Expository vs. Topical Preaching
I get frustrated every time I read or hear a pastor saying that expository preaching is the only right way to preach. I was listening to a podcast a few months ago where this topic came up again. Most people think expository preaching is verse by verse going through a book of the Bible. That is typically how it is presented. However, that is not true “expository” preaching. That is more of a commentary-style exposition. First let me define what expository preaching really is. Here’s a couple of definitions that were used in the podcast
Expository preaching is the presentation of biblical truth derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, Spirit-guided study of a passage in its context which the Holy Spirit applies first to the life of the preacher and then, through him, to his congregation. — Haddon Robinson
Expository preaching is the Spirit-empowered explanation and proclamation of the text of God’s Word with due regard to the historical, grammatical, contextual and doctrinal significance of the given passage with the specific objective of invoking a Christ-transforming response. — Stephen Olford
Now I agree with these definitions. It is important to look at the context and meaning of the scripture that we use while preaching. The problem is that the most famous sermon in the Bible does not fall into this category. The Sermon on the Mount is a topical sermon. A powerful one that utilizes many different texts and addresses many different problems. I like to define my style as “topical expository” I like to take topics and then use passages of the Bible to clearly communicate Biblical truth that we can apply and use in our life today. I do think that too many preachers use verses out of context to make their point. However, let’s quit criticizing different styles of preaching. As long as we remain faithful to the text, then our calling is to preach so lives can be transformed. Whether you preach topically or expository, or a combination of the two, what is most important is that you are sharing what God leads you to share. In other words, remain faithful to God and don’t let critics tell you the method to use.