Some of you may have little or no experience with what I mean by preaching. What I mean by preaching isexpository exultation.
Preaching Is Expository
Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God’s word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all 66 books of it.
The preacher’s job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Every sermon should explain the Bible and then apply it to people’s lives.
The preacher should do that in a way that enables you to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If you can’t see that they come from the Bible, your faith will end up resting on a man and not on God’s word.
The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will
- make your spiritual bones more like steel,
- double the capacity of your spiritual lungs,
- make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God,
- and awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn’t even know existed.
Preaching Is Exultation
Preaching is also exultation. This means that the preacher does not just explain what’s in the Bible, and the people do not simply try to understand what he explains. Rather, the preacher and the people exult over what is in the Bible as it is being explained and applied.
Preaching does not come after worship in the order of the service. Preaching is worship. The preacher worships—exults—over the word, trying his best to draw you into a worshipful response by the power of the Holy Spirit.
My job is not simply to see truth and show it to you. (The devil could do that for his own devious reasons.) My job is to see the glory of the truth and to savor it and exult over it as I explain it to you and apply it for you. That’s one of the differences between a sermon and a lecture.
Preaching Isn’t Church, but It Serves the Church
Preaching is not the totality of the church. And if all you have is preaching, you don’t have the church. A church is a body of people who minister to each other.
One of the purposes of preaching is to equip us for that and inspire us to love each other better.
But God has created the church so that she flourishes through preaching. That’s why Paul gave young pastor Timothy one of the most serious, exalted charges in all the Bible in 2 Timothy 4: 1-2:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:preach the word.
What to Expect from My Preaching and Why
If you’re used to a twenty-minute, immediately practical, relaxed talk, you won’t find that from what I’ve just described.
- I preach twice that long;
- I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful;
- and I am not relaxed.
I stand vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I said there.
That’s what I mean by preaching.
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God’s call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of Munich. For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books, and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free atdesiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.