Taking The Text Seriously

I am a student of expository preaching.

I believe in expository preaching.

I am convinced that expository preaching – preaching that explains what the text means by what it says – is the most faithful way to preach.

Yet I cringe when someone brings up the subject.

Expository preaching is a new buzzword. Everyone is doing it. But not really.

They used to sing, “Everybody talking about heaven ain’t going.”

New verse: “Everybody talking about expository preaching ain’t doing it.”

That’s fine. Really. It is.

If your preaching is not expository, that’s okay. But it is not okay to be unbiblical.

We are called to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). To do so, we must take the text seriously in our preaching.

What do I mean?

  • Do not try to preach a text without doing your homework.
  • Do not call a text and then ignore it.
  • Do not spend all your time in the introduction and then rush through the text.
  • Do not use the text as a springboard for your own ideas.
  • Do not rip the text from its context to make it say what your want it to say.
  • Do not play with Greek and Hebrew words to say something novel.
  • Do not neglect the authorial intent of the text.
  • Do not major on what the text makes minor, or visa versa.
  • Do not impose meaning on the text that the author did not intend.
  • Do not treat your creative ideas as if they are more important than the dominating theme of the text.
  • Do not play on words or phrases in the text as a disconnected hook.
  • Do not use the text to manipulate emotions.
  • Do not rob the text of its punch to ensure you can whoop at the end.

Paul’s preaching instructions to Timothy are clear, simple, and applicable to those of us who have the sacred duty to preach and teach:

 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. – 1 Timothy 4:13

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “Taking The Text Seriously

  1. Great post
    Can I add one point though?
    “Do not put the feed so high (or so deep) that the sheep you are seeking to feed can’t reach it.”

    That’s not saying we must avoid subjects or texts that are hard – just that we must always bear in mind who we are addressing and where they are now if we are to lead them on to where the Lord wants them to be. They won’t grow in grace if we feed them stuff they can’t digest (yet).

  2. I wonder if you have the time to address me…  I appreicate this article a great deal… This Sunday, we had a guest speaker speak on Jeremiah 29:10 – 14.  He used this scripture to define our marraige relatioships..  God knows the plans he has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) so if we seek him he will tell us what those plans are for us and they will be good and prosperous plans. (29:12-14) he told us the story of how he went about seeking his wife.. and how it fell apart and only when he listened for God’s voice(by meditating and clearing our minds) did he hear what God wanted him to specifically do. This totally neglected the fact that God told his people they would be in captivity for 70 yrs and while there to be good citizens of that land and continue to worship him. This is about God saving his people, but he made it into God only rescued them because they prayed and sought them.  These kinds of sermons frustrate me so.. and put a burden on us to perform for God.. or God can’t act(which is something else he hinted at) Is there anything expository about these ideas.. Is there anything redeemable about this kind of preaching?   Either way.. great article

  3. Great thoughts. Thanks for putting things so clearly. I’m dealing with a group of people right now who are hurting over the issue of biblical authority. Much of the preaching I see today cannot claim these principles. The resulting ‘bad’ preaching may be more effective at creating a dependent following, but it does not create discerners of the Word. The result will be a largely unequipped next generation of pastors. 

  4. Good stuff H.B., I currently serve under the leadership of Dr. Larry G. Mills Mt. Sinai MBC, Orlando, Fl and he don’t play. When he gives us the opportunity to stand at the desk we  better not come with no foolishness. We had better preach the “Book” and nothing else.

  5. This is very helpful as I prepare this sermon. I have the luxury (thus far) of having weeks to prepare. I’m a new preacher but I’ve been around preaching all my life and I am committed to expository preaching. Thank you for this post!

  6. DANG!!! Tell it.  I’m NOT a pastor or a minister but I sat under and listened to some GOOD expository preaching so when I hear those that ain’t doing it I cringe.  WHY? Because life is too short, the penalty of sin is too great and hell is too long.  I’m a show me that in the Bible type of chic AND like my old Pastor use to repeated ALL the time: when it came to studying the word; you have to read the text that comes before and the text after to get the TRUE context.  He also use to say: if there is a therefore you need to stop and see what the therefore is there for.  FYI:  I went to church to WORSHIP and to LEARN.  I went there like I was going to school seating in a classroom but I had freedom to praise GOD and I did.  GREAT BLOG!!!!