Expository preaching urged & modeled at Southeastern
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--There is no substitute for a pastor's systematic exposition of the Word of God in his sermons, preaching professor David Allen said in a two-part lecture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Feb. 3-4.
Allen, who serves as both the W.A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching at Criswell College in Dallas and pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, underscored in his first message the merits of expository preaching and showed students how to prepare in-depth messages that are faithful to the original language text of Scripture.
In his second sermon, Allen demonstrated the discipline by preaching from the passage he examined the day before, Romans 6:1-14.
A focus on expository preaching has marked Southeastern Seminary since the arrival of its former president, Paige Patterson, in 1992. It is a focus which new President Daniel Akin said he intends to maintain at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
"Expository preaching, in my judgment, is absolutely essential to the health of the church," Akin said. "I think it's tragically evident that our churches have become biblically illiterate, and it's amazing how little knowledge they have of basic biblical content.
"The only way to overcome that problem is through the faithful systematic teaching of God's Word, which is exactly what expository preaching does. ... I don't think there's anything that the seminaries can be doing that's more important than to train faithful expositors who are also good communicators."
That's why Allen, one of the foremost experts on preaching and exposition in the Southern Baptist Convention, was invited to lecture on the subject. He encouraged Southeastern students to become the next generation of expository preachers who will lead their congregations in biblical truth.
"There's a famine in the land of the Word of God," Allen said. "On any given Sunday, you can walk into many churches, and the Word of God isn't preached. There's only one cure for that -- if you leave this institution, you fill a pulpit, and you preach the Word of the Living God in an expository fashion.
"There is no substitute to you digging into the original language of the Word of God, constructing your sermon based on what God says and standing up on Sunday morning and saying, 'Thus saith the Lord.'"
Allen went on to give five reasons why a pastor should preach expositionally, beginning with an initial theological reason.
"All of Scripture is the Word of God. It does not just contain the Word of God. It does not become the Word of God. It is the Word of God," Allen said. "Scripture is God preaching, and if so, you and I need to preach Scripture. You don't have anything to say to trump God."
Second, Allen said pastors should preach expositionally for a biblical reason, the mandate found in 2 Timothy 4:2 commanding pastors to "preach the Word."
Third, they should do so for an ecclesiastical reason. "This kind of preaching will grow a church," he said. "The bread and butter of your preaching is systematic exposition of books of the Bible. That grows people."
Fourth, pastors should exposit the Word for a historical reason. Those who have made an impact throughout the course of church history, Allen noted, largely have done so through expository preaching.
Finally, expository preaching is important for a personal reason: the spiritual growth of the pastor, Allen said.
Using Romans 6:1-14 as an example on Feb. 3, Allen showed students how to study and prepare to exposit a text, promising them that he would himself exposit that same text the next day, thereby modeling the proper delivery of an expository sermon.
His message was simple yet applicable, as Allen discussed the meaning and implications of the pronouncement that the Christian is dead to sin.
"Really, what we are doing in this text is attending a funeral," he said. "You died in Christ, and you're absolutely dead to sin.
"So, what does it mean to be dead to sin?" he asked. "[The Apostle Paul] does not mean that you have reached a place of sinless perfection. We wrestle with sin daily."
What this statement does mean, Allen said, is that the believer died to sin through his union with Christ, thereby making Christ's relation to sin his own.
"Because He is no longer under the authority of sin, I am no longer under the authority of sin," Allen said. "When it comes to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, you can say, 'I'm with Him.'"
Prior to Allen's message, Akin expressed his gratitude at having the biblical expositor on Southeastern's campus. "I have not had anyone in my life that I have loved and respected more than David Allen," Akin said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: DAVID ALLEN.