Expository Preaching: Governed, but Empowered

When I was a kid, my brother and I owned a blue one-seater go-cart with a warped frame. (Come to think about it, the brakes didn’t work. Thank the Lord for His protection.) We loved it. The dirt roads of the community that I now pastor was riddled with ruts from what one neighbor coined as “The Blue Devil.”
As I recall, behind the accelerator pedal the previous owner placed a bolt to prevent the lever from being floored. The Blue Devil was governed. I am reasonably sure, in our youthful quest for speed, that home-made safety feature met a hacksaw blade. Who needs caution when driving a go-cart without brakes called The Blue Devil,” right? We had a need for speed. We threw caution to the wind!
Earlier in my ministry, that need-for-speed-caution-to-the-wind mentality unintentionally crept into my preaching. I came from a Christian tradition that was not known for the sequential exposition of the Scripture. In fact, in some congregations, expositional preaching was viewed as lacking in the Spirit.
In this environment, I was pressed to preach hard, fast, and with a great deal of charisma, which is not all bad advice. However,  I see how as a young minister, I drifted into a performance trap. I thought I needed a new and fresh word that others had not heard yet. (By the way, that’s a recipe for heresy.)
In those days, my sermons were topical, which again isn’t necessarily wrong. But I selected passages  I thought would “preach.”  I was looking to impress the congregation (and possibly God too.) My sermons were ungoverned. Often, they would race in a direction the original authors never meant them travel. My sermons were always about the Word of God, but they weren’t always the authoritative Word of Lord.  There is a difference!
Now, I see the importance of a governor (maybe not on go-carts called the Blue Devil), but on sermons for sure. All preaching should be governed by the Spirit-inspired author’s original purpose for writing the passage being considered. This is the goal of faithful biblical preaching. This is expositional preaching. A biblical expositor mines the Scriptures for this original meaning and then moves to apply it to modern life. As John Stott stated, the preacher “stands between two worlds.” A preacher should hold firm the with one hand the ancient world of the original authors and with the other hand grasp the congregation’s world.
What about the Spirit? Isn’t expositional preaching boring? It can be. But it doesn’t have to be dry as cracker juice. Although this method of preaching is governed by the text, it is empowered by the Spirit. By staying tight to the text, we safeguard ourselves from speeding away from what God’s intended message.
If you are unfamiliar with the expositional method here are some great videos on the topic.

The Gospel Coalition

The Front Porch


Kevin W. Bounds is a devoted disciple of Christ, husband, and Dad. Also, He is an ordained Baptist minister.

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