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Expositors’ Conference (II)

I enjoyed a declious breakfast this morning with Don Elborne (of Rebuild Lakeshore fame) and some other new friends. This followed what was a great night’s sleep–a blessing since I was awfully weary with fatigue last night. No one can make breakfast quite like the southerners, even if they do insist on including grits and gravy with everything. I was assured that the grits down here are the definitive grits and have to say they weren’t quite as bad as some other attempts I’ve tasted, but I still don’t really understand the attraction. But no matter–I need to stop blogging about grits at all these conferences I go to. I think I’m just going to give up on grits altogether.

This morning we have the privilege of having Dr. John MacArthur speak to us. He will speak twice today, both times focusing on an aspect of expositional preaching. He began by discussing the slave metaphor so popular in Scripture in order to help pastors understand how they function as slaves. And from there he will transitioned into a list of dangers of not doing expositional preaching from the pulpit.

You have to view yourself in the big scheme of things as a slave. The language of contemporary Christianity is very man-centered and is all about a personal relationship with God (even though everyone has a personal relationship with Him). It is the language of personal fulfillment–of finding your dreams and purpose. The language of the New Testament is very different–the dominant metaphor is that of a slave. The word doulos or its variations appear over 100 times though it is not always translated as “slave” because that word carries with it so much stigma. But this tends to obscure its fullest meaning and is a liberty translators should not have. It should also be noted that slavery was as disgusting a concept at the time of the Bible as today–it was the absolute lowest status a person could have. It was as hard a sell in that day as it is today.

MacArthur went through many of the New Testament books (and, primarily, through the first few verses) showing how often the authors identify themselves as slaves. See, for example, Romans 1, Philippians 1, Revelation 1, and so on. Though your translation may render the words as “servant,” the literal (and better) translation is “slave.”

A slave is a person whose life is completely controlled by another person. He is completely dependent. This may seem to take us low, but even Jesus Christ took the form of a slave, being subject to a foreign will. His slavery took him down through obedience to the point of death on the cross. The Bible neither condones nor condemns slavery–it merely finds in it the perfect model for understanding the relationship of God to His people. But God’s people are not merely slaves, for God makes them sons and joint heirs and allow them to sit in His throne.

With this paradigm in mind we are ready to understand the mindset of one who serves Christ. MacArthur shared that some time ago he began to consider this question: What are the consequences of non-expositional preaching? He decided to sit down and come up with ten of them. After he sat down and wrote for a while, he had a list of sixty three. He pared this down to fifty and began to share them in this session.

Failure to do expositional preaching…

1. Usurps the authority of God over the soul.

2. Usurps the headship of Christ over His church.

3. Hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

4. Demonstrates pride. (I’m not 100% sure whether this is really 3b or 4).

5. Severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of the Scriptures.

6. Removes spiritual depth and transendance from worship.

7. Prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ that is critical to his work.

He’s going to pick up where he left off a bit later on.

Those interested in a fuller explanation will have to get ahold of the audio. One particularly interesting quote I noted went something like this: “I never study the Bible to make a sermon. I study the Bible first and foremost for my own soul.” This is something even bloggers would do well to keep in mind! We cannot properly apply the Scripture to others until we have first applied it to ourselves. Here’s another quote that is perhaps just a bit less applicable. “In Russia, when the men are excited, they kiss you on the lips. That’s just a bad custom…”

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