Expository Preaching (Quotes)

John MacArthur: The message finds its sole source in Scripture. The message is extracted from Scripture through careful exegesis. The message preparation correctly interprets Scripture in its normal sense and its context. The message clearly explains the original God-intended meaning of Scripture. The message applies the Scriptural meaning for today. (Preaching)

Bryan Chappell: The main idea of an expository sermon the topic, the divisions of that idea, main points, and the development of those divisions, all come from truths the text itself contains. No significant portions of the text is ignored. In other words, expositors willingly stay within the boundaries of the text and do not leave until they have surveyed its entirety with its hearers. (Christ-Centered Preaching)

John Stott: Exposition refers to the content of the sermon (biblical truth) rather than its style (a running commentary). To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view. The expositor opens what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted, and unfolds what is tightly packed. (Between Two Worlds)

Alistair Begg: Unfolding the text of Scripture in such a way that makes contact with the listeners world while exalting Christ and confronting them with the need for action. (Preaching for God’s Glory)

Haddon Robinson: The communication of a biblical concept derived from and transmitted through a historical-grammatical and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher then through him to hearers. (Biblical Preaching)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire and that the chief end of preaching is to give men and women a sense of God and his presence. (Preaching and Preachers)

David Helm: Expositional preaching is empowered preaching that rightfully submits the shape and emphasis of the sermon to the shape and emphasis of a biblical text. (Expositional Preaching)

John Piper: Expository exultation. (The Supremacy of God in Preaching)

Albert Mohler: Expository preaching is that mode of Christian preaching that takes as its central purpose the presentation and application of the text of the Bible . . . all other issues and concerns are subordinated to the central task of presenting the biblical text. (He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World)

Mark Dever: Expositional preaching is preaching in which the main point of the biblical text being considered becomes the main point of the sermon being preached. (Preach: Theology Meets Practice)

Tim Keller- Expository preaching grounds the message in the text so that all the sermon’s points are the points in the text, and it majors in the texts’s major ideas. It aligns the interpretation of the text with the doctrinal truths of the rest of the Bible (being sensitive to systematic theology). And it always situates the passage within the Bible’s narrative, showing how Christ is the final fulfillment of the text’s theme (being sensitive to biblical theology). (Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism)

Expository Preaching – The Cure for Anemic Worship

MohlerBy Al Mohler (original source sparking a renaissance of thought and conversation on what worship really is and how it should be done. Even if this renewed interest has unfortunately resulted in what some have called the “worship wars” in some churches, it seems that what A. W. Tozer once called the “missing jewel” of evangelical worship is being recovered.

Nevertheless, if most evangelicals would quickly agree that worship is central to the life of the church, there would be no consensus to an unavoidable question: What is central to Christian worship? Historically, the more liturgical churches have argued that the sacraments form the heart of Christian worship. These churches argue that the elements of the Lord’s Supper and the water of baptism most powerfully present the gospel. Among evangelicals, some call for evangelism as the heart of worship, planning every facet of the service—songs, prayers, the sermon—with the evangelistic invitation in mind.

Though most evangelicals mention the preaching of the word as a necessary or customary part of worship, the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music, along with innovations such as drama and video presentations. When preaching the word retreats, a host of entertaining innovations will take its place.

Traditional norms of worship are now subordinated to a demand for relevance and creativity. A media-driven culture of images has replaced the word-centered culture that gave birth to the Reformation churches. In some sense, the image-driven culture of modern evangelicalism is an embrace of the very practices rejected by the Reformers in their quest for true biblical worship.

Music fills the space of most evangelical worship, and much of this music comes in the form of contemporary choruses marked by precious little theological content. Beyond the popularity of the chorus as a musical form, many evangelical churches seem intensely concerned to replicate studio-quality musical presentations.

In terms of musical style, the more traditional churches feature large choirs—often with orchestras—and may even sing the established hymns of the faith. Choral contributions are often massive in scale and professional in quality. In any event, music fills the space and drives the energy of the worship service. Intense planning, financial investment, and priority of preparation are focused on the musical dimensions of worship. Professional staff and an army of volunteers spend much of the week in rehearsals and practice sessions.

All this is not lost on the congregation. Some Christians shop for churches that offer the worship style and experience that fits their expectation. In most communities, churches are known for their worship styles and musical programs. Those dissatisfied with what they find at one church can quickly move to another, sometimes using the language of self-expression to explain that the new church “meets our needs” or “allows us to worship.”

A concern for true biblical worship was at the very heart of the Reformation. But even Martin Luther, who wrote hymns and required his preachers to be trained in song, would not recognize this modern preoccupation with music as legitimate or healthy. Why? Because the Reformers were convinced that the heart of true biblical worship was the preaching of the word of God.

Thanks be to God, evangelism does take place in Christian worship. Confronted by the presentation of the gospel and the preaching of the word, sinners are drawn to faith in Jesus Christ and the offer of salvation is presented to all. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper and baptism are honored as ordinances by the Lord’s own command, and each finds its place in true worship.

