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.”