God’s Word, Good Exposition, Great Joy, Much Strength

Here’s another reason I am joyfully committed to expository exultation, that is, preaching.

Look at this amazing statement of what biblical exposition is like when it’s done well—in the power of God’s Spirit and riveted on biblical texts.

Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people.... [T]he Levites helped the people to understand the Law.... They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.... And all the people went their way...to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:5-8,12)

First, there was a reader of the word of God. Then there were those who explained the words. Then there was true understanding in the minds of the people. Then there was great rejoicing “because they had understood the words.”

It is astonishing to me how many pastors apparently don’t believe in pursuing the joy of their people in this way. Evidently they think it doesn’t work. I’m sure there are many reasons for this abandonment of biblical exposition.

But I simply want to wave the flag and say: There was joy then. And there is joy today when God’s people see real, divine meaning in texts that they had not seen before.

If you want to see a strong church, keep in mind that it is no accident that in this very context the writer says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

What joy? The joy of verse 12: “All the people went their way...to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”

God’s truth followed by faithful, Spirit-anointed exposition, leads to great joy, which is the strength of God’s people. So give the sense, brothers. Give the sense!

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.