Furthermore, music is one of God’s most precious gifts to his people, and it is a language by which we may worship God in spirit and in truth. The hymns of the faith convey rich confessional and theological content, and many modern choruses recover a sense of doxology formerly lost in many evangelical churches. But music is not the central act of Christian worship, and neither is evangelism nor even the ordinances. The heart of Christian worship is the authentic preaching of the word of God.

Expository preaching is central, irreducible, and nonnegotiable to the Bible’s mission of authentic worship that pleases God. John Stott’s simple declaration states the issue boldly: “Preaching is indispensable to Christianity.” More specifically, preaching is indispensable to Christian worship—and not only indispensable, but central.

The centrality of preaching is the theme of both testaments of Scripture. In Nehemiah 8 we find the people demanding that Ezra the scribe bring the book of the law to the assembly. Ezra and his colleagues stand on a raised platform and read from the book. When he opens the book to read, the assembly rises to its feet in honor of the word of God and respond, “Amen, Amen!”

Interestingly, the text explains that Ezra and those assisting him “read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Neh 8:8). This remarkable text presents a portrait of expository preaching. Once the text was read, it was carefully explained to the congregation. Ezra did not stage an event or orchestrate a spectacle—he simply and carefully proclaimed the word of God.

This text is a sobering indictment of much contemporary Christianity. According to the text, a demand for biblical preaching erupted within the hearts of the people. They gathered as a congregation and summoned the preacher. This reflects an intense hunger and thirst for the preaching of the word of God. Where is this desire evident among today’s evangelicals?

In far too many churches, the Bible is nearly silent. The public reading of Scripture has been dropped from many services, and the sermon has been sidelined, reduced to a brief devotional appended to the music. Many preachers accept this as a necessary concession to the age of entertainment. Some hope to put in a brief message of encouragement or exhortation before the conclusion of the service.
As Michael Green so pointedly put it: “This is the age of the sermonette, and sermonettes make Christianettes.”

The anemia of evangelical worship—all the music and energy aside—is directly attributable to the absence of genuine expository preaching. Such preaching would confront the congregation with nothing less than the living and active word of God. That confrontation will shape the congregation as the Holy Spirit accompanies the word, opens eyes, and applies that word to human hearts.

Issues for the Western Church in the 21st Century

Dr. Carl Truman

Grace Theological College, New Zealand – July 2015

Session 1 – The Issues Facing Us Today

Session 2: Preaching

Session 3: The Importance of Creeds and Confessions

How Not To Preach Boring

bible-preaching-300x207Article by David Qaoud (Original source but one of the highlights from my first semester at Covenant Theological Seminary was hearing Kevin DeYoung give a series of lectures on preaching. Several seminary students and I got to listen to DeYoung speak live in our chapel. And then we got to spend time with him after his lectures for a more personalized “Q&A” session on preaching. The insights that he gave on preaching are things I’m still thinking about today.

In this article, I’ll give you some of those insights. I took a lot of notes in Evernote as DeYoung spoke. Admittedly, the notes are a bit sloppy, sporadic, and at times abrupt. But that’s the nature of note-taking during a live speaker.

With that in mind, the notes have been edited for space and clarity. But none of DeYoung’s thoughts have been altered. You can find the notes below.

Practical Preaching Advice from Kevin DeYoung

“The title of my lectures are, ‘How Not to Preach Boring.’”

“The seven points in my lecture today are veracity, clarity, specificity, ingenuity, authenticity, spontaneity, and authority.”

1. Veracity

“Read God’s Word, and spend some time giving people the accurate meaning of it.”

“Your best content from preaching should be things you learned and discovered in preparation from studying the text. Not from stories or personal testimonies, but from the text.”

“What gets John Piper excited the most is what he sees in the text. What should get you the most excited is what you see in the text.”

“You’re going to burn yourself out if you’re constantly trying to have your best stuff derive from jokes and stories. You should be consumed by the text.”

“Aim first to be a congregational preacher, not a conference preacher.”

“People should have to hold and open their Bibles while you preach.”

“The preacher is at his best when he’s closest to the text.”

2. Clarity

“After veracity, clarity is king.”

“The goal in preaching is not to be thought as clever and smart, but to be understood.”

“Simplicity is the best sign of a good teacher.”

“Art makes bad preaching. Movies make bad preaching. Poetry makes bad preaching. Why? Because there’s too much subtly. They’re great, but it’s not preaching. Preaching should be simple and clear.”

“There can be drama and subtly within the sermon, but you must land in a place that is crystal clear and understandable.”

Quotes Alistair Begg: “Read yourself full. Write yourself clear. Pray yourself hot. Preach yourself empty.”

“Don’t leave it to Sunday morning to make your points clear.”

Quotes C.S. Lewis: “You are not brilliant if you can’t make your brilliant ideas understood.”

“Ask yourself this: ‘Is your sermon a laser or a mist?’”

