Expository Listening, Part 1A – What Is Your Obligation To Your Pastor?

1 Kings 22 and Micaiah’s Burden

            Believers have an obligation no less serious than preachers regarding the word of God. If preachers are called to teach and preach, to “expose” the word of God, and they are, it is no less true that believers are called to listen to the preaching of the word of God in a way that glorifies God and honors the preacher. Believers, by their behavior, do not support this and would be outraged if I said so to their face. It’s not a matter of preference for a particular preaching style; it’s a matter of exposition.

            “He’s just anointed to preach the word!” he exclaimed. If horror showed on my face I am sorry for it, for horrified I was. I had heard this gentleman… open the Bible and talk, with his three or four points of application blurred across the slide. I used to write my shopping lists during this time, or read the word, or stare at the clock and pray for time to move faster so I could escape. I quit that particular class after two months of suffering through Mr. Anointed. How could this guy endure, much less extol this fellow’s smiley-face wanderings through the inerrant and holy word of God? I thought “the answer is easy! He’s never heard a real preacher preach the word!” I asked him if he’d heard a particular pastor whom I know preaches the word in an expository and engaging manner. “Oh, yes, I listen to him all the time” he answered. Oh. Really? Really? How then can you laud something that is, at best, far less than exposition?

            There is a hail-fellow-well-met who comes to preach when Pastor is away. This fellow’s “thing” is to pop his mouth with his hand during the sermon, to great applause and laughter. People love him. “Wasn’t he something?” they exclaim. Yes, he sure was something. “I was so convicted….” Really? Convicted of what exactly? He placed God’s word as a baker might place the sugar flowers on a birthday cake–just the right color and in just the right spot up in the corner and out of the way.

            Most believers place no seriousness upon the preaching of the Bible. They attend church to be with their friends, to listen to the music, to escape the world for a morning. Legitimized by the invitation to stand behind the pulpit, one preacher is as good as another. If scripture shows up somewhere in the message and there are recognizable (if not applicable or relevant) points of application, what more could we want? And don’t forget that question of admonition at the end. “Are you….?” “Have you….?” “Will you….?”

            Crummy preaching is not OK and great expository preaching should not be criticized. Read the story of the prophet Micaiah in 1 Kings 18 and you’ll understand what I mean. Preachers have retreated into mediocrity out of self-defense, (with perhaps a small percent who are lazy). Then we wonder why the church–meaning us–has no impact upon our culture. We wonder why our teenage children leave home and begin worshipping sexual intercourse rather than God. Church and the people who sit in the pews are increasingly a reflection of the entertainment culture in which we live, a culture where truth is disavowed because we don’t want to actually stand for the truth of God’s word. Believers profess to love our pastors, until he preaches that our duty to God means we have to change.

            I’m convinced that the more we pray to the Holy Spirit and read and study the Bible, the more we will become dissatisfied with anything other than the strong expositional preaching of the word of God. Real expositional preaching matters. We should never settle for anything less.

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