I am absolutely convinced that expository preaching is the best way to approach the most sacred task of pastoral ministry. The best definition of expository preaching I have heard came from Mark Dever, “The point of the passage is the point of the message.” Since I started at Pembroke, I have done what my preaching professor, Hershael York, at SBTS said to do: I have made it my “bread and butter.” I have preached through books of the Bible section by section, sequentially and consistently. I have sought to simply unfold God’s Word to God’s people in an understandable and applicable way.
Here are some reasons why I am convinced of this type of preaching.
1. Expository preaching lets God set the agenda. God wrote the Bible through men exactly like he intended to. When we approach the Bible with the intention of preaching through it in the order it was inspired (to men) and expired (by the Holy Spirit), we are more likely to take God’s Word on its own terms. I used to wish that the Bible was more like a theology textbook, with chapters and topics. It’s good I wasn’t in charge, because God wove a beautifully complex and elegant story exactly how he intended.
2. Expository preaching forces me to preach Christ and him crucified every week. Every part of the Scripture points to and centers ultimately on Jesus, and a sermon that does not get to Jesus and the Cross violates God’s Word. No matter the text, the sermon will get to Jesus and call sinners to him. It is the most consistently evangelistic kind of preaching there is.
3. Expository preaching forces me to address things I might not. For example, on Sunday I preached from Genesis 34, which is the story of Jacob’s daughter Dinah being raped and her brothers slaughtering an entire city in vengeance. Just straight up, I would probably never have preached that passage in my entire ministry if I wasn’t committed to preaching through Genesis. And I’m glad I did, because God has used that sermon in our church in amazing ways. There is power in every part of Scripture. Likewise, it also prevents me from riding my favorite hobby horse doctrinally, or from picking my sermon based on how the week has gone.
4. Expository preaching keeps me in context. It helps to prevent me from cherry picking verses and using them illegitimately. It does the same for the hearers. For example, when I preached on Jacob and Laban at Mizpah, and we got to 31:49, “The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight,” I explained that this is not a “friends are friends forever” verse, but actually a warning between Jacob and Laban. One of our members told me afterward that a previous church of hers actually spoke that verse to each other as a blessing at the end of every service. Expository preaching helps provide proper context to every verse of Scripture.
5. Expository preaching shows Pembroke Road Baptist Church that I want to base everything about my ministry directly on the Bible. Of course, I am about a zillion miles from perfect in this or any other area. But I hope and think that in the past three years I have shown my commitment to be a “man of the Word” above all else.
6. Expository preaching models how people should read their Bibles. I am not taking pot-shots, but how many people approach their Bible like topical preachers approach their sermons? Topical preaching might give the audience a fish for the day, but I believe in the long run expository preaching teaches the church to fish for a lifetime. It gives them insight into how to study God’s Word. It helps them see that it’s not a big mystery, and that they can understand the Bible.
7. Expository preaching makes sermon planning less time consuming. When I have to preach a topical message, I spend a ton of time just picking out a passage or topic. That time would be better spent in study, prayer, and application of the Bible to God’s people.
8. Expository preaching provides depth and not just breadth. It helps people know Jesus and his Word more deeply. It speaks not just to the lost, but to the found.
9. Expository preaching creates Bible-soaked preachers. I found gold recently. I discovered that I didn’t have to divorce my personal Bible reading from my sermon or study preparation! It has freed me to study the Bible for my own soul before I feed it to others. It helps me view the text as urgent for “me” and not just for “them.”
I could say more, but I’ll stop there. I have committed myself to preaching expositionally, and I have seen God do great things through his Word. What are your thoughts? Have you been exposed to this kind of preaching, and what are your thoughts?