“Pray for clarity, especially when you don’t want it. The early church prayed that they would preach the Word with boldness. I would have thought that they would have prayed for a change in circumstances.”

“Boldness in preaching is not bravado or arrogance or decimals. Boldness is the ability to be clear in the face of fear. And that’s what you have to do as a preacher.”

“So find out what the passage says, and say it as clear as possible.”

3. Specificity

“We have to be mindful of who is in front of us when preaching. The people who you’re preaching to are all not like you.”

“We tend to preach to our struggles and to the kind of people who are like us.”

“There is no substitute for knowing your people.”

“There is no other place than I would rather preach than my home church.”

“There’s some value in knowing the culture. It is of some value, but it is of much less value than knowing the people you’re preaching to on Sundays.” Continue reading

The Chief End of Preaching

pulpitThis excerpt is taken from The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Steven Lawson.

The spiritual power transmitted by Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ preaching grew out of his own transcendent view of God. No man’s preaching can rise any higher than his view of God. The sheer genius of Lloyd-Jones’ preaching was based in the towering knowledge of God he possessed and proclaimed. The more he exalted God in the pulpit, the higher the people rose in their worship of God. He was constantly magnifying the glory of God and leading his listeners to behold His greatness and grace.

In 1969, Lloyd-Jones delivered a series of lectures on preaching at Westminster Theological Seminary. There, he asserted:

Preaching is first of all a proclamation of the being of God . . . preaching worthy of the name starts with God and with a declaration concerning His being and power and glory. You find that everywhere in the New Testament. That was precisely what Paul did in Athens—“Him declare I unto you.” “Him”! Preaching about God, and contrasting Him with the idols, exposing the emptiness and the acuity and uselessness of idols.

The preaching that begins with God, Lloyd-Jones affirmed, is worthy of divine approbation. This is precisely where he chose to focus his expositions. The Doctor looked for the grandeur of God in every text and sought to magnify Him above all else. He was constantly elevating God to the highest priority in his pulpit ministry. Even as he listened to other men preach, he was willing to overlook their mediocre delivery or disorganized presentation if the man could simply convey a true sense of the greatness of God.

I can forgive a man a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that though he is inadequate in himself, he is handling something which is very great and glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and glory of God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the gospel. If he does that, I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him.

Lloyd-Jones believed the focus of the sermon is to unveil God. Asking himself the question, “What is the chief end of preaching?” he succinctly answered, “I like to think it is this. It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence.” This is the very essence of what Lloyd-Jones understood authentic preaching to be. He believed it is to be an exaltational exposition, that is, preaching that is always exalting God.

21 Thoughts on Preaching

Bible377Article by Jared C. Wilson (original source here are some reflections, musings, and bits of advice on the noble task of preaching the Word of God.

1. I’ve heard it attributed to Tim Keller that you have to preach at least 200 sermons to get good. (Or something like that.) I think this is generally true. For those gifted to preach, it does take a long time to hit your stride and become reliably good, and even then, you keep growing and refining. For those who aren’t gifted to preach, I think even reaching the 200 mark shows no discernable growth. Someone is ungifted to preach when they’ve been at it a long time and show no real development. Sermon 201 is probably not noticeably improved from sermon 1.

2. I personally favor the use of manuscripts, but I understand they’re not for everyone. If you can’t preach from a manuscript without sounding like you are reading a manuscript, it’s probably not for you.

3. When I started preaching, I used outlines (2-3 pages). I expected that as I got more experienced and confident in the pulpit, I would be taking less material. The opposite has proved true. The longer I go, the less I trust myself to speak without the train-track of my manuscript (usually 10-12 pages).

4. I don’t think short messages are usually very good, but there’s nothing worse than a sermon that is too long. Don’t try to say everything. Do the text justice, proclaim the gospel, and don’t feel the need to turn your weekly sermon into a conference talk. For most preachers, I suspect 30-40 minutes is probably the best range, but, again, a bad sermon can’t be too short.

5. I believe that your devotional prep should take longer than your exegetical prep. Don’t overcook your sermon, but don’t pressure-cook your communion with God.

6. Thinking missionally, I think there is some truth to the admonition to “preach to who you want.” But it’s not for no reason Peter says to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” Preaching to the congregation of your vision is often a great way to lose the congregation God in his wisdom has given you.

7. Work with the text on your own first, consult commentaries last. Always better to borrow than to steal.

8. I think topical sermons are fine so long as they’re preached expositionally. 😉

9. If Christ is as glorious as he says he is, making him the point of the sermon—no matter the text—makes the most sense. Continue reading

Considering the Pulpit Ministry?

Carl Henry: [Dr. Lloyd-Jones], would you therefore encourage young people to consider the pulpit ministry…above every other vocational call?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: No, that’s something I’ve never done and never would do. Such a decision must be a personal call from God…I’ve always tried to keep men out of the ministry. In my opinion a man should enter the ministry only if he cannot stay out of it.

-Christianity Today, Feb 8th, 1980