Hearing God’s Voice: A Practical Theology For Expository Preaching -- By: Jim Shaddix

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 13:2 (Fall 2016)
Article: Hearing God’s Voice: A Practical Theology For Expository Preaching
Author: Jim Shaddix

Hearing God’s Voice: A Practical Theology For Expository Preaching

Jim Shaddix

Jim Shaddix is W. A. Criswell Professor of Expository Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Expository preaching is a sacred obligation, not a sermonic option. It is a stewardship preachers have been given. Consider the rationale of the preaching task. V. L. Stanfield, one of my revered preaching predecessors at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, described preaching as “giving the Bible a voice.”1 He concurred with John Broadus’s simple and accurate definition of preaching as “letting God speak out of his Word.”2 In other words, Stanfield rightly saw the Bible as the written record of God’s voice, and preaching as the act of giving God his voice in the hearing of people.

If the Bible is God’s voice, it follows that preachers are compelled to preach it. The prophet Amos rhetorically asked, “The Lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).3 The Apostle Paul, citing Psalm 116:10, similarly confessed, “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak” (2 Cor 4:13). John Stott rightly concluded:

Here then is a fundamental conviction about the living, redeeming and self-revealing God. It is the foundation on which all Christian preaching rests. We should never presume to occupy a pulpit unless we believe in this God. . . . Once we are persuaded that God has spoken, however, then we too must speak. A compulsion rests upon us. Nothing and nobody will be able to silence us.4

Preaching, then, is rooted in basic assumptions that God has spoken, and he has orchestrated the record of his words to be compiled and preserved in our Bible.5 These assumptions drive both our hermeneutic and our homiletic.

Because God has spoken and the Bible is the accurate record of his speech, we are compelled to communicate it accurately so that we represent God rightly. Biblical exposition, then, ought to serve as our foundational approach to preaching. In exposition, the preacher lays open a biblical text—God’s voice—in such a way that its ...

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