The Work of the Word: The Preacher and the Clock


“I am convinced that biblical exposition requires at least forty minutes. Less than this just is not sufficient to probe the text deeply. If it takes fifteen to twenty minutes to give the setting, ten to fifteen minutes to draw out the principles, five to ten minutes to cross-reference them, and five to ten minutes for a conclusion, you already have about fifty minutes. Rarely does a man preaching twenty- five to thirty minutes do doctrinal exposition. If you are going to be a Bible expositor, forget the twenty- and thirty-minute sermons. You are looking at forty or fifty minutes. In any less than that, you can’t exposit the Scripture. The purpose of a sermon is not to get it over, but rather to explain the Word of God. My goal is not accomplished because I am brief. My goal is accomplished when I am clear and I have exposited the Word of God.” -John MacArthur

Exposition is not entertainment. I am not trying to compete with T.V. (Though I am positive that no one complains that their favorite T.V. shows are too long) Nor am I trying to compete with the preacher I just quoted. Many people think that the sermons they hear on the radio are entire sermons, when they are not. The 22.5 minutes you hear on the radio or see on television is many times 1/4 of the actual sermon. I have listened to many sermons on podcast or the radio that lasted for three or four days on a radio program, but were preached in one hour and 20 minutes in an actual church service. Nor am I trying to compete with some other preacher you’ve heard. I don’t care about other preachers, patterns, paradigms or popular practices. I care most about delivering the Word of God in the most faithful way possible, no matter how long that takes. I want to serve people adequately and give them an actual meal, not a snack. I do worry about those who long only for snacks. Have you ever wondered why you aren’t hungry? Are you like those in 2 Timothy 4 who can’t endure the preaching of the Word? That’s a dangerous place to be. I pray that no one in our congregation is there and that above everything else, we will prize the Word of God and hear it with a view to obey it and thereby bring glory to God, because the sermons aren’t going to get any shorter.







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