Expositional Devotions: Mark 16:1-4

aaron-burden-113284Do you want to know what I hated most about school? I hated the end of PE and recess. You know what it’s like. You are running and playing and laughing. Maybe you just started a new game with your friends. But whatever the case, you hear that loud whistle! Or, that loud shout, “Line Up!” You have to stop what you are doing and go back to class. Nothing would upset me more than leaving a game unfinished. When recess or PE was over, it dampened my day.

Well, on a much, much greater level, all of Jesus’ disciples were deeply saddened when Jesus died. They didn’t know all we know about Jesus’ death and what it meant for them. They thought Jesus was going to save the world and rule as a King, but they never thought he would take his kingdom by dying.

When Jesus died on the cross it was like a loud whistle blowing to stop all of the disciples’ hopes and dreams. Their leader, friend, savior, and God was dead. They saw him arrested. They saw him mocked. They saw him beaten. They saw him crucified. They saw his body taken off a cross. They saw him placed in a tomb. As far as they knew, it was all over.

Can you imagine what must have been going through their minds? Jesus had made claims to being God and the Messiah who would save his people from their sins. They must have at least thought, “Maybe he was not who he said he was.” Now, they trembled alone and afraid. They were scared because they knew what was probably coming. Their leader had been arrested. The religious leaders hated him. Their next move would have been to silence Jesus’ followers. I’m sure the disciples could not understand why the one they had fully trusted and followed for three years was lying dead in a tomb.

But that is exactly the point of our passage today. Jesus was dead and buried. Dead. Buried. Three women tried to honor the body of Jesus by bringing spices to anoint him. They waited because they were not able to buy the spices and oils necessary to anoint the body on the Sabbath. When they arrived at the tomb, they were wondering how they would be able to move the stone to gain access to Jesus’ body. What is the main point? Jesus is clearly dead.

The difference between the first disciples and us is massive—about 2,000 years! We have the privilege to know just what the death of Jesus means. While the first disciples were afraid when they learned of Jesus’ death, we can be confident and courageous! Satan’s day ended the day Jesus died.

As Jesus’ lay dead and motionless in the tomb on Saturday, he was in the process of unleashing all the power that sin and death hold over us. As you read about the death and burial of Jesus, do so with total joy, knowing what those first disciples did not know—that the one who lies dead in the tomb has given new life to all who come to him in repentance and faith.

Main Idea

As Jesus’ lay dead and motionless in the tomb on Saturday, he was in the process of unleashing all the power that sin and death hold over us.

Discussion Starter

Why is it important that we have this evidence that Jesus was actually dead?

Prayer Points

Thank the Lord that Jesus was truly dead, so that we can truly live.


Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:16-19

Think of moments of great celebration in your life. Not birthday parties or family reunions. Has there been a day or event in your life that has been cause for special celebration? For some, it is the day they learn they have beaten cancer. For others, it is the birth of a child after years of infertility. Still for some it may be the return of a loved one from a distant battlefield. What day is of special significance in your family that leads to feasting and rejoicing?

After the fighting in Susa had ceased and the enemies of the Jews had been vanquished, there was peace and joy and feasting. A day of true and final salvation had come. The streets of Susa were filled with gladness. Every Jew in every village in the Persian Empire was celebrating their victory over their enemies.

The Jews in Persia did what any nation does after winning a war—they rejoiced. Peace and freedom from their foes had been accomplished. After two days of fighting, the Jews rested and decided to commemorate their rest. The same way we make certain days holidays, the Jews chose to mark their day of rest and victory as a kind of holiday—a day of feasting and gladness.

The Jews have gone from a marginalized and hated people to a celebrated and elevated people. Two of the three most powerful people in the Persian Empire were Jews. Some Persians pretended to be Jews just to stay on the side of the victors. The fear of the Jews spread throughout the kingdom. They finally received the honor that they lacked as exiles.

