This past Sunday we looked at the Lord’s Supper, and in doing so we saw that this covenant meal was birthed in the context of the Jewish Passover. In his book The Atonement, Leon Morris insightfully writes:
On the last night of his life Jesus inaugurated a service, the Holy Communion, which we may profitably compare with the Passover. There are of course significant differences… But there are important resemblances. In both there is the solemn liturgical use of bread and wine. In both there is the solemn commemoration of the past. In both there is a living hope for the future.
We may fairly say that the institution of Holy Communion, in the way in which it was done at Passover time, directs our attention to certain important aspects of our Lord’s saving work. It has us looking back to God’s great act at Calvary and it has us looking forward to the time when Christ will come again to bring his saving work to it’s consummation. And it brings out something of the communal nature of the Christian way, for it is a service which looks for the participation of the whole local group of believers…
What the Passover sacrifice signifies for the Jews, that and more Christ’s sacrifice has done for the Christians. It emphasizes the thought of deliverance, deliverance from a powerful enemy. Because Jesus died as a Passover sacrifice those who trust in him or no longer subject to the forces of evil. They have been delivered. They are free.
And Passover reminds us that we are members of one another. Passover was a corporate observance, a feast to be celebrated in the company of others. Both in the Old Testament and in contemporary Judaism the Passover was to be observed in companies [of families]. The observance stressed the truth that God’s salvation is not purely an individual experience. The deliverance from Egypt marked the birth of a nation, the emergence of the people of God. The deliverance on the cross marked the emergence of the true Israel, the people of God in more than a merely national sense. Now the people of God are plainly seen as all those who have been delivered by Christ, from whatever nation they may come. They are no longer slaves to sin. They belong to God into one another in the fellowship of the redeemed people of God, for “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:17).
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Majestic and mighty God spread the fame of your glory to all tribes, tongues, peoples, and nations. For your namesake, O Lord, cause your name and your renown to be gloriously glorified and greatly delighted in. We praise your holy name this morning. We sing to you this morning. Let all things their Creator bless, and worship him in humbleness. Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son and praise the Spirit, three in One. Yes, Lord we praise your name and plead with you to cause your fame to spread locally and globally.
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Lord God Almighty reign supreme in our lives as we wait for the consummation of the Kingdom. Fill us with your Holy Spirit that Restoration Church may be a foretaste of the Kingdom to come. Give us the grace to be a city on a hill, to be the light of the world. We pray for R and E as they labor for the gospel in Northern Iraq. Give them grace to treasure Christ above uncomfortable circumstances. Help them learn the language so they can communicate and develop deepening friendships. We pray for 20Schemes and their labors for the gospel among the poor in Scotland. Use Pete S. and Pete B. to plant a gospel-thriving church in Barlanark. Use Andrew M. to plant a Christ-exalting church in Lochee.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Righteous God help us joyfully obey your commands. Fill us with the Holy Spirit that we can love one another, pursue righteousness, be holy, love our spouse, be humble, abstain from sexual immorality, be generous stewards, be diligent servants, make disciples, worship you with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Make our church be a place where personal preferences are secondary to gospel priority.
Give us this day our daily bread. Father, we come to your in prayer expressing our deep trust in you, knowing that you’re a good Father who gives good gifts to your children. Even when you don’t give us what we want, help us see that you never fail to provide what we need. Keep us from allowing the comforts around us to dull us to our ever-present need of you. Never let us forget that every meal we eat, every time we get dressed, every bed we sleep in, and every hour we work is a gift from you. Satisfy us with righteousness and remind us you are our portion forever.
We pray your gracious provision would warm the affections of P.C. and S. L. and N.O. this week. Feed them through your word and satisfy their souls in Christ Jesus. We pray for R. & C. R – may their marriage vividly display Christ’s love for the church as they mutually encourage one another and grow in godliness.
We praise you for the birth of Hazel Jane. Help our church meet the needs of the H family as they lean to be a family of five. Give Chris the grace to love and serve his wife well. And we ask that you’d meet the greatest need for A, L and H. Save them at a young age Lord that they’d never know life apart from you.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We confess our iniquity; we are sorry for our sin. Have mercy on us, O God. We confess that we often love food and job titles and material possessions more than you. We confess that we look to romantic relationships and alcohol and illegal substances and good looks for satisfaction. We confess that we crave approval, power, respect, and comfort and are willing to sin to get them. Though you have freed us from slavery to sin, we often wander back into bondage to hard taskmasters that only leave us feeling empty, alone, and full of shame. Wash us thoroughly from our iniquity, and cleanse us from our sin! For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon our guilt.
