One of the distinctives of Heritage seminary is our emphasis on training expository preachers. Admittedly, the word “expository” is used in different ways; so let me clarify how we understand the term.
When we talk about expository preaching, we are not simply talking about sermons that allude to or align with biblical truth. A sermon can refer to a passage of Scripture and not be an expository sermon. A sermon be theologically correct and still not be an exposition of Scripture.
So what exactly do we mean by an expository sermon? Here’s our working definition: An expository sermon communicates the timeless meaning of a passage to encourage a transformative meeting with Christ.
There are two major parts of this definition: 1) the timeless meaning of a passage and 2) a transformative meeting with Christ.
Communicating the timeless meaning of a passage requires preachers to dig deeply into a biblical text and its larger context. Expository sermons are intentionally, integrally and indelibly biblical. They don’t just glance at Scripture; they are grounded in a passage and grow out of that passage. The message of the text becomes the message of the sermon.
Haddon Robinson asks a penetrating question that helps clarify whether we are truly expository preachers: “Whether or not we can be called expositors starts with our purpose and with our honest answer to the question: ‘Do you, as a preacher, endeavor to bend your thought to the Scriptures, or do you use the Scriptures to support your thought’” (Biblical Preaching, p. 22).
The second part of our definition (encouraging a transformative meeting with Christ) reminds us that the aim of exposition is an encounter with the Living God through His written Word. The goal of the sermon is not simply information or even inspiration, but Spirit-empowered transformation.
Expository preaching is faithful to the original meaning of the text but never forgets that the text was designed to lead people to Christ. The directives and correctives of Scriptures are presented in light of the ultimate objective of Scripture—to bring people into a transformative relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
To sum up: Expository preaching communicates the timeless meaning of a passage to encourage a transformative meeting with Christ. It goes through the text and to the heart. It seeks to glorify God through seeing transformation in lives!
(Please pray for me as I work to train expository preachers at Heritage. We have a good group of young preachers this year!)