“Preaching is indispensable to Christianity because Christianity is based on the truth that God chose to use words to reveal himself to humanity,” says John Stott. The greatest task in the world has been placed in the heart of the expository pastor. The expositor has been called by the Ruler of the universe to expound these Words that contain the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the expository pastor prepares for the sermon, he commits to prayer, has the utmost confidence in the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and is completely relying on God for the result.
To begin with, the expository pastor commits himself to prayer. Charles Spurgeon said, “Prayer is doubts destroyer, ruin’s remedy, the antidote to all anxieties.” In our humanness we are all tempted with doubt and anxiety. The pastor is tempted to feel the weight of responsibility to deliver the sermon well, to provide clarity, to provide proper application and finish well. What prayer does for the expository pastor is a reminder that it is God Who is sufficient, not the pastor. We are but clay pots with a great treasure placed within. The pastor’s commitment to prayer in preparation for the exposition of God’s Word is his way of expressing to the Lord his need for guidance, wisdom, clarity, and sustenance. E.M. Bounds said, “Four things let us ever keep in mind: God hears prayer, God heeds prayer, God answers prayer, and God delivers by prayer.” The expository pastor must commit himself to prayer in preparation for the exposition of God’s Word.
In addition, the expository pastor has the utmost confidence in the sufficiency of the Scriptures. The Lord has graciously provided for us sixty-six books to preach. This wealth of information is more than enough to provide the pastor with books to preach. The expository pastor is free from the worry of ‘what to preach’ and excited because there’s more than enough to preach! He rests in knowing that the Scriptures have been inspired by God. This book is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. The expository pastor is not one who first decides what principle he wants to teach his congregation and then frantically searches the Bible to find “proof” texts for the principle he has selected by which he completely ignores the context of the passage. No, the expositor takes the Bible as God has delivered it, book by book, verse by verse. In John 6:68, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The pastor has no other source as sufficient as the Word of God. It contains all the expositor needs to adequately and faithfully feed the sheep of God.
Finally, the expository pastor relies completely on the promise of Scripture. In Isaiah 55:10-11, God said,
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa 55:10-11 ESV)
For the pastor, these are the most comforting words. God has made a promise that His words would not return without accomplishing what he purposed. When the pastor takes the pulpit, the promise of God should be ever present in his heart. If God said I will, He will, and if He said He shall, then He shall. We are but the messenger, the heralder of the good news. God has promised to handle the results. In 1 Cor 3:6-7, Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” The expository pastor should rest in the precious promises from the Lord.
The expository pastor must be committed to prayer, rely upon the promise of God, and stay confident in the sufficiency of the Scriptures. Steve Lawson said, “No preacher, regardless of where he serves, is free to reinvent preaching.” Let us continue to strive forth in the pattern demonstrated for us in the Scriptures regarding the exposition of God’s Word. Good shepherds make God and His Word the centerpiece of ministry. As we preach, may we stay text-driven and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.