When many people think of expository preaching, their first reaction is to think of the preachers they know who exemplify that style. No doubt John MacArthur is one of the first preachers that would come to mind. MacArthur has been preaching expository sermons at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969.
In Rediscovering Expository Preaching, MacArthur shows the true convictional roots of expository preaching; the doctrine of inerrancy.
Inerrancy demands an exegetical process and an expository proclamation. Only the exegetical process preserves God’s Word entirely, guarding the treasure of revelation and declaring its meaning exactly as He intended it to be proclaimed. Expository preaching is the result of the exegetical process. Thus, it is the essential link between inerrancy and proclamation. It is mandated to preserve the purity of God’s originally given inerrant Word and to proclaim the whole counsel of God’s redemptive truth.
Flowing from his foundational conviction of biblical inerrancy, MacArthur shares 29 convictions about expository preaching in the two part message called “Why I am Committed to Expository Preaching,” mostly by using negative statements about the consequences of non-expositional preaching.
29 reasons why John MacArthur is committed to expository preaching:
1. A failure to do expositional preaching usurps the authority of God over the soul.
2. A failure to do expository preaching usurps the headship of Christ over His church.
3. A failure to preach and teach expositionally hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has one tool by which He does His saving and sanctifying work. What is it? The Word of God… John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Thy truth, Thy Word is truth.”
4. A failure to do expositional preaching demonstrates pride and a lack of submission… Mavericks don’t like to submit to biblical truth because they don’t want to submit to God. It’s really frightening.
5. A failure to do expositional preaching severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture.
6. A failure to do expositional preaching, biblical, doctrinal exposition removes spiritual depth and transcendence from worship.
7. A failure to do expositional preaching prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ critical to His work.
8. A failure to do expository preaching depreciates by example the spiritual duty of personal Bible study.
9. A failure to do expositional preaching prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time… Jeremiah 8:9 says, “They have rejected the Word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?”
10. A failure to do expositional preaching breeds a congregation that is weak and indifferent to the glory of God and Christ. A failure to preach Scripture redirects people from a God-centered perspective to a man-centered perspective. It tends to undermine confidence… in Scripture. There’s a certain indifference toward Scripture conveyed by the failure to teach it, but it produces a congregation that is indifferent to the glory of God and Christ because the purpose of Scripture is to enable people to glorify God and Christ. It’s amazing how low people’s view of God is in those environments, a low view of Christ rather than, as we said earlier, a great lofty transcendent view.
11. A failure to do Bible exposition robs people of their only true source of help, the Scripture. It is true, is it not?, that the only source of spiritual help is the Word of God, or the application of the Word of God, the proclamation of the Word of God which leads to the understanding of the Word of God.
12. A failure to do biblical exposition produces an attitude of indifference toward divine authority.
13. A failure to exposit the Scriptures lies to people about what they really need. It is…isn’t it Jeremiah 8:11? Treating people’s wounds superficially? They think they’re getting spiritual help and they’re not.
14. A failure to exposit the Scriptures strips the pulpit of power.
15. A failure to do expository preaching assumes that the preacher can change people by his ability. I don’t believe that. I would probably guess that if you asked any preacher if he thought he had the ability to change people, if he was anything other than a rabid Arminian, he would probably deny that. But in a fact, don’t tell me what you believe, show me by what you do when you get in the pulpit.
16. A failure to do expository preaching reduces the preacher’s words to the level of everyone else’s word. You’ve just engaged your people at the same level that all the people are…that all the pundits and all the theorists, and all the philosophers and all the religious people have engaged them. You’ve just lowered yourself to the common level.
17. A failure to do expository preaching portrays an attitude of self-love rather than loving the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul.
18. A failure to do expository preaching creates a destructive disconnect between doctrine and life.
19. A failure to do expositional preaching denigrates the person of God by omitting those attributes and truths of his revelation that trouble and terrify the unregenerate.
20. A failure to do expositional preaching reduces the preacher to the level of every rival teacher shorn of authority. It leaves ministry success to be determined by who is most clever, who can get the biggest crowd.
21. (…they’re all interwoven) A failure to do expositional preaching emasculates the dominion of the pulpit over people’s minds and souls.
22. A failure to do expository preaching disconnects people from the legacy of the past from the history of the church.
23. A failure to do expositional preaching removes protection from error and carnality so dangerous to the church. This is unfaithful shepherding.
24. A failure to do expositional preaching abandons the duty to guard the truth.
25. A failure to teach expositionally fails to defend threatened truths.
26. A failure to do Bible exposition generates shallow, selfish prayer.
27. If you don’t do expositional preaching, you fail to lead people to self-denial, cross-bearing humility.
28. A failure to do expositional preaching cheats people of the means to truly delighting in the Lord. Shallow knowledge means shallow love.
29. A failure to do expositional preaching lacks the general manliness of message and ministry.
Recommended Preaching Resources:
- The Fundamentals of Expository Preaching – 24 Lectures Taught by John MacArthur and Steven Lawson. See 250+ other free seminary resources here.
- Book from John MacArthur and faculty at The Master’s Seminary: Rediscovering Expository Preaching: Balancing the Science and the Art of Biblical Exposition