What is expository preaching?

Erik Raymond: I can think of five different but equally interesting conversations over the last couple of years where I’ve discussed expository preaching. They were interesting because those I talked with had such different understanding of what exposition is. This is one of the byproducts stemming from the rise in the popularity of exposition; people hear a lot about it but don’t necessarily know a lot about it. For example, people characterize expository preaching as a running commentary. Others label it out-of-touch doctrinal preaching fit for the ivory tower. Still others think of it as a launching point for systematic theology (whether or not it’s in the text). So, what exactly is expository preaching? I have culled a sampling of definitions from some prominent authors who define exposition in their books on preaching. Although the list has a variety of definitions, I trust you will see many common themes emphasized here. John MacArthur: The message finds its sole source in Scripture.

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Why There Is No Righteousness Like Christian Righteousness

This Crossway post is adapted from Galatians by Martin Luther. Many Kinds of Righteousness St. Paul sets about establishing the doctrine of faith, grace, forgiveness of sins, or Christian righteousness. His purpose is that we may understand exactly the nature of Christian righteousness and its difference from all other kinds of righteousness, for there are various sorts of righteousness. There is a political or civil righteousness, which emperors, princes of the world, philosophers, and lawyers deal with. There is also a ceremonial righteousness, which human traditions teach. This righteousness may be taught without danger by parents and schoolteachers because they do not attribute to it any power to satisfy for sin, to please God, or to deserve grace; but they teach such ceremonies as are necessary simply for the correction of manners and certain observations concerning this life. Besides these, there is another righteousness, called the righteousness of the law or of the Ten Commandments, which Moses teaches. We too

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‘The Shack’ & the missing art of evangelical discernment

Al Mohler: The publishing world sees very few books reach blockbuster status, but William Paul Young’s “The Shack” has now exceeded even that. The book, originally self-published by Young and two friends, has now sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. It is now one of the best-selling paperback books of all time, and its readers are enthusiastic. According to Young, the book was originally written for his own children. In essence, it can be described as a narrative theodicy — an attempt to answer the question of evil and the character of God by means of a story. In this story, the main character is grieving the brutal kidnapping and murder of his 7-year-old daughter when he receives what turns out to be a summons from God to meet him in the very shack where the man’s daughter had been murdered. In the shack, “Mack” meets the divine Trinity as “Papa,” an

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3 Things We Must Believe about God’s Word

Kevin DeYoung: Essentials In Psalm 119 we see at least three essential, irreducible characteristics we should believe about God’s word. 1. God’s Word says what is true. Like the psalmist, we can trust in the word (v. 42), knowing that it is altogether true (v. 142). We can’t trust everything we read on the Internet. We can’t trust everything we hear from our professors. We certainly can’t trust all the facts given by our politicians. We can’t even trust the fact-checkers who check those facts! Statistics can be manipulated. Photographs can be faked. Magazine covers can be airbrushed. Our teachers, our friends, our science, our studies, even our eyes can deceive us. But the word of God is entirely true and always true: God’s word is firmly fixed in the heavens (v. 89); it doesn’t change. There is no limit to its perfection (v. 96); it contains nothing corrupt. All God’s righteous rules endure forever (v. 160); they never get

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Lord, Fill Me with Your Spirit

John Bloom: “The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). If we are not disillusioned with how much we have allowed our talk to pass for our walk, discontented with the sparse amount of spiritual fruit we are truly bearing, and disappointed by the impotence of our own efforts, we will never be distressed enough to really plead with God to fill us with the Holy Spirit. If we’re not disturbed by how little we can do in our own power, we’ll never be desperate enough to ask God for his. What Is the Filling of the Holy Spirit? But when we pray for this, what are we asking God for? In the words of Wayne Grudem, we are asking God for “an event subsequent to conversion in which a believer experiences a fresh infilling with the Holy Spirit that may result in a variety of consequences, including greater love for God, greater

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began: A Few Reflections

By Dane Ortlund: This week I read Wright’s new book on the crucifixion, The Day the Revolution Began. I’m not a Wright-hater. I owe him a lot. Some of his writings have been instrumental for my own development in understanding the Bible. At least one article of mine spawned from ideas he gave me while listening to him lecture. There are several points of his–such as the notion of a continuing exile in the first-century Jewish mindset, or Jesus as true Israel, or the Israel typology underlying Romans 5-8, or his understanding of our final future (what he calls the after-after-life), or his approach to the relationship between history and theology–where I agree with him against his conservative North American critics. And on top of that I like him as a person. But this book is just awful. I pretty much agree with Mike Horton’s review though I thought he was too easy on the book. I’d like to add

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The Gift of Eternal Life: Knowing God

Sam Storms: In the opening words of his prayer to the Father in John 17, Jesus defines for us the essence of eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Sometimes I get the feeling that such texts as this were written distinctively and intentionally for our day and time. Of course, they are written for all God’s people in every age, but it is hard to think of a more immediately relevant statement to what we are facing today than what we find in v. 3. In a day when many are insisting that Allah, the alleged ‘god’ of Islam, is one and the same with the God and Father of Jesus Christ, this text is a ringing denunciation of that claim. Notice first that Jesus says the Father is “the only true God.” And this “Father” is explicitly said on countless occasions

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What Does It Mean to Be One with Christ?

