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What is Expository Preaching?

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The Goal Of Expository Preaching

Mark Dever rightly defines expository preaching when he says that it is, “a sermon that takes the main point of a passage of Scripture, makes it the main point of the sermon, and applies it to life today.” The word ‘expository’ means to “expound, set forth or explain.” An expository sermon “exposes” the meaning of a passage of Scripture. This is also known as expository preaching.

The Centrality of God’s Word

Expository Preaching is a core value of ours because of the importance of Scripture in the life of a believer. Scripture is the Inspired word of God.  This means it gets its true, authoritative, powerful and holy character from God himself.  God inspired human authors to write what he wanted them to write. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).”

The Word of God is central in the life of the believer.  In fact, to walk with Jesus is to abide in His word (John 8:31).  True disciples of Christ are drawn to Scripture. Expository preaching affirms the centrality of the Word of God in the life of the believer because it’s all about explaining what the Word of God means and how it applies.

The Bible contains the very words of God himself. His words are entirely truthful and reliable in all they affirm.  They are authoritative and sufficient.  This is why authorial intent is so important. God inspired particular authors to write to a particular audience during a specific time in history. With this in mind, the goal of expository preaching is to determine and proclaim the original biblical author’s intended meaning for the original audience and then how it applies to us today.

What is an Expository Sermon? 

There are really two goals in an expository sermon.  The first goal is to explain the original, historic and grammatical meaning of a passage.  It answers the question, “What is God’s intended meaning?” The second goal is to help people apply to their lives, the truth of Scripture.

Expository preaching is different than topical preaching.  As its name suggest, topical preaching is centered on a topic.  For example, the preacher might choose money as a topic and then go to many places in the Bible that speak on money.  Topical preaching can be effective but there are a number of dangers associated with it; if it is the only method used, the speaker can get trapped into only preaching on the topics that interest him or that are easy.  The topical-only preacher is not guided by God’s agenda in His word, instead the speaker decides the agenda.  

Likewise, the topical-only audience can become used to “comfortable” and “exciting” messages and turn away from Bible teaching that does not fit that model.  Even though certain subjects will be well understood, a church that only preaches topical messages will result in a group with a weak understanding of the whole counsel of God.  The preacher’s role is to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) and not promote only his ideas.  

Some people discount expository preaching. They might claim that it’s not relevant for people today. This idea flows from a weak view of the power of Scripture to change people’s lives (Heb. 4:12). Expository sermons should not be so complex they cannot be understood.  They should not be dry, lifeless or removed from people’s lives.  Rather, they should be simple explanations of passages of Scripture. 

While exposition is not the only form of preaching, we believe its the best method for teaching the meaning of the Bible.  For this reason, we preach expository sermons most of the time.  Every now and then we will preach a topical sermon or series, but we believe that expository preaching should be the norm, and topical preaching the exception. Whichever method we use, we will always strive to be careful with the text and make sure we explain Scripture’s meaning in context.  

Every word of the Bible is pure, true and deserves to be examined and understood.  With expository preaching, the preacher is subject to the text, not the other way around.  The job of the preacher is to clearly explain the text and apply it to our lives today.

At the end of the day, an expository preacher does not care if the audience says, “ What a great message!” or “What a great preacher!” What he really wants to hear is “Wow! I have a better understanding of the character of God and how He wants me to live in light of this Scripture.”

Posted by Jake Sherron with
in Bible

7 Principles for Studying the Bible

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I’ve been reading Tony Merida’s book “Faithful Preaching.” And in the book he provides 7 overarching principles for studying Scripture.  These aren’t just principles for pastors and preachers.  These are principles for everyone that reads and studies the Bible.  Some of you already practice these principles naturally as you study.  But, if these principles are brand new for you, then read them slowly and practice them so that they happen naturally with time.

The goal of interpreting Scripture is to minimize subjectivity and confidently say, “Thus says the Lord.”

Principle #1: Read The Bible in an Attitude of Prayer

Undoubtedly, the process behind studying Scripture is both scientific and literary in method.  But, as students of Scripture, we must never forget that this is a spiritual exercise.  Open your study in prayer. Ask God to open your eyes and incline your heart so that His words burns in you (Ps. 119:18; Luke 24:32). The Holy Spirit is our great teacher and guide, leading us into all truth (John 16:13).  The words of Scripture are the Holy Spirit’s words, to be led by the Holy Spirit is to have the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly (Col. 3:16).

Principle #2: Remember that Context is King

Always, always, always consider the context of the passage that you are studying.  “Context” means “that which goes with the text.” To study a passage in context means to examine the verses before the text and those after. Ripping verses out of context, and using them in a way that does not represent the intended meaning of the Holy Spirit, is irresponsible and inexcusable. Ask yourself, “How does this passage fit within the surrounding context?”

Principle #3: Look for the Historical Meaning First

The Bible was written during particular periods of redemptive history.  Therefore, before application is made, the historical meaning must be identified.  While a text may have numerous applications, the goal is to look for the meaning the original author intended for his original audience.  Always ask, “What did the original author want the original readers to understand about this passage?”

Principle #4: Indentify the type of Literature in which the Verse is found

Some of the classifications of scripture, albeit oversimplified go like this: (1) Law, (2) OT Narratives, (3) Acts, (4) Prophets, (5) Psalms, (6) Wisdom, (7) Gospels, (8) Parables, (9) Revelation.   We must interpret a text in a manner that is consistent with its literary genre.  For example, we should remember that narratives are not always normative.  In other words, Luke’s purpose in Acts (A narrative genre) is not to prescribe particular actions.  His purpose is to describe certain events that happened in the early church.  Not everything that happens in the book of Acts is normative for us today.  For the book of Revelation, we must remember that is was written to a particular people at a particular time.  So, before we go rushing after predicting the future, the book had to mean something to the original hearers.  The original meaning for the original readers is the meaning for us.  Genre keeps us tied to the nature and history of the books of the Bible.

Principle #5: Remember that the whole Bible Focuses upon God's Redeeming Work in Jesus

The Old Testament points to Christ, and the New Testament flows from Christ.  Therefore, always ask, “What does this passage teach me about God? How does it point to Christ?” Always read with an eye for how the text is connected to Jesus.

Principle #6: Interperet Scripture with Scripture

Scripture is not only historical, it is also harmonious.  Always ask, “How is the teachings of this passage consistent with other teachings found elsewhere in Scripture?” Practically, this means that we should look for cross-references for specific teachings.

Principle #7: Since the Bible is a Unified Testimony, Always look for Theological Themes in the Selected Passage

Look for where the theme started, how it is developed, and where it culminated. Ask, “What is the biblical theme in this text?” This is one way to look for the redemptive focus of a selected passage legitimately.

Adapted from Tony Merida’s “Faithful Preaching”

Posted by Jake Sherron with