But, this Jewish feasting and celebrating is merely a glimpse into the celebration that will commence in the New Earth after Christ finally and forever vanquishes his enemies. On that day when sin and death are no more, we will celebrate at a feast like no other with our God who will reign over and with us forevermore. The victory of the Lamb over sin and death is a victory worthy of an eternal celebration. This victory brings true and lasting peace and freedom. In the words of John in Revelation 21,

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Main Idea
God’s victory over sin and death leads to feasting and rejoicing with him.

Discussion Starters
How does knowing that you will one day feast and rejoice with God help you when life gets tough now?

Prayer Points
Ask God for help to look forward to the New Earth when life in the old Earth is hard.

17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminaryand the author ofCome to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:6-15

If Esther 9:1-5 was a declaration of the grand reversal, verses 6-15 serve as the description of the reversal of fates. And boy what a description it is. I always appreciate when history/narrative books of the Bible are thorough in describing events. Bible book authors don’t shy away from details. The author of Esther is no exception. Though the battle descriptions aren’t too graphic, they aren’t exactly the best bedtime story either. These verses may not be “family friendly,” but they are factual. And the facts before us tell a story of God’s judgment, faithfulness, and mercy.

Esther 9:6-15 describe the bloodshed that commenced on the thirteenth of Adar between the Jews and their attackers. When you think of this war don’t think of the invasion of Normandy in World War II. As Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 there was vicious fighting and gunfire from both sides. Both sides suffered many casualties. Many men on both sides of the fight were killed. The fighting that occurred in Susa and all the Persian Empire was unlike most wars. This war was completely one-sided. The Jews completely conquered their enemies. It was a sweeping annihilation of all those who attacked them.

When we read or hear of the Jews killing over 800 Persians in Susa alone, it makes our eyes and ears quite uncomfortable. The original readers of Esther would have been cheering at this point in the story. We just sit quietly and scratch our heads. In thinking about Persian bloodshed at the blades of Jewish swords, we need to keep a few things in mind.

First, the Jews were participating in what we would call “just war.” The Jews’ attackers were not innocent bystanders. Persian followers of Haman instigated an unjust war because their fighting was based on hatred. The Jews, on the other hand, were right to defend themselves against their enemies. So, the Jews weren’t bloodthirsty mongrels, but rather a people fighting for their lives.

Second, the Lord had given the Persian attackers into the hands of his people. As he has done throughout the history of his people, God judged his enemies at the hands of his people.

Third, God displays his steadfast love and mercy toward his people. At just the right time and just the right way, God preserved his people from annihilation. His commitment to his people is not his response to their righteousness, but rather an outworking of his. If you belong to God in Christ, he is forever and always committed to you, and none of your enemies will be able to ultimately succeed against you.

Main Idea: God judges his enemies and shows mercy to his people.

Discussion Starter: Do you think it was right for the Jews to kill all their enemies? Why?

Prayer Points: Thank God for his merciful commitment to you despite your sin against him.

17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:1-5

Last Sunday night, Kentucky’s men’s basketball team played one of their biggest rivals, North Carolina, for a chance to go to the Final Four. We were just two games away from the National Championship. Kentucky tied the game with only ten seconds remaining. Kentucky fans everywhere, including those of us in Tupelo, were jumping and cheering for joy. However, just ten seconds later everything changed. One of North Carolina’s player’s hit a last second shot to win the game. The player everyone least suspected ended Kentucky’s hope for victory. The tables were turned on my Wildcats last week in dramatic fashion.

The Jews in Esther have experienced a reversal, or turning of the tables, far more dramatic than a basketball game. They have literally gone from fearing death to being feared. They have gone from running for their lives to running after those who would take their lives. Reversals do not get more ironic than the one we see play out in Esther 9. You’ve read, or at least heard of, books with perfect endings, right? Well, the ending of Esther is about as perfect as it gets. In fact, this story is so perfectly constructed that it’s hard to believe it’s real! It’s almost as if someone was intentionally orchestrating events to bring about this particular ending. Weird!

On the very same day that Haman’s plan for the destruction of the Jews was to be enforced, Mordecai’s plan for the protection of the Jews would win the day. In the words of the author of Esther, “the reverse occurred.” The Jews “gained mastery over those who hated them.” Those who were fighting in the name of Haman would meet his fate.

