Last week I was at the ReFocus Canada Expositional Preaching seminar lead by John Neufeld and Marty Culy at Willingdon Church. It was a great week of insight, training, fellowship, and gathering around God’s word as preachers. I was reminded of the value of expositional preaching. The following are my thoughts that I’ve adapted from John Neufeld’s session on The Justification for Expositional Preaching.
What is Expositional Preaching?
In Expositional preaching, the point of the passage is the point of the message. The choice of what we preach on is determined by the Bible as we usually preach through books of the Bible. While on occasion I do preach a topical series made up of expositional messages, I believe that the main diet of the church needs to be expositional series’ preaching through books of the Bible.
I am horrified when I see preachers not only not preaching expositional messages from the Bible, but instead are preaching someone else’s topical series. Instead of doing the work themselves, they just download someone else’s sermon series. I know it happens all the time, and I’ll probably get in trouble for saying it, but I believe it to be both lazy and unfaithful.
7 Reasons for Expositional Preaching
1. It’s not my house, therefore I cannot choose what I do in the pulpit
When you are in someone else’s home, they set the agenda, they decide when we’ll eat, where we’ll sit, what we’ll do. It’s their house. As preachers, we are stewards in God’s house. He sets the agenda. His word must lead the way.
2. I do not presume to judge the wisdom of God
If I’m always picking my own topics, I presume to know more about what my people need than God. We might ask the question, “what does my church need to hear?”, but I would argue that God already told us and he wrote it down for us. We may think we know what our people need, but God knows better. I’m regularly amazed at how God ordains things in such a way that a passage I would never have picked connects with the specific needs of individuals that morning. God knows better.
3. If I preach expositionally, I have a sure promise. I will maximize effectiveness
We know that that the gospel is the power of God for salvation, and that faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. So we can preach God’s word with confidence, believing that he will empower the preaching of his word. My words don’t come with the power to transform lives, but God’s word does.
4. I will preach the full counsel of God, and be innocent of the blood of others
It’s near impossible to preach the full counsel of God if I pick the topics. My favourite topics and hobbyhorses will be overemphasized while others will be de-emphasized. I don’t trust myself and neither should my church. If I want to preach the full counsel of God, I should preach through whole books of the Bible.
5. I can stand behind the word. That will be my defense to my critics
If I’m picking my hobbyhorse topics, my critics can claim I’m picking on them or using the pulpit to bully people. But when we preach through books of the Bible and keep the point of the text as the point of the sermon, the critics’ complaint is against God and not me. I’ve had people say “I don’t like what you had to say”, to which I can always respond, “which part of the passage did I misinterpret?” If my words are God’s words, and my interpretation is sound, my critics’ argument is with God and not me.
6. I will always have something to say
If I’m preaching my own hobbyhorses and favourite topics, I’ll quickly run out of things to say. An expositional preacher never wonders what next week’s message will be on. God sets the agenda. God determines the next passage. An expositional preacher will never run out of material.
7. I will bring health to my church and unity to the people of God
In preaching expositionally, I am teaching my church how to read the Bible and to submit to it. Our church will experience unity and health around God’s word.