Thursday, April 10, 2008

The value of expositional preaching

I am grateful for the various preaching teachers at Moody and Covenant (and the several other pastors I have listened to over the years) who have convinced me of the value of expositional preaching. Bryan Chapell's book (Christ-Centered Preaching) is the best currently available on this subject, though there are many others that do a great job teaching expositional preaching. What makes Chapell's book so valuable is his emphasis on the Christ-Centeredness of the bible. Very simply, expositional preaching is a kind of preaching that expounds upon the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture. Most typically, a pastor/church committed to such preaching works through the bible one book at a time, yet not necessarily in order. I am convinced of expositional preaching's great value to the church. Martin Lloyd Jones said it well concerning such preaching-

"One advantage in preaching through a book of the Bible… is that it compels us to face every single statement, come what may, and stand before it, and look at it, and allow it to speak to us. Indeed it is interesting to observe that not infrequently certain well-known Bible teachers never face certain Epistles at all in their expositions because there are difficulties which they are resolved to avoid."

9 Marks gives these brief descriptions of the various forms of preaching and also lists some important benefits of the expositional approach:

Anecdotal - a sermon in which the preacher primarily tells engaging stories with a moral lesson.
Biographical - a sermon in which the preacher traces the life of a biblical character and draws contemporary moral implications.
Topical - a sermon that has a topic in mind prior to consulting the text, and then searches for one or more biblical texts that address the topic chosen beforehand.
Textual - a sermon that refers often to a particular Biblical text, but does not take the main point of the text as its own.
Expositional - a sermon which takes the point of the text as the point of the sermon

Certainly all the above forms have value and a place in the life of God's Church, however it is my conviction that a steady diet of expositional preaching most benefits the sanctification of the Church. Again, 9 Marks helps by showing the various benefits of expositional preaching:

Some benefits of expositional preaching for the Pastor:
- Releases the pastor from the dilemma of what text to preach each Sunday.
- Increases the likelihood of the pastor preaching the whole counsel of God over time.
- Increases the pastor's command of the Word by forcing him to study difficult or often-neglected texts for himself.
- Increases the Word's command of the pastor by giving him a broader exposure to the probing sword of Scripture, deepening his continued repentance and faith, incrementally increasing his knowledge of God, and therefore enhancing his Spirit-produced ability to please God in every way (Heb 11:6; Col 1:9-12).
-Increases the pastor's God-given prophetic authority in the pulpit by grounding his preaching in the divinely intended meaning of the text.
-Increases the trustworthiness of the pastor's preaching in the eyes of the congregation.

Some benefits of expositional preaching for the Congregation:
-The congregation is released from slavery to the preacher's hobbyhorse texts and topics.
-The applicational intention of the text is released to do its creating, convicting, converting, and conforming work in their lives.
-Increases their knowledge of God and His word by broadening their exposure to all the different parts of Scripture.
-Increases their trust in the inspiration, inerrancy, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture.
-Increases their trust in the pastor's preaching and teaching.
-Decreases their likelihood of being deceived by false teaching.
-Functions for them as a responsible model of personal Bible study.

For Bryan Chapell's actual seminary course on expositional preaching, go here.


Frontier Forest said...

I don’t want to seem too critical of some of my favorite, old, Pre-Reformed radio preachers I used to constantly adhere to. BUT now Reformed, I am proud to admonish my new wave of thinkings. When I listen to these same men of God today, I am totally uninterested! It is the same old message! Preach Salvation, give an alter call, sing 400 verses of “Just as I am”, then pray the prayer and convince this usually confused soul, they now have receive their “fire insurance!” Great message, good intentions, and fair music, but who is playing God? Dispensational theology never seems to push people out from old comfort zones. It seldom challenges believers to “Search the Scripture daily to see if these things are true.” “Make a wish and pick the dish, or Pick and Choose, free to lose” preaching is far too preacher/man-centered. And what is more disturbing to me now, is when I hear one of these same preachers make the challenge to the congregation to practice and to become “Soul Winners for Jesus!” I think, “How silly! Like us sinners, are the ones actually responsible to ‘win someone’ to Christ?” That is absurd!
This is why expository preaching is so challenging and refreshing. Every message, every thought is about the supremacy and efficiency of Christ! The fact is, nothing we can do, in and of ourselves can “win souls!” It is the Word of God, “rightly handled!” that goes forth to bring the elect into salvation and therefore, fulfill His Great Mission.

Rick Calohan said...

I recommend to all the members of our congregation who have a B.A. or B.S. and who are pondering furthering their education provided they have the time and resources to do so to enroll via ACCESS through Covenant Seminary where Dr. Brian Chapell is President. Starting this fall, Covenant Seminary will permit you to take more than one class at a time and will offer four classes per semester to distance students.

For those of us who desire to know the meaning of Grace Centered Reformed Covenant Theology I could think of no better place than our national seminary of the PCA. After all both, Pastors Tony and Nathan are graduates from Covenant.

What I love about Access and Covenant Seminary, is that it truly lives up to its motto, Rooted in Grace for a Lifetime of Ministry. The knowledge I have gained thus far has served me well, and has helped me in my walk with our Lord.

For those of you who do not have the time or resources to pursue a degree Covenant offers the same courses free granted there is no degree that comes with it, but you will get the same course lectures that are provided to degree students.

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