We come not focused on our sin, but on Jesus our Savior. He became sin who knew no sin that we might become his righteousness. He humbled himself and carried the cross. His body the bread, his blood the wine; Broken and poured out all for love. Jesus Messiah, Lord of all. All our hope is in you. Now our debt is paid, it is paid in full. See the stone is rolled away. Behold the empty tomb. Hallelujah, God be praised. He is risen from the grave.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from Evil. Help us take up the whole armor of God that we can withstand the schemes of the devil, praying at all times in the Spirit that we might keep alert and persevere. For the glory of Your name, deliver us and atone for our sins, for Your name’s sake. Keep us from stumbling and present us blameless before the presence of your glory with great joy.
For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever. Amen.
In 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 Paul commands us to examine ourselves before partaking the Lord’s Supper to ensure we do not eat and drink in an unworthy manner. In his Institutes, John Calvin provides input on what this means:
[P]aul commands a man to examine himself before he eats this bread and drinks this cup (1 Cor. 11:28). I take this to mean that each should look within and reflect whether with heartfelt trust he acknowledges Jesus Christ as his Savior, and confesses him as a Savior with his lips; whether, following Christ example, he is ready to give himself to his brothers and to be bound to those whom he knows to have Jesus Christ in common; whether, in acknowledging Christ, he also holds all his brothers to be members of his body; whether he is willing and prepared to relieve, preserve and assist them as he would his own members.
It is not that these duties of faith and love can be fully realized in us now, but because we must strive and desire with all our might that faith, once begun, may daily grow and prosper in us, and our weak love grow strong…If it is a matter of finding worthiness in ourselves, we are finished, for there we find only doom and destruction!…
Lest we ourselves fall headlong to our ruin, let us learn that this holy food is medicine for the sick, consolation for sinners and alms for the poor, but is of no use to the healthy, the upright and the rich, if any such exist. For since in the sacrament Jesus Christ is given to us as food, we plainly see that apart from him we fail and are utterly lost. Since, also, he has given to us as life, we know that apart from him we are wholly dad in ourselves. Hence the only real worth which we bring to God is to offer him out unworthiness and vileness so that, in his mercy, he may make us worthy of him…
To demand perfection in order to receive the sacrament betrays of appalling arrogance, not to say stupidity, for it would make it useless and superfluous. It was not instituted for the perfect but for the weak and feeble, so as to awaken, prompt, rouse and exercise whatever their faith and love might lack.
In a word, we are “worthy” to come to the Lord’s Table when we realize that in ourselves we are unworthy. We are “worthy” when the gospel is our only hope to commune with God.
Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us – and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.
The body of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
Torn for you – eat and remember
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life
Paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King.
The blood that cleanses every stain of sin,
Shed for you – drink and remember
He drained death’s cup that all may enter in
To receive the life of God.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of grace
Around the table of the King.
And so with thankfulness and faith we rise
To respond, – and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering
We proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heaven
Around the table of the King
Words and Music by Keith and Kristyn Getty
& Stuart Townend
Lord, you are holy. Holiness adorns your house. You reign over the earth, the nations, the universe, and your reign is good, true and righteous. Your reign is good news. You are merciful, not counting our sins against us and having endless love, patience, and grace with us, your people. You made us, you made all things, and you make us new. You are truth and your words are powerful, bringing life where there was none.
You are sovereign over all the earth, over all our lives. Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, your ways higher than our ways. We sit at your feet in awe of your power, majesty, might, and glory. We praise you for who you are, for your holiness, goodness, justice, faithfulness and mercy.
Father we thank you that when we were dead in our sins, unable to bring ourselves to life, you came to us and gave us life. You brought us out from under the kingdom of sin and death and into your kingdom, under your rule, with your righteousness.
You know all things, you see all things.
