How Expository Preaching Benefits the Body of ChristApril 13, 2017
Expository preaching, in its purest form, simply means to say what God has already said. Arriving to that truth is the process of exegesis, hermeneutics, and homiletics. To the average church attender, those terms mean very little, but to the Bible preacher, those words bring weighty responsibilities…responsibilities that will be examined at the Judgment Seat of Christ. “Preach the word” echoes in the heart of every God-called preacher; to do anything less is not only a mishandling of his own calling but is a disservice to the body of Christ. We are not instructed to give God’s people our opinions, our preferences, our philosophies…we are instructed to tell them what God has already decreed.
If “Thus saith the Lord” is the great need of the hour, then the man of God must be careful to say what is being said from the text. This is why expository preaching is such a benefit to the church. “If genuine exposition of the word of God is to take place,” said Albert Mohler, “then every concern must be subordinate to the central and irreducible task of explaining and presenting the biblical text.” In order to explain it, you must exegete it and expound it.
I will admit, not every message I preach is expository; however, no matter what kind of message I preach (topical, textual, doctrinal, instructional, character studies), I implement the principles of exposition as to not take passage out of context. With that being said, my primary approach in preaching is expositional, here are the reasons why:
The Authority of Expository Preaching
When we say, “Word of God” to describe the Bible, we are saying it is God’s revelation to mankind. It is His venue of truth, it is His Word. To preach anything outside of divine revelation is to preach with dangerous ambiguity. The authority of preaching doesn’t come from the preacher, it comes from what he is preaching. Take away the inerrant text and all you have is an errant man who will, at best, lead men to falsehoods, fables, and carnal fiction. Expository preaching secures, with authority to the church, that truth is being proclaimed. The authority is in the message, not the man.
The Abundance in Expository Preaching
There is a heavenly table spread in every jot and tittle of God’s Word. When the preacher shares the Word of God in an expositional way, He need not worry of running out of things to say. Every word, every statement, every sentence, every paragraph, every verse, every chapter, every book is a bountiful goldmine of truth. The journey of exposition is a valuable expedition that benefits everyone who comes along for the ride. At every turn, and on every corner, there is a treasure to behold. Most of the world can quote John 3:16, but the expositor takes every word of that verse and digs into the meaning, cross-references every statement, connects spiritual dots, implements theological and doctrinal systems, studies syntax and grammar. He can preach it every week for three months and barely scratch the surface. This is the abundant benefit of exposition.
The Abolition of Expository Preaching
When I say “abolition” I mean of the man and his carnal gimmicks and ways. God uses the personality, demeanor, and disposition of the preacher to communicate truth; but those elements of the preacher cannot and should not supersede the power of the unadulterated Scripture. Personality, stories, illustrations, power points, and slides can be powerful ways to communicate truth. But when overused, those things are replacements for the actual text. Expository preaching does away with the need for man’s superficial accents. The meekest, most inconspicuous, most unremarkable man can preach with power when he expounds the Word of God with clarity and precision. When you speak for the text, the text will speak for itself.
The Action of Expository Preaching
All preaching is a call for action. But expository preaching calls for action based upon the biblical mandate. When the text is preached as it is, to men, as they are, it will always require them to do something about what they have heard. John Calvin said, “Expository preaching consists in the explanation and application of a passage of scripture. Without explanation it is not expository; without application is not preaching.” Application not only gives concise understanding and illumination to the truth, it calls upon the hearers to make decisions. Expository preaching, because of its authority, calls upon men to respond, reply, and react to the truth.
The Alignment of Expository Preaching
We have all heard that “a text taken out of context is a pretext.” We’ve all been exposed to sermons that incorrectly directed the audience to a “truth” or “principle” that wasn’t really in the passage. Expositional preaching forces the preacher to “read out of the Scripture” without ever having to “read into the Scripture” something that is not there. It keeps everything in alignment with the historical background, literal meaning, and textual relation of the surrounding verses. It provides a natural flow for communicable truth.
Truth. At the end of the day (and the end of the message), that is what our people need to hear…truth. Expository preaching helps facilitate that such an endeavor.