Whenever I teach my students the practice of biblical exposition, I always challenge them to develop their convictions about preaching and let those guide and shape their preaching ministry. I have done so myself. In class, I explain the following 16 commitments that I believe a pastor or preacher should have in the ministry of preaching:
1) I will have a firm conviction concerning the ultimate authority for my life and for my preaching ministry. There are really only 5 options: emotion, reason, experience, tradition, or revelation. A faithful preaching ministry will pull from all of these, but only one will be the supreme authority: God’s revealed Word.
2) I have settled the issue of the Bible’s full and complete inerrancy, infallibility and sufficiency in my heart and mind. This was clearly the view Jesus had of the Bible (Matt. 5:17-18; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; John 10:35; 17:17). If you believe it to be true, you will have something clear and true to give to people. On the other hand, If you doubt the full truthfulness and sufficiency of the Bible, it would be best for you to consider leaving the ministry.
3) I will preach in such a way that I help my people develop a biblical and Christian worldview way of thinking and living. One goal of preaching in any historical context is to help and teach your people to think Christianly, biblically.
4) I will make biblical exposition my foundational and normal manner of preaching. I agree with Mark Dever: “The first mark of a healthy church is expository preaching. It is not only the first mark; it is far and away the most important of them all, because if you get this one right, all of the others should follow.”
5) I will always seek to expound the theology embedded in the passage I am teaching. Exegesis must drive theology, but the theology we get from the text must be preached!
6) I will always show how the text points to Christ and never fail to preach the gospel. We do not treat the Bible like a Jewish rabbi (especially the OT) or self-help guides. We are heralds of King Jesus and His gospel!
7) I will avoid the preacher’s snares that too many get trapped by. We are not self-help gurus, politicians, psychologists, or entertainers. We are called to proclaim God’s Word!
8) I will model in my preaching how I hope and want my people to handle, study and teach the Bible. Are you showing your people week in and week out how to rightly handle the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15)? In faithful, biblical exposition, you equip your people for when you are not around.
9) I will work to plan my preaching weeks, if not months, in advance. There are many benefits and few, if any, drawbacks to planning ahead. The biggest obstacle is that we simply have to sit down and do it!
10) I will not avoid or neglect the tough issues of the day. I will address them clearly and directly with grace and truth. Luther rightly said, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.”
11) I will put in the hard work necessary in the study. I will commit to a minimum of 10-12 hours a week.
12) I will utilize a minimum of 5-7 commentaries when preparing to preach. All of us need the help of good and godly men and women who are smarter than we are!
13) I will read and listen to good, faithful preaching. You should especially take advantage of the excellent resources available that are free!
14) I will guard my heart and mind and never stop growing as a man of God who is being conformed more and more into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29; 1 John 3:1-3). As Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.”
15) I will cultivate a pastor’s heart and love my people the way Jesus loves them. This will temper your preaching if you tend to be harsh. And it will embolden your preaching if you tend to be hesitant.
16) I will continually remind myself: what you say is more important than how you say it, but how you say it has never been more important!
What other commitments would you add?