You know the state of our hearts, our inner thoughts, and our secrets. You know our sins better than we do, and yet still you love us. Your mercies are new each morning and your grace never ends. You have given us righteousness in place of our unholiness and sin at great cost to you. Lord we confess before you that we have not loved you as we should, we have sinned against you. We have questioned your goodness, despised your rule, and chosen our way over your way. Lord we have not truly believed that it is good news that you are Lord, and in our pride, forgive us. We have hearts and minds that have been unholy: we are guilty of lust, coveting, slander, boasting, pride, envy, jealousy, discontentment, ungratefulness, endless comparison, loving money, putting ourselves before others, and seeking our own glory instead of your glory. Lord forgive us our sins and help us day after day to take confidence in the finished work of Christ and to love you and know you more. Help us to see where we are attempting to add to the work of Christ and forgive us and grant us understanding that we might glorify you in joy and peace. Father thank you that there is nothing we could do to make you love us more, and nothing we have to prove to be adopted into your family.
Father, we praise you for this gospel message; what a great hope and joy we have in Christ. We pray for those of us here this morning struggling with guilt from sins we committed. We pray for those of us here this morning struggling with shame from sins committed against us. Remind us this morning that no sin is too great, no shame is too abundant, no stain is too deep to disqualify us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We praise you that sin and shame will not have the last word, but the risen, supreme Savior will.
Cause this gospel message to be the glue that binds our church. For the sake of your holy name, Lord, cause our church to be united in all of our diversity. Give us the grace to humbly forgive each other, eagerly serve one another and treat each other better than ourselves. Give us the grace to put to death what is earthly within us: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Help us put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, filthy language, and deceit. As your chosen children, holy and beloved, may we put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. May the word of Christ dwell in us richly as we teach and admonish and build up one another with thankfulness in our hearts.
Help us be a city on a hill, shining a bright light to our community. As we dwell on the gospel, cause us to be generous to those in need and quick to help those who are suffering. Father, give us opportunities to form real, meaningful friendships with neighbors and co-workers and classmates that we might serve them and they might hear and taste and see the glory of the gospel. Yes, Lord use our church to see many come to faith in Christ that they too might have forever lasting delight and joy. And we pray for organizations like DC127 and The Porch and The Central Union Mission. Give their leaders grace and wisdom as they labor for the fame of Jesus here in our city. Use our members to in and alongside of these organizations to care for the poor, the orphans and the widows.
We pray for other churches laboring for your gospel. For Capitol Hill Baptist and Church of the Resurrection and Christ Our Shepherd and Anacostia River Church. Use these faithful brothers and sisters to herald the good news of Jesus. We pray for Hamilton Baptist and Covenant Life Tampa and Summit Church Denver. Use our brothers and sisters across this land to boldly live out the gospel for the glory of your name.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Yes, Lord, hallow your name; from the schemes in Scotland to the Spanish speakers in Columbia Heights; from the Bedhini Kurds in Northern Iraq to the Tatar people in Kazan Russia. Hallow your name. Lord, raise people up from this church to take the gospel to our neighbors and the nations.
Father, we pray for the preaching of your word this morning. Take your word and plant it deep in us; shape and fashion us in your likeness that the light of Christ might be seen today in our acts of love and our deeds of faith. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In the first post we considered what expository preaching is and some biblical reasons for such an approach to preaching. Now let’s consider the theological and practical reasons.
From a theological standpoint, the doctrines of divine inspiration and inerrancy drive toward the necessity of expository preaching. The Bible clearly states the Holy Spirit inspired men as the Scriptures were written (2 Peter 1:19-21). Given that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13), the Scriptures must be truth – that is, inerrant. When the preacher explains and applies the intent of the Scripture he is assured his preaching will be consistent with God’s purposes.
Affirming divine inspiration and inerrancy “is of little value if it is not accompanied by an enthusiastic commitment to the Bible’s complete and absolute authority.” The issue of authority rests squarely on God himself. God is the author of the Scriptures and he alone is the source of all authority. When the preacher explains and applies the intent of the Scriptures he preaches not with his own authority, but with God’s authority.
One final theological foundation supporting expository preaching is the doctrine of sufficiency. The Scriptures alone are sufficient for equipping all Christians to live faithfully in every aspect of life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When the preacher explains and applies the intent of the Scriptures he is confident that he is sufficiently feeding his flock enabling them to live as God intends.
Practically speaking, there are numerous benefits from expository preaching. While it is impossible to exhaust all the practical reasons for exposition, it is helpful to divide them into two camps: benefits for the pastor and benefits for the congregation.
