Expository Lilypading: A Very Close Cousin To Springboarding!
Are On The Same Family Tree
The evidence of being an expository preacher is not whether you undertake a passage of Scripture, versus a word, phrase, or verse as the basis of your sermon.
John Broadus attempted to move preachers away from using a word, a phrase, or a single verse as the subtext of the sermon. Broadus emphasized preaching from an extended passage of Scripture and thereby what a Scriptural passage or “text” actually taught – the true meaning of the “text.”
“To interpret and apply his text in accordance with its real meaning, is one of the preacher’s most sacred duties. He stands before the people fr the very purpose of teaching and exhorting them out of the Word of God. He announces a particular passage of God’s Word as his text with the distinctly implied understanding that from this his sermon will be drawn — if not always its various thoughts, yet certainly its general subject. . . . By using a text, and undertaking to develop and apply its teaching, we are solemnly bound to represent the text as meaning precisely what it does mean . . . .
This would seem to be a truism. But it is often grievously violated . . . . Scripture sentences or phrases are employed as signifying what it is well known, and perhaps even declared at the time, that the sacred writer did not mean to say and has not at all said. . . . .
. . . . honoured brother, see what you are doing — you stand up to teach men from a passage of God’s blessed word, and cooly declare that you propose to make the passage mean what it does not mean . . . . If we take the passage in a sense entirely foreign to what the sacred writer designed, as indicated by his connection, then, as we use it, the phrase is no longer a passage of Scripture at all. It is merely words of Scripture, used without authority to convey a different meaning; just as truly as if we had picked out words from a concordance, and framed them into a sentence.” (emphasis mine) — Broadus pgs. 29-30
In Springboarding, a speaker takes a word, a phrase, or verse and jumps off into his message:
“Abraham lifted up his eyes” — Genesis 22:13
We need to lift up our eyes to the Lord’s redemption
We need to lift up our eyes to the Lord’s revelation
We need to lift up our eyes to the Lord’s return
OR any other points you would like to make!
While using an extended passage of Scripture should help a preacher avoid such “Springboarding,” and should help the preacher grasp the meaning and argument of a passage-text, the biblical writer’s actual argument may still elude the preacher-teacher. The preacher-teacher may merely end up moving from . . . . . . .
Springboarding ← to → Lilypadding.
In Lilypadding, a speaker now works from an extended passage — in which there are a number of biblical concepts, words, phrases, verses — and uses them to construct the main points of a sermon. Nevertheless, he is while still missing the argument/point of the biblical writer.
Preaching from an extended passage of Scripture can turn into “lilypadding” because a passage of Scripture introduces more potential theological content, biblical truths, and/or an array of biblical concepts.
The preacher now has a running series of biblical concepts off which he can launch.
“Lilypadding” still misses the point or argument of the passage-writer.
Even if a preacher . . . .
√ uses an extended and/or large passage of Scripture, and/or
√ moves “line upon line” / verse by verse
√ progressively works his way through a chapter or a book
. . . . .there is no assurance that the preacher will NOT end up “Lilypadding” his way through the passage — still failing to argue the arguments which the original biblical writer was making.
Broadus spends a considerable amount of time addressing the common tendency of taking a word, a phrase, or a verse and jumping off of it, of disregarding what the real teaching of the passage.1
Here is the layout of an actual message citing I John 1:1-4, which was preached just several weeks ago by a visiting speaker. This would be a typical example of a “Lilypad Sermon” because while those three biblical concepts “may be” found in the selected four verses of the passage, they are NOT the point that John is making.
While the speaker does NOT “Springboard” —- he ends up “Lilypadding.”
The Biblical Passage: I John 1:1-4
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
His Theme: The Authentic Gospel
The Four Points of his Message (taken from the highlighted phrases above):
The Gospel Is . . . .
Timeless – “from the beginning”
Historical – “hands have handled . . . manifested”
Truthful – “bear witness”
Fruitful – “fellowship and joy”
Because of the work of John Broadus, a preacher might well identify himself as an expository preacher — who would identify himself otherwise. Broadus did establish the need to avoid springboarding and to preach the true meaning of the passage.