Not only do we see how God sovereignly reverses the fate of his people, but we see that God always conquers his enemies and the enemies of his people. Christ is a valiant warrior-king who tramples his enemies beneath his feet. He is the victorious snake-crusher of Genesis 3:15. While no one could stand against the Jews in Susa, no one in heaven or earth or under the earth will be able to stand against Christ the Lord.

Those who oppose Christ through unbelief now will be overcome by Christ later. Oh, but those who submit to Christ through faith now already walk in victory in the one who has overcome their greatest enemies—sin and death.

17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Expositional Devotions


One of the most common experiential complaints about expository preaching is the tedious work of walking through a Bible book over an extended period of time. It can be difficult to stay energized, excited, or awake(?) throughout a 75 week sermon series through Romans.

At the same time, the struggle of every expositor is to not only faithfully preach the text, but to do so in a way that best suits his people. Expository preaching expresses itself uniquely in different settings. What’s best for one congregation may not be what’s best for another. However, whether you’re walking through a Bible book over the course of one month or one year, a crucial question remains: How can I best drive the message, themes, and content of this book into the minds and hearts of my people?

Other than commentaries, few of which are suited for lay people, there aren’t many resources designed to help churches walk through Bible books together. One way I help shepherd as a pastor at my church is to write devotions based on the passages we are preaching. As we walk through Bible books, our people are given five devotions every week to help them study the text throughout the week. The devotions function as gospel-centered commentaries on Bible books that speak directly to both the head and heart. The goal in writing these devotions is multi-faceted.

The goal is for readers to know and experience the text better.

The goal is to teach readers how to better study the Bible

The goal is to help readers better see glimpses of Jesus on every page of Scripture.

The goal is for God’s people to know, love, and enjoy him more. 

I’m going to start sharing these devotions on the blog in the future as we continue walking through Bible books. I pray the devotions published here will be helpful for all believers, but especially for those walking through Bible books in expository preaching.

Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

15 Benefits of Preaching Verse-by-Verse Through Books of the Bible


At The Church at Trace Crossing, we are journeying through the book of Exodus each Sunday morning. With the exception of Palm Sunday and Easter, we have trekked through Exodus verse by verse and chapter by chapter. Since the end of January, we have made it through seventeen chapters. This past Sunday, our Lead Pastor opened his Bible and asked our congregation to turn in our Bibles to Exodus 18. If there was ever a chapter in Exodus to skip over, it would be Exodus 18. The reason is because it is sandwiched between two incredibly interesting and important chapters. Exodus 18 almost feels like it is in the way. But despite these personal feelings, we walked through Exodus 18 as a faith family verse by verse. And next week, you can bet that at Trace Crossing we will be asked to open our Bibles to Exodus 19. Why? Because the best way to preach the word of God as he revealed it is to preach through books of the Bible verse by verse.

Lectio Continua is the technical name for this method of preaching. Historically, this method of preaching was made famous by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Matthew Henry, among others. While many church members and pastors cringe at the prospect of a sermon series lasting 6-12 months going through just one book of the Bible, there are many benefits of preaching through books of the Bible. Dr. Brian Payne once offered fifteen benefits in a class he taught on preaching at Boyce College. The following list consists of Payne’s points, which are bolded, followed by further commentary of my onw. Consider each of these benefits. Feel free to add your own in the comment section below.

1. The preacher grows personally in knowledge and obedience by his disciplined exposure to God’s Word.

Preaching verse by verse and chapter by chapter means the preacher will inevitably approach doctrines, truths, and passages that push and challenge their own theology and heart. As the pastor prepares to preach this way each week, he will study topics and passages he may never have otherwise.

2. The preacher conserves time and energy used in choosing a sermon for each week.

The text sets the agenda. When Exodus 18 is preached, everyone in the church knows Exodus 19 is on deck.

3. The preacher balances his area of “expertise” and preferred topics with the breadth of God’s thoughts in the Bible.

In the words of Dr. Payne, verse by verse preaching “combats one’s tendency to choose a canon within the canon.”

