Why Expository Study
Why Providence Church is committed to expository preaching
One of the foundational commitments that under girds our philosophy of ministry here at Providence is our commitment to expository preaching. We believe that the congregation of God needs to be fed a regular diet of expositional preaching and teaching.
What is expository preaching?
Expository preaching can really be defined effectively with two main points. First of all, expository preaching starts with the scripture. That sounds like an obvious thing. Doesn't all preaching start with the scripture? But in reality, expository preaching starts with the Bible in a very elemental, fundamental way that topical preaching doesn't.
Topical preaching, though it can be helpful and beneficial to the body as kind of a seasoning of the regular preaching and teaching diet of a church, the church really needs to be fed expository preaching because topical preaching starts with an idea or burden in the mind of the pastor, the heart of the pastor. He goes to the Bible then to find scripture to support that, to communicate, to address that need he already wants to talk about.
Expository preaching starts with the text...
Expository preaching, on the other hand, really starts with the text. The pastor, each week, goes to the passage he's about to preach and he looks at the text, he studies the words of the text, he labors over the grammatical and syntactical relationships of the sentences. He considers the historical and cultural background. He tries to understand what the mind of the human author was as he dealt with his human audience. What was in the mind of God in inspiring that passage of scripture? And as he does that, he seeks then to deliver that message to the congregation.
That's going to be the agenda of the sermon. The agenda of the text is the agenda of the sermon. That's going to have a radically different affect over time in the life of the congregation.
It takes a great deal of labor but it's all worth it because the church is going to see that the message the pastor preaches, the theme of the sermon is going to be organically related to the theme of the passage. The main points of the sermon are going to be, again, related to the main points of the passage.
Expository preaching has an element of authority...
So that when a pastor gets up to preach, having studied for an expository sermon, there's a sense in which, as he delivers the message, he's saying, "Thus says the Lord...". There's an element of confidence that under girds expository preaching.
It's not the ideas, the burdens of my heart that I may have laid on top of the text. But these are the ideas, the burdens that have arisen from the text. And so there is a ring of authority.
I love what Matthew says in Matthew chapter seven, "Those who heard Jesus preaching and teaching for the first time, they said, 'There's something different about this man. He teaches, not as the scribes and the Pharisees. He teaches as one having authority'". And certainly the Son of God spoke with authority.
But the pastor who's rightly interpreting the Bible, having carefully studied it, when he preaches, he's preaching the emphasis of the passage. He's preaching the message that God intended to be preached when He gave that passage.
There is a ring of authority about expository preaching that the church today desperately needs to recover. So expository preaching starts with the scripture.
Expository preaching works consecutively through the Bible...
But the second thing about expository preaching is that expository preaching seeks to work consecutively through the Bible... that is through a particular book. You start in a book and you continue to work all the way through that book. So that, in essence, expository preaching, over time in the life of the church, we go book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse.
This means that the expositor, the preacher can't avoid topics that he might rather avoid. Things that are controversial, difficult for a congregation to deal with are pressed upon that congregation because the agenda of the text must be the agenda of the sermon.
One of the exciting things about expositing the word of God is that on Monday when I begin to study, I really don't know what my message is going to be about. I know that it's going to be about this passage. But as I study through the week, then it begins to take shape. I see that the mind of God in this passage leads to this theme, and to these points, and this claim on the life of the audience. Because scripture doesn't just inform, doesn't just give us truths, it also makes a claim upon our lives.
When a pastor preaches the theme of the text in his sermon and he makes the claim of the text the claim of his sermon, the body of Christ is going to be transformed.
Romans 12:2 says we're not to be conformed to this world, but we're to be transformed.
How are we to be transformed...
By the renewing of our minds and that comes through the word of God.
At Providence we're committed to expository preaching because we believe that's going to make the difference in the long run.
Mark Devor, in his book, "Nine Marks Of A Healthy Church", makes an effective statement about the benefit of expository preaching. He says that though topical preaching can be helpful, that a church that's fed a regular diet of topical preaching, over time, that church will become conformed to the mind of that pastor. But a church that's fed a regular diet of expository preaching, over time, that church will be conformed to the mind of God.
That's our desire here at Providence; to be conformed to the mind of God.