Preaching & the Church WATC

Explanation of expository preaching

What isn’t expository preaching? 

Expository preaching is not theme-oriented. The preacher's ideas or the pressure of contemporary ideas are not the driving force of the message, which is not focused on the now. 

While expository preaching focuses on the Bible, it is not merely informational, such as a verse-by-verse commentary.  It is also not merely inspirational, encouraging people to do good for the sake of good or humanity.

What is expository preaching?

One of the most basic explanations of expository preaching is the meaning of the text, which is the sermon's point.  In Preach, Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert write, “Expositional preaching is preaching in which the main point of the Biblical text being considered becomes the main point of the sermon being preached. 

In expository preaching, the Bible provides direction, whether the message is one stand-alone message or a series of messages through a specific book. A verse-by-verse study through a book, like Pastor Brett's current series, provides a Bible-based framework for a preaching schedule. The preacher does not decide what the topic is from week to week. The text does.

Why expository preaching?

In ACE class, Pastor Brett shared several reasons for expository preaching

    • Clarity. God’s word is more precise and better than the ideas of man.
    • Protects the truth, God’s authority against the preacher, crowd, and our own comfort.
    • Demands a choice, spiritual growth, or rebellion.
    • Promotes biblical literacy 

Here are Bible examples of expositional preaching (https://www.9marks.org/answer/do-we-see-examples-expositional-preaching-bible/)

  1. Levitical priests taught the law. (Deut. 33:10).
  2. Ezra and the Levites gave the sense. (Neh. 8:8).
  3. Prophets were to speak God’s Word, not their thoughts. (Jer. 14:14).
  4. Jesus interpreted the law and prophets, and more is needed 24:27, 44).
  5. On Pentecost, Peter expounded the Psalms. Joel 2:28-32, Psalm 16:8-11, and Psalm 110:1
  6. Hebrews is an expositional sermon. Hebrews 3:7-4:13 is an extended exposition on portions of Psalm 95.

Expository Listening - Mutual Ministry of the Word

In class, we discussed what expository preaching listeners need to do. Here is the list.

  • Be here
  • Be honest. Remember, expository exposes the word. It also reveals the human heart.
  • Pray for the pastor.
  • Remember the Bible. Before the sermon, read the passage. On the day of the sermon, bring a Bible.
  • Prepare your heart, mind, and body.
  • Live out the sermon.

If the expectation is that the pastor preaches an expository sermon (and at Trinity Baptist Church, that is the case), then the congregation has specific responsibilities and expectations. All Christians have the privilege and responsibility to prayerfully speak the word of God to each other and non-Christians about how God gives this growth.

 There is a chapter in “The Trellis and the Vine” entitled “Why Sunday Morning Sermons are Necessary but not Sufficient.” The basic idea of the chapter is summarized in this statement: “It is the word of the gospel that is sufficient, rather than any particular form of its delivery.” Each of us is responsible for encouraging one another with God’s word to one another because it is the Spirit of God that changes and grows people. There is not one specific delivery method of God’s word.

The church and the sermon are so much more than an information download.
The church and the sermon are not for our entertainment.

“The church is a community of saved people who listen to, obey, and speak the truth of God’s Word into the lives of others for the glory of God. The sermon is one method used to educate and excite the community to live for the good of others and the glory of God.” (unknown)

Some practical listening helps from Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons

Basic Reminders:

  1. Expect God to speak.
  2. Admit God knows better than you.
  3. Check that the preacher says what the passage says.
  4. Hear the sermon in church.
  5. Be there week by week.
  6. Do what the Bible says.
  7. Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice!

How to listen to Bad Sermons

Ash explains different types of bad sermons and gives some help for listening to each type:

Dull sermons “leave much to be desired in its style or presentation.”

Above all, we must search our hearts and come to the sermon praying for God's help to listen attentively as our bodies will let us...  My advice is not to worry that quite a bit of the sermon may go over our heads or bypass our consciousness but to ask God that some part of it may stick and be turned to repentance and faith.

Try taking notes or at least having paper and pen with you, with the aim of jotting down a verse or truth that you can take home and respond to.  Try going with a friend and agreeing not to spend lunch lamenting the preacher's inadequacies but rather sharing positive Bible truths that you have learned or been reminded of and praying together for God's help in putting them into practice.

Biblically inadequate sermons “import all sorts of things not in the passage, or to screen out important things in the passage that do not feature in the preacher’s understanding of biblical truth.” When responding to these sermons, Ash offers dangers to avoid.

  1. “Avoid developing a critical spirit.”  
  2. “Avoid being gullible and credulous, believing whatever any preacher says, so long as they say it plausibly and well.”

Heretical sermons contain “an error in something central to Christian faith and not something peripheral” (not a difference in church government but a denial of Jesus as Messiah). They are not merely mistakes or weaknesses that are put right when corrected or taught to the church.

Here is Ash’s counsel for heretical sermons.

The way to listen to these sermons is to stop listening to them!  That is to say, we ought to move away from that kind of church and find a church where they believe and teach the Bible faithfully.  We will not look for an exciting church where the preaching entertains; we will look for a faithful, Bible-teaching church (p. 28).


11/05      Leadership & the Church
11/12      Discipline & the Church
11/19      The Gathering of the Church 


Pastor Brett on Preaching and Leadership


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