Musings 101

1 Corinthians 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

The practice of the biblical preaching of Christ appears to have been mainly lost in our day. It has been replaced by moralism, silliness, humanism, duties, and strict biblical exposition. The centrality of Christ has been lost, but even if Christ is preached as a main theme it seems as if God-centeredness and Christ-centeredness are not the focus. When Christ is preached about (in some manner), it is as if man is the center of it all. Humanism can be present in the midst of speaking of Christ and of strict Bible exposition.

It seems that in conservative circles and Reformed circles that strict Bible exposition has taken over. I would argue that strict Bible exposition is as unbiblical as other forms of unbiblical preaching. In the passage of Scripture above, Paul did not say that he practiced strict biblical exposition, but instead he determined to know nothing among you except Christ and Him crucified and that his preaching was not in words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It appears that the form of expositional preaching that has taken over in our land is not God-centered and does not focus on Christ or the power of the Spirit. Instead of that, it is nothing more than dealing with the words of a text and that can be a man-centered as anything else.

One can deal with a text that has many commands in it and simply talk about the commands in the text and never get to the reason for the commands and man’s inability to keep them apart from Christ. We are given duties and we are given words on the text but it does not seem that men are preaching the inability of man to do the duties and so they never get to man’s need of Christ both as a sacrifice and as the power in the soul by His Spirit to even begin to keep the duties. As Benjamin Warfield said, “God does not command us to show us what we can do, but in order to show us what we ought to do.” The duties show us what we ought to do, but the preacher must show men that they cannot keep those commands and duties apart from free-grace. It is Christ in the soul by grace alone that can give the soul energy and strength to do anything spiritual at all.

If we think of the word “exposition” as based on the word “expose” to some degree, then in order to practice a God-centered exposition we should expose the glory of God shining in and through the text and we should expose Christ in the text. We should expose the power of the Holy Spirit that is needed to do anything that is commanded. Apart from exposing those things, we have nothing more than moralism and humanism. Apart from exposing those things, we are basically using persuasive words of wisdom in an effort to expose things in the text. I would argue, then, that apart from a God-centered and Christ-centered message showing the power of the Spirit that biblical exposition (so to speak) is really unbiblical and is not true exposition. Having a method of showing the meaning of words in a text and some things from other passages from a text is not biblical exposition. Unless Christ is exposed as the glory of the God, the main point of preaching has been missed.

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