Why Expository Preaching?
Being someone who has read 3 books on preaching, and delivered a grand total of 5 sermons, I believe I am well placed to tell you all about expository preaching.
Okay, you can stop laughing now.
I’m no expert of course, and the recent opportunities to preach doesn’t make me one. Yet I have felt the itch to write a post about expository preaching for a while. I finally got to it.
I usually have many topic ideas but actually writing them takes me time. I published one of my last posts 2 years after I got the idea. I guess my brain also works in mysterious ways.
Why Do We Need Preaching?
The preaching of God’s Word is part and parcel of church life. Right? Yes, but no. It’s more than just another component of a worship service.
If you’re a normal Christian, it means that you sin. The flood of sin starts from Monday and keeps going even as you step into (or tune into) the worship service. Being a human means you forget. You forget God’s promises, His faithfulness, the way He has taken care of you. If we’re honest, we forget to read our Bibles and pray too.
“Dark is the stain that we cannot hide
What can avail to wash it away?”
Indeed, what can avail to wash away the dark stain of sin? This is where God comes in. God made provision through Jesus Christ to cleanse us from sin. This cleansing is available to us everyday.
How do we know this to be true? He has promised it through the Word and by giving the Holy Spirit to each one of us.
God has also appointed teachers and preachers to bring forth His Word and remind us of this.
Preacher James Stewart said, “the aims of all genuine preaching are to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God”.
We need to take cognisance of God’s holiness, of His beauty and receive His love.
But do we need expository preaching for that?
What Is Expository Preaching?
I once heard a priest say that we must “expose a text”, meaning that we should show the text to people for what it is and not what we think it should be.
Expository preaching involves drawing the meaning out of a given passage and not putting our own meaning.
Tony Merida explains what expository preaching is in his book. He says that, “expository preaching is the exegetical and Spirit-driven process of explaining and applying a particular text or texts for the purpose of transforming people into the image of Christ”.
So it’s sitting down with a Bible passage, reading and re-reading it with a view of finding the original intent of the author and then delivering it to your congregation in a way that applies to them.
Yet the question remains, why the fuss with this mode of preaching?
The Fulcrum of the Bible
What’s the point of the Bible? It’s Christ. The redemptive work that He accomplished through the cross and the empty tomb is what it’s all about.
God told the Serpent that there will be One who will destroy him completely (Genesis 3:15). The works of the devil will be put to an end. God gave wayward people like us a way to return to him. And He’s prescribed everything pertaining to living godly lives in His Word.
What does this have to do with expository preaching? A lot.
With Jesus as the fulcrum of the Bible, it gives us a way to see and interpret Scripture. Nick Roark, author of a book called Biblical Theology says, “If we fail to read and understand Scripture in a way that leads us to Jesus, then we will miss the point of the Bible.”
So we need preachers who draw out the meaning of the text, and preach it in a way that points us to Jesus.
This leads us to seek insight into what a preacher’s duty is.
An Expositor’s Duty
If Christ is the main point of the Bible, then everything that we preach ought to point to Him. What closely follows is the focus on how we as sinners relate to our Saviour, and how we can live “in a manner worthy of Lord, fully pleasing to Him” (Colossians 1:10).
David R. Helm, in his book “Expositional Preaching”, writes about the aim that the 19th century preacher Charles Simeon had. He says that Charles Simeon “framed his aims for biblical exposition this way:
to humble the sinner;
exalt the Savior;
to promote holiness.”
This is a broad framework that any expositor can follow. The aim is not to give out information, nor is to dish out practical steps of improving your life. The aim is to proclaim the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Again, without the Savior, the sinner is lost and there is no chance for holiness.
Conclusion: Why You Need This
Friend you need to know that, if you are in Christ, God loves you so, so much. You need to know that God’s love for you is grounded in truth.
Would an all powerful God care for me? Indeed.
I once read a tweet that said, “The infinite One who crafted the cosmos is the intimate One who cares for my soul”.
For the sake of seeing the infinite and intimate One fully, we need preachers who present it to us clearly from Scripture. We should desire for nothing less. You should be able to say with Charles Spurgeon, “the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it”.
Lastly, here’s a quote from an article I recently read: “Sermons, in the context of worship, nourish souls with the food of God’s word in Christ. They are meals carefully prepared, and presented, for the church for its spiritual health and welfare.”
Let us all desire to be spiritually nourished from the Word of God.