I’ve been thinking lately about the difficult task of preaching. Every Sunday we address many types of people. In my church on any given Sunday I will be preaching to unbelievers, apathetic Christians, passionate new believers, seminary students, mature Christians, missionaries, church planters, staff members, small business owners, and so many more. Also I will be preaching to children, teenagers, young parents, teenage parents, empty nesters, and grandparents. If that’s not enough, everyone in the congregation is experiencing different life situations. Some are going through tragedy, some are consumed with worry, some are exhausted with the pace of life, and some are tragically living with no sense of purpose.
How in the world do you speak into the life of a child while at the same time edifying the saint that has been walking with Jesus for 30 years? How do you inspire the newlyweds and encourage those celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary? How do you challenge the unbeliever while going deep into the text with the hungry seminary student? How in the world do you apply your text to the diverse situations people are facing?
The answer: Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God do the work! The Bible is clear that God works through His Word applied to the human heart by His Spirit. That’s the point the Lord is making to Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37). Paul wrote that when he preached the gospel it was accompanied with power and the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:5). Our job is to unveil the Word and trust that the Spirit of God will encounter different people, from different backgrounds, in different situations, and grip their hearts with truth.
To be clear, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work hard at application. We need to think through the text while keeping our people in mind as we try to apply the major themes of the passage to their lives. What I am saying is there is no way we can speak to every life situation because we don’t have the time or the insight into everyone’s lives. But God knows every need in your congregation and the Spirit will use the Word, faithfully proclaimed, to graciously address all your people.
So, systematically preach the Word and ask the Spirit to breathe life into your church. He will! That’s the beauty and the power of expository preaching!