A Word FOR Expository Preaching and Teaching

November 18, 2008

Early in my full-time ministry I ran into the dilemma that every preacher, at one time or another will face. What should I preach? Years have passed since I struggled with that problem, due mainly to the wisdom that a friend shared with me about preaching. It totally took that pressure off of me. He said expository preaching through books of the Bible allows God to meet the needs of His people without you having to decide what those needs are. While I still preached topically from time to time after that, the main method I have used for over 30 years of ministry is expository preaching and teaching. I can’t count the times people have come up to me and said concerning an expository lesson, “How did you know that I needed to hear that”? Or “That is exactly where I am at in my life.” There was no way I could have discerned that need of their heart, but God could and did.


Someone once said, “A scripture out of context is simply a pretext”. While I don’t think it is wrong to put together scriptures that support a conclusion or an opinion, I do realize that it is the weakest form of argument.


Video’s like the one above show a dependence upon more that the spoken, explained and applied Word of God. It is a shallow, emotion based approach to teaching and preaching. It is a part of our Christian culture that picks and chooses a verse here and there to teach a preconceived idea or argument. The “Health and Wealth” gospel is another example of this abuse of scripture, of using scripture as a pretext out of context.


Paul told Timothy to, “…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching”. I Tim. 4:13. Nehemiah 8:8 says the exact same thing about how Ezra and other men of God preached:” And they read from the book, the Law of God, translating to give the sense, so that they understood the reading” So expository preaching entails: 1) reading Scripture; 2) explaining Scripture; 3) applying Scripture from and within in context.


Our tribe at one time was known for its knowledge of the Scripture. We can’t say that today. I think I know why.


  1. Expository preaching brings along with it a unique challenge for me. When using a text in its original setting it is not as easy to come up with the absolute argument to end all arguments people expect. You can only be as conclusive as the actual text in its original discussion and they are generally not making the point we “use” the passage to teach.

    I have been thinking lately about just how right does one have to be in order to be right enough to be alright? That is a weird question so I guess I had better work on exactly what my question is before I try to answer it.

    Thanks for the post. We have talked about this before and I believe you are right on target. Thanks!

    Love You Big Brother!

  2. My early experiences with expository preaching were not that well done because I spent all my time clarifying what the text was saying in its context and never got around to application in our life time setting. In time I began to see that they are just like us, same emotions, attitudes and heart problems, then the lessons of application began to flow.

    I still sometimes feel captive to the process and am tempted to chase rabbits in this direction or that. But when I stay the course, Father has a way of dealing with my concerns in time…His time.

    I just finished a series from II Cor. and am closing it out with about 4 topical lessons that relate. So the two can be mixed I believe. What brought up this topic is that I am getting ready to teach the Gospel of John. It took me 9 months to teach Hebrews and John has about 3 times as many verses. I said in an article about the class, “I am presently 63 old. So someone may ask, “Why start a series of messages on the fourth-longest book in the New Testament? Do you want to die in this book?” My response is simply, I cannot think of a better place to die.” It is kinda like the cowboy who wanted to die with his boots on. He just wanted to go out doing what he loved.

    Thanks Bro. for your thoughts.

  3. As a lover of expository preaching I offer my opinion.

    Most of a pastor/teacher’s preaching will be, not to the lost, but to Christians. My observation is that having watched preachers, and preaching a bit myself, over the last almost four decades. the best way to disciple believers is to preach through books of the Bible. I have known some great expositers, Dr. W.A. Criswell, D.L. Lowery, Dr. Stephen Olford, Martin Lloyd Jones, and many others.

    In my view, one can best leave pre-suppositions behind much easier preaching right through the text as opposed to topical preaching.(which is often rabbit chasing). If “All scripture” is inspired and needful for us, and it is, the expository method is the only way to preach it “All”. Far too many coC men use the same few verses over and over and over until they are hard to hear.

    I’m for preaching what the Bible says, teaching what it means, and then trying to adjust my life to it’s truth.

    It is very hard work to preach the Bible. I think most men don’t do verse by verse and chapter by chapter expository preaching because they don’t know how. Others are just too lazy. It is much easier to teach what someone else studied instead of digging it our ourselves.


  4. Royce as always my brother you are so right on. Just to show what a lack of emphasis there is on expository preaching just look at the thousands and thousands of sermons that are online. Also it is very difficult to be “issue” oriented when you are preaching through books of the Bible. And concerning our tribe, I can’t think of a leader from the past who was known for expository preaching…not one.

  5. There is one brother in my personal experience that excelled in expository preaching. I was blessed to be at Sunset when Richard Rogers was not only an instructor but also the local preacher. He was in my opinion “a preacher’s preacher.” His weekly lessons in the mid 70’s were 90 percent expository and enlightening.
    By HIS Grace!

  6. Mark, thanks for reminding me about Richard. Even though I have listened to hours of his tapes I had forgotten what an expositor he really was. A man strong on application.

  7. Lee, this was a good page. It is encouraging that we have the schools and good teachers to help our preachers learn how to do expository preaching. God bless you in your work. Melba

  8. good page, Lee. Glad to hear the comments on the effectiveness of expository preaching. Such taching makes it easier for the listener to follow, and one can make his application to his own needs as well as gain insight from the speaker. Love, Melba

  9. Thanks for your comments Melba. Always great to hear from you!

  10. One of the all time premier expositors, Dr. W.A. Criswell said he did not really learn the Bible until he stopped preaching “topical”, “subject” sermons. When he came as pastor of First Baptist Dallas he started in Gen 1:1 and preached right through the Bible beginning on Sunday night where he left off on Sunday morning and the next Sunday morning beginning where he left off the last Sunday night. Eighteen years later he finished preching through the whole Bible and grew a great church.

    There are precious few real Bible expositors in our day. Of course you don’t have to preach through the whole Bible to be an expositor but few men let the Bible dictate the message. Instead they usually choose the subject and then find scripture to support what they want to say. It is not wrong to do so. I just think preaching the Bible is better.

    His peace,

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