01 May

“Expository Preaching: Time for Caution” by Iain H Murray (289/1600)

Ian Murray puts forward two views of what constitutes expository preaching:

  1. Where the preacher “…confine[s] himself to the text of Scripture, and … make[s] the sense plain to others…”
  2. The same as the first except this also insists upon working through a book or passage of the Bible consecutively.

Murray is addressing the view that the second way of expository preaching is right and the first, applied to texts of scripture which are unrelated from week to week, is wrong.

There are several obvious benefits to preaching through entire passages/books, and Murray details them briefly. However, his intent is to focus on the disadvantages of such a style of preaching.

First, not every preacher is gifted in this style of preaching.

Second, preaching isn’t necessarily about covering as much of the Bible as possible – it’s about meeting the current needs of the congregation.

Third, working through an entire section of scripture consecutively can easily become a lecture rather than a sermon.

Fourth, the consecutive style tends away from being memorable due to covering too many ideas (rather than picking one or two main ideas from the passage). Murray explains that this is why Reformed preaching is often considered dull.

Fifth, consecutive preaching  does not fit well to an evangelistic style. Murray says that “preaching to heart and conscience commonly disappears.”

Murray finishes by saying that these points should not stop this style of preaching from happening, but that preachers must use it at the right time along with the one-off type messages in their right time. He is eager to emphasise that both consecutive and individual/isolated verses can be expositonally preached, and that all preaching must be exposition of the Bible.


10 Jan

“Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency'” by Tim Keller (243/1137)

Tim Keller addresses the common objection to Christianity, that of the inconsistency of Christians following only the rules from the Bible which seem to suit them. For example, the Old Testament sacrificial laws and laws about stoning disobedient children are ignored but the laws about prohibiting homosexual behaviour are not.

Keller explains that the essential morality in the Old Testament continues in the New Testament and in the teachings of Jesus, however the ceremonial laws and laws about ritual cleanliness are no longer in action as they have been fulfilled in Jesus.

He also explains that the punishments for moral crimes in the Old Testament are different to those for today. This is because of the difference between the religiously controlled state law of Old Testament Israel and the church instituted by Christ which is a part of all nations and cultures under their own state rule.

Keller finishes with the observation that, “If Christ is God, then this way of reading the Bible makes sense,” and that those objecting to Christianity on the grounds of their misunderstanding of what seems to them to be inconsistency; those people are asking Christians to deny this core of Christianity in order to make Christianity not make sense, i.e. they make an assertion without logic behind it.

Christianity, properly understood, must lead to picking only some rules to follow from the Old Testament.

The full article is required reading for a deeper understanding.


06 Nov

“6 Reasons Not to Abandon Expository Preaching” by Don Carson (123/564)

Too many Christian preachers don’t know enough about (or make a practice of) expository preaching. Don Carson gives six reasons to not abandon or, if you have never done it, to start expository preaching:

  1. It is the method least likely to stray from Scripture
  2. It teaches people how to read their Bibles
  3. It gives confidence to the preacher and authorizes the sermon
  4. It meets the need for relevance without letting the clamor for relevance dictate the message
  5. It forces the preacher to handle the tough questions
  6. It enables the preacher to expound systematically the whole counsel of God

Some of these points are not immediately obvious from their brief titles but at 564 words it’s a quick read to get the deeper details.