Friday, October 06, 2006

The Value of Expository Preaching

Why should we preach expositionally though whole books at a time?

1. Preaching expositional sermons forces us to deal with everything the Bible has to say. Some passages of Scripture are hard to understand and some are hard to believe. But, if we preach through whole books at a time, then we have no choice but to deal with the difficult texts, and wrestle with their meaning, and application, even if their meaning and application are difficult or uncomfortable to us.

2. Preaching through whole books at a time guards against misinterpreting the Bible because it forces us to deal with every verse of the Bible in its own context. It would be easy to rip a verse out of context and make it say what we want it to say. But it is much more difficult to misinterpret the Bible if its words and phrases are studied in the context of the message of the book in which they are found.

3. Expository preaching keeps us away from hobby horses, or favorite themes. It would be easy to find a few encouraging things in Scripture and restrict our preaching to those items. But if we study through whole books at a time, then we get exactly the balance that God thinks is appropriate, perfectly and proportionately emphasizing God’s character, judgment, grace, the cross, the call to faith and repentance, how to live as Christians, the church, heaven and hell, etc.

4. Preaching through whole books allows the Holy Spirit, who wrote Scripture, to set the agenda every Sunday. In this way, we can study and apply what God said in the order in which God said it. The expository preacher cannot come to church with his own agenda. Rather, he comes with God’s agenda and nothing more. That is beneficial both to the preacher and to the congregation. The role of the preacher is not that of a chef, but of a waiter, who simply serves the food that God has prepared for His people.

5. We should preach through whole books at a time because every word of the Bible is true. If every word were not true, then we might pick and choose among texts of Scripture, choosing to preach and study what we believe is true, while leaving the rest.

6. Expositional preaching allows us to think God’s thoughts after him. If we work through entire books, then we are enabled to follow God’s own train of thought and logical argument as it moves through a book. The Bible is the mind of God revealed, and if we would know God’s mind, we must know what this book says in the order in which it says it.


  1. Good thoughts Tom. Are you going to do a follow up on the dangers of expository preaching?

  2. Thank you brother. I'm interested to know, do you think expository preaching must necessarily consist of progressing through a whole book in order to be considered expository?

  3. Greg, I've been thinking about your question. I'm going to answer with a qualified "no." In order for a sermon to be truly expository, it must be "contextual." It always has to take the context of the whole book, as well as the rest of the Bible, into account. But because expository sermons must be firmly rooted in context, the most natural course for expositors is to preach through whole books at a time. It would be possible to have a series of individual expository sermons that are also topical. But, if that is a preacher's normal method, then while he might be said to preach individual expository sermons, I wouldn't say he practices expository preaching in the fullest sense of the usual meaning of that phrase.