Friday, February 07, 2014

Is Expository Preaching Relevant to Post-Moderns?

After hearing Last Sunday's sermon, an expository sermon covering 1 Samuel 23 that was the latest in my series on the life of David, a first-time visitor to our church told her pew companion that she was amazed and delighted that a preacher talking "straight from the Bible, even from the Old Testament" could make things so "modern" in understanding, interest, and personal application. 

Of course, it wasn't to the preacher's credit. It is the power of the Bible itself that makes this spiritual connection from its various texts to the hearts of people of all nations, all ages, all eras, and all walks of life.

It's why the preacher who truly desires to serve his congregation, to educate them in godliness, to stimulate lifestyles of love and good deeds, to transform the culture, and to glorify God -- needs to be a devoted student of the Word and a humble teacher of its precepts.

The true power is not in his stylish delivery, his cleverness, his hip attire and pop culture references, or his popularity ratings. It's in the text of Holy Scripture.

And this is just as true for post-modern twenty-somethings in Nebraska as it has been for anyone in history.

Here's a great primer on the subject from Mark Deever over at the theology blog, 9 Marks.

Some people today claim that expositional preaching is irrelevant for postmodern people. “People today need narrative and conversation and dialogue and drama! They don’t need expositional preaching.”

In fact, expositional preaching is particularly relevant for postmodern people:

1) Expositional preaching unfolds the multi-faceted riches of Scriptural truth in a way that corresponds to the kind of diversity that postmoderns love to celebrate. The Bible is not a set of philosophical abstractions, it’s a collection of narratives, poetry, songs, letters, history, laws, and prophesies. And the Bible is diverse not only in its literary form, but in its content: it contains bitter lament, exultant joy, romantic love, the rise and fall of empires, tragedy, deceit, oppression, rebellion, deliverance, celebration, and every imaginable facet of human life and experience. 

Expositional preaching should highlight this rich literary and existential diversity, which should be particularly satisfying to postmodern sensibilities.

2) Expositional preaching demonstrates and proves that the Word of God is not merely propositional, it’s effectual (Isa. 55:10-11). Postmoderns say that even if there were such a thing as objective truth, we could never truly grasp it because we cannot see beyond our own perspectives. But expositional preaching rightly responds to these claims by asserting the clarity and applicability of Scripture to all its hearers. 

Not only that, but as a preacher faithfully expounds God’s Word, God will use it to transform people’s hearts: to bring them to submit to God, to delight in his Word, to lovingly obey him, and to humbly worship him. Expositional preaching is particularly relevant to postmoderns because it proves that God’s Word not only asserts propositions, it transforms lives.