I continue this series of blog articles on expository preaching. In Part 1, I explained some of my earlier interests in expository preaching and some antics in the topical sermon routes that I took. In Part 2, I explained the importance and necessity of verse-by-verse exposition and the needed commitment to preach through lengthy passages of Scripture. In this third part, I want to give you some thoughts and ideas on beginning your own series of expository messages.
1. Begin with your interests.
The first thing about beginning in the verse-by-verse exposition, you should work with a passage that you are keenly interested in. In fact, if you have a “candy-stick” this might be a very good place to start. If you have certain interests in biblical characters, you might work through a passage in the Gospels that lists the disciples. While this would be a series that is more biographical in nature, you are still grasping the concept that discipline is required to work on to the next character.
Another possible place to begin would be Isaiah 9:6 and you can walk through it word by word. There are some vast nuggets that come from Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Technically this is going to border on being a topical study what you are looking for in this stage is the development of a habit that will allow you to dig into a book when you decide which direction to lean toward.
As a disclaimer, I must warn you that expository preaching is much more exacting and challenging than topical preaching. One reason is because if it is done properly there will be much stretching of your own biblical knowledge. As stated earlier about topical preaching the majority of the time the preacher is merely rearranging material that he has already learned years ago and never really scratching the surface of new Scriptural knowledge and truth.
2. Begin with small steps.
If you have never worked through a passage of Scripture, you should not immediately decide to work through Isaiah’s 66 chapters. Furthermore, you probably ought not to tackle Psalm 119. Interestingly enough concerning Psalm 119, Thomas Manton, the old Puritan, preached 250 sermons from these 176 verses and they are a treasure to dig into.
The first small step might be to work through the book of Jude. If you are seriously considering the work, Philippians might be a good place to begin. One the great things about preaching through smaller books, is that you will become hugely familiar with the book in a manner that you will probably be able to quote it. Most textbooks on expository preaching recommends that you read the book through in one sitting every day for 30 days before you actually begin to study it and develop a preaching plan from it. What you are doing when you begin this process is developing and very powerful sense of discipline that will help you master Scripture. Be prepared once you get into expository preaching to have some of your traditional views of theology to be radically challenged. But in the process of this you will find that your heart and soul will catch fire and you will literally find great spiritual growth taking place because of your handling of the Scripture.
Simply to let you see what I am speaking of, I mention my experience with 1st John which is the first serious effort at a long series. I have just gotten through 1 John 3:3 and have preached/taught 35 times already. In chapter 1, the idea of divine flesh was immediately destroyed by the Apostle John. In fact, he did it so convincingly that I feel this is a matter of fellowship as divine flesh really is presenting another Jesus. In chapter 2, the Emerging Church concept was taken on and exposed for the worldly hoax that it is. At the conclusion of chapter 2 and beginning of chapter 3, the false ideas of preterism were addressed when we consider the hope within us. I was simply amazed at how up-to-date that Scripture really is in its handling of today’s issues.
3. Take advantage of the massive amount of free resources on the internet.
You will find there are massive amounts of free resources on the internet for the how-to’s, starting points, and even outlines of books of the Bible that will serve as good beginning points for you to work with. Familiarize yourself with some who are literally verse-by-verse expositors and let their work help you. It is important that you be very adept and accurate in your doctrinal understanding before allowing some of these resources to influence you.
As you begin to get into the process of expository preaching there will be some authors that you will begin to appreciate their writings more than others. There is a good possibility that their writings or their outlines of messages can be found on-line. The way that they have chosen to break down certain passages of Scripture can be very helpful to placing you on the track to your own series.
More to come. . . . .
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