Thinking About Mission

The Necessity of Expositional Preaching


By Dr. Grant C. Richison

We understand the necessity of Bible exposition when we question the preacher’s authority for what he says. Is he preaching his own thoughts or what God says? Is it merely the preacher’s opinion or the exposing of what God said? If preachers wish to preach with divine authority, they must submit their thoughts to God’s Word. The only right of the preacher is to proclaim what God says. He needs to rightly handle the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). When the preacher rightly divides the Word, the congregation gains confidence in what he preaches.


What are the advantages of Bible exposition? It places emphasis on what God said, not what man says. If God said it, the message carries authority beyond the mere dead words of man. The congregation exposed to expository preaching will personally mature and become aggressive witnesses for Christ. There would be no need to constantly cast blame on them for not sharing their faith or growing spiritually. They will have the ability to understand and apply Scripture to themselves. They will possess enough understanding of the Bible to identify false teachers and doctrinal errors. Expository preaching causes the Scriptures to be heard in church, enabling members to grow in their understanding of Scripture. People will gain assurance that what they heard was the Word of God. It develops people who measure truth by the Bible.


The epistles written to pastors (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) all challenge the local church pastor to “teach” the Word. “Teach” is the keyword running through the pastoral epistles. For example, note 1 Timothy 4:13, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine [teaching].” Again, Titus 2:1, “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine [teaching].”


Biblical exposition is not choosing a text out of its context to launch into subjects of the preacher’s interest. Neither is it running comments on passages without unity of thought or argument. On the other hand, exposition focuses predominantly on the text, on what God says.

The length of the passage is not the issue but the disclosure of God’s message. Neither is it using scattered parts of the passage omitting crucial elements of the text. It is the laying open to the congregation what God has to say and as He intended to say it. The exposition must convey the intention of what the Holy Spirit had to say to a particular biblical writer. It is not preaching about the Bible, but preaching the Bible itself (Neh 8:8). The preacher finds the source of his message extracted from Scripture. Jesus expounded Isaiah 61:1-2 in a synagogue (Luke 4:16- 22).

But further, exposition finds principles from the passage that meets the needs of the congregation on how to live what God says. Faithful exposition of the text not only produces an accurate sermon; it also must be relevant to the problems and needs of people. However, meeting that need must coincide with the meaning of the text. Principlizing the text rests on what God said but also bridges cultures and customs for current application.


The reason exposition is so rare is that it takes hard work and study. Undisciplined preachers find a quick text, add extraneous thoughts and illustrations and serve a malnourished spiritual meal. In the meantime, their people starve for spiritual nourishment.

The Holy Spirit gave this mandate to Timothy: “ 1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers.” Untaught congregations become susceptible to a superficial teacher who gives them what they want to hear. No wonder much of the church in the world is spiritually malnourished. If we provide them with junk food from human viewpoint rather than divine viewpoint, their future and their children’s future will be vulnerable to spiritual aberrance. The cure for this spiritual malady is biblical exposition. The mandate for the preacher is expository preaching; the proclamation of the Word is the determinative of the sermon.

Dr. Grant C. Richison serves as VP Theology for Engage Today. We requested that he write this article so that you would be encouraged and have a clear understanding of the kind of teaching we seek to bring when we travel overseas.