Exegete This!

Mark 1 – Expository Preaching – Part 3

So, why Expository Preaching?  Why that distinction?  Isn’t all preaching that uses the Word of God simply biblical preaching?  Well, I want to look at a well-known definition of expository preaching and then tease out some of the implications of that definition onto the preaching task.  But before we do that I think that it is essential to make a distinction between two words – Exegesis and Eisegesis:

Exegesis means “to lead out”.  It is allowing the text to speak freely, so that what we say is what the text is saying. It is when the text of Scripture rules us and we stand humbly under the text of Scripture.

Eisegesis on the other hand means “to put into.” It is coming to a text with preconceived ideas and pressing those ideas on that text so that it says what you want it to say.  It is when the text of Scripture serves us and we stand arrogantly over the text of Scripture.  So, any faithful expository of the Word of God will do the hard work of going to the text of Scripture and allow the text to speak rather than force a preconceived idea on the text.  In other words, we want to be doing exegesis and avoiding eisegesis at all costs.  People don’t need our thoughts, they need God’s thoughts. They don’t need our creativity but they need God’s majesty, beauty and wisdom.

Now, here is a classic definition of Expository Preaching from Haddon Robinson:

“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.”

So, here are some basic elements of Expository Preaching that flow out of that definition.

  • The message finds its sole source in Scripture.  In other words, the point of preaching is to preach the Word, the Scriptures, to expose what is there.
  • The message is extracted from Scripture through careful exegesis. (Literal, historical & grammatical method of interpretation)  When the pastor has done a faithful job of mining the text through careful exegesis he will then come to a conclusion as to what the text is saying.
  • The message preparation correctly interprets Scripture in its normal sense and its context.  Scripture is not a book full of codes and allegories hidden from that masses that only a skilled person can unlock.  Scripture is normally plainly understood.
  • The message clearly explains the original God-intended meaning of Scripture.  What did God say to that original audience?  Who were they, why did He say it?  Whom is He speaking through, etc.
  • The message applies the scriptural meaning for today.  What timeless truth is God wanting me to personally consider and then what is it that I as a Pastor/Teacher am called to convey to the gathered worshippers?

The bottom line is that a faithful expository preacher is simply a “mouthpiece for the text”.  That’s what the Puritans would say and I agree.  God does use us, our personalities, our experiences, etc., but ultimately, He is speaking His Word through us.  It is His Word that we want people to remember and not our illustrations, stories, personal examples, etc.  This is truly an awesome privilege on one hand and a heavy responsibility on the other!

So, although this discussion is in no way exhaustive, here is a summary of Expository Preaching.

  1. Expository Preaching is the application of a philosophy of the mandate to “Preach the Word” given by God through Paul to all who handle God’s Word before a gathered flock.
  2. It encompasses all styles of preaching…Topical, biographical, Theological, Doctrinal, etc.
  3. It asks the question, “Is this what God says?” rather than “is this what I am saying?”
  4. It is authoritative, clear and connects from the text to contemporary life – how we live, think, behave, relate to and in this culture.
  5. Its goal is not an emotionalism, people coming forward for prayer, etc., but a growing repentance and strengthening from God which permeates a person’s everyday life.
  6. It is not “one part” of the Sunday Morning experience, but the central focus of the Gathered church.
  7. God has called Preachers to “Preach the Word” not “Communicators” to move the people.

Implications

Now, I know that I have only scratched the surface, but it should at least be evident that our attitude and approach to the Bible is critical for us to have a healthy opportunity to faithfully “Preach the Word.”  There are implications, however that we should consider.

First, as God’s people we should have a high view of Preaching.  We should guard against the eclipse of preaching due to all sorts of programs, ministries and ideologies.  God didn’t tell Timothy, “Get a worship band together, create a support group, journal or watch the latest cool video.”  No, he said, “Preach the Word”.  His activity as a Herald and the subject matter of the Word is very clear.

Next, as God’s people we should have a high view of Teaching.  Preaching is the dynamic that typically takes place when the corporate church is gathered.  It always includes teaching, but the teaching I am now referring to is the kind of activity that may take place during a Sunday School hour or at a seminar.  This kind of teaching should also be expository in nature, gleaning its findings, instructions and counsel from the Word.

Also, God’s people should have a high view of Application.  This is the great value of the small group.  As a pastor I cannot possibly give direct application to everyone who is present when I preach.  Careful and effective application can, however, take place in the context of a small group that values expository preaching/teaching so that correct application can take place.  Remember, however, it doesn’t matter what you think the text means, or what it means to you.  What matters is what it means, what God intended, what He was saying.

Next, God’s people should have a high view of Biblical Counseling.  The kind of counseling that believes that God’s Word is sufficient and relevant will embrace expository preaching.  It will recognize that we don’t “use” God’s Word in counseling, but we minister or expose God’s Word in counseling so that the counselee can see what God says, what He demands, what He is calling them to.

Finally, as God’s people we should have a high view of Evangelism that is rooted in the Word of God.  It is not that we simply quote God’s Word, but that we explain God’s Word.  And when we do that, we are leaving our friends with a deposit of the Gospel to have an effect on their hearts.

Lord.  Keep us in your Word.  May it saturate our thoughts, our motives and affect our behavior as a living and active counselor and guide to our lives and ministries.

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