The Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark 1: Expository Preaching

From Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

Someone may happily accept the authority of God’s Word and even profess to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible; yet if that person in practice (whether intending to or not) does not preach expositionally, he will never preach more than he already knows. A preacher can take a piece of Scripture and exhort the congregation on a topic that is important without really preaching the point of the passage. When that happens, the preacher and the congregation only hear in Scripture what they already know. By contrast, when we preach a passage of Scripture in context, expositionally–taking the point of the passage as the point of the message–we hear from God things we did not intend to hear when we began.”

Once, when I was teaching a day-long seminar on puritanism at a church in London, I mentioned that puritan sermons were sometimes two hours long. At this, on person gasped audibly and asked, ‘What time did that leave for worship?’ The assumption was that hearing God’s word preached did not constitute worship. I replied that many English Protestant Christians would have considered hearing God’s word in their own language and responding to it in their lives the essential part of worship. Whether they had time to sing together would have been of comparatively little concern. Our churches must recover the centrality of the Word to our worship. Hearing God’s Word and responding to it may include praise and thanks, confession and proclamation, and any of these may be in song, but none of them need be. A church built on music–of whatever style–is a church built on shifting sands. Preaching is the fundamental component of pastoring. Pray for your pastor that he will commit himself to study Scripture rigorously, carefully and earnestly, and that God will lead him in his understanding of the Word, in his application of it in his own life, and in his application of it to the church.

1 thought on “The Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark 1: Expository Preaching”

  1. Thanks for the quote. I’ll have to make sure to get this in the quote book. I However, I fear most pastors, not to mention congregations, have not heard true expository preaching. Now only to practice what we preach!

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