4. Sensitive matters can be addressed without the appearance of pointing a finger at persons or problems in the church.

When you preach haphazardly through biblical topics, everyone’s eyebrows will be raised when you preach a sermon on sexual purity or marriage. But by preaching through books of the Bible, pastors can organically address a plethora of topics without appearing disingenuous.

5. The preacher gains accountability to not avoid skipping over what does not suit his taste or temperament on any given Sunday.

Pastors are not called to preach what they like about God’s word and ignore what they don’t like. We are called to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2). We are called to preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). All pastors have preferences, but they should all be taken captive to the word and will of God.

6. Biblical literacy is promoted in the preacher’s congregation by teaching them through example how to study their Bibles.

That is, verse by verse preaching teaches a reproducible method of Bible study. Every Sunday morning, pastors teach their congregations how to study the Bible. The hermeneutical skill of a congregation typically mirrors that of the preaching pastor.

7. The preacher is forced to address a greater number of issues than what readily springs to mind.

I once heard of a pastor whose sermon topics came from newspaper headlines. If you only make use of topics on Fox News or what you are personally concerned with, you will be incredibly limited in what you can preach. And ultimately, pastors who rely on sources other than the Bible as the basis of the content of their sermons will find themselves preaching the same kinds of sermons over and over again.

8. Much research time can be saved because each new sermon does not require a new study of the book’s or the passage’s author, background, context, and cause.

If you genuinely spend time studying the word each week, verse by verse preaching will be your best friend. On Sundays that I fill the pulpit for our preaching pastor, I’m never in a panic the week leading up to Sunday because I’ve already been studying the surrounding context. All I have to do is turn the page.

9. It is more likely that the pastor will preach the whole counsel of God over time.

Haphazardly choosing topics to preach will make a pastor feel like he is chasing his own tail. Preaching through books of the Bible will take your people on a journey throughout redemptive history and various biblical genres over time.

10. The pastor’s God-given prophetic authority in the pulpit will be increased by grounding his preaching in the divinely intended meaning of the text.

The act of preaching is heralding a message that has been entrusted to us. We did not invent the message of the gospel. As a herald of the truth and preacher of the word, preachers are literally the mouthpiece of God. Preaching through books of the Bible allows the preacher to more accurately say what God has said and no more than this.

11. The trustworthiness of the pastor’s preaching is increased in the eyes of the congregation.

It is easier to trust a man who relies solely on the intention of God in his inspiration of biblical texts than a man who relies on his own wit and intuition.

12. The pastor’s God-given blessing in the pulpit is increased by remaining faithful to the intention of the One who sent him to preach.

Preaching is a massive responsibility. It is a weight no man could bear alone. But to know that you are striving to proclaim what God himself has revealed in the way God himself has revealed it brings great comfort to a pastor. Pastors can rest in their preaching if they are faithful to the word.

13. The congregation’s trust in the inspiration, inerrancy, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture is increased.

Preaching through books of the Bible shows your commitment to and reliance on the word for life and godliness. Your people will catch this vision and trust that the best thing for them is God’s word.

14. The congregation will be less susceptible to the deception of false teaching.

The simple antidote to false teaching is true teaching. The truth of the gospel pierces the heart of all false teaching. The more God’s people are exposed to God’s word, the less likely they will be deceived by false teachers. Faithful biblical exposition gives your congregation legs to stand on.

15. The message is communicated that we need all 1189 chapters and 31,012 verses of the Bible for our salvation.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We don’t just need the portions of Scripture that we like. We need all of Scripture. From Exodus 18 to Romans 8, God’s people need God’s word. The best way God’s people can receive God’s word is through preaching that seeks to communicate the divinely-intended meaning of each passage. Brother pastors, find yourselves faithful in the handling of God’s word.

