Two reasons to preach the “whole council of God”
by Jared Pulliam
I first came under the weekly effect of expository preaching in my early 20s. It was an entirely unique experience. As the preacher worked systematically through sections of Scripture, I was brought to see a kind of beauty and depth in the Bible that I had never before experienced. It started to change me.
I began to see my sin in a vivid light, and I began to feel the hope offered in Jesus Christ in a much deeper way. I wondered at first why the expository ministry had such an effect on me, but as time went on it became clear: Expository preaching has disciple-making power. There are many reasons for this. I will just mention two.
It is through expository preaching that people are helped to hear, understand and apply the Word of God and be saved. The Apostle Paul writes to his pastoral under-study, Timothy, and after charging him with the task of preaching the Word, he goes on to remind the young pastor that it is those “sacred writings which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 3:15).
Through the Scriptures—and very often through the Scriptures preached—people are brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus. It is no coincidence that after Peter’s exposition from the prophets and the Psalms in Acts 2, the crowd responded by repenting and being baptized. It is through the Word preached that disciples are made, for it is through that same Word that people are brought to understand the good news that centers upon the Savior.
It is through expository preaching that people are helped to hear, understand and apply the Word of God and be matured. After Paul charges Timothy with the task of preaching the Word, the Apostle goes on to remind him that the Scriptures are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Paul is making clear to Timothy that in the task of pastorally caring for the church in Ephesus, the Word of God is the means through which the people of God are built up.
For this reason, Paul ministered with conviction during his own time in Ephesus, reminding the elders there that he “did not shrink from declaring to you the whole council of God” (Acts 20:27). As the saying goes, “It takes a whole Bible to make a whole Christian.” When the preacher moves faithfully and systematically through the “whole council of God,” the people (and the preacher) are taught, reproved, corrected and trained, being brought to maturity as disciples of Jesus Christ, to whom the sacred writings testify on every page (John 5:39).
We live in a world filled with many voices. On Sunday morning, we as pastors get up in front of our congregations with our Bibles in hand, prepared to expound the saving, maturing truth found in its pages. We do so because those who sit before us do not need to hear another voice among the many; they need to hear the Voice above all others calling to them, “Come and follow me.”
Jared Pulliam is the founding pastor of Christ Church in Portland, Oregon, a church plant that began in 2013 in partnership with Mission USA. He is a native Oregonian and loves the culture and climate of the Pacific Northwest. Pulliam and his wife, Julia, have four children. Currently, he is pursuing doctoral studies through Western Seminary.
Beginning in March 2017, Pulliam is leading a three-month cohort on the topic of expository preaching. The course will focus on the practice of expository preaching and how it fits with preachers’ callings to lead their congregations and disciple them week in and week out from the Word of God. This cohort is designed specifically for participants to refine Bible teaching skills in community with others and in so doing, further develop their abilities in the service of Christ and his kingdom.
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