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The Nature of Expository Preaching (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 17, 2022 4:00 am

The Nature of Expository Preaching (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 17, 2022 4:00 am

Expository preaching isn’t merely a style option. Scripture establishes it as the standard method by which God’s Word is to be proclaimed. What is expository preaching? What makes it so powerful? Hear the answers on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Every pastor has his own personality and that is often reflected in his teaching style, but expository preaching isn't a style option.

Scripture establishes it as the standard method by which God's word is to be proclaimed. So what exactly is expository preaching. What makes it so powerful, Alister Meg has the answers questions for us today on Truth for Life. Verse 29. I'd say the Spirit told Philip go to that chariot and stay near it and Philip ran up to the chariot and had the man reading Isaiah the prophet. Then he said, do you understand what you're reading. How can I he said unless someone explains it to me so he invited Philip to come up and sit with him and comes the next question 34.

Tell me please. Who is the prophet talking about himself or someone else then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. I do believe that expository preaching creates a hunger for the Bible that we breed within our congregation.

A sense of expectation and a sense of attentive listening, and when you have a congregation that gathers in anticipation of simply a monologue on biblical matters by a kindly fellow speaking with emphasis then you can be sure that what they expect they will probably get but when a congregation gathers with the conviction that when God's word is truly preach that God's voice is really Herod. Then there's all the difference in the world.

When you have that kind of congregation will draw out from the preacher desire to be diligent with the Scriptures and we have a preacher who is diligent with the Scriptures, it will in turn create that hunger and interest on the parts of the people. Calvin expresses this notion. Wealthy says it is certain that if we come to church. We shall not hear only a mortal man speaking but we shall feel even by his secret power that God is speaking to our souls that he is the teacher he so touches eyes that the human voice enters into ours and so prophet size that we are refreshed and nourished by God calls us to him as if he had his mouth open and we saw him there in person, will he still was known for all manner of things, but most from his for his commitment to expository preaching and also for incredibly long prayers are his long prayer on a Sunday morning could last as long as 20 or 25 minutes. That was simply his prayer, but on one occasion, a visitor to Williamsville's church in Aberdeen greeted the minister at the conclusion of the service and said to him, but Mr. still you don't preach William still asked what he meant and the man answered well you just take a passage from the Bible and explain what it means.

Mr. still replied brother that is preaching is a passage from the Bible and explain what it means now he and others like him were simply following the pattern for expository preaching that is established there and that now my a section by Ezra and his colleagues godly man reading God's book explaining it in such a way that people can understand its implications. What are the key principles of expository preaching, while the first is most obvious and that is that we begin with the text expository preaching always begins with the text of Scripture or the does does that mean and that every sermon will begin with the phrase please turn in your Bible to in terms of the approach that we take while it may, but not necessarily so we can have people who begin by please turn in your Bible to and then what follows is anything but expository preaching will be possible to get a very good introduction and then the rest be absolutely haywire. No, it doesn't mean that every sermon has to begin with a please turn to Luke chapter 7 or whatever it is, but it does mean that even when we begin our sermon tangentially by reference to some current event or even to the lyric of a contemporary song what it means is that it is the text of Scripture, which has established the agenda for the sermon.

That's what I mean by expository preaching always begins with the text of Scripture, the Bible, expositor does not start with an idea or with a great illustration and then go in search of an appropriate passage. Instead, he begins with Scripture itself, and then he allows the verse is under consideration to establish both the framework and the content of the sermon.

Some of us in our early days very quickly fall into a trap of having a framework by which we preach, which becomes almost the same all the time and I don't want to say that it is always wrong to do this, but for myself, I've had to push myself away from that over the years to allow the content of the passage not only to establish the content of what is being said, but also to force me to establish the framework in which the content is being delivered so that we allow the genre of the passage to influences in the way in which we build the scaffolding around the, the, the structure that were going to leave behind. We say more about that later on when we get to some of the practicalities, but I thought I'd mention it just in passing when John Stott refers to this and he does so so helpfully in his book preaching between two worlds. He says in relationship to this, it is our conviction that all true Christian preaching is expository preaching that all true Christian preaching is expository preaching that we are on the wrong track.

