Preaching as Witness: Expounding and Experiencing the Word

September 18, 2013

It’s all too easy to become academic and cerebral in our approach to the ministry of the Word. If we’re not careful, our preaching can become nothing more than a highly informative but personally detached discourse on an ancient text.

That’s why John Stott’s words in The Preacher’s Portrait are important for us to hear and heed:

In our preaching, we do not just expound words which have been committed to our stewardship. Nor do we only proclaim as heralds a mighty deed of redemption which has been done. But, in addition, we expound these words and proclaim this deed as witnesses, as those who have come to a vital experience of this Word and Deed of God. We have heard His still, small voice through His Word. We have seen His redeeming Deed as having been done for us, and we have entered by faith into the immeasurable benefits of it. Our task is not to lecture about Jesus with philosophical detachment. We have become personally involved in Him. His revelation and redemption have changed our lives. Our eyes have been opened to see Him, and our ears unstopped to hear Him, as our Saviour and our Lord. We are witnesses; so we must bear witness.

So, how do we view ourselves as preachers? As expositors? Or as witnesses? Well, it’s not an either-or proposition, is it?

As preachers we expound the Word as those who have experienced the Word. And we do this in order to bring others into a right understanding and vital experience of that same Word.

Question: What are some of the benefits of viewing ourselves as witnesses in our preaching?


Kerry McGonigal

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In Adam by birth but in Christ by grace. That's my story. Husband to one and father of three. Pastor, homiletics teacher, and passionate proponent of expository preaching. If you like what you've read and want to be notified of future posts, take a second and subscribe via RSS or email (on the right sidebar). Opinions expressed here are my own.

One response to Preaching as Witness: Expounding and Experiencing the Word

  1. I think this is a good reminder, not only to keep us from being purely academic, but also to remind us that we also need the text in our own lives. We must remain humble before the Word ourselves, and experience its truths and also communicate those truths which we have experienced, or are at least working on. Good thoughts my friend.