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

A Brief Word on the Gravity of Preaching

In my reading for a preaching class I am currently taking, I am reading John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Preaching. I have gained immense insight from this book and it has greatly influenced my theology of preaching. There is one particular passage I wanted to share and briefly comment on.
John Piper writes,

Pastors have absorbed this narrow view of gladness and friendliness and now cultivate it across the land with pulpit demeanor and verbal casualness that make the blood-earnestness of Chalmers and the pervading solemnity of Edwards’s mind unthinkable. The result is a preaching atmosphere and a preaching style plagued by triviality, levity, carelessness, flippancy, and a general spirit that nothing of eternal and infinite proportions is being done or said on Sunday morning (The Supremacy of God in Preaching, 51-52).

I wholeheartedly agree with Piper that preachers should strive for gravity in their preaching. This is because the task at hand is enormously serious. There are eternal implications every Sunday morning and the attitude and approach of the preacher should reflect this. The Word of God should never be handled flippantly.

I think this sentiment from Piper is very insightful and highly prophetic of not only preaching in our day, but what preaching will be like if there is not a Reformation-like resurgence of the Word of God. Pastors are often more concerned with pleasing listeners at the cost of losing the thrust of the message of the Bible. The pastor’s demeanor in the pulpit should reflect the task at hand.

The context of any given passage should determine not only the content of the sermon, but also the approach and demeanor of the pastor in preaching the sermon. And most if not all matters of God are massively serious. Honestly, the task of preaching is far too important to view and approach casually or carelessly.

The aim of the game of preaching is to exalt the glory of God and proclaim the message that he has already given. Faithful exposition of biblical texts cannot afford flippancy. All pastors can be guilty of viewing the task of preaching too lightly, and all pastors can afford to be more conscious of all that is at stake on Sunday mornings. The result will be increased dependency on God and his Word.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

To Whom Should a Pastor Primarily Direct His Sermons?

In Jim Shaddix’s convicting and helpful book, The Passion-Driven Sermon: Changing the Way Pastors Preach and Congregations Listen, he tells the following story:

I learned an important lesson about people’s perception of preaching shortly after assuming my second pastorate, a small congregation in the deep south. I began immediately preaching systematically through a book of the Bible. All of the messages during the first several weeks were more fellowship-oriented, addressing Christians as the receptive texts demanded. I assumed the people were receiving the sermons eagerly as their shepherd fed them the Word. Boy, was I naive! About two months into the series, I finally came to a text that was more evangelistic in nature. So I proceeded on Sunday morning to wax eloquent with a hot sermon on hell, making primary application to those persons without Christ. The next day one of the prominent men in the church stopped in front of my house as I was mowing the lawn. He rolled down the window of his truck and yelled, “Great message yesterday, Pastor. You finally started preaching!” And I thought I had been preaching all along.

The fact of the matter is that many congregations today believe that every sermon ought to be directed at the lost, informing them of their sinful condition and their eternal destiny of torment (23).

I think many Christians believe the primary form of evangelism is to invite lost friends to church so that they can hear an evangelistic sermon. When this theory is implemented in a church, the extent of the evangelism of church members is to invite and the extent of the evangelism of the pastor is to preach evangelistic sermons week in and week out. Under this system, the pastor is the primary evangelist and the rest of the church serves as gatherers, not messengers.

However, is this the way preaching and evangelism are meant to primarily function? Is it wrong to invite someone to church? Is there no place for evangelistic sermons? Obviously the answer to both questions is “No.” Still, to whom should the pastor primarily be directing his weekly sermons?

I believe that as long as we keep the proper perspective, we can rightly say that the pastor should primarily direct his sermons to believers rather than unbelievers, while not neglecting the probability of the presence of unbelievers in the hearing of the sermon.

A quick glance at 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 may give the impression that Paul only preached evangelistic sermons. He wrote to the Corinthians, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (v. 2). However, Paul is writing this letter to the church for their edification. The role of every pastor is to be an undershepherd of the flock of God. This flock must be fed and so the pastor’s primary purpose on Sunday mornings is to glorify God through the preaching of his word to the people he has chosen and redeemed in Christ.

