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Patterson: Follow Jesus’ lead in preaching expositionally

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Fewer Christians would succumb to unbiblical teaching if more ministers practiced expositional preaching from the pulpit, Paige Patterson said at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary April 2.

Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina, was on the Louisville, Ky., campus to participate in Southern’s second annual “Power in the Pulpit” conference. The former Southern Baptist Convention president was the keynote preacher during the one-day preaching seminar, which also included sermons from seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and other faculty.

Saying “that there is no genuinely good preaching except exposition,” Patterson said groups such as the Mormons have taken advantage of church members who had a poor knowledge of the Bible.

“It is imperative today that our people be taught the Word of the Lord,” he said. “[If they are not,] they will not know what to do about the Mormons, who claim that they have more converts from Baptists than from anybody else.”

While disputing the Mormons’ claim, Patterson said it could be partially true because “we have not taught our people the truths of the Word of God. If we had, they wouldn’t be sitting ducks out there on the pond for every ‘ism’ that comes along.”

Ministers who strictly preach topical sermons instead of exegetical sermons do a disservice to the Bible, Patterson said.

“It is hutzpah when we think that what we think about things is more important than what God says about them,” he said. “Whether he means to do it or not, that’s what a topical preacher says. He says, ‘I think what I have to say about this is more important than what God has to say about it.'”

Patterson added that if “God didn’t say anything about it, you don’t need to say anything about it, either.”

Jesus preached expositionally in the Book of Luke, Patterson said. As an example, he pointed to the story of Jesus’ conversation with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:27, “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (HCSB).

Patterson said this model should be followed by all ministers.

Later in the chapter, Jesus’ words began to convict the hearts of the disciples, Patterson noted, citing Luke 24:32 where the disciples ask themselves, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?”

“That’s what you want to have happen” in your churches, Patterson told the ministers. “It doesn’t matter whether anybody walks out and tells you it was a good sermon or not. It has nothing to do with whether it was splendid rhetoric or great insight. But if they walk out and they say, ‘Our hearts burned within us as the preacher spoke today,’ that means the spirit of the living God was taking the feeble verbiage that you’re able to produce … and he was setting it ablaze as it entered their ears. By the time it took residence in their hearts, their hearts were aflame with the fire of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Patterson then pointed to verses 33-34, where the disciples go out and tell others about their experiences. If a minister preaches a truly biblical expositional sermon, Patterson said, his members will want to tell others about their faith.

“Do you want your people to be soul-winners?” he asked. “Do you want them to be consistent witnesses for Christ? Do you want them to tell the story of Christ? Then you become a consistent expository preacher … and you come in with your heart ablaze. Deliver it to your people, and … their hearts will burn within them, and they’ll get up and go out” and witness to others.

“That’s the way it is supposed to work,” Patterson said. “That is God’s method of doing it.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: PAIGE PATTERSON.

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  • Michael Foust