It is always tempting for the preacher to tell people what they want to hear. Popularity has its advantages. Because of this, preaching is often more a reflection of popular fads than it is an exposition of Scripture. In his penetrating critique of the church growth movement Os Guinness writes,
The ironic lack of clear biblical exposition in “conservative, Bible believing” churches has led to a tragic fulfillment of what the apostle Paul warned: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (II Tim 4:3-4).
The preacher, instead of looking out upon the world, looks out upon public opinion, trying to find out what the public would like to hear. Then he tries his best to duplicate that, and bring his finished product into a marketplace in which others are trying to do the same. The public, turning to our church culture to find out about the world, discovers there is nothing but its own reflection.
Faithful exposition of the Scriptures from pulpit, in small groups, and at home is the only safeguard against an otherwise inevitable drift toward error. In his tender farewell to the Ephesian elders Paul told them, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26). The Bible is being all but completely ignored from the pulpits and classrooms of too many churches. There is a famine of Scripture among God’s people which leaves them highly susceptible to error. Those entrusted with the duties of preaching and teaching must possess an unshakable commitment to biblical exposition “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14).