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  • Writer's pictureVic Bernales

Textual Expository Preaching

I love textual expository preaching of the holy Scripture. I went to a seminary that trains its students well in doing it. I've done it myself many times.

I also have listened to several preachers who are competent, even exemplary, in expounding and applying the text of Scripture well. I sat before and have heard personally some of them.

I am always edified by the preaching ministry of these godly men. When the text of the holy Scripture is properly explained and applied by the preacher, the gathered people of God in worship are naturally strengthened in the faith and equipped for every good work.

Some of my favorite expository preachers are good theologians as well. Men like Sinclair B. Ferguson, Terry L. Johnson, and Philip Graham Ryken have been used by the Lord not only to help me grow in my knowledge of Him but also as good models of what a faithful pastor-preacher ought to be.

But many preachers today don’t preach expositionally and textually anymore. Some are accustomed to preach topical sermons. Not that topical sermons are bad in and of itself. Sometimes it can be done appropriately. And I do topical sermons occasionally.

However, topical sermon preachers usually employ a Bible passage only as a springboard to their theme or topic and not really as their main text. Others are trying to preach a text that is out of its Biblical context.

They may be saying truthful things but they are not really expounding and applying the text of the inspired word of Scripture, which is given by God to the Church "and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).

Lamentably because of the neglect of Biblical preaching in many churches today, the essential doctrines of the Christian faith are seldom heard in the pulpit, if at all. Usually Biblical preaching has been replaced by motivational talks or peep talks.

Our forefathers in the faith were so moved by the eternal truths of the Bible. They can’t help praising God, serving Him with all their heart, soul and strength, living a life of gratitude, pleasing Him in everything they say and do because of these timeless truths.

The glorious thought and true knowledge of God moved them to endure fire, sword, persecution and many other forms of trials. They endured sufferings, kept the faith, and stood for it until death. The book "Foxe’s Book of Martyrs" testifies to this.

Today we often hear many preachers talk about topics like “Five Steps to Achieve Your Greatest Potential,” or “Ten Steps to Financial Freedom,” or “Seven Secrets to a Happy Marriage,” and other similar teachings. I have no problem with these as long as teachings like these are founded on and closely connected to the gospel, that is, the good news of God's redeeming work in Christ.

Worse yet, some teachers tend to emphasize success or prosperity as the greatest thing in life. And they do it as if by his own wisdom and power man could achieve it by doing certain things that would oblige God to bow down to his selfish desires.

Of course, we need practical teaching but not at the expense of foundational Biblical truths. If church members are being taught that financial success or career advancement is up to them – it’s their choice – apart from the sovereign will of God and from the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary, you know what will happen? The church of Jesus Christ will produce many selfish, greedy, immature, and worldly people, ready to leave the church and disavow the faith at the first sign of failure or disappointment.

Professing Christians who are unaware of and not grounded on the foundational truths of Christianity on which practical issues such as marriage, parenting, suffering, giving, prayer, stewardship, and many others stand, will not grow deeper and stronger. They will be easily discouraged and will not persevere in the faith when the going gets rough and tough.

Faithful and persevering Christians are enamored by the glory of God in Christ in the gospel. And this kind of believers would be willing to "give what they cannot keep to gain what they cannot not lose," as missionary martyr Jim Elliot once said.

As long as the Lord gives me the strength and the voice to speak for Him, it is my aim to proclaim the whole counsel of God. As long as the Lord God lends me breath, I hope to preach the Good News of salvation which is in and through Christ Jesus our Lord. I pray that the Lord would preserve me in this faith and will not let me go astray from it for the sake of His name.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 3 and 4 that there will come a time, in the last days, when people become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power…they will not put up with sound doctrine but, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

The only way for us to endure and counter such a terrible time is to do what Paul commanded Timothy to do, that is, to “[p]reach the Word; [to] be prepared in season and out of season; [to] correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).

It is my desire that the Biblical faith will be handed down faithfully by this generation of believers to the next. That, I believe, is one legacy worth leaving behind. I pray and work hard for this godly legacy to be passed on to the next generation for God’s greater glory and praise!


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