Expository preaching corrects unbiblical worldviews, Akin says

Communications Staff — October 10, 2005

To remedy the pervasive biblical illiteracy in America, ministers must return to the discipline of expository preaching, Daniel Akin said in chapel Oct. 6 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forrest, N.C., delivered the E.Y. Mullins Lecture Series at Southern Oct. 4-6.

“Seduced by the silence of modernity, we have jettisoned a Word-based ministry that is expository in nature,” he said. “In attempting to become popular and relevant, we have actually become foolish and irrelevant, skied across the surface of felt needs of a fallen, sinful humanity. We have turned the pulpit into a pop psychology sideshow and a feel-good pit stop.

“We have neglected preaching the whole counsel of the Word of God, and too many of our people know neither the content of Scripture or the doctrines that are taught there. The idea of preaching the bloody cross and the implications of the death of the Son of God on that cross is now the exception rather than the norm.”

Preaching from Nehemiah 8, Akin enumerated four essential elements that should be present each time the Word of God is proclaimed.

First, preaching should draw people together to hear the man of God.

Citing the Old Testament prophet Ezra as an example, Akin urged preachers to study and apply the Bible in their own lives before teaching it to others. If a preacher lacks personal integrity, his ministry will be hindered, he said.

“Without integrity, without the people trusting you, they will not hear what you say,” he said. “God may, in His supernatural enablement, overcome the fact that they don’t trust you. But the odds are greatly, greatly against it.”

Second, preaching should help people understand the Word of God.

Observing that the Israelites listened to their leaders preach for several hours, Akin noted that effective preaching cannot be rushed or confined to an extremely brief block of time.

“This was not express worship where you zipped in and out in 30 minutes and got the whole package in half an hour,” he said. “No! They recognized that you can’t do the Word of God well, you can’t teach the Word of God correctly, you cannot teach it competently by just a drive-by-shooting approach to your time of worship.”

Instead, preachers must expound the authoritative Word of God and help the congregation understand it, he said, adding that preachers have an obligation to interpret the text of Scripture carefully and correctly.

“I would submit to you that there are a number of men out there who claim to be expositors, but they are not expositors because they are not walking through the whole counsel of God’s Word book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, phrase by phrase and word by word,” Akin said. “That’s what I want my people to do when they handle the Word of God. It would be sheer hypocrisy if I were to be handling it any other way when I stand here week after week.”

Third, preaching should move people to worship the God of the Word.

In every sermon, the preacher must impart knowledge and call for action, he said, adding that preachers should ask themselves what they want the people to know and what they want the people to do with that knowledge.

Fourth, preaching should inspire people to rejoice in the God who is holy.

Rejoicing in God involves both an intellectual component and an emotional component, Akin said, exhorting preachers to offer their listeners hope in a way that appeals to their hearts.

“When we step up to preach the Word of God, yes, we want to inform the mind,” he said. “We want to explain the text. But my dear brothers and sisters, when we’ve explained the infallible and inerrant, holy Word of God, how dare we pull back from also appealing to their hearts.”

Akin concluded, “As faithful heralds of this Word, may we never be seduced by the sirens of modernity or the latest fad. But may we faithfully, week by week by week just open it up, faithfully teach it, knowing that God has committed Himself to blessing the exposition of His Word.”

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