Every sermon should have a text. That is to say, it should be an explication and application of some portion of Holy Scripture.
A distinction is often made been ‘textual preaching’ and ‘expository preaching’. The supposition is that there is a fundamental difference between preaching from a short section of the Bible (a single verse, say) and preaching from a longer portion (such as a paragraph). But there is (or should not be) any fundamental difference. …
C.H. Spurgeon is known as ‘the Prince of Preachers’. It is worthwhile, then, enquiring about his attitude towards, and practice of, expository preaching.
Peter Masters considers this in an article entitled ‘Expository Preaching – Benefits and Pitfalls.’
Masters begins defines expository preaching as ‘preaching that draws the message from the biblical text, clearly and methodically, honouring the sense of the text, and the style of communication employed.’
He outlines some of the benefits of expository preaching:
It demonstrates that the Bible is the supreme authority for all that is taught.
In expository preaching the preacher’s first aim is to discover the text writer’s intended theological meaning in the selected text. We preachers tend to search the Bible for a sermon. We hope for something to leap out at us that will preach. But a program of expository preaching calls for the preacher to aim for a clear understanding of the text writer’s meaning. Only out of that theological message can he properly preach an expository sermon.
Erik Raymond has helpfully collected a range of contemporary definitions:
John MacArthur: ‘The message finds its sole source in Scripture. The message is extracted from Scripture through careful exegesis. The message preparation correctly interprets Scripture in its normal sense and its context. The message clearly explains the original God-intended meaning of Scripture. The message applies the Scriptural meaning for today.’ (Preaching)
Bryan Chappell: ‘The main idea of an expository sermon the topic, the divisions of that idea, main points, and the development of those divisions, all come from truths the text itself contains.…
‘Expository Preaching,’ writes Peter Adam, ‘is the preaching of the message of a book of the Bible, usually verse by verse, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, by explanation and application of it to the congregation.’
Here are fifteen argument in favour of expository preaching:-
It explains and applies the Bible as it was actually written – not as a collection of quotations, useful texts, inspiring ideas or isolated stories, but as a sequence of sentences, paragraphs, and book.
Iain H. Murray, associated for so many years with the Banner of Truth Trust, has a very wide knowledge of reformed theology and biography. His cautions about some aspects or perceptions of expository preaching are well worth noting.
If, says Murray, expository preaching is defined as preaching which seeks to explain and apply the text of Scripture, then there is no argument. But expository preaching has come to mean, for many, consecutive preaching through a passage, or book, of the Bible. …
‘There is no one way to prepare sermons’, writes John Stott in I believe in preaching. ‘Every preacher has to work out his own method, which suits his temperament and situation.’ Nevetheless, there are skills that can be learned and habits that can be acquired. The following outline of the relevant chapter (6) in Stott’s book is taken largely from Xenos.
Choose Your Text
Of course, there must be a text, ‘for we are not speculators, but expositors’. …
Expository preaching must remain faithful to the text of Scripture. There are two ways, says John Stott, in which the expositor might depart from his text: forgetfulness and disloyalty.
G. Campbell Morgan, himself a fine expositor, noted of Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College Oxford that he
declared that it was his habit to write his sermons, and then choose a text as a peg on which to hang them. I am quite free to say…that the study of his sermons will reveal the accuracy of his statement, and show the peril of the method.…