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This post is part of a full article by Jeramie Rinne entitled Exposition and Sufficiency which can be read in its entirety at Reformation 21 website. Please click this link.

Making God’s Point Your Point

We’ve said that expository preaching flows naturally from a preacher convinced of Scripture’s sufficiency.  But what exactly is expository preaching?  There are many good definitions.  At 9Marks ministries, we typically say that an expositional sermon is one in which the point of the text becomes the point of the sermon, which is in turn applied to the congregation.  It’s a preaching that exposes what the Word says, and then shows how that relates to the hearers.  Visualize the expositor pointing at the text with his right index finger, and then pointing at himself and the congregation with his left index finger.  That’s the essence of exposition.

Perhaps it would be helpful to clarify what expository preaching is not.  Unfortunately the term carries negative and inaccurate connotations for some of us.  Consider these four clarifying denials about expository preaching:

First, expository preaching is not merely a verse-by-verse approach to Scripture.  A pastor can exposit a text verse-by-verse.  But he can also take up a paragraph, a pericope, or a whole chapter.  God’s Word speaks whether we take a microscopic look at one word, or a wide-angle shot of a whole book.  I have one sermon that I intentionally repeat at my church that covers the entire book of Job.  I recycle that sermon because suffering is a constant challenge in our peoples’ lives, and Job calls us to worship God even in our pain and perplexity.  But the point is that it’s one sermon on the main point of the entire book.

Second, expository preaching is not to be equated with the style of any one expositor.  When you think of someone who typifies expository sermons, who comes to mind?  Whoever that model pastor may be, don’t think that to be a faithful expositor you need to mimic his style, mannerisms, or preaching pace.  Give a text to four faithful expositors, and you will likely get four similar, yet unique sermons.  Though they will make similar points about the passage, the tone, emphasis and insights will vary according to the distinct personalities and gifts God has given to each.

Third, expository preaching is not merely a running commentary on the text.  Our definition includes an emphasis on application.  We preachers often struggle with making application.  Our seminaries trained us in exegesis, hermeneutics and theology, and our sermons often reflect this.  But if we never make application, we merely puff up our hearers with knowledge, or possibly cause them to tune out, without ever pushing the point of the text into their hearts, their families, their speech and their wallets.

Fourth, expository preaching is not inherently seeker insensitive.  We sometimes assume that relevant, topical sermon series are good for unbelievers and new Christians, while expository preaching is better for mature Christians.  Again, this betrays our faltering courage in the Bible’s adequacy.  Seekers (i.e. unrepentant sinners) need the Word of God if they are ever going to believe: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).  Furthermore, sinners aren’t stupid; they’re just ignorant.  They can learn what God’s Word says if we’ll take the time to explain it to them clearly.  If teenagers can pound down Harry Potter and Twilight novels, and adults can consume The Wall Street Journal and follow the twists, turns, and theology of The DaVinci Code, then they can certainly digest a cogent expository sermon.

Expository preaching at its core is faithfulness to the Bible’s message and intent.  It arises from twin desires to see sinners sanctified and God glorified, by showing the power for doing both comes from God’s Word alone.  By making the point of the text the point of the sermon and application, we as preachers merely lead people to God on God’s terms and then watch as people encounter him through his Word.

 

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Many are kept from identifying themselves openly with the Lord’s people by a secret feeling that they will never be able to hold out. They carry with them a nervous dread of bringing disgrace on their Christian profession and trailing Christ’s color in the dust.  Almost unconsciously,. they repeat the words of David, “I shall now perish by the hand of Saul” (1 Samuel 27:1).

Anxiety about so sacred a matter as this will hide the face of Christ, as the impalpable vapor-wreaths hide the majestic, snow-capped peaks.  And it is quite needless.  He who saved can uphold.  As is His heart to love, so is His arm of might.  He is able to keep us from stumbling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory.  But we shall never know the sufficiency of that keeping while we cling to the boat or even keep one hand upon its side.  Only when we have stepped right out onto the water, relying utterly on the Master’s power, we shall know how blessedly and certainly He keeps what is committed to Him against that day.

We must not carry even the burden of daily abiding in Him.  Let us rather trust Him to keep us trusting and abiding in Himself.  He will not fail us if we do, and He will answer our faith by giving us an appetite for those exercise of prayer, Bible study, and communion that are the secrets of unbroken fellowship.

 

This is the 3rd excerpt taken from F. B. Meyer’s book on The Secret of Guidance, under the section on Burdens, and What to Do With Them – EmmausTrekker

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