“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. (2) I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, – 1 Corinthians 3:1-2
From “God is gett’n ready!” to boats and beds on stages, there are significant signs that preachers need to beef it up both exegetically and expositionally. Preaching is hard work. I’ve heard that statement many times and every time I’m working on a sermon it is brought to bear on my preparation.
From the desk to the pulpit is labor for the faithful preacher. Depending upon the level of education there are languages to translate, the text studied to be read and re-read, a draft to write, and final draft to be completed. Oh! Then there is the preaching moment – thirty to forty minutes of thinking, speaking, and sweating (sometimes the order is inverted). C.H. Spurgeon quoted a friend in saying “If any of you think it an easy thing to preach. I advise you to come up here [to the pulpit] and have all the conceit taken out of you.” With so much going into a sermon, when does the preacher have time to think about gimmicks let alone implement them into the preaching moment? With all the labor used to produce an exposition of a text, where is the room for clichés?
I would go so far as to say if you leave church after the preacher has opened up the Bible in an attempt to explain it to you, and you don’t know what the text means when he’s done, it may be that he has not done his job. Nehemiah 8:9 gives the paradigm for preaching. The leaders “…read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.” There is no point in opening up Scripture if it is not your intent to understand it. For the preacher, it is meaningless to open up the Bible if it is not your intent to properly explain it. It is the preacher’s job to explain that you might understand and it is the lay person’s job to understand. He is not to be a jester entertaining the congregation, but a herald impinging upon the ungodly appetites of the sheep a truth proclaimer spurring the flock on to good works. This is the reason why we come together as a body of believers called out by the Master, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Needful questions when you gather with the saints for Lord’s Day worship service is “Am I being humored or am I being made holy by the preaching and the teaching?” “When I leave the church, do I know what the passages mean that the preacher preached?” or “Do I just feel good about what he preached?” A cliché can’t carry you, but the Word of God rightly divided can. It will. The antics of a jester may appease you for thirty minutes or so, but that will not anchor your soul in the day trouble.
There has to be more. As a Christian, you should hunger for more. Our souls must be nourished on concentrated dosages of sound Biblical preaching. If this is not the case, we are doing ourselves a disservice. If we allow ourselves to be content with clichés and antics instead of exegesis and exposition there can be no hope in growing from infants into a mature man (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).