In the previous blog, I made separation between human interpretation and God’s word.  In this blog, I will talk about the the simple and safe method of preaching out of a single text in a single book without quoting all over the Bible.  I’m assuming the preacher has had adequate training in theology, church history and hermeneutics so that the sermon will fall within the confine of Christian orthodoxy. With that in mind, we should be quite safe to preach out of a single text and plunge its depth.  I’ve already talked about the danger of misquoting the Bible in my book Right Texts, Wrong Meanings.  Additionally, the congregation is not going to flip all over the place just when we quote the Bible anyway.

In order to exposit the author’s meaning, the preacher must first take the meaning from his text.  If God inspired the human author with one single text, then the preacher in expositing or explaining God’s inspired word must also stick with one text.  Thus, to properly exposit the Bible, the preacher must stick strictly to context, even if the context does not provide easy answers.  The context of every text is within the entire book and not outside of it, unless there is a good reason for reaching outside.  This kind of preaching is challenging for both the preacher and listeners because it is intellectually honest with what the text has to say instead of finding standardized answers that are so frequently misleading.

Sometimes there are good reasons for reaching outside of the book context.  The reasoning has to do with how much the audience or author knew at the time of authorship.  If the author gave good indication that he assumed the audience having certain knowledge, then the preacher is allowed the liberty to extract information that was commonplace to the original audience.  One simple example is the usage of the Torah in some of the historical or prophetic books of the Old Testament.  There, clearly the author and the audience shared a common knowledge of the Torah to which the author would reference.  Thus, whenever one reaches outside the context and text of the book he or she is preaching, there better be a good methodical and logical reason, instead of jumbling various proof texts together which do not necessarily provide a clearer meaning to the text being exposited.  Some sermons show the clear subjective presuppositions of the preacher.  In so doing, the sermon forces the audience to conform their collective will to that of the preacher rather than to the thoughts of the biblical authors and God.  Some sermons always end up with a single theme, by its careful manipulations of proof texts.  These are not expositional sermons that express the meanings of the biblical authors and of God.  Sermons must have intellectual honesty and integrity.  Pastor and author Erwin McManus writes with humor, “There is an old joke about the Sunday school teacher who asks his students ‘What has four legs, is furry, climbs trees and eats nuts?’  One student hesitantly raises his hand and says, ‘I think it’s a squirrel, but I am going to go ahead and say Jesus.’  The implication is that in the church, we are not allowed to think.  We’re forced to swallow simplistic answers to complex issues.  If our answer for everything doesn’t begin with Jesus, then we’re heretics.  A church must raise a generation that can identify a squirrel and, at the same time, thank Jesus for creating it.”[1]

The article will deal with some simple steps on how to come up with an expositional sermon with three practical steps.  Forming the sermon outline is the first step, followed by illustrations (from word studies and backgrounds), and finishing with the major principles.  I will wrap up the whole process at the end.


[3] E. R. McManus, An Unstoppable Force (Orange, CA: Group Publishing, 2001), p. 109.