Rhetoric & Homiletics: Expository Preaching? Hardly!

strong's systematic theology  Expository Sermon or Systematic Theology

A passage of Scripture is not a repository of theological truths, concepts, words which give the preacher an opportunity and theological ammunition to teach and preach a “systematic theological sermon.”

Merely because a passage of Scripture (Jude 1:2)1 mentions “mercy,” “peace,” or “love,” a preacher-teacher is not granted permission to speak on that theological truth or topic — outside of its possible place or role within the argument.

One could make the case that the choice of the words — “mercy, peace and love” — is connected to the argument which Jude is making.  Indeed, if it is more than a simple, kind, and gracious opening greeting, and is purposeful — in light of the argument which Jude is going to make (and that case might well be made) — then it is worthy of being part of the sermonic examination and/or discussion.

 

 

i.e. Possible Sermonic Inclusion

Jude is going to mention three words — Bible words — all which carry meaning in the thinking of Jude as he broaches the subject he is going to address.  Do not pass over those three words — “mercy – peace – love” because he wants to touch those “grace notes” before he addresses “contending for the faith” and “contending for the faith” as it relates to a very specific danger.

When you speak of contending or contention, there is a real and significant danger of being harsh, unbending, unloving, losing the peace — or forgetting about God’s mercy when we fail to live as we ought.

 

 

An “expositor” might even bring in to the sermon the biblical concepts of “sanctified” “preserved” and “called,”  which are also found in Jude 1:1 — if indeed they are, and/or if they are as preached as part of the argument Jude is making.

 

 

i.e. Possible Sermonic Inclusion

Jude is addressing a real problem and danger which is threatening “the church” in its earliest days — and might I suggest — which still threatening today’s “church.”

Before Jude tackles that danger, he want to bring into their thinking the biblical subject of “sanctification.!”  The believers, who are a called people, who are in that calling “preserved” —  a word which means “to guard from loss or injury, properly, by keeping the eye upon.”

Jude starts this letter with words that are part of the needed thinking to land where Jude lands on this danger — to remind them that God’s calling involved their protection and sanctification.

AND . . .

Jude is going to mention three words — Bible words — all which carry meaning in the thinking of Jude as he broaches the subject he is going to address.  Do not pass over those three words — “mercy – peace – love” because he wants to touch those “grace notes” before he addresses “contending for the faith” and “contending for the faith” as it relates to a very specific danger.

When you speak of contending or contention, there is a real and significant danger of being harsh, unbending, unloving, losing the peace — or forgetting about God’s mercy when we fail to live as we ought.

 

 

Nevertheless, the focus, the center of the argument, the BigIdea, the POINT, the center of gravity, is not any one of those words, biblical concepts, theological truths.  They support the BigIdea, the point, the argument which Jude is going to make!

Jude’s argument is not even found within the statement —  “the common salvation.”

Even though Jude states that “I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation.” . . . . Jude goes on to state that WHEN he gave diligence to write about that, he changed directions because it was NEEDFUL for me to write and exhort about something else — contending.

AND
the focus, the point, the argument is not merely about “contending for the faith.”  You can’t jump off on that truth either.  Well, you can, but you would not be making the point that Jude is making.  You would be making an argument you want to make, not that Jude wrote about to God’s people in his letter.

Jude is writing about contending on a very clear and specific issue — turning the grace of our Lord into license to sin — grace without sanctification!

That is the argument Jude is making!
AND the following verses EASILY FIT into that argument!

√  The center of gravity
√  The focus
√  The BigIdea  (The Gospel Message Includes Sanctification!)
√  The argument
√  Where Jude is going

. . . . is verse four

What Jude is pointing to is that it was . . . .

. . . . needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

FOR . . . .
there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Expository preaching-teaching means that I EXPOSE the argument the writer is making and drive home his argument, as I point out how the verses before and after the center of gravity contribute to that argument.

How the verses before and after . . . . .

♦  clarify
♦  exemplify
♦  illustrate
♦  explain
♦  develop
♦  drive
♦  prove
♦  describe
♦  better identify
♦  resolve
♦  argue for

. . . . the crux of the argument!

Exposition in the pastoral study is different than expository preaching.  While expository preaching relies on “exposition in the pastoral study,” it does not seek the same end.

Let me say it this way, although I am not particularly satisfied with this description . . . .

“Expositional Bible Study” takes place in the study and is aimed at making sure that I, as the speaker-preacher-teacher, understand the passage correctly before I preach it.  This happens in the kitchen, not the dining room AND much of it will remain in the kitchen, on a “yellow note pad,” unused in the dining room experience.

“Expositional Preaching” takes place in the pulpit and means that I expose the argument of the passage to the audience, that I drive home the truth which the writer is making.  The end game of preaching is to help the listeners see the argument being made in the passage.  Then, to drive home the truth of the passage and make it applicable to the life and living of God’s people — who walk into the workplace tomorrow / Monday morning.

 

It is probably fair that too little time is given to . . . .

♦  understanding a writer’s argument
♦  seeing how the verses fit together
♦  laying out the logic and flow of the verses
♦  capturing the purpose of the various words used
♦  picking up on the role of the various verses included in the passage
♦  identifying where the crux of the argument is found

 

Nevertheless, I might also suggest that too little time is taken to . . . .

♦  work on ways to communicative a truth
♦  work on giving clarity to the focus of the passage
♦  work on how best to communicate that key thought
♦  capture what that meant and what that means
♦  work with words to make plain that biblical truth
♦  drive home the writer’s argument
♦  apply it to life and living for believers today

 

How often did the homiletics or pulpit speech students ask me — especially if it was after Chapel . . . .

Dr. Martens, was that an expository message? 
I wanted to say — Hardly! . . . . It was really systematic theology – 101
But I deferred to (though not always) . . . .
“We / I needed to hear what was preached today in Chapel!

It was biblical truth, just not from the Bible writer being cited.  That was the saving grace of such preaching — It was biblical truth  . . . . . (though not always).

 



 

1. The Book of Jude

1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied

3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

4  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:

23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

 

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