The word "expository" is not in most people's vocabulary. I was a Christian for about fifteen years before I ever heard of it. The word refers to explaining or describing something. In ministry it refers to preaching that clearly explains Scripture so the original meaning is given. It is a way to preach that closely follows what we see in the Bible.
Expository preaching is in contrast to preaching that is merely a motivational talk, sharing, or a lecture with little reference to or explanation of God's word.
The expositional message is based on Scriptures like Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (NASB) This tells us that Scripture is inspired of God and is different from any other book in history. If the Bible is understood as God intended it will penetrate and convict our sinful hearts. This is how the prophets, apostles and Christ used it. Therefore, it is essential that the preacher study, understand and clearly explain the Word of God so the Holy Spirit can apply it to our hearts and bring spiritual life through faith.
Jesus is the best example of this kind of teaching. In His Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-6) Jesus was basically explaining the Ten Commandments so that people would understand them in the deeper sense. Many were convicted by this most amazing sermon of history.
After Christ's resurrection He met several of his sad disciples walking on a road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. He came upon them unrecognized and began to chat. They expressed their sorrow and confusion. Then Luke 24:27 says, "Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." What an amazing sermon this must have been as they walked for seven miles. He systematically touched on the texts that explained who the Messiah was. Suddenly they got it and realized He was the Christ.
Expository preaching may be of a verse or two or of entire books of the Bible systematically as I most often do. The advantage of the latter is that the hearer is exposed to God's truth in the order it was given by the Holy Spirit rather than a disjointed understanding because of major portions left out.
Expositional teaching may also be topical. At times the pastor may need to speak on a topic of Scripture that needs explaining such as love, death, sin, marriage, adultery, homosexuality, salvation, forgiveness and other issues. A topic expositional approach brings forward the key verses in those areas and explains them in an expository way and brings the proper application to the question. Again, this allows the Bible to be understood as it was meant to be by God. This makes the hearer responsible before God to apply this truth.
In ministry I came to greatly value the expository method. Over thirty-eight years of ministry I have preached verse by verse expositions through many Old and New Testament books. Many of them took from months to years to get through a book. The books of Isaiah, Revelation, John, Acts and Galatians recently have been vastly enriching experiences to preach through. I trust that my ability has improved as I have tried to sharpen my skills in this area. My next blog will show some hidden benefits of expository preaching.
Recently several of our young men and myself attended a conference on preaching that taught these principles. It was a great blessing to hear Dr. Steve Lawson teach on this subject. I am now enjoying getting started in my new series in Mark: The Newspaper Version of the Gospel. I hope you will enjoy this fast moving approach to Christ life that Mark gives us.
Check out what's happening at Discovery on our calendar at www.discoverybaptist.org.