What is Expository Preaching?

preach the word

Note:  This is part of an on-going series as I blog through D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ “Preaching and Preachers.”

My life was changed by expository preaching.  I had heard the Bible and the gospel taught from the time I was born, but during my sophomore year of high school I started to hear a kind of preaching I had never heard consistently before.  Through my Grandpa Cordell Baker, our Interim Pastor at that time and then our next Pastor, Mark Waite (who I later had the great privilege of working with in New Mexico for almost 6 years), I heard God’s Word preached in a way that made me want to look to God’s Word for all direction, hope, knowledge, and experience of Christ.  As I sat under this powerful teaching my last few years of high school, God used His Word to change my heart from a budding legalist to a lover of Christ.

What is expository preaching?  There is much more that could be said, but Lloyd-Jones helps us out in Chapter 4, “The Form of the Sermon”:

Expository Preaching is Thoroughly Biblical
In other words, expository preaching is not just based on a Scriptural text, it comes out of the text.  It is biblical in the sense that it is preaching the Bible.  “You do not start with a thought, even though it be a right thought, a good thought; you do not start with that, and then work out an address on that…it should be clear to people that what we are saying is something that comes out of the Bible.  We are presenting the Bible and its message.” (85-86)

Expository Preaching is Theological
“…the preacher must have a grasp, and a good grasp, of the whole biblical message, which is of course a unity…That is the meaning of the phrase ‘comparing Scripture with Scripture’.  We must not deal with any text in isolation…The right use of systematic theology is, that when you discover a particular doctrine in your text you check it, and control it, by making sure that it fits into this whole body of biblical doctrine which is vital and essential. (77-78)

Expository Preaching Preaches the Gospel, Not Just About the Gospel
“The business of the preacher is not to present the Gospel academically…we are called to preach the Gospel, to convey it, and to bring it directly to the individuals who are listening to us, and to bring it to the whole man.  So let us be clear that we are not to talk about the Gospel as if it were something outside of us…it itself is being directly presented and conveyed to the congregation through us.” (79)

Expository Preaching is More Than a Running Commentary
“I maintain that a sermon should have form in the sense that a musical symphony has form…You are not an antiquary lecturing on ancient history or on ancient civilizations, or something like that.  The preacher is a man who is speaking to people who are alive today and confronted by the problems of life; and therefore you have to show that this is not some academic or theoretical matter which may be of interest to people who take up that particular hobby, as others take up crossword puzzles or something of that type.  You are to show that this message is vitally important for them, and that they must listen with the whole of their being, because this really is going to help them to live.” (83, 86-87)

It is obvious as you consider the immensity of the preacher’s task, that expository sermons take time and hard work to develop.  Every pastor needs the prayers and encouragement of his people to be faithful to God’s calling to preach the Word! 

Source:  Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn.  Preaching & Preachers: 40th Anniversay Edition.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

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