Pastor's Corner - October 2018

Expository Only.  Really?


Titus 1:3  But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

The book of Titus was written by Paul the Apostle. It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop (pastor) of the church of the Cretians, from the city of Nicopolis in Macedonia.  

In our text, Paul emphasized the importance of preaching as he tells us God has manifested his word through preaching. In II Timothy 4:1-4 Paul tells Timothy, a young pastor and preacher, to preach the word, even though there would come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine. That time has arrived.  

Most preaching falls into one of three categories or types:

Topical - this centers around a topic to be addressed, and supported by various scriptures. Christ’s preaching in Matthew Chapters 5-7 (containing the sermon on the mount) is a rich example of topical preaching, as he covers a variety of topics from prayer, to trusting God to supply a believer’s daily needs. In Acts 17, Paul preaches a topical message on Mars Hill that is suited more to an occasion.

Textual - this centers around one or two verses at most. This is found in Acts 8: 32-33 as Phillip, the evangelist, explains Isaiah 53:7-8 to the Ethiopian eunuch before baptizing him. Paul also preaches a textual message in Acts 28. 

These are only a few of the examples of topical and textual preaching found in the Bible. 

Expository- this third example is a very popular form of preaching and teaching the scriptures. I say popular because it has reached the point that many of its biggest proponents claim that it is the only truly biblical way to preach God’s word. There’s one big problem with that claim. There is not one single example of someone preaching or teaching God’s word expositionally anywhere in the New Testament.  The singular biblical example of expositional teaching is found in Nehemiah Ch. 8.

     Somehow, in recent years, expository preaching (the systematic word by word breakdown of a chapter and/or book of the Bible in its natural order) has become the identifying mark of orthodoxy in many circles. A recent article in an apologetic newsletter told readers looking for a good church, to steer clear of churches that have topical preaching and look only for one that preaches expository messages.

     Now look, I love expository teaching and preaching, and it is a staple of a balanced diet at TVBC. But to claim it is the only legitimate biblical way to preach, when there are no examples in the New Testament, is either really ignorant, or blatantly dishonest. Balance is key here. The biggest criticism of the expository-only crowd against topical and textual preaching, is that these forms can favor or lean toward the preferences of the preacher. While that can be true, as an ordained preacher for 40 years, I also know a pastor can crawfish out of preaching on a currently pervasive, controversial subject by reasoning that we’re expositing Ephesians, and that subject doesn’t come up in Ephesians. Sorry.

 I believe Martin Luther said it best:  If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.