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Dever points to Scripture study as key to expositional preaching

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Washington pastor Mark Dever called Baptist pastors to view their ministries and trials not from a human perspective, but in the light of Scripture.
“Though there has been a recovery of a belief in inerrancy in our convention, I am struck by how few people must study the inerrant Word of God,” Dever said.
Dever, who serves at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., was the guest speaker Sept. 2-5 at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 1997 Week of Preaching. Dever called for a return to true biblical exposition.
“We take one verse, and we pull out what we already know to be true about a particular noun in that verse, and we call that expositional preaching,” Dever said. “Expositional preaching is when we go to God’s Word and we learn what God says in his Word, and we bring that message to God’s people, at the particular time and place where we are.”
Dever spoke to Midwestern students in four separate morning chapel addresses, preaching from the books of Daniel, Hebrews, James and 1 Peter. In his sermons, he contrasted biblical perspectives with those commonly held today.
The Book of Daniel, Dever said, demonstrates the temporary nature of man’s power versus the eternal sovereignty of God, calling men to faithfulness to God in the midst of change. A similar message is found in 1 Peter, he said, where in verse 4:19 suffering believers are called to commit themselves to God, and to continue to do good.
Preaching from the Book of Hebrews, Dever said it is crucial for pastors to hear when God’s voice is against them in discipline. He said that unlike some fundamentalist churches, the members of his church talk honestly about their difficulties with Scripture mandates, as more liberal churches might do. He added in his church, they agree that the Bible, not human understanding, is correct.
“Maybe you don’t understand why women shouldn’t be elders, but it seems kind of clear in the Bible, so we’re going with the Bible,” Dever said. “Pastors, I don’t care how conservative you are in your theology of the Word, you in your own life need to cultivate an ability to hear God when he would speak against what you might desire.”
Dever said that the Book of James calls believers who know the truth to live obedient lives, despite the hardship it may imply. He noted in James 2:19, knowing without acting is declared demonic. According to James, he said, correct doctrine should find expression in right relationships within the church.
“It’s not that we’re never called to make strong doctrinal statements,” Dever stated. “There is a huge difference between making a strong doctrinal statement, and making statements that are unloving, that are false, that are wrongly judgmental.”
During the week, Dever also spoke to several classes at the seminary and preached at the Wednesday night service of Northpointe Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo. While at Northpointe, he stressed the importance of understanding evangelism in terms of both man’s complete helplessness and God’s effectual calling of the lost. Such belief does not imply that people come to Christ through coercion, Dever said. Instead, it serves as a bulwark against coercion on the part of ministers.
“I won’t allow the gospel I preach to be molded by what gets a response,” Dever said. “I cannot make a Christian — not with Finney’s arguments or Charlemagne’s sword.”

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  • Clinton Wolf