Expository Preaching/Teaching

by djgorena

It has been twenty-nine years since I started preaching and teaching. In addition, I have heard many sermons at various conferences and events. But what is striking to me is that so many preachers today tout that they believe in expository preaching when so much preaching today is nothing of the sort. Of course, when at a meeting, most preachers will pick a “sugar stick” or they are given a specific assignment for their sermon. Nevertheless, they still do not preach expository sermons. So I would like to clarify what an expository sermon is. There are four parts to a Biblically based, expository sermon: 1) Explanation; 2) Illustration; 3) Application; and, 4) Exaltation.

EXPLANATION

In order to explain a text, the preacher needs to know the text. Now notice that I said he must know the text. This means that he has put adequate time into the study of the Word of God. If he has seminary or Bible college training in the original languages of the Bible (both Hebrews and Greek), then he ought to spend the time of studying the passage in the original languages. Once all the words of the text have been read, studied to know what the words mean, and has created a simple outline directly from the text, then the preacher is ready to look at other resources for further study.

The other resources that are at the preacher’s disposal include commentaries, books on a given subject that relates to the passage at hand, as well as other resources that may be found on the internet. If a preacher does not have any commentaries on hand, many commentaries may be found online or at a local seminary or Bible college.

The preacher needs to read the commentaries with a fine-toothed comb. In other words, read and study but only depend on that which is Biblical according to the passage that you are studying. If the words of the commentator moves away from the text of the Bible, then you ought to move away from his writing. Always remember, the text of Scripture–God’s holy Word–supersedes any man’s thought, speech and writing.

Now that you have worked out a clear outline of the text from the text, it is time to find relevant illustrations.

Illustration

Illustrations should be simple and should be relevant to the text. It is important to understand that the illustration does not explain the text; rather, it enhances your explanation of the text. Moreover, illustrations should be relevant to your current space and time. Your hearers will remember illustrations that mostly align with the texts. It is vitally important for you to choose your illustrations wisely for this reason. If you choose an illustration that does not relate to the Biblical text you are preaching, it may cause confusion for your hearers.

Many preachers use their spouses and children as illustrations. Use much caution with this type of illustration and use it sparingly. I give you this caution because your first duty after your commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ is your wife and children: you are the one who is responsible to protect them! Many prying eyes and ears are upon you, your wife and your children. People are wanting to see a Godly example in their pastors/preachers/teachers, but they do not necessarily want to know all of your dirty laundry. Moreover, there is a group of people in your church and in mine who are just waiting to find fault with you, your wife or your children. Never use an adverse illustration of your family. This will not only hurt them, but it will hurt your hearers as well; this will be seen in how an audience is quick to stop listening.

Illustrations may be found in your daily newspaper, in historical books or encyclopedias, story books, poems, songs, movies, magazine articles, and online. Again, illustrate well and then you can apply the passage to your audience.

Application

Now the application should be easily found in the text of Scripture. YOu want to be careful in how you apply the passage. Too man preachers will apply a passage to his hearers when in fact it is not necessarily applicable to them. This happens many times when a preacher reads a passage of Scripture that relates specifically to Israel, or to Judah, or to Peter, James or John. There are certainly life lessons that can be applied to present day hearers, but not everything applies to everyone. Of course, there are those who will argue that the Church has replaced Israel or that because we are now grafted into the “tree” of Israel that it now applies to us. Although we have been grafted into the “tree”, there are still specific promises to Israel yet to be fulfilled just as there are specific promises to the Church that are yet to be fulfilled.

Look for the principles for which we can all live by and your application of the text will work well for you. Additionally, I heard from another pastor-teacher, John Bisagno, that the major points of your outline ought to be the application points of which you are speaking. This allows very nicely for your application to be relevant to your explanation and illustration of the Scripture passage you are preaching.

Now that you have explained, illustrated and applied the Scripture, the final step in an expository sermon is exaltation.

Exaltation

I was told years ago that every sermon ought to make a beeline to the Cross of Calvary. This means that in every expository sermon that you preach or teach, you ought to be sure to bring the Scripture passage you are preaching or teaching around to Jesus Christ. From the beginning pages of the Scriptures we find our Creator, our coming Messiah and our need for Him (Genesis 1:1, 26-28; 2:1-25; 3:1-24). He is the focal point of all of Scripture. It begins with Him as the Creator of all things and it ends with His restoration and re-creation of all things (Genesis 1; Revelation 20-22).

Now I say all of this to make the point that Jesus Christ made in John 3:14-15, which says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”

the famed music group, U2, sings a song entitled “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”* The lyrics read:

I have climbed the highest mountains / I have run through the fields / Only to be with you /Only to be with you

I have run, I have crawled / I have scaled these city walls / These city wall / Only to be with you

But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for / But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for

I have kissed honey lips / Felt the healing in her finger tips / It burned like fire / (I was) Burning desire

I have spoken with the tongue of angels / I have held the hand of a devil / It was warm in the night / I was cold as a stone

But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for / But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for

I believe in the Kingdom Come / Then all the colors will bleed into one / Bleed into one / But, yes, I’m still running

You broke the bonds / And you loosed the chains / Carried the cross of my shame / Oh, my shame, you know I believe it

But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for / But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for

But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for / But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking

The exaltation of Jesus Christ in every expository sermon ought to be at the forefront of every preacher’s mind. It is in Him that we find what we are looking for–what the world is looking for.

Preacher, teacher, preach and teach well! Preach and teach expository sermons and the blessings that come from your preaching and teaching will be more than can be imagined both for you and your hearers.

*Songwriters: CLAYTON, ADAM / EVANS, DAVE / HEWSON, PAUL DAVID / MULLEN, LARRY / REINA, VICTOR. Published by Lyrics (C) Universal Music Publishing Group

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