From many sources we are told that the key to spiritual growth is more expository teaching and preaching. Preachers that are faithful in continuing this practice are praised for their hard work and encouraged by their peers into believing that the lack of growth in the body is not their fault. They press one another to continue in this work because it is the primary means for building up the body. So pastors are trained how to interpret the scriptures and how to build a flawless outline complete with perfectly sound, reasonable arguments in order to have an effective sermon.
Is this God's design?
Here is how Paul addressed the Corinthians:
and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1Cor 2:4-5
Okay, okay so the preacher is going to say "the power of God works through the plausible words of wisdom so that God gets the glory and not man." I get that but Paul says "my speech and my message WERE NOT IN plausible words..." seems to me that not only did Paul recognize God's power to be the seed of faith but that he purposefully avoided cleverly devised arguments so that there was no question. In fact just prior to this Paul describes how he proclaimed the gospel.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 1Cor 2:1-3.
He then goes on to talk about wisdom revealed through the Spirit. The wisdom revealed through the Spirit is contrasted with the plausible words of wisdom. They are not the same.
It begs the question of our acceptable form of teaching to build up the body when that form is contrasted with the power of God through the Spirit. One could conclude that expository preaching is not only ineffective for spiritual growth as evidenced by the lack of growth within the body but it greatly strengthens that argument to see Paul here saying that wisdom from God does not come from plausible arguments but directly from the Spirit of God through weakness and trembling.
A year ago I would have been up in arms over an argument like this. Now, I have absolutely no desire to sit quietly and listen to some gifted speaker talk for an hour on a passage of scripture. My how a lot has changed. Does that mean I have left my primary means of growing spiritually? No, spiritual growth does not come from that. What comes from that is better knowledge of the scriptures, a firmer grasp on the doctrines taught, and a heightened ability to make our own plausible arguments when we go into the world. An unregenerate person could do the very same thing. That is not the same thing as spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth comes from the Spirit and that will be the subject of my next post.