Why I believe in Expository Preaching
Jeff Campbell, assistant professor of preaching and dean of students at Criswell College, wrote a great article in the March/April 2016 issue of PREACHING magazine. The purpose of the article was to develop a working definition of expository preaching. He uses quotes from a number of names we all know – Phillips Brooks, John Broadus, Haddon Robinson, Peter Adam, and others. Needless to say, there were a lot of opinions. But the one I most closely identified with was by R. Albert Mohler Jr. His work, He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World, published by Moody Press in 2008, deserves to be required reading for every preacher of the Gospel.
Campbell cites several of Dr. Mohler’s statements like, “…the text of Scripture has the right to establish the substance and structure of a sermon.” Also, says Mohler, “Many preachers – from Harry Emerson Fosdick onward – assume they must begin (their sermon preparation) with a human problem or question and then work backward to the biblical text. On the contrary, expository preaching begins with the text and works from the text to apply its truths to the lives of the believer.”
I heartily agree. I am amazed at the number of young preachers who succumb to the popular view of needing to craft their messages around felt needs. That approach, it seems to me is by nature highly subjective. Again, quoting Mohler, “Preachers only have authority when they speak for God.” Then he adds, “…preachers do not speak for God unless they speak the words of God. The words of God are found in the Word of God. This type of preaching is exposition.” Campbell then acknowledges the presence of text-driven preaching as a movement within the realm of expository preaching. This is well-presented by Akin, Allen, and Mathews in their work, Text-Driven Preaching: God’s Word at the Heart of Every Sermon. “Text-driven preaching,” Campbell concludes, “endeavors to submit the will of the preacher to the meaning of the text.”
Men, simply put, let the biblical text guide you. Submit to the wisdom of the One who wrote it. The late Adrian Rogers used to say, “The Bible has sixty-six stenographers, but only one Author.” In the final analysis, what you and I think is not worth much apart from what God’s Word says. So preach the Word!