Nevertheless, this is not an expository sermon!
May I repeat the words of John Broadus:
While there has been a great deal written on expository preaching and great strides have been made when it comes to expository preaching, there is still much preaching, which is called expository — which is nothing more than a refined brand of the same defective Scriptural preaching.
To show how much negligence still prevails, let me highlight a recent example of lilypadding — which is merely a refined form of springboarding, jumping from multiple biblical words, concepts, theological truths found within the extended passage of I John 1-4. 1
An expository sermon must
first of all
answer the question:
Where is the center of gravity?
Where is John headed?
Where is John’s argument?
John is headed to 1:5 -6
1:5-6 — This then → is the message
↳ which we have heard of him, and declare unto you,
↳ that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
↳ [“THEREFORE” – assumed]
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth
John is saying, what he says in verses 1:1-4, in order to make the point (the argument) which is found in verses 5 & 6 . . . .
You cannot say nor have fellowship with the Lord and be walking in darkness.
That if you say that you have such fellowship with Him, you are lying and not living out the truth.
All of the biblical-theological statements laid out in the first four verses . . . . . . make the argument, drive the point, move toward the BigIdea, which is finally stated in verses 5 & 6.
Now, let’s see what John is doing in verses 1 – 4.
1:1 That which was from the beginning*, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
John is laying out his argument and saying . . . . .
Before we get to the point which I am going to make, be assured that what I am going to say is founded on a historical & personal experience!
From the very beginning2 of the Lord’s ministry with us — we heard Him speak — we watched Him with our own eyes — we touched and rubbed shoulders with Him — the “Word of Life” — for three years
1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
That “life” was made known — was manifested to us — in tangible, visible, and real ways! We have seen it, and what we are telling you and bearing witness to was life– eternal life. The one who was with the Father was made known to us!
1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
AGAIN — We saw and heard Him — and declare what we saw and heard to you so that you can have the fellowship we had — with both us and with the Father, with whom He was before He was manifested to our eyes and ears.
1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
And more than that — we are writing this because we want you to have the same joy that we had and have with Him — based on understanding the truth we are now going to declare.
“This Then . . . . ” — John 1:5 & 6
Now, THAT is where John is headed!
♦ John is heading for verses 1:5 & 6
♦ 1:5 & 6 is John’s argument!
♦ That is John’s point, the center of gravity.
♦ AND all the other previous verses, word choices, phrases, and biblical concepts that John has called into play are designed to drive the hearer-reader towards that point/argument!
1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Here is the message which we heard — NOT FROM Him, but OF HIM during those times of seeing, hearing, and touching Him — over those years of ministry together.
Here is the clear message which we can only conclude – – – –
God in the person of Jesus Christ was all light — we never saw darkness through all those days of looking, hearing, rubbing shoulders with, watching — He was only light — never saw any darkness!
1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.
“Therefore” (assumed) — if anyone says that he or she has fellowship with Jesus, and they are walking in darkness — they are lying and the truth He exemplified, spoke, and taught is missing in them!
John’s Argument Is . . . .
You will never convince us that a believer can walk in darkness and say that he/she is in fellowship with the Lord.
We know better!
We spent too much time with Him — talking, walking, watching, hearing, rubbing shoulders with, sleeping, eating . . . .
We were with Him in every and all kinds of situations of life . . . .
° as the Lord was challenged
° when Jesus was exhausted
° during times of sorrow
° when responding to rejection
° when he was hungry
° while pressed by multitudes
° when rebuking us in a water fille boat
° while personally illustrating truths with children
° while laying out and interpreting parables
° when eating Passovers together – year after year
° duirng His arrest
° as he spoke about eternal life
° when He knew that he was being betrayed, and then betrayed
° when dealing the times in which he mixed and ministered to Samaritans
° when we saw Him in all His glory
° as He listened to us as we talked among each and other along the way
There is only one conclusion we are compelled to announce to you about Him — He Was & Is All Light!
And that can only mean that any follower of His — anyone who says they have fellowship with Him — cannot be walking in darkness! Our