10 Blessings I Discovered While Preaching Expositionally through EphesiansDecember 30, 2017
On January 4, 2017, I began an expositional study through the book of Ephesians during our midweek Bible study entitled “We are His.” I have preached through many books of the Bible during my ministry, but this was the first time I systematically and sequentially went through Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. When we began the journey, I had no idea what God would do in my own heart week after week. By the time we finish our exposition in the next 3-4 weeks, we will have digested over 50 messages from the six chapters. I had no intention to stay in Ephesians for over a year but the more I study this epistle, the more I realize that we could stay in the book for another 10 years and not scratch the surface to the glories found within. The idea behind this post is not to overview the content that our church processed over the past twelve months, but to rather give the spiritual benefits of staying in a book of the Bible for an extended amount of time. I offer the following:
1. It helps the congregation retain more information from week to week.
If repetition is the key to learning, then there is no better way for the church to have Scriptural knowledge than for it to be inundated with the Word. Each week I would remind the congregation where we have been, and many times, reteach those verses as a foretaste of the verses to come. Throughout the year, we would spend several weeks covering just a small portion of the text. In doing so, the people have more opportunity to retain the abundance of information from verse to verse.
2. It alleviates the expositor from time constraints.
Too often preachers feel rushed. If you try to expound 20 verses in just 20 minutes you will find yourself hard-pressed to fully communicate the meaning of the text. When I feel hurried, I either blast through or fail to expound the entire passage. Such is not the case when you preach through a series over an extended amount of time. You are alleviated from such pressure. Throughout our Ephesian study, I would tell our congregation that if I didn’t finish up, I would be back next week. This is a great benefit to preaching expositionally through a Bible book.
3. It keeps every passage in context.
Needless to say, this is the greatest benefit of preaching systematically through the Bible. It allows the congregation to see how each verse, each statement, each word, each passage is connected one with another. This also helps the expositor to stay accountable to a proper hermeneutic. Preaching an extended series helps you preach in context each week without having to spend a tremendous amount of time establishing the context.
4. It gives opportunity for the people to look ahead and examine where we are going.
You may think such a thing is an idealistic notion, but the truth is, on many occasions I had people talk to me about the coming messages. I tried to encourage our people to read ahead and meditate on the Word. This not only allowed them to get in the Word on Wednesdays, it allowed the Word to get into them!
5. It brings cohesion to all the parts.
By preaching throughout a book, you are able to connect all the dots. You can expose the major doctrinal themes. You will be able to elaborate on certain words and their meanings. You can collectively bring the book together. Too often we read and preach from a passage without ever showing how the passage fits into the grand design of the book itself. Preaching over a period of time allows you the chance to reveal the cohesive nature of God’s Word.
6. It affords better time management for sermon preparation.
Let’s be honest, pastors and preachers are busy people. From week to week, I did not have to wrestle or struggle with where I was going to be in the Bible. There were a few Wednesdays when the Lord redirected our path to other portions of Scripture; but by and large, we stayed on course through Ephesians. This was a great benefit because my heart was already there before Wednesday rolled around!
7. It can be used as a means for outreach.
We used the series to reach people beyond the walls of our congregation. We promoted the expositional study online and through social media. Throughout the year we had many guests who just came on Wednesday because they “wanted a better understanding of Ephesians.” I think we would be surprised at the number of people who really want to know what the Word of God says. Preaching an expositional series helps secure that reality.
8. It gives people the opportunity to ask questions, especially regarding more difficult passages.
When you exegete, expound, and explain a passage for weeks at a time, this opens the door to a plethora of questions. Questions, contrary to what many people say, are good. They are indicators that people are listening. Ephesians 1:4-14 brings about many profound questions concerning the sovereignty of God. Ephesians 2:11-22 breeds questions concerning the unification of Jew and Gentile in the Body of Christ. Ephesians 3:1-13 ushers in questions regarding the deep mysteries of Christ. When you process these passages over a period of time, certain questions must be asked and certain questions must be answered. Such is the result of expositional preaching.
9. It allows the Holy Spirit to saturate our hearts with an abundance of truth.
One thing I found in my own heart was week after week, verse after verse, passage after passage, the Holy Spirit would flood my soul with truth. Many times I felt as though I was drowning. I felt overwhelmed with joy and elation at the “spiritual blessings” I had discovered. Then there were times I was prompted to pray, even as Paul prayed for his brethren. Other times I felt humbled that, like Paul, I was “made a minister.” Could it be that we hurriedly work through a book without giving the Spirit adequate time to do a work in our heart?
1o. It reveals the glory of Christ in a rich and deep way.
There is not enough time or space to address this truth; but needless to say, the more you spend in the Word of God the closer you embrace the person of Christ. Throughout Ephesians, I was reminded of the work of Christ in atonement. His glory in the church. His marvelous saving grace. His Body unified. His passion revealed. I was challenged to “walk in love” walk in light” “walk in wisdom.” I longed to be filled with “the fullness of God.” I wanted, and still want, to be “able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love Christ, which passeth knowledge..”
I encourage and exhort every pastor to preach the Word systematically, sequentially, spiritually, and with steadfastness. The labor will be long, tedious, and at time difficult, but the fruit will never taste better!