Discipleship lies at the heart of the Great Commission, so it should be at the heart of all our ministry as well, including our preaching. Many churches struggle to disciple their people, but I want to suggest that the preaching ministry of the church can and should be one of the main engines of discipleship for the entire body. Here are six ways I believe faithful biblical exposition can help Christians grow to look more like the Lord Jesus and live well before Him:
1) It communicates the authority the Bible should have in the life of the believing community. By giving time—significant time—to the reading and preaching of God’s Word, the church teaches what it believes about the role of the Bible in the life of the Christian community. The time given to preaching is the church’s commitment that the Christian sits under God’s Word, receiving it and conforming to it, rather than over it as judge.
2) It models for your people how they should handle the Bible. Faithful preaching will not only communicate the message of the gospel, but also the appropriate means of reading and interpreting the Scriptures. Over time, disciples will learn to read and understand the Word in the same way they have heard it read and understood week after week.
3) It provides a comprehensive program for studying the whole counsel of the wisdom of God. Paul’s conscience was clear before the Ephesian elders because he did not shrink back from declaring “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) to them. He understood that the diet for the mature Christian should include ALL the Scriptures. Faithful expository preaching is a practical way for a church to make sure Christians hear all that God has said, rather than just our favorite parts.
4) It forces us to handle difficult subjects our people need answers to. Similar to the previous point, expository preaching leads us to hear some of the more difficult or more demanding passages of Scripture, which are no less the Word of God than the easier subjects.
5) It is the best means for teaching biblical theology which is the foundation for systematic theology. Preaching the Bible expositionally is the best way to get the full scope of what the Bible teaches on any given topic (biblical theology). This helps believers understand and speak faithfully to issues related to God, man, sin, creation, the gospel (systematic theology).
6) It will reveal the missionary impulse that has its origin in Genesis and its consummation in Revelation. Lastly, preaching through the Bible will show that our God is a missionary God, and he calls us to be a missionary people. As pastors seek to disciple Christians towards maturity, preaching should help form them into evangelists and disciple-makers that reflect God’s heart and purpose as seen in the Scriptures!