Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of the First Baptist Church (Cayman Island), has written a very helpful book for local churches and church members. Addressing concerns about the spiritual health of church members, Pastor Anyabwile in his book What is a Healthy Church Member? gives 10 corporate disciplines that mark a healthy member of Christ’s body.
Last night, the congregation of Calvary Baptist Church (Seymour, IN), looked at the first mark: Healthy Church Members Are Expositional Listeners.
Here are the five application points from the evening service. They are ways that Christians can grow stronger in their understanding and application of God’s word. I encourage you to incorporate them into your own weekly routine and to challenge others to do the same.
- Read, pray, and prepare BEFORE the Sunday message. Take time to read the passage of Scripture that will be preached on the coming Sunday. If you don’t know what that passage is, ask your pastor and tell them that you will be praying for and preparing to hear his message. (For those at Calvary, the next sermon will cover Colossians 1:24 – 2:5).
- Take notes DURING the message. Purchase a good notebook and take notes each week. Over a lifetime of expositional listening, you should acquire a virtual commentary on the entire Bible as your pastor preaches the whole counsel of God. Pastors: Preach the whole counsel of God! (Acts 20:27).
- Tell someone what you leared AFTER the message. Either for the purpose of evangelism, edification, or further understanding, take time to talk to someone about the sermon you heard last Sunday. This can be a great way to invite someone to church or to minister God’s truth to another believer.
- Send your pastor an email to clarify a question. The Lord has given pastors and teachers to the local church so that the saints may be equipped for the work of service and grow in the Word of God (cf. Eph 4:11-16). So, in other words, God has placed men in churches who know the Bible and love to share it with others. Take advantage of these gifted leaders, and learn from them, so that you too may be a greater biblical witness.
- Listen to sermons from faithful expositors on the Internet, radio, or video. Since we live in an electronic age, one where God’s word is so readily available online, let me urge you not to miss out on some of today’s premier Bible teachers. Below is a list of some of my favorite preachers — men who have proven themselves to be faithful expositors of God’s word.
Alistair Begg is pastor of Parkside Community Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Pastor Begg is a Scottish pastor who has come stateside. He is a faithful and illuminating teacher of God’s word with a witty sense of humor.
Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Pastor Mark is a truth-telling and big-hearted pastor whose commitment to the local church has shaped a generation of young pastors–including Pastor Anyabwile, who formerly served with him in D.C. Pastor Mark will often preach large portions of Scripture, even whole books of the Bible. His book-length sermons have been collected in a two-volume work called The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept.
John McArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California, is perhaps the premier biblical expositor alive today. His commentaries on the New Testament are a treasure-trove of linguistic-historical-cultural exposition of the Bible. His expositional preaching is filled with biblical insight and truth.
Russell Moore is a teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church (Louisville, KY) and Dean of Theology at Southern Seminary. Dr. Moore is a gifted biblical theologian whose penetrating exposition illumines the Scripture with captivating references that range from Wonder Woman to the Wal-Mart Breakroom.
John Piper, pastor of Bethelehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, describes preaching as “expositional exultation.” As seen in Nehemiah 8:12, understanding God’s word results in joy. Pastor Piper’s siren call for joy in God is seen powerfully at work in his expositional preaching.
Finally, two preachers who are dead but still speak through the medium of recorded sermons are W.A. Criswell (1909-2002) and Adrian Rogers (1931-2005). Standing for the truth in an age of modernist drift, Criswell and Rogers preached the word of God with expositional power and consistency. Older generations in the church will remember these biblical stalwarts; younger generations need to learn of these spiritual forebears.
This week I pray that our church and your church would be filled with expositional listening.
For the glory of Christ and his church, dss