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Thursday, 02 March 2006

As pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, I place a great emphasis on the ministry of the Word.  As I told our congregation in my first sermon here, I approach pastoral ministry with a conviction: the people of God need the Word of God.  It is easy to become distracted by so many other tasks in ministry that the main task is neglected.  I believe that the Word of God makes it clear that pastors are called to labor in the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:1-4, 2 Timothy 4:1-5) and to offer faithful oversight to all those placed under their care (1 Peter 5:1-4, Hebrews 13:17).  Of course these tasks go hand in hand.  In other words, I cannot neglect the Word of God in my preaching ministry and expect to be offering faithful oversight to our members.  At the same time, I cannot neglect the charge to shepherd the flock and pretend that I am being a faithful minister of the Word and prayer.  For these reasons, I want to labor in proclaiming the Word of God to my people each week for their good and for the glory of the Lord.

My approach to this task of proclaiming the Word faithfully involves expository preaching.  The best explanation of this approach that I have heard states it this way: let the point of the text be the point of the sermon.  Thus, whether we are looking at three chapters in Genesis or three verses in Galatians, I simply want the point of the text to be clearly communicated through my sermon.  I do not see this as a running commentary on my chosen text, or as an academic exercise; rather, I see this as an opportunity to passionately engage the text and apply the text so that the Spirit of God might transform His people more and more into the image of Christ.  Since I also believe that the text will always mean what it has always meant, I want to labor to understand what the original authors meant when they wrote their particular books.  I want to take to the context of each passage seriously so that I do not misunderstand what Moses or Matthew or Paul meant.  For this reason, my goal on Sunday mornings is to systematically work through books of the Bible in my preaching.  By God’s grace this will allow me to preach the whole counsel of God and to avoid preaching only familiar texts or texts that are ‘more suitable’ for preaching. 

Although I believe there are many benefits to expositional preaching, I think there are two that stand out the most.  First, expositional preaching allows the preacher and the congregation to really understand and apply the particular text that is being handled.  The people of God need to hear sermons covering the entire book of Genesis, or the book of Job, or the book of Micah, or the book of Acts, or any other book of the Bible (even Leviticus and Revelation).  I pray that each week my congregation will better understand whatever text we are covering that morning.  At the same time, I want them to be better students of the Bible overall.  In other words, I want my people to be able to pick up their Bibles and study a passage in a way that is faithful to the text, context, and authorial intent.  I want them to be able to understand a passage and its relationship to the overarching themes of the Bible and redemptive history.  I see this as the second major benefit of expositional preaching.  One of the fearful truths about pulpit ministry is that my people will study their Bibles in very much the same way that I preach the Bible.  Thus, if I skip around in the text and pay no attention to context then they will do the same thing.  If I skip the hard passages then they will too.  Yet, if by the Lord’s grace I can faithfully preach through the text in a way that makes the point of the text the point of my sermon, then hopefully, when they study the text on their own, they will make the same connections.  I believe this is a great benefit to expositional preaching.

The people of God need the Word of God.  I believe this with everything that I am.  I also believe that as pastor of Trinity, I am called to live out this conviction in my ministry.  Thus, I pray that God will grant me the grace to model this conviction in my preaching ministry here at Trinity, for the good of His people and the glory of His Name.    

~  William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 September 2006 )

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