Like Paul, we are to preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). The direction of a sermon should be dictated by the text. If pastors narrow themselves to solely preaching evangelistic sermons only one implication of the atonement will be on display. This will show that the gospel is only vital for unbelievers. This will also place the burden of evangelism solely on the pastor’s shoulders. What pastors should strive for is to expose the word of God to the people of God to equip them to live a gospel-centered life with the gospel on display in their words and actions.

This does not mean there is no place for evangelistic sermons. Primarily directing sermons to believers does not imply that unbelievers should not be invited, should not attend, or cannot respond to the gospel. The way God has rigged the whole process of pulpit ministry is that when the preacher proclaims what God has said and nothing more, believers grow in Christlikeness and unbelievers can receive saving grace by responding to the gospel. When a pastor sets out to preach the word of God as God has intended, he will be preaching the gospel. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then, go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.”

In fact, direct messages on the atonement and God’s power to save sinners through faith in Christ will undoubtedly be preached if expository preaching is employed. But the role of the pastor must be to feed the flock that God has entrusted to him. The gospel is for both unbelievers and believers. To set aside certain days where you preach the gospel and neglect preaching the gospel from all of Scripture every single week is to miss the point of preaching. However, at the same time, it is not best for a pastor to solely prepare evangelistic sermons directed at unbelievers. The role of the pastor is to shepherd his flock with all of the word of God and he is to proclaim the whole counsel of God for the guidance and growth of his flock.

Shaddix calls this “reflecting on the cross.” He writes, “The shepherd of the local congregation has the responsibility of reflecting weekly on the cross of Christ in order to show its implications and applications for the body of Christ and the individuals who com rise it” (24). He admits this is the primary function of the New Testament itself.

So, pastor, preach the word primarily for your flock! Preach the word in all of its depth and reflect on the cross for the guidance and growth of your flock.

Church member, rejoice when your pastor preaches the word for your edification and spiritual nourishment. I know nothing brings me more joy than when my pastor reflects on the cross and draws out its implications from Scripture. Call him to preach the cross each week as together you worship the Christ who died to draw you to himself and together as a body.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

9 Quotes from 9 Preachers on Preaching the Bible as the Word of God

preachingIn my time at Boyce College preparing for wherever and however God would have me minister to his people, I have developed a passion for expository preaching. I have come to believe that only when the message of the sermon is the message of the biblical text is true biblical preaching happening. I have written multiple posts about expository preaching and why it is not simply preferable, but necessary for the health of any church. We fall into error when we presume to place our own philosophical constructs or limited understanding on a text of Scripture.
However, I am merely a lowly student with little preaching experience and zero experience in leading a church. I have minuscule ideas about what it is like to preach week in and week out. And while this doesn’t eliminate the significance of my voice on the topic of expository preaching, I feel it best from time to time to allow the men with the experience to speak for themselves.

With pastors finishing up preparations or using today to relax with family, I hope to send some encouragement your way. The weekly preaching of the Bible may at times feel cumbersome or redundant. You may feel tempted to think, “Am I really making a difference? Does what I do every week really matter all that much? I assure you that your commitment to preach the Bible as God’s word is invaluable. But let’s hear from nine rockstar preachers and theologians offer up some motivation to approach the Bible and your pulpit with seriousness and joy.

1. Walter Kaiser Jr.

“It is no secret that Christ’s church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, ‘junk food;’ all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their bodies. Simultaneously, a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church” (Toward an Exegetical Theology).

2. Martin Luther

“Let us then consider it certain and conclusively established that the soul can do without all things except the Word of God, and that where this is not there is not help for the soul in anything else whatever. But if it has the Word it is rich and lacks nothing, since this Word is the Word of life, of truth, of light, of peace, of righteousness, of salvation, of joy, of liberty, of wisdom, of power, of grace, of glory and of every blessing beyond our power to estimate” (Three Treatises).

3. Albert Mohler

“In the final analysis, the ultimate authority for preaching is the authority of the Bible as the word of God. Without this authority, the preacher stands naked and silent before the congregation and the watching world. Standing on the authority of Scripture, the preacher declares a truth received, not a message invented. The teaching is not an advisory role based in religious expertise, but a prophetic function whereby God speaks to his people” (from Preaching with Authority: Three Characteristics of Expository Preaching).

