The Expository Sermon-Its Proclamation
Long gone are the days when any person could go into any Christian church and the furniture all looked about the same. There were pews, and there was a pulpit in the front. Today, that isn’t as common. Some pews have been replaced by couches in the round or movie theater seating, while the pulpit has been removed from many churches altogether and replaced by a speaker on a bar stool.
But furniture is not the real issue, but an outward sign that something drastic has changed in the way that the leaders of the evangelical church have begun to think about communicating the message of the Kingdom. Even in many churches where there is a physical piece of furniture called a pulpit, there is no true preaching going on behind it.
When a man who is called by God stands in the pulpit to declare the very Word of God, there should be a sense of awe and even holy fear. He must speak God’s Words and he dare not mess up the message. How many men in many of today’s pulpit show a disdain for the Word of God? They show it in their lack of study time. They show it in their flippancy about the holy things of God. They show their disdain when they substitute the meat of the Word with cheap fillers of drama, story upon story, personal anecdotes and heart-tugging emotional pleas. They show it when they cut the preaching of the Word down to bite-size 20-minute sermonettes.
The true servant of God must proclaim the Word—he is a herald (kerruso in Greek refers to the one who announced the coming of a king and his royal proclamations). He is not called upon by the King of Kings to manufacture the message. He is not called to “fix it up” or make it more palatable for his audience. He does not need to pick and choose the choicest passages that meet the felt needs of the flock, as if the Chief Shepherd did not already know the needs of His own. This calling to preach the Word is an awesome (in the old sense of awesome) task and is to be shunned by anyone who does not have a healthy fear of God. Jeremiah, a prophet who once felt that he could no longer continue with his assigned message also knew that he could not hold it in:
For whenever I speak, I cry out,
I shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the LORD has become for me
A reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, “I will not mention him,
Or speak any more in his name,”
There is in my heart as it were a burning fire
Shut up in my bones,
And I am weary with holding it in,
And I cannot. (Jer. 20:8-9)
Since the Word of God is to be the foundation of every sermon, the Bible must reign supreme in the preaching. The sermon needs to be thoroughly biblical. If the preacher deviates from the Bible and the proper interpretation of the text, he can make it say whatever he wants it to.
Next time we will look at how the Bible should drive the outline, the sermon body and even the preaching of the sermon.