The point is this: there are many ways to preach but if you say that the Bible is God's inspired Word then there is one style of preaching that should dominate. The technical name is "expository" preaching. In practice it is the idea that God has spoken clearly to His people in the Bible.
The books of the Bible are "God breathed" and reveal His progressive plan to save. This Salvation finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, as the eternal Word. Are you with me so far? OK, if you agree with this then the Bible is not just a random bunch of books or stories. Each is inspired to bring us to a richer understanding of Jesus and as a result we should live to honour Him. Still with me? OK, that means preaching should be from the Bible.
To follow this logic means that the books themselves should be preached through chapter by chapter to reveal God's full meaning and plan for our lives. This is the essence of expository preaching. It is preaching through the Bible books. This allows the Holy Spirit work by awakening us to this God breathed book. It is unlocking the power of God's revelation to us.
As Pastor and author James Montgomery Boice explains, "A true sermon is an exposition of Scripture. Its purpose is to direct the worshipers' attention to the truth of God and invite them to order their lives in accordance with it."
There are many other alternatives. For example, to preach on a specific topic (e.g. love) and use Bible verses to support the preacher's arguments. This could be a valid approach in some circumstances but it can lose its power because the inspired Word is not allowed to speak fully in its Biblical context.
Or, often a topic is taken out from a verse in the Bible (e.g. love from John 3:16) and expanded on. But without the context of that inspired book the message lacks the full power of God's intended truth. The authors of the Bible's 66 books were inspired by the Holy Spirit in their message. The words and books have a rich context and meaning. Preaching through these books links in with this Spirit enriched message. Growing in a richer understanding of Jesus, in a way that works with the Holy Spirit, can be revealed through expository preaching.
So whether you are talking to your Pastor and giving feedback on ways you want to grow through the sermons, or preparing your own sermon, or doing your own personal Christian reading, consider the power of working through the books of the Bible. Their inspired message comes alive when they are read in their inspired context. God crafted the book. To unlock its true message you need to hear it in its full context chapter by chapter. When you listen to a sermon this should be the main vehicle through which God's message is given. An example love from John 3:16: donvale.org
Mark's gospel is inspired to help us answer two questions. First, Who is Jesus? (ch1-8) and Second, Why did Jesus have to die? (ch 9-15). These are the questions that come out of Mark's gospel. These two questions are also at the heart of the Christian faith. The answers to these transform minds and change eternal destinies. The way to explore these questions is to work through the gospel of Mark.
Expository preaching unlocks this power by, chapter by chapter, examining each of the stories within the context of Mark's larger question. So in chapter 1, Jesus casts out demons. Preaching from this chapter points to Jesus' identity as divine with all authority, to teach (pointing to His own work) and cast out evil (i.e. His final victory).
In chapter 2 Jesus heals. Preaching from this chapter points to Jesus identity to heal both physically and spiritually (achieved on the cross).
The climax is Mark 8:27-30 when the question is finally asked, "Who is Jesus?" The answer, in context of chapter 8 has a twist that shows we all are blind to the breadth of Jesus' identity.
The gospel then changes focus to ask "why did the Christ have to die?" In Mark 10 verse 45 it explains the reason for Jesus death. The gospel of Mark finds its power in its inspired structure. For a series example: www.southbarwon.org.au
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover.html