Tony Reinke: The Christian’s “union with Christ” is the mysterious dark matter of the spiritual cosmos, so to speak. It is a kind of glue that holds us together with the constellation of salvation and sanctification and glorification in Christ. And it is very hard to describe and explain. How, then, can we talk about it? Is such a mystery too deep for words? Where do we begin — and where should we stop? And in our search to explain this new bond to Christ, can we use the language of mysticism? How much of our union with Christ is legal and positional, and how much of it is felt? With these important questions brewing, I called Sinclair Ferguson, author of the new book Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification. He has been talking about union with Christ for a long time and is as good a teacher as any on this vital subject. 1: Is union with Christ objective

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The 5 C’s of Preaching

Jared Wilson: What are the basic elements of biblical preaching? How do you know you’re preaching a Christian sermon and not simply giving a religious or spiritual lecture? While I think gospel-centered expository proclamation is the best approach to fulfilling the biblical call to preach, this exercise could probably use some more filling out. And since preachers like alliteration and lists, I thought I might suggest a checklist reflecting what I propose to be the irreduceable complexity of true Christian preaching. Next time you’re preparing a sermon, maybe keep these questions in mind. Or, after the next time you preach, share this list with your fellow elders or another team of trusted advisors and ask them to apply the questions to your delivered message. 1. Is your sermon CONTEXTUAL? The word contextual is important. It’s more specific than simply asking if the message is textual, because a lot of preachers use Bible verses in their sermons, and by this they

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10 Things You should Know about Female Submission

Sam Storms: In an earlier post we looked at 10 things all should know about male headship as it is found in Scripture. Today we look at female submission. (1) Submission (Gk., hupotasso) carries the implication of voluntary yieldedness to a recognized authority. Biblical submission is appropriate in several relational spheres: the wife to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24); children to their parents (Eph. 6:1); believers to the elders of the church (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12); citizens to the state (Rom. 13); servants (employees) to their masters (employers) (1 Pt. 2:18); and each believer to every other believer in humble service (Eph. 5:21). (2) Submission is not grounded in any supposed superiority of the husband or inferiority of the wife (see Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7). The concept of the wife being the “helper” (Gen. 2:18-22) of the husband in no way implies her inferiority. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “helper” is often used in the OT to refer

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10 Things You Should Know About Male Headship

Sam Storms: In the on-going dialogue (debate!) between complementarians and egalitarians, there is considerable confusion about the meaning of male headship. So today we look at 10 things we should know about headship. (1) “Headship” (Gk: kephale) has three meanings in Scripture: first, a physical head (1 Cor. 11:7); second, source or origin (Col. 1:18); and third, a person with authority (Eph. 1:22). (2) Among the many misconceptions about male headship in Scripture I mention these. First, husbands are never commanded to rule their wives, but to love them. The Bible never says, “Husbands, take steps to insure that your wives submit to you.” Nor does it say, “Husbands, exercise headship and authority over your wives.” Rather, the principle of male headship is either asserted or assumed and men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Headship is never portrayed in Scripture as a means for self-satisfaction or self-exaltation. Headship is always other-oriented. I can’t think

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Leviticus: It’s all about Jesus

J.D. Greear: If you ask Christians for their favorite book of the Bible, hardly anyone is going to answer, “Leviticus.” (I do know one guy at our church who loved Leviticus—he called it “The Book of Enchantment,” though we could never figure out why—but he was probably the only one.) The book of Leviticus can seem downright strange to us. It’s got a lot of odd rules that don’t always make sense. It’s often tough to get through: more Bible Reading Plans have shipwrecked on the shoals of Leviticus than perhaps any other book of the Bible. But if we just skip over all the ceremonies and rituals and rules, we would miss one of the clearest images of Jesus in the entire Old Testament. Right in the center of Leviticus, in chapter 16, is a ceremony the Jewish people held to be more holy and crucial than any other—a day so thick with meaning and sacredness that they simply

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For Whom Did Christ Die?

Jarvis Williams: When you hear the question, “For whom did Jesus die?” what do you think? The answer may seem obvious: for the world. After all, John 1:29 says that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. And John 3:16 declares that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” As a result, many interpreters assert that Jesus died for the entire world, and not for a predestined number of people. But what does the term “world” mean when used in association with Jesus’s death? Does it refer to everyone without distinction or to everyone without exception? There is a difference. Everyone without distinction would mean that Jesus died for all kinds of people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. Everyone without exception would mean that he died for every single individual person without any exception. This