If we think of expository preaching merely as a preaching style chosen from a list of possible preaching styles, namely topical devotional evangelistic textual apologetic prophetic bribes, expository, and a number of us have come through homiletic departments that have offered as these different styles just exactly in that way, they put them up on the board and flip them up on the screen and said all hear all the different ways that you can possibly deal with the text of Scripture are started challenging that any saying that all Christian preaching that is effective is essentially expository preaching what he doesn't mean by that is that this is a peculiar style of preaching by the you've never really preached unless you have gone to a passage of Scripture and you have unfolded the passage of Scripture. Whether you are going at it from the topic of temptation or the topic of money or whatever else it is Scott's conviction would be that it is far better for us to take the question of temptation and expound a section from James chapter 1 that it is to dance all away around the Bible pulling out references to temptation. He saying do it in an expository manner so that if your preaching topically, preach topically in an expositional fashion is immediately a kind of clash of the neurons or something in people's heads is at work. How can you preach topically expositor early topically exposition is not simply a running commentary nor is it a succession of word studies held together by a few illustrations. We should even think of it in terms of the discovery and declaration of the central doctrine found in a passage we can do all of those things without actually accomplishing biblical exposition in terms of the definition. I want to build with you. I don't misunderstand me.

Those things are all important of constituent elements, but none of them, in and of themselves, necessarily equals exposition so than ever going to be involved in biblical exposition expository preaching always begins with the text of Scripture. Secondly expository preaching seeks to fuse the two horizons of the biblical text in the contemporary world, it is possible to preach exit genetically and yet failed to answer the soul court question right and this I want to warn you against this is the missing element in in some of our preaching would be very very faithful in doing the word studies as we should we be very very faithful in getting to grips with the passage as it is with trying to take our people consecutively through it as best we can, but one were all finished with failed to answer the question that is inherent in their minds, which is so what truly exposition must have some prophetic dimension that leaves the listener and no doubt that what he is just heard is from the living God and creates in him or her in her at least the sneaking suspicion that the author of this book knows the somebody bigger and greater and smarter than the individual who was standing up there this morning has been involved in what was taking place because there has been an exposition not only of the word of God but mice soul has been exposed and having been exposed both to the Bible and where I'm living my life suddenly these things of coalesce.

I have a sense that the author actually knows me that is chosen to speak to me out if were going to take the Bible to our people. In this way and respond to the challenge of that and we have to be careful of the sheer slackness that is involved in simply throwing at our people, great slabs of religious phraseology, and without helping the individuals translate the message into their own experience with and we can content ourselves with having done a wonderful job and go home and hope that our Whitestone through our lunch at is in the same way that we just through all that stuff other people are listening to the morning sermon. The reason that we have received this calling and receive whatever training we have enjoyed is in order that we might do the diligent work of being able to respond to the questions of people like the Ethiopian eunuch who scooted who says when asked do you understand what it is you reading the present is how can I unless someone explains it to me if you go amongst the average member of your congregation and the average passage of the Bible are the reading. If you go up to them and see them do understand what you're reading. Many of them will be honest enough to say how can I really understand this, unless someone explains it to me and that of course is the great privilege of being called to expound the Bible. Some of us have made in recent years the great rediscovery of the theological works of the Puritans is something which for which each of us, I think, are grateful for the reason I have an inherent danger in it and that is the proliferation of young men who support the delivery owes more to the 17th century than to the 21st so they found the sermons that had 74 points and they decided on I'm going to try this out of my people and their art said now 36 three.

The poor pastor's wife is been has been holding onto the seat for about 25 minutes. Her knuckles are absolutely frozen in position to been longing for him to say something that actually related to anybody around her and it hasn't happened.