From the pastor’s perspective, expository preaching:
- Ensures the pastor is following the leading of the Spirit;
- Prevents the pastor from over utilizing or relying upon his own creativity;
- Encourages the pastor to preach on tough issues often neglected;
- Establishes a way for the preacher to expound the whole counsel of God;
- Gives the pastor confidence to speak with authority for his words rest on God’s Word; and
- Ensures the pastor is also under the ministry of the Word as he studies the text.
From the congregation’s perspective, expository preaching:
- Provides the opportunity for the congregation to come prepared by familiarizing themselves with the text during the week(s) prior to the sermon;
- Models sound Bible study methods and principles;
- Exemplifies consistency and perseverance in systematically working through God’s word;
- Broadens the congregation’s knowledge of God’s Word by exposing them to the whole counsel of Scripture; and
- Increases the congregation’s trust in the Bible by revealing the timeless truth contained therein.
The biblical and theological foundations, alongside the host of practical benefits, underpin the wisdom of expository preaching. Neglecting the centrality of the Word in preaching is a neglect of God Himself. Preachers speak only because God has spoken. Regularly using the Scriptures as a topical index or springboard minimizes the authority of Scripture and leads the congregation to do the same. On the other hand, elevating the Scriptures week after week, sermon after sermon, leads the congregation to rely on the authority of the Scriptures in their own lives day after day. Faithfully heralding God’s Word week after week feeds the flock the only true life sustaining food available. God’s written Word points God’s people, by the power of the Spirit, to delight in the living Word, Jesus Christ.
 Ibid., 162.
 This is not to say there is no place for topical sermons; certainly they can add value and faithfully teach God’s people when used strategically. Perhaps an analogy will help. Think of topical sermons like dessert – they are good every now and then but if they become your main diet you will end up malnourished.
“The primary task of the church and the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God.”
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“[God] is there and He is not silent.”
“[We need…] Men, mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and the holiness of God, and their hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. Men who will have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims, and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be fools for Christ’s sake, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. Men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit and who will witness signs and wonders following in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”
(1714-1770; England and Massachusetts)
From the beginning of creation, we see that life springs forth when God speaks. God is a preaching God and he has called his people to, with holy boldness, herald the Scriptures as they, by the power of the Spirit, point all peoples to the redemption found in Jesus Christ alone. So the centerpiece of our gathering is the preaching of God’s Word for it sustains faith in believers and creates faith in unbelievers.
What is Expository Preaching?
Simply put, preaching is expository when the main point of the biblical passage is the main point of the sermon. Expository preaching is the type of preaching that faithfully explains the authorial intent and relevantly applies the truth of a text, while relying on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in both preparation and proclamation. It is not a matter of preaching style, but of preparation method – the preacher does not approach the Scripture with a preconceived agenda, but allows the text to drive what he is going to say. Typically, this approach is best done when books of the Bible are preached through systematically, verse by verse, chapter by chapter.
The Bible contains an array of Scriptures that present the supreme worth of God’s word. Within the first few verses of the Bible the reader comes to understand God is a God who speaks. In the Old Testament alone “The phrase ‘the word of the Lord’ or its equivalent occurs more than 3,800 times.” In the New Testament Jesus came preaching the gospel (Mark 1:14) and after his departure the apostles devoted themselves to the “ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Paul, likewise, gave himself to the proclamation of the Word (Acts 20:27; 2 Corinthians 2:2) and exhorted his disciple Timothy to “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Throughout Scripture God’s people rely on the power and authority of the preached Word.
The Bible is not only replete with people preaching the Word, but it also makes several direct statements about the various functions of the Word. The Word sustains and sanctifies us (Matthew 4:4; John 17:7). God’s Word builds up and preserves (Acts 20:32). God’s Word is the power for salvation (Romans 1:16). The Word creates faith (Romans 10:17). All of God’s Word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word performs God’s work in believers (1 Thessalonians 2:13). God’s Word convicts and judges (James 1:18; Hebrews 4:12). The Word gives new birth and saves (James 1:18, 21; 1 Peter 1:23, 25). The Bible assures us that God’s Word does not return void, it always accomplishes its purpose (Isaiah 55:11). Simply put, God’s word has always been the chosen instrument to awaken faith, sustain faith, and build up God’s people together.
 Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000), 31.
 Paul Alexander, and Mark Dever, The Deliberate Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 34-35.