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A Peculiar Glory

John Frame’s commendation of John Piper’s latest book, ‘A Peculiar Glory – How the Christian Scriptures reveal their complete truthfulness’: A Peculiar Glory is a solid theological and exegetical treatment of biblical authority, but much more. Besides the standard arguments, Piper has developed (with the help of Jonathan Edwards) a profoundly original yet biblical approach to the question. It raises the traditional arguments to an exponential level of cogency. Piper says that our most definitive persuasion comes from actually seeing the glory of God in his Word. Theologians have traditionally called this the ‘internal testimony of the Holy Spirit,’ but that theological label does little justice to the experience, the awareness of the glory of God as we meet Jesus in Scripture. That really happens. It is astonishing and powerful. And it explains the difference between an observer’s merely theoretical faith and a true disciple’s delighted embrace of Christ. This doctrine of Scripture is worthy of the overall emphasis of

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The Priority of Preaching the Word

Steven Lawson: Understanding the fiery preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones requires an apprehension of the exceedingly high view he possessed of preaching. He believed that the chief business of the church is what Paul charged Timothy with his dying words, to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Preaching must come first in the life of the church before anything else can find its rightful place. With compelling clarity, he stated, “The primary task of the Church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God.” Nothing, he maintained, must ever supplant the primacy of biblical preaching in the pulpit. The Doctor believed everything in the life of the church is defined and directed by the proclamation of the Scripture. Through the many challenges Lloyd-Jones faced, the public exposition of Scripture consistently occupied the central place in his ministry in Wales and London. In his estimation, the pulpit held the chief place in his ministry, and it was here

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Why Going to Church Does Not Make You a Christian

I am not a Christian because I attend church on Sunday. Neither are you. And neither is John Piper. This was a discovery Piper made in the opening pages of a book by C. S. Lewis. In God’s providence, a thin little blue book by the title of “The Weight of Glory” found its way into Piper’s life at age 23 (recently photographed, above). Here’s how he recounted the story in a 2015 sermon. John Piper: The second wave that broke over me in my 23rd year was the discovery that my desires were not too strong, but too weak. And the remedy for my early perplexity did not lie in getting rid of my desires, but on glutting them on God. That was revolutionary to me. Your problem, longing, aching, yearning, wanting, John Piper, is that you don’t yet want like you ought to want. I will come to you and I will put a fire under the fire

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What does it mean to fear God?

  R.C. Sproul: We need to make some important distinctions about the biblical meaning of “fearing” God. These distinctions can be helpful, but they can also be a little dangerous. When Luther struggled with that, he made this distinction, which has since become somewhat famous: He distinguished between what he called a servile fear and a filial fear. The servile fear is a kind of fear that a prisoner in a torture chamber has for his tormentor, the jailer, or the executioner. It’s that kind of dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by another person. Or it’s the kind of fear that a slave would have at the hands of a malicious master who would come with the whip and torment the slave. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward a malevolent owner. Luther distinguished between that and what he called filial fear, drawing from the Latin concept from which

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Preaching and Biblical Theology

By Dr. Jim Hamilton, excerpted from Text-Driven Preaching (B&H Publishing Group, 2010) Biblical theology helps us get our arms around the big picture that ties together everything from Leviticus to Esther, and we see how Amos, John, Romans, and Revelation fit, too. Knowing what the forest looks like enables understanding of the individual trees. If we are to preach the whole counsel of God, we need biblical theology. What sets the agenda in your preaching? Nehemiah really is not about the building program some church wants to initiate, and the Psalms are not in the Bible for amateur psychotherapists to explore their inner depths from the pulpit. Has God communicated His agenda in the Bible’s big story—its overarching message? Does the Bible’s big story set the agenda for your preaching or does something else drive it? If we are going to understand God’s purposes, which are revealed in the Bible, we need biblical theology. Biblical theology pushes us to understand

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Three Ways We Can Better Love Those We Lead

  Eric Geiger: Researchers and leadership authors continually contend that the best leaders are those who love and care for those they lead. Examples include: In his seminal book Servant Leadership, published over forty years ago, Robert Greenleaf coined the term “servant leader” and painted a picture that the most effective leaders love and serve those they lead. In his popular books Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, researcher and author Daniel Goleman writes that the most effective leaders are emotionally intelligent. They have the ability to manage their emotions, to genuinely connect with people, to offer kindness and empathy, to lead with joy and inspiration, and to display the master skill of patience. In the recent research-based leadership book Return on Character, Fred Kiel reveals that better performing companies are led by leaders who are filled with integrity, compassion, and forgiveness. Christian leaders should be the most loving leaders. God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the

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God is Happiness

  Sam Storms: Charles Spurgeon, though on occasion depressed and despondent, held firmly to the truth that joy or cheerfulness or happiness must be the aim of every Christian. There are several reasons why he believed this to be true. Here is the first: “Working Christians should, as far as possible, be cheerful of countenance, happy in manner, and merry in heart; and there are several reasons why I think so. They should be happy, BECAUSE THEY SERVE A HAPPY GOD. It enters into the essential idea of God that he is superlatively blessed. We cannot conceive of a God who should be infinitely miserable. . . . As it is true that ‘God is love,’ so is it equally true that God is happiness. Now it would be an exceedingly strange thing if, in proportion as we became like a happy God, we grew more and more miserable. . . . Congruity is to be studied everywhere, and it

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