What is biblical exposition, and why is it so central to our gathered worship? These are the questions we’ve been exploring in this blog series. So far we’ve looked at what exposition is, namely, the kind of sermon where the message and aim of the sermon are controlled by the message and aim of the biblical passage being preached. We’ve also looked so far at two reasons why it’s necessary for the life and health of our congregation: exposition reflects a healthy doctrine of Scripture, and respects the God-given shape of Scripture.
We’ll consider one more reason in this final post: biblical exposition is essential to the pastoral calling. Read more…
At Westgate Church, we are committed to what is often called biblical exposition. It’s the kind of preaching where the message and aim of the sermon are controlled by the message and aim of the biblical passage being preached.
In our first post in this series, we talked about what biblical exposition is. Now our question is why biblical exposition is necessary for the life and health of our church. In the last post we suggested that exposition is necessary because it reflects a healthy doctrine of Scripture. Here we consider a second reason: biblical exposition respects the God-given shape of Scripture. Read more…
It’s not an exaggeration to say the preaching of God’s Word is the center of our gathered worship at Westgate Church. This is intentional, and reflects our commitment to what is often called biblical exposition.
In the last post, we talked about what biblical exposition is: the kind of sermon where the message and aim of the sermon are controlled by the message and aim of the biblical passage being preached.
In the next three posts, we’ll talk about why biblical exposition is necessary for the life and health of our congregation. The first reason: it reflects a healthy doctrine of Scripture. Read more…
If you’re part of Westgate Church, or have visited us on a Sunday morning, it’s probably pretty obvious that the preaching of God’s Word is an important part of our gathered worship. The sermon receives the most time during our service. The songs we sing and prayers we pray emphasize the same message as the sermon. It occupies the central location in our order of service. Even the pulpit sits in the center of the platform up front. And each sermon reflects somewhere between 15 and 20 hours of the pastor’s study during the week. It’s not an exaggeration to say the preaching of God’s Word is the center of our gathered worship.
All of this is not without reason. In fact, it’s very intentional, and it reflects our commitment to what is often called biblical exposition.
So what is biblical exposition? And why is it so central to our gathered worship? These are the questions we’ll explore in this series of posts. We’ll start here with the first one: what is biblical exposition? Read more…
As I ponder all aspects of the cross and try to assess what it means to include the word ‘penal’ in our understanding of Christ’s substitutionary death, I cannot escape asking the question again, Does sin deserve to be punished? And is such proper retribution part of God’s sovereign, holy, loving justice in ruling the universe he created?
If not: then great swathes of the Bible make no sense or are clearly in error. For the Bible affirms from cover to cover that there is a dimension of just and proper punishment with which God in holy, loving justice responds to human wrongdoing.
If not: then we would seem to be adrift in a universe of ultimate moral indeterminancy. We can have no confidence that justice will finally be done, that God himself will be vindicated, or that all the evil in the history of the world will ever be fully dealt with.
If not: then the very concepts of grace and mercy seem to be emptied of meaning. It has been said that grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve, while mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. Certainly, in the Bible grace and mercy override all that we could ever, or actually do, deserve. But if there is no such thing as ‘what we deserve’ at all, no moral relationship between our behaviour and its consequences, then it seems vacuous to speak of grace or mercy.
But if so: then it seems inescapable that we should include this dimension in the great cosmic achievement of the cross of Christ. To say that ‘Jesus bore my sin on the cross’ must mean not only that he bore the worst that my sin could inflict on him (though it truly does mean that), but also that he bore the consequences of what my sin would otherwise incur for me. It means not just that Christ bore my unjust deeds, but also that he bore my just deserts. He not only took what I did to him; he took what I deserve from God.
- Christopher J.H. Wright, The God I Don’t Understand (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 152-153.
Jerry Bridges has stated (quite accurately, in my estimation), that the most fundamental need for the church today is an ever-growing awareness of the holiness of God.1 In our previous post we talked about what we mean by God’s holiness: his unique transcendence, his supreme majesty, his moral perfection, the perfection of all his other attributes.
But what happens to God’s people when we lose sight of God’s holiness? When instead of seeing God as above us, unlike us, over us, bigger than us, and the source and standard of all that is good, just, and loving—we see him as altogether like us?
This was the problem that ancient Israel faced in Psalm 50. They had been carrying on in sin, assuming they had evaded God’s notice since he had so far said nothing in response. But in Psalm 50, God breaks the silence and calls them to account. Read more…
Jerry Bridges, an author and longtime staff with the Navigators, whose books have been particularly formative for my life and ministry, was asked not long ago in an interview what he thought the greatest need was in the church today. His answer: “There are so many needs in the church today that it is difficult to single out one as the greatest. However, if I had to pick one, I would say the most fundamental need is an ever-growing awareness of the holiness of God.”1
When I read his answer, it immediately resonated with some of what I was observing, not just in the spiritual climate of New England and the small view of God that so many have in these parts. It resonated with what I saw in my own heart. The way I find myself tolerating sin, or getting caught up in what others think of me. How I find myself at times unmotivated to follow God, or to spend time with him. How I can at times treat other things as more valuable or satisfying than him. I fail to recognize his holiness. In the language of Psalm 50:21, I begin to think that God is altogether like me. And I therefore find him rather unimpressive. Even offensive at times. How dare he weigh in with judgment on something I find so valuable and meaningful?
The most fundamental need for the church today is an ever-growing awareness of the holiness of God. What do we mean by God’s holiness? Read more…