Why Expositional Preaching and Teaching Demand Good Biblical Reasoning–Part 1: What is Expositional Preaching and Teaching?

Regardless of whether you’re a Gospel preacher or a teacher, I contend that good, sound Biblical reasoning can only occur when we embrace an expositional approach to studying and sharing the scriptures.  This leads to answering three questions: What is expositional preaching and teaching? What is good reasoning? How does good reasoning help us?
I will explore the first question today.

What is Expositional Preaching and Teaching?

To answer this question, we need to address the definition, purpose, and burden of expository preaching.  Before doing so, however, I want to stipulate several things.
To be clear, I recognize that the call, responsibility, and task of preaching and teaching are interrelated but not the same.  Ephesians 4:11-13 speaks to some of the distinguishable spiritual gifts yet they all have a two-fold purpose: to glorify God and to unify the church.  I admit that it’s an oversimplification to suggest that some of the distinctions between a preacher and a teacher include the means through which they present the Gospel, i.e. to a congregation vs. small groups. 
By the same token, I do not believe the study habits of observation, interpretation, and application of the Bible differ between a preacher and teacher. After all, God does not establish a hierarchy of Christians’ love for Him based on their area of giftedness.  And He certainly doesn’t lower his standards of accountability for those who are lazy handlers of His Word
(2 Timothy 2:15)!
It’s in this spirit that I view the responsibility of both preachers and teachers to exercise good Biblical reasoning.

Definition of Expository Preaching

I love Richard Mayhue and Tony Evans’ insights about what expositional preaching means and characteristics of expository preachers:
  • “At its best, expository preaching is ‘the presentation of biblical truth, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, Spirit-guided study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit applies first to the life of the preacher and then through him to his congregation.’” 1


  • “A biblical expositor can be defined as a spiritually prepared person declaring the interpretation and application of biblical truths acquired through the study of a passage in its context that the Holy Spirit then uses to confront the hearer and bring those who respond in conformity with God’s Word.” 2
This is serious business, indeed.
Purpose of Expository Preaching
Unfortunately, when describing the purpose of expository preaching, many people refer to  helping explain scriptures in a way that can be easily understood. This is too subjective:  what’s “easy” for some isn’t so for others. In addition, it’s not about ease of delivery. It’s about the public, powerful, and precise declaration of what the Bible says and how we should respond accordingly.
John Piper put it this way:  “This is our calling: to open the words and sentences and paragraphs of Scripture and display ‘the glory of Christ who is the image of God.’” 3

Burden of Expository Preaching

John MacArthur declares: “We must never study a passage to find a sermon. We must study a passage to see completely the truth the Lord is teaching in it, and prepare the sermon out of the overflow of that comprehensive grasp and personal application of the passage.”  4
This is a heavy burden because we must not yield to temptation to find “our own truth” or use what my former pastor, George Williamson, called “bubble gum” logic (Psalm 119:3-34 and Ephesians 1:17–18).  Practically speaking, we can overcome this burden by having a personal relationship with God, a rigorous prayer life modeled by Jesus, and guidance by illumination from the Holy Spirit.
1  Mayhue, Richard L. “Rediscovering Expository Preaching.” Rediscovering Expository Preaching. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1992. 12. Print.
2  Tony Evans, The Power of Preaching:  Crafting a Creative Expository Sermon. Pages 19-20. Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Piper, John. “Why Expositional Preaching Is Particularly Glorifying to God.” The Expositor Magazine, One Passion Ministries, Issue 2 November/December 2014, 22. Digital. 
4   MacArthur, John. “The Priority of Prayer and Expository Preaching.” Rediscovering Expository Preaching. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1992. 94. Print.

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