4. Haddon Robinson

“A preacher can proclaim anything in a stained-glass voice, at 11:30 on Sunday morning, following the singing of hymns. Yet when a preacher fails to preach the Scriptures, he abandons authority. He confronts his hearers not with a word from God, but another word from men” (Biblical Preaching).

5. Kevin Vanhoozer

“How a person uses the Bible is a better indicator of what they really believe about its authority than what they profess” (The Drama of Doctrine).

6. Mark Dever

“Pastoral authority is directly related to Authorial intent. The preacher only has authority from God to speak as His ambassador as long as he remains faithful to convey the Divine Author’s intentions. This means that the further the preacher strays from preaching the intention of the text, the further his divine blessing and God-given authority are eroded in the pulpit” (Mark One of a Healthy Church).

7. J.I. Packer

“It is as the preacher himself is truly under, and is seen clearly to be under, the authority of God and the Bible that he will have authority, and be felt to carry authority, as God’s spokesman…It is those under authority who have authority; it is those whose demeanor models submission to the Scriptures and dependence on the Lord of the Word who mediate the experience of God’s authority in preaching” (Engaging the Written Word of God)

8. Bryan Chapell

“Without the authority of the Word, preaching becomes an endless search for topics, therapies, and techniques, that will win approval, promote acceptance, advance a cause, or soothe worry. Human reason, social agendas, popular consensus, and personal moral convictions become the resources of preaching that lacks ‘the historic conviction that what Scripture says, God says’” (Christ-Centered Preaching).

9. John Chrysostom

“Like our human body, the Body of Christ is subject to many diseases. Medicines, correct diet, suitable climate and adequate sleep all help to restore our physical health. But how shall Christ’s Body be healed? One only means and one way of cure has been given us…and that is teaching of the Word. This is the best instrument, this the best diet and climate; this serves instead of medicine…this one method must be used; and without it nothing else will avail” (quoted in John Stott’s Between Two Worlds).

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

15 Effects of Non-Expositional Preaching

preachingIn John MacArthur’s book, Fool’s Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error, MacArthur and a host of other contributors argue for the need for the Christian to use biblical discernment and seek, find, and cherish truth in an age that champions relativism and how this all plays out in the church. In a very candid look at popular ministry and church practices that are unhelpful at best and unbiblical at worst, the entries in this book help Christians to discern truth in the face of tradition.
One entry from John MacArthur addresses “the devastating consequences of watered-down messages.” MacArthur criticizes pastors who preach non-expositionally and gives ample reason to toss out all forms of preaching that do not allow the preacher to be the mouthpiece or microphone of God. Most of the time if not always, watered-down sermons are the result of non-expositional preaching. A preacher who preaches expositionally must be so immersed in the text that it is impossible for the sermon to be biblically weak.

I have gathered fifteen detrimental effects of non-expositional preaching from MacArthur and wish to share them here in hopes of leading others to strive to preach expositionally.

1. Non-expositional preaching usurps the authority of God over the soul.

2. Non-expositional preaching removes the lordship of Christ from his Church.

3. Non-expositional preaching hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

4. Non-expositional preaching demonstrates appalling pride and a lack of submission.

5. Non-expositional preaching severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture.

6. Non-expositional preaching clouds the true depth and transcendence of our message and therefore cripples both corporate and personal worship.

7. Non-expositional preaching prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ.

8. Non-expositional preaching depreciates by example the spiritual duty and priority of personal Bible study.

9. Non-expositional preaching prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time.

10. Non-expositional preaching breeds a congregation that is as weak and indifferent to the glory of God as their pastor is.

11. Non-expositional preaching robs people of their only true source of help.

12. Non-expositional preaching encourages people to become indifferent to the Word of God and divine authority.

13. Non-expositional preaching lies to people about what they really need.

14. Non-expositional preaching strips the pulpit of power.

15. Non-expositional preaching puts the responsibility on the preacher to change people with his cleverness or creativity or talents.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.