaluable. But let’s hear from nine rockstar preachers and theologians offer up some motivation to approach the Bible and your pulpit with seriousness and joy.
1. Walter Kaiser Jr.
“It is no secret that Christ’s church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, ‘junk food;’ all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their bodies. Simultaneously, a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church” (Toward an Exegetical Theology).
2. Martin Luther
“Let us then consider it certain and conclusively established that the soul can do without all things except the Word of God, and that where this is not there is not help for the soul in anything else whatever. But if it has the Word it is rich and lacks nothing, since this Word is the Word of life, of truth, of light, of peace, of righteousness, of salvation, of joy, of liberty, of wisdom, of power, of grace, of glory and of every blessing beyond our power to estimate” (Three Treatises).
3. Albert Mohler
“In the final analysis, the ultimate authority for preaching is the authority of the Bible as the word of God. Without this authority, the preacher stands naked and silent before the congregation and the watching world. Standing on the authority of Scripture, the preacher declares a truth received, not a message invented. The teaching is not an advisory role based in religious expertise, but a prophetic function whereby God speaks to his people” (from Preaching with Authority: Three Characteristics of Expository Preaching).
4. Haddon Robinson
“A preacher can proclaim anything in a stained-glass voice, at 11:30 on Sunday morning, following the singing of hymns. Yet when a preacher fails to preach the Scriptures, he abandons authority. He confronts his hearers not with a word from God, but another word from men” (Biblical Preaching).
5. Kevin Vanhoozer
“How a person uses the Bible is a better indicator of what they really believe about its authority than what they profess” (The Drama of Doctrine).
6. Mark Dever
“Pastoral authority is directly related to Authorial intent. The preacher only has authority from God to speak as His ambassador as long as he remains faithful to convey the Divine Author’s intentions. This means that the further the preacher strays from preaching the intention of the text, the further his divine blessing and God-given authority are eroded in the pulpit” (Mark One of a Healthy Church).
7. J.I. Packer
“It is as the preacher himself is truly under, and is seen clearly to be under, the authority of God and the Bible that he will have authority, and be felt to carry authority, as God’s spokesman…It is those under authority who have authority; it is those whose demeanor models submission to the Scriptures and dependence on the Lord of the Word who mediate the experience of God’s authority in preaching” (Engaging the Written Word of God)
8. Bryan Chapell
“Without the authority of the Word, preaching becomes an endless search for topics, therapies, and techniques, that will win approval, promote acceptance, advance a cause, or soothe worry. Human reason, social agendas, popular consensus, and personal moral convictions become the resources of preaching that lacks ‘the historic conviction that what Scripture says, God says’” (Christ-Centered Preaching).
9. John Chrysostom
“Like our human body, the Body of Christ is subject to many diseases. Medicines, correct diet, suitable climate and adequate sleep all help to restore our physical health. But how shall Christ’s Body be healed? One only means and one way of cure has been given us…and that is teaching of the Word. This is the best instrument, this the best diet and climate; this serves instead of medicine…this one method must be used; and without it nothing else will avail” (quoted in John Stott’s Between Two Worlds).
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.