This afternoon Dr. Lawson got very practical, leading the pastors here through “The Ten How To’s of Expository Preaching.” He went step-by-step through the process of preparing an expository sermon. Obviously he could not go into great depth as sermon preparation is something that often takes a semester or two to teach. But he went quickly from point-to-point, suggesting how a pastor can prepare this kind of sermon. He included a helpful handout that outlined the process. Dr. Lawson is a master expositor, so if you are a pastor with any interest in this kind of preaching, you’ll want to download both the handout and the audio. I’m sure both will be available before long.
Dr. Lawson concluded the conference by preaching a sermon on Amos 8, focusing on verse 11. He did this both to provide a challenge to the preachers in attendance and to model the exposition he and MacArthur have taught over the past two days. This verse from Amos includes words that gave title to one of his books: Famine in the Land.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land–
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
At this time it would seem that evangelicals have more power and clout than at any other time in history, yet the church is not as healthy as she should be. The church is wretched, poor, miserable, blind and naked. There is great self-deception. What is needed is for us to understand that we are living in times of famine where there is famine for the hearing of the Word of God. We are ministering in days that are unprecedented as there has been open rejection of the divine authority of the Word.
Dr. Lawson spoke under five headings:
The Certainty of the Famine – The text begins with “Behold, days are coming.” This is as if to say, “Mark it well that this is going to happen.” God was not suggesting a possiblity but announcing a fact. The famine as going to come.
The Controller of the Famine – It is God who is going to send the famine. The most terrifying thing about this famine is that it comes from the hand of God. This famine will be a far greater famine than any punishment that may come at the hand of the surrounding nations.
The Character of the Famine – The nature of this famine will not be one of bread and water, but one of hearing the Word of the Lord. This will be no ordinary famine but one that is far worse than a famine of only food and drink! There is no greater curse on this earth than when God sends a famine for the hearing of the Word of God.
The Cause of the Famine – When the people did hear the Word of God and when the prophets came to them, they turned a deaf ear and turned away (Verses one through eight outline the transgressions of the people–their dishonesty, disregard, and ungodliness). In the days of prosperity and affluence, the nation rejected the prophets of God and therefore in captivity no prophet would be given them. No word would be heard. Could this be the case again for America today? Never has a nation been so blessed with access to the Word, to Bible training and to godly churches, and yet the nation continues to turn away from the Lord.
The Consequences of the Famine – The famine will be devastating. People will stagger from sea to sea, going to and fro seeking the Word of the Lord. Now they want a word from God (like America the day after 9/11). But they will not find what they are seeking. God will abandon them. Even the strongest of men will faint for thirst, not thirst for water but thirst for the Word.
The conclusion is this: Pastors today have the privilege of setting a table during the time of famine. They need to be men who are faithful, who will preach “thus saith the Lord!” The greatest curse that God can possibly send upon a people in this world is to give them over to blind, unregenerate, carnal, lukewarm, unskilled pastors. God has given the church over to this kind of unregenerate minister. But the greatest blessing are those who uphold the standard of sound words and who faithfully declare the Word of God. “May you be faithful. May I be faithful. May we encourage one another. May we stand for one another. May we pray for one another. That we may be faithful in these days of famine in the church…”
And this concluded the inaugural Expositors’ Conference.
One quick note: Throughout Dr. Lawson’s office and along the walls of the Fellowship Hall here at the church are many prints of notable reformers and some of history’s best preachers. I heard several of the people at the conference mention them. If you are one of those and are interested in purchasing similar prints, you can find many of them at ReformationArt.com. I’ve got a few of these on the walls of my office and love to have those great men staring down at me as I work!