What is Expository Preaching?

22 Nov

John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today

1.    Expository preaching is Christian preaching.

It is not a style of preaching as much as a philosophy of preaching.

“…if by an ‘expository’ sermon is meant a verse by verse explanation of a lengthy passage of Scritpure, then indeed it is only one possible way of preaching, but this would be a misuse of the word.  Properly speaking, ‘exposition’ has a much broader meaning.  It refers to the content of the sermon (biblical truth) rather than its style (a running commentary). To expound Scripture is to bring out of a text what is there and to expose it to view.”  (p.125,126)

2.    Expository preaching is Scripture-dominated preaching.

It is preaching that begins and ends and is centered on the text of God’s Word.

“The Christian preacher has a boundary set for him.  When he enters the pulpit, he is not an entirely free man.  There is a very real sense in which it may be said of him that the Almighty has set him his bounds that he shall not pass.  He is not at liberty to invent or choose his message; it has been committed to him, and it is for him to declare, expound and commend to his hearers.” (p.126)

3.    Expository preaching is faithful preaching.

It is preaching that accurately explains the original meaning of the text being considered.

“What did the original author intend his words to mean? That was the question.  Moreover it is a question which can with patience be answered, and answered confidently…the biblical authors were honest men, not deceivers and their writings intended to be understood.” (p.128)

4.    Expository preaching is relevant preaching.

It is preaching that clearly communicates the message the text has for the contemporary audience.

“Our task is to enable God’s revealed truth to flow out of the Scriptures into the lives of men and women of today.” (p.138)

“We preachers are supposed to be in the business of communication.  A lecture has been wittily defined as the transfer of information from the lecturer’s notes to the students’ without it passing through the mind of either; but sermons should not be equally dismal examples of non-communication.  We should be praying that God will raise up a new generation of Christian communicators who are determined to bridge the chasm; who struggle to relate God’s unchanging Word to our ever-changing world; who refuse to sacrifice truth to relevance or relevance to truth; but who resolve instead in equal measure to be faithful to Scripture and pertinent to today.” (p.144)

5.    Expository preaching is God-centered preaching.

It is preaching that is uninterested, tentative and modest when it comes to the preacher’s own opinions and status while being passionate, courageous and authoritative when it comes to God’s Word.

In order to preach expository messages, the preacher must have a humble attitude towards himself.  For the purpose of expository preaching is to “facilitate an encounter.  ‘The great encounter however, is not between the preacher and the people.  It is between God and the people.” (p.325)

The preacher must also have a humble attitude towards the text.  “The Christian preacher is neither to be a speculartor who invents new doctrines which please him, nor an editor who excises old doctrines which displease him, but a steard, God’s steward, dispensing faithfully to God’s household the truths committed to him in Scripture, nothing less and nothing more.” (p.324)

The humble attitude towards the text will result in authoritative, courageous preaching. “The expositor is only to provide the mouth and lips for the passage itself, so that the Word may advance…The really great preachers…are in fact, only the servants of the Scriptures.  When they have spoken for a time, the Word…gleams within the passage itself and is listened to: the voice makes itself heard.” (p.132)

“Our task as Christian preachers is not subserviently to answer all the questions which men put to us; nor to attempt to meet all the demands which are made on us; nor hesistantly to make tentative suggestions to the philosophically minded; but rather to proclaim a message which is dogmatic because it is divine.  The preacher’s responsibility is proclamation, not discussion.” (p.110, The Preacher’s Portrait)

4 Responses to “What is Expository Preaching?”

  1. Colin Adams December 16, 2006 at 4:35 pm #

    Thanks for this – I enjoyed this thought provoking post. Let’s keep expositing!

  2. joshnmarda December 16, 2006 at 7:37 pm #

    Hey, thanks Colin.

    By God’s grace, I am going to try to do just that!

  3. prophet roosevelt November 6, 2007 at 7:08 pm #

    Wow, after 24 years of preaching I learned something today! I agree with with the above writer joshnmarda, By God’s grace, I am going to START doing just that! you’ve got my email information please send me anything I can feed off of! God Bless! prophet roosevelt

  4. prophet roosevelt November 6, 2007 at 7:18 pm #

    Josh, i didn’t realize you were the actual writer! I plan on doing just what’s been written! thanks

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