Only through the Scriptures are our people equipped for a life of holiness. Only through the Scriptures does the Spirit perform His work of sanctification. Though every expositor will receive his criticism, preaching the Scriptures is not a burden, it’s a privilege—the privilege of being used by God, to do His work, of preparing His people, to bring Himself glory.
Today, I’m writing to my fellow expositors out there—men who have dedicated their lives to mining the riches of God’s Word, who have committed themselves to drawing their people to the text of Scripture, and who rest on the Spirit to take their lisping words and change their people’s hearts.
It’s a tireless task—far from an easy calling. We know the command—it’s been etched into our soul: “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Every week we feel the weight of the aorist imperative, reminding us of the great urgency of our task. We hear Jesus’ words as we study the text and write our sermons, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15).
And yet, we also hear the criticisms, don’t we?
“Pastor, you’re too long, or deep, or direct. You’re not political enough, or personal enough, or funny enough. You talk too much about sin, too much about Jesus, too much from the Bible.”
Words that show that our churches have been affected by our distracted culture, an individualized religion, and a consumeristic mindset.
What should concern us more than these trends having seeped into the hearts of our people, is the fact that we are affected by their criticisms far more than we are willing to admit. We know the weakness of our heart. We know our unspoken desires. We want our church to like us and affirm us. We long for their praise. We want our people to stay, not leave.
And if we are not careful, if we do not prepare our hearts for the inevitable discontentment we will hear, we will cave under the pressure, and be pulled to places in our preaching we never thought we would go.
And yes, they will leave Sunday morning on their sugar high—happy and energetic—but they will also leave malnourished because of the diet we have just fed them.
How do we, expositors of God’s word, guard our hearts against the pull of the people? How do we prepare ourselves for their criticism? How do we stay committed to serving the feast from God’s word, when so many, are so often, ordering from a different menu?
Answer: we read, re-read, and read again 2 Timothy 3:16-4:2, and apply those divine principles to our expository calling.
Remember the Divine Nature of the Scriptures You Have Been Called to Preach
We must remind ourselves about the divine nature of the Scriptures we have been called to preach. Paul’s command, “preach the word,” was not written in a vacuum. It’s the necessary command if 2 Timothy 3:16 is true, if “All Scripture is inspired by God.”
Our commitment to exposit the word is based upon the nature of the book, not the fickleness of the people. Yes, we could preach other things. Yes, we could tell more stories, and be more political, and social, and funny. But why would we?