The benefit of Puritan writings is not to enable us to speak in 17th-century language benefit in Puritan writings, probably to remind us of the glory of God and the grandeur of the Scriptures and then to interpret it for the 21st century we say what the problem is arguably far more significant of the other end of the spectrum, and I think that's probably true, where we find sermons that are overly steeped in the issues and interests of the contemporary culture that people linger during exposition but they're not what they're doing is they're seeking to establish contact with the listener very very quickly but the connection of what they're saying with the Bible is so slight that it fails to establish the link between the world and the Bible and the personal world of the listener so easy on the one hand, the danger of an exegesis which makes no contact and the other the danger of an approach which seeks to make immediate contact and it is not grounded in the Scriptures. This individual can think of is doing exposition simply because he is a running commentary simply because he is reiterating the Puritans or simply because he is discovering Christian doctrine. Whatever else this, but he may not be making contact at all. This individual is rejoicing the fight that is made immediate contact with the people drugs they wanted. That afternoon the Bible has none biblical exposition preachers task in exposition is to declare what the word says to explain its meaning to establish the implications so that no one will mistake its relevance.

Whatever were doing with were preaching the 10 Commandments we were doing a series on the seven deadly sins, with her where expounding Isaiah 53. Our task in exposition is always the same, declare what the Bible is set for going to do that we need to understand what is being said we need then to explain the meaning of, and to establish the implications of so that no one will mistake its relevance third thing I want to say is that not only does expository preaching begin with the text and seek to fuse the two horizons, but expository preaching encourages the listener to understand why of first century letter to the church in Corinth could ever be relevant to a 21st-century congregation living in Cleveland.

Expository preaching encourages the listener to understand why it is that some ancient book. I just chose Corinth because it fits with Cleveland could possibly be relevant to them since their living in Cleveland and it is vital that the listener does not leave mystified by the way in which the teacher has dealt with the text fusing the two horizons is crucial, but he must do so in such a way as his people begin to learn by example how to integrate the Bible with their own experience and they should be young man growing up in our congregation is saying. I think I can do that.

I think I'm getting that I think I understand that and I listener for seven or eight months. I see the way he's doing that islands of a God that I'm going to seek an opportunity to speak in an old people's home or to the youth group or something else I want to try this biblical exposition.

I can see how he doesn't just read a passage of Scripture.

He explains the meaning he unfolds the implications and then he says a forward from there.

I'm going to have a good out if the twin dangers for our listeners or these that we need to pay attention to the danger number one of assuming that our studies in first Corinthians. For example, are totally unrelated to them at all and that's why you see because they believe that they're trying to go to churches where there are sermons emblazoned across the board that are seven principles for living with your wife are five ideas for head-a healthy financial background, how to you know have a theological perspective on your checkbook and all these different days of music, let's often these places because it is thoroughly relevant to the fellow over here is simply he's doing something wrong with Corinthians outerwear Corinth. What I saw a map sometime but it's obsolete completely bogus, and it's irrelevant. Note love ones. I understand why they would feel that way if when they come to here are preaching on first Corinthians. They just walked into the 17th century and we had all order stuff for them. That was totally unrelated was full of clichs and shibboleths, and a bunch of stuff in the language of Zion where Sam was. The danger is that they will regard studies expositional studies in the book of Corinthians as just totally irrelevant. I'm pausing there to say and they may well be right, which is the danger that we face of making our approach to the teaching of first Corinthians sold all so boring, so unrelated that our friends are saying it is totally irrelevant. You see what I'm saying is this, if I can stay with my own meager train of thought. What I'm saying is we are going to drive people into all of those pragmatic environments unless we are able, by the enabling of God's spirit to assure them that exegetical expositional teaching in first Corinthians is the most beneficial dynamic live boldly attractive material that they could ever encounter on the Lord's day morning and where they really do that in our own strength. We only need the Lord's power will not be able to do that silly. By reading ancient books will have to do that by thinking clearly working hard being diligent and getting about a business falling on our face bring ourselves up trying again changing this and moving forward until we begin to get enough law when it is clear that God is truly honoring his word as incomes rose and we dare not content ourselves by simply saying them doing a light with it. I gave them six verses is up to that. No wife would deal with that with her children and that way no doctor would deal with his patients and that way if he was worth his salt and no pastor must either we are to be gentle among them as a mother caring for her children had to go to the ones who clearly when you give the assignment and you remember in school when the guy said now right down here.

The first three things that comes your mind.

Having read this poem and 20 minutes later he sees you and your still sitting there and you have a blank sheet of paper and the teachers that are worth our salt of the ones of conch and kneeled down beside you and and try and help you along at least get something on your page and we need to recognize that with our people because some of them assume the message is irrelevant, and to those who assume that it is irrelevant. All that I just said is vital from the preacher site I have to work hard to ensure that I'm not simply done good exegesis by that. I have also help the listener to understand the meaning of its text that I have labored to establish its relevance to the listener's personal world. For example in addressing the doctrine of the incarnation was surely not going to content ourselves with ensuring that our listeners have grasped the instruction that God became incarnate, but at least part of our application will be to point out the implications of this great principle of incarnational mission and to establish that link in the minds of our listeners, we might say something along these lines, the ministry of Jesus was one of involvement, not detachment, and therefore, let me remind you as you go back to your places of employment tomorrow that you cannot minister to a lost world. Unless you are in its of course we could've told the people that without dealing with the matter of the incarnation.

We are simply said to them, you know, is very important figure in the world but having exegete in the passage which had to do. Let's say with a John 17 we have then pointed that out to the source to show those who regarded as immediately irrelevant that it is actually very relevant. The flipside of the.

The concern though is that there are individuals who regard the message as immediately relevant, not irrelevant but immediately relevant and this is the kind of listener who wants to move immediately to application. Don't waste time.

He says on going through it does get to the bottom line. Tell me what this means to me. These are the people in our Bible studies and is in evidence on this. I do not believe in Bible studies. Of course I do have lots of them. Here the church and we want to have as many as we possibly can.

We just want to have them except in court relative and supplemental and I mentioned to the preaching of the Bible, they reinforce it in the same way that describes the elders moving around the crowd and in and now my chapter 8 were reinforcing the teaching that was given from Ezra as he gave the sound of the word from from the large wooden platform. But these people. The Bible says you want to means of it is to say, I will thank you for arrested for reading that passage of hardly finish reading the passage is the leader in the say what this means to me is zero. With all due respect, why don't you just go get yourself another cup of coffee and hold that thought, and maybe for the rest of your life because were not remotely interested in what it means to you. Not yet. We may be in a minute but we are not interested in what it means to me until we have discovered what it means because it is only once we know what it means, then we can make any application as to what it might mean to me without having established and is the role of the pastor and the teacher without having established the meaning of the text we didn't allow our people or ourselves immediately to jump off and make application to our circumstances, the rush to personalize the text removed from the necessary understanding of what the passage means in its original context is a real is it is a real dilemma. Whether you're someone who sits in the pew or stands on the pulpit. Good Bible teaching is essential for listing the Truth for Life that is Alister Berg with the key principles of expository preaching. This is a time of year when many of us in the United States are already starting to look ahead to the Thanksgiving holiday and there's a lot involved with planning the menu, inviting guests, preparing the schedule. The real question is do we build into the schedule time to give adequate thanks the book we want to recommend to you today is a book written with that goal in mind I think you'll love the title is called the Crumpler's guide to giving thanks this is a book that acknowledges that we simply don't think God often enough, or sincerely enough for all that he is provided and we shouldn't just cordon off one season of the year Thanksgiving to give thanks we should do it every day of the year. Learn how this practice will lead to a more joyful life. Request your copy of the Crumpler's guide to giving thanks when you donate today to give you can tap the book image in the mobile app or visit us online at truthforlife.org/donate Bob Lapine join us again tomorrow to find out how expository preaching benefits. The pastor as well as the congregation. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by truth for the wording is for living


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