Tonight will be week #29 in our study through the Book of Acts. I began preaching it on our very first Wednesday night at 581 S Riverside Dr. Since then, we’ve taken it to the Bank of America building where we’re temporarily meeting now, and soon, we’ll take it back to the Riverside building. 29 weeks is a lot…and we’re only in chapter 18 of 28! I spent about that long going through the Book of Revelation (could have spent years) and I spent about twice that long teaching through the Book of Genesis. I love it. Each Book I teach through becomes my new favorite…until I start teaching a new one.
For those of you who don’t know what “expositional preaching” means, a basic definition is “exposing the meaning of a specific passage or text of Scripture.” It’s where you focus in on one main passage instead of skipping all around to find verses to back up a specific theme or thought.
Every once in a while I get asked about why I pick a Book and teach through it instead of doing topical series like many others do. First of all, there’s nothing wrong with a topical series every once in a while. I did a 5-week series called “Premeditated” leading into Easter where we skipped around from Genesis all the way to the Gospels. The weekend after the flood, I taught a message about Joshua leading Israel across the flooding Jordan River into the Promised Land. There’s nothing wrong with topical preaching, but I much prefer expositional preaching. Here are 3 main reasons:
1) It’s accurate.
I heard one guy tell me how he prepares his “teachings.” He said he thinks of an idea, writes down his thoughts about it, then searches the pages of his Bible because “surely the Bible has something to back up” what he’s saying. That’s teaching your thoughts, not God’s. One of the joys of expositional preaching is delivering the most historically and culturally accurate message as possible. Things can easily get off track and misinterpreted when you approach it from another angle.
2) It forces me to preach things that I wouldn’t normally preach.
I’ll never forget a message I taught to my youth group a few years back out of Revelation 14. It involved a prostitute riding on the back of a scarlet beast. Yeah, I taught that to middle schoolers. Had I sat down that week to decided randomly what I was going to preach, Revelation 14 would have about as much chance of me choosing it as Leviticus 18 (Old Testament laws of sexual morality). Probably not going to happen. I would have NEVER chosen to talk about that. However, to this day, it stands out as one of the most memorable messages out of Revelation. Had I not been preaching expositionally through Revelation, I would have never taught that passage.
3) It allows God to speak to specific needs that I wouldn’t be able to predict.
I’ve had people ask me after I preach how I knew about the sin they were dealing with or who told me about what’s gonig on at their home. I tell them that God knows and it’s Him who was speaking to them, not me. Expositional preaching takes the burden off my shoulders of trying to figure out what people need to hear, and instead, allowing God’s Word to give them exactly what they need when they need it. After all, if God’s Word really is alive and active as Hebrews 4:12 says it is, then let it off the leash!
This week is a perfect example of how God is using expositional preaching in my life. Tonight I’ll be preaching on how to find encouragement and strength to keep going and not give up even when ministry and life is very challenging. It’s been one of those weeks and I can’t think of much better of a message for me to hear than that! God knows right when we need to hear specific things from His Word – even when we’re not aware that we need those things.