Last Sunday we began our first sermons series, from the book of Colossians. In order to introduce our practice of expository preaching, I opened the message describing our foundational beliefs about the Bible–convictions that will undergird every message of our church.
If you are new to the term “expository preaching” it means, for us, reading a particular passage of scripture and then declaring its meaning and value as the content of the sermon. We also choose to make it our regular practice to preach straight through books of the Bible, one passage at a time.
Here are the foundations behind expository preaching that I enumerated on Sunday.
1. The Bible is God’s Word. Though humans wrote it, we believe that God directed their writing such that they said exactly what God wanted them to say.
2. The Bible is our authority. It is to be believed and obeyed. The Bible is not merely God’s suggestion among a host of equally legitimate religious options, but the final authority for our faith and practice.
3. The Bible is unified diversity. Its one main message is about the story of God saving sinners ultimately by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die in the place of sinners and pay the penalty for their sin so that they could be reconciled to God. However, the Bible contains 66 books written at different times throughout history (39 were written before the coming of Jesus Christ, and 27 that were written after his coming.) There are different kinds of books: there are narratives and law books and worship songs and proverbs of wisdom and analogies and biographical books and letters. All relate to the same message, but each book, and even each chapter has its own unique contribution to that message.
4. The Bible was written by real people to real people. Understanding the meaning of God’s Word begins by understanding something of the person who wrote the book and the people receiving the book and then relating their situation to ours.
5. The Bible is profound clarity. Though there are parts of the Bible that are challenging to understand, its main themes and language are very clear and can be understood by every person willing to read and think about it with humility before God. However, this clarity is not simplistic—in its simplicity there is an endless, inexhaustible treasure of insights about God and life.
6. The Bible effects spiritual transformation. When the Bible is received with humility and is read or preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word results in spiritual transformation—in a bigger view of God, a lower view of sin, a greater love for holiness and worship and witness. The Bible could come with the spiritual label: Caution—spiritual dynamite enclosed! These Words are both destructive to ungodly ways of life but also creative—they explode with creative power to turn people’s hearts towards God and to infuse their lives with faith.
We want to heed the warning of R.C. Sproul:
“I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it—His Word. He alone has the power to change lives for eternity, and that power is focused on the Scriptures.”
May God give us grace to truly believe that God has invested His power in the Bible. May we preach and listen accordingly.