Introduction: Some have suggested that from time to time I include shorter editorial comments rather than the standard article-length editorial. The initial presentation of this arrangement appears below. Feel free to mail or e-mail your comments, suggestions, and criticisms.
Over the past twenty years or so, there has been a big emphasis on "expository" or "expositional" preaching. This is the practice of preaching straight through the Bible (or a portion of it) sequentially, exegeting a particular portion and expounding it. This surely is an acceptable way to preach, and it has a long history. For instance, Chrysostom in the ancient church preached this way.
Advocates of this sort of preaching, however, often criticize those who do not preach this way. Anything but their way is considered substandard, or even not preaching at all. But this is hardly the case. In the Bible itself, there are clear examples of this type of preaching. In the Old Testament, Ezra stood up publicly and read the law; and this is an important part of public worship. In the New Testament, Jesus entered the synagogue and commented powerfully on a preselected text from the Old Testament to be used for that Sabbath day. None of the sermons recorded in Acts, however, is, strictly speaking, expository. None is "exegetical." If you look at the sermons of Jesus and Paul and Peter, you will find that they are generally summaries of and applications of Biblical truth. They did not take a few Old Testament verses and expound them. Rather, their entire life was suffused by the Old Testament and, therefore, virtually everything they said in their sermons was Biblically grounded.
Their preaching was Spirit-filled, Old Testament-based, direct, urgent, immediate. It was prophetic; they were not speaking what they considered an antiquated word and simply "applying it" to the contemporary situation. Rather, they assumed that the ancient Word was designed for the contemporary situation. This is the sort of preaching that we need today.
Virtually all Biblical preaching is topical in the sense that the preacher addresses a specific topic and weaves scriptural truth into his preaching.
Some liberals use the fact that New Testament preachers (and writers) did not quote the Old Testament verbatim as proof that they did not hold what is today termed verbal inspiration. It teaches nothing of the kind. It teaches, rather, that the Old Testament was such a part of their thinking and entire life that they spoke it with ease without any attempt at scholastic accuracy.
Adults' "Junior Church"?
A longtime friend and I were recently discussing the frequent practice of many evangelical churches these days of holding a separate "junior church" for children and teenagers during the "adult" worship service. This compounds the error of the "graded Sunday school" with the elimination of covenant children from corporate worship altogether: they never hear the Word of God preached by the minister. There is, of course, no Biblical warrant for this, and plenty of Biblical warrant against it. When the Word of God was publicly declared in the Old Testament era, all members of the church, that is, those within the visible covenant, were to be present, even infants (Dt. 31:9-13). In the great Feast of Pentecost and the onrush of the Holy Spirit accompanying Peter's preaching in Acts 2, it is declared that the promise of salvation is not merely to adults, but to their children (v. 39). It is impossible to imagine that the listeners' children were not present on this occasion. Most or all of the early New Testament churches met in homes. Is it reasonable to suppose that all of the children were shuttled off to a separate section for some other "Old Testament lesson," while the adults heard a different message? The greatest refutation of this removal of children from public, corporate worship, however, is not even in the pattern we observe in the Bible, but in the theology that the Bible communicates: The Bible does not wrench the covenant child from the covenantal context of the visible church. There is no "junior church," and there is no "junior covenant." The covenant is one, and the church is one.
I told my longtime friend, "It would perhaps be even more Biblical if the adults were dismissed for the preaching of the Word, and the covenant children remained to be instructed in the Faith."
Now there's an interesting idea.
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Some of the most evil laws ever devised are the so-called "civil asset forfeiture" laws, both federal and state. The premise of these laws is the perverse doctrine of "eminent domain," that the state ultimately owns everything. As an entirely logical implication of eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture means that property used in suspected illegal acts may (or must) be forfeited to the state. The eye of this antinomian hurricane is the Great War on Drugs, which in actuality is The Great War on Citizens and their Property. In many states, property used or thought to be used in the commission of drug-related crimes can simply be seized by federal or state authorities this means your car, your boat, even your house. The horror stories of how these wicked laws have destroyed peoples' lives are too legion to mention here.
The Bible teaches that the earth and all property ultimately belong to God, not the state (Ps. 24:1). God has placed earthly property into the hands of man, His creature made in His image (Ps. 8). Man is the steward of God's property. In the Bible, property is owned by individuals or families. The state may legitimately own very little property, in fact, no more than can be purchased by a miniscule poll tax (Ex. 30:11-16). The state today is a thieving institution that must be put back into its place. State stealing is still stealing.
- P. Andrew Sandlin
P. Andrew Sandlin is a Christian minister, theologian, and author. He is the founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California. He was formerly president of the National Reform Association and executive vice president of the Chalcedon Foundation. He is a minister in the Fellowship of Mere Christianity.. He was formerly a pastor at Church of the Word in Painesville, Ohio (1984-1995) and Cornerstone Bible Church in Scotts Valley, California (2004-2014).