Home > Brandenburg, Preaching > The Superiority of Exposition

The Superiority of Exposition

October 11, 2006

I contend that exposition is superior to other types of Bible preaching.  I’m going to give you my definition of expository preaching first:  Expositional preaching is to explain what a passage of Scripture itself is saying.  In expositional preaching the point of the sermon is the point of the text itself.  The responsibility of the preacher is to explain each text faithfully and then apply it accurately.  I’m not going to tell you much about how to do that, but I am going to argue for why it is better than any other kind of preaching.  As I enumerate these reasons, I want you to assume that I am talking about an actual expositional sermon, not something horrible that calls itself one.

First, exposition is superior in authority to all other types of preaching.  Why?  Exposition necessitates stepping behind the text of God’s Word.  The text itself is preeminent in exposition, not the audience or the preacher himself.  In the expository sermon, your faith does “not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).  As a preacher, you take the attention off of yourself and put it instead on the text.  People can argue with you, but they can’t very well debate with the text without crumbling under its authority.  When people get done listening to God’s Word preached expositionally, they won’t act because of you but because of the text.  As a corollary to this, God is glorified.  David said in Psalm 138:2 that God magnified His Word above His own name.  When we magnify the Word through preaching it, we also glorify God.  Our wisdom is repudiated and His power is demonstrated.

Second, exposition is superior in that it results in preaching every Word of the Bible.  That alone convicts me to preach expositionally.  You tell me if the words of these verses do not convict you to preach every Word of the Bible.

It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.     Matthew 4:4

And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house. . . . For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.     Acts 20:20, 27

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.   2 Timothy 3:16, 17

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.     Matthew 28:20

If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;  Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.     Deuteronomy 28:58, 59

I couldn’t tell you how to obey the above verses while preaching topically or textually.  The pastor must give an account to God for the people of His church (Heb. 13:17).  I don’t want to stand before God with the knowledge that I didn’t preach everything that God said as He gave it.

Third, exposition is superior in that the listeners will learn the Word of God, not just about the Word of God.   Expository preaching deals with every difficult text, the very texts that people need explained by the resident expert on the Bible.  Exposition by nature looks at a passage in its context, studying the meaning of the words, considering the grammar, and understanding the text as people would have understood it in that day.  The people hearing will understand what the Bible is saying and all of it, because the preacher is preaching all of it.  When the expositor explains a whole book, the listener can understand the whole book.  An important message of God’s Word is found in an entire book of Scripture, the theme of that book developed in chapter after chapter.  Each text is viewed in light of the overall meaning of the book.  All of this combined results in the congregation learning the Word of God.

God can use topical and textual preaching.  They aren’t wrong to do.  I would contend that pastors need to utilize both of these as well.  Some doctrines are developed through seeing them through all the passages of the Bible.  Certain issues need covering by looking at several different texts in their context.  However, the main diet of preaching in a church should be expositional.

I could list dozens of deficiencies and problems a church will have when the pastor does not preach expositionally.  Some of them will occur with the pastor himself.  For one, he loses out on the sanctifying effect that His study of the Word of God will have on himself and, therefore, the church.  Do you think that a church is better off with a pastor who knows the Bible better?  The church itself will likely avoid the important practice of some missed text without going through every text together.  Expositional preaching cultivates a taste for the Word of God, it exalts the themes that God foresaw were the most important for everyone, and encourages the church to dig into the Bible herself.  In contrast, lack of exposition results in the loss of these benefits.

God’s Word never returns void and prospers in everything God sends it to do (Isaiah 55:11), so the man of God should preach all of it (2 Timothy 4:2), even when it isn’t in fashion to do so.  By doing so, the preacher and his congregation will plant themselves by the rivers of water and bring forth fruit in season and whatsoever they do shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

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Categories: Brandenburg, Preaching
  1. Don Heinz
    October 11, 2006 at 5:51 am

    Bravo! Let me just add from a missionary’s perspective that all these things are true even when preaching in a foreign language. I have been told that in third world settings a missionary ought to try to use the teaching methods that are most popularly accepted. But, I have found that if you want to build the kind of character that Christians need for solid churches to be built, it can only be acheieved through exposition of God’s Word. This anchors the people’s spiritual growth directly to the Bible. It’s sort of like using a large power converter in your car that is plugged in through the lighter port. The result is that the plug melts (always topical preaching). Whereas, if you wire the converter into the electrical system directly, it works just fine. Christians need to be wired directly into the Word itself. Exposition accomplishes that.

  2. October 12, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Regarding point one: I thought preaching itself necessitated stepping behind the text of God’s Word. That was my contention in my first post. Too many preachers aren’t. They are delivering spiritually motivating speeches. Shouting moralism, but not preaching the Word.

    Regarding point two: Maybe this is just another form of semantics, but what if the Word (as He gave it) suggests a different style of sermon preparation and delivery?

    Regarding point three: I contend that it’s not the expositional preching that deals with every difficult text. It still boils down to the preacher. I could preach many an expositional message but none on passages with which I’m uncomfortable.

    I think it would be interesting to know how pastors “determine” what they will preach to God’s people. How does “God lead” you in your choice of books, topics, etc. for your sermons, Sunday school lessons, and midweek Bible study series? If you don’t want to say how God leads you, maybe you could tell what the result of His leading has been. What have your people been receiving?

  3. October 13, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    With exposition, one is preaching a passage, so the passage takes the forefront; not so with at least topical, and usually textual. Whatever is in the Word is the Word, so they preached the Word when they preached what is recorded in the Word. It is almost impossible for people to understand a passage in its context without preaching the context as well.

    First, I preach what I haven’t preached. Second, I consider what book my church needs. Third, I pray for peace about that book. I work from some combination of these three. I always have an expositional series going in every major service I do. Pastor Sutton is doing Romans in S.S. I am doing Isaiah on Sun. AM. I am in the historical books on Sun. PM. Wednesday is Mark. Sun. PM is my topical, issue night. I haven’t preached in the historical books for at least three to four months. I’ve done series on topics, etc., including one on the will of God. This last Sunday evening I preached on Making Disciples. Before I started Isaiah, I did a series for over a year on important salvation texts in the New Testament, so that our people would understand salvation from an expositional standpoint.

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