Why I Preach Expositionally (2)

Biblical exposition is the means by which God produces faith in the hearts of sinners.

This sounds strange and unnecessarily narrow in a day when the church places such high priority on subjective experience and popular Christian books promise to help us hear from God in new and exciting ways. But the Bible is clear that the lost will not believe “without someone preaching” to them (Rom 10:14). What is more, faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). “But doesn’t God speak through beautiful music or majestic mountains?” Well, yes and no. Creation, indeed, testifies to God as the Mighty Creator (Rom 1). On the other hand, our knowledge of God’s redemptive work through the cross of Christ is entirely dependent upon what He reveals in His Word. No one will deduce from seeing a mountain that they are sinners hopelessly alienated from God and therefore must trust entirely in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. This knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit as He illumines the inspired Word of God.

The power of the preached Word of God is illustrated through the prophet Ezekiel. God gives the prophet a vision of a valley full of the dead carcasses of a vast number of people. All that is left is dry bones. After viewing the bones God asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” God then commands the prophet to “prophesy” or preach to the mass of bones:

"Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord" (37:1-6).

This vision signifies God’s power to create spiritual life through the proclaiming of His Word. In his vision, Ezekiel preaches as the Lord commands him and the results are astonishing.
I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come fro the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army (37:7-10).

Next, God interprets the vision for Ezekiel. God tells the prophet that the bones represent the people of Israel. God’s promise to His people, “I will put My Spirit in you and you will live” (37:14) is illustrated by the vision of the valley of dry bones. And how will God breathe new life into His dead people? It will happen through His Word. There is nothing inherently powerful in the act of proclaiming God’s Word. The power to create new life belongs to God alone. The proclamation of the Word is merely the means that the Sovereign Lord has chosen to use. God commands Ezekiel to speak His Word to His people while they are dead, and as he obeys, those once dead come to life. To this day the Spirit of God uses “that Word above all earthly powers” to bring the dead to life. “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26).