It is hard now days to find solid churches where expositional preaching is the norm in the pulpit. The move to messages that address felt needs, or shorter surveys of books of the Bible are far more common. And to add insult to injury, some have called their 6 week survey of a book, exposition. Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a place for book surveys, but it doesn’t replace thoughtful, exegetical exposition.
Sound exegetical exposition takes care and lengthy study and the unpacking of that which has been exegeted for presentation in expositional preaching. Sound exegetical exposition seeks to glean the truth and intent of the author so as to convey the sense of the scriptures (Neh.8:8) and therefore the will of God. The expositor becomes a slave to the text not the whims of his people and it diminishes his tendency toward pet hobby horses.
The most common objection I have heard launched at careful exegetical, expositional preaching is that it doesn’t expose the congregants to the rest of the Bible, especially if the pastor is spending three years, for example, in Romans. At that rate the pastor has hardly any time left to teach through or expose other passages to the listeners and give his people a more well-rounded view of the Bible.
This argument fails to see that any exposition of the Bible will of necessity require that expositor to cross-reference other scriptures. Any good and conscientious preacher will support his exposition by referencing of other verses and sometimes with in-depth treatment of the cross-referenced passages. Let’s take the Book of Romans as an example. Nearly, if not all the doctrines found in Romans are taught elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments. It would be difficult, if not impossible to give a clear exposition of Romans without proper treatment of the other Biblical references. Hence, a large portion of the Bible would have been preached to the congregation and application would be clearly seen.
There are a great many advantages for expositional preaching:
- It necessitates a study of the Scriptures that is contextual and therefore seeks to give the original intent of the author.
- It exposes the listener to other passages and sometimes whole books of the Bible on the subject being treated.
- It also, therefore, discourages dishonest treatment and interpretations.
- It disciplines the pastor to seek out original intent and sound Biblical hermeneutics.
- It is inductive by nature (exegesis – out of, instead of into.).
- It teacher the church, by example, how to study the Bible.
- It goes a long way in eliminating the accusation that the pastor preached a particular message in order to single out a person of group of people.
- It avoids” how-to messages that seek to meet the felt needs of others (therapeutic moralism).
- It honors the formal argument of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura, and places the preaching of the Word of God as central in our corporate and private worship.
- It guards against faulty interpretation and sets the foundation when deductive studies (ie. doctrinal, biographical, topical) are presented.
The best Biblical preachers of our day are all expositional preachers (John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Al Mohler, the late James Kennedy, the late W. A. Criswell, R.C. Sproul, Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, Dr. Allister Beggs, Dr. Mark Dever, the late J. Vernon McGee, and his mentor Dr. Harry Ironside, the late James Montgomery Boice, Martin Lloyd Jones, A.W. Tozer, and many others).
The Puritan movement was marked by some of the most extraordinary expositors America and Europe ever experienced ( Hugh Latimer, Thomas Crammer, Richard Baxtor, John Owen, John Newton, Jonathan Edwards, G. Campbell Morgan, and others).
Others, such as, the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, B.B. Warfield, F.F Bruce, and are also notable expositors.
– Michael Holtzinger