There are several types of preaching.Topical preaching combines various Bible verses that connect with a particular theme.Textual preaching uses a short text as a gateway to a certain doctrine or subject. These forms of preaching have a definite place in the life of the church and are fruitful because they teach Biblical truth.The form of preaching best for the long term health and maturity of a local congregation however is expository preaching.
Expository preaching follows a careful interpretation process to extract the God-intended meaning of a Biblical passage to provide explanation and application in a contemporary way. Expository preaching generally describes a philosophy about how to preach God’s Word as well as a particular approach to individual Bible books and passages. Haddon Robinson provides a helpful definition of expository preaching-
“Expository preaching is the communication of a Biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through him to his hearers.”
Another description of expository preaching comes from my seminary professor and preaching mentor, Bryan Chapell-
“The meaning of the passage is the message of the sermon. The text governs the preacher. Expository preachers do not expect others to honor their opinions. Such ministers adhere to Scripture’s truths and expect their listeners to heed the same.”
Expository preaching in a local church setting usually means preaching through Bible books. In my twenty years of expository preaching at Redeemer, I have preached through sixteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books and twelve of the thirty-nine Old Testament books. At this rate I should complete an exposition of the whole Bible by 2037. 😁 The benefits of such an approach are demonstrable. I can think of four in particular.
- An expositional preaching ministry grows the congregation’s trust in and knowledge of Scripture.
Rather than learning a topic and a list of proof texts, expositional preaching carefully teaches the content of the Bible to a congregation over time. This makes the congregation knowledgeable about God’s Word and it increases their trust in the wisdom of God revealed by Scripture.
- An expositional preaching ministry grows the congregation’s understanding of systematic theology and Biblical theology.
Systematic theology refers to studying Bible doctrines according to their subject like Christology, Eschatology, and Ecclesiology. Biblical theology refers to studying the chronological unfolding of God’s redemptive plan in Scripture. Both are bolstered as the congregation works through the books of the Bible expositionally as the main diet of Bible intake.
- An expositional preaching ministry demonstrates the providence of God with timely messages.
Sermons subjects should not react to every cultural event or hot topic in society. A commitment to steady exposition will demonstrate God’s providential care for His people as He exposes us to all sorts of issues in His Word that many times align directly with something that is happening in the world. I have lost count on how many times the message of the text aligned exactly with some immediately relevant issue in the world.
- An expositional preaching ministry grows the pastors with the people.
Your pastors study a passage all week with one goal- to faithfully communicate the meaning and application of God’s Word to you on Sunday. This preparation process means we undergo the Holy Spirit’s conviction and encouragement just before you do. This gives us passion to deliver the message on Sunday and to walk the road of sanctification with you.
In my twenty years of preaching ministry I have become convinced that expositional preaching of the Word is the most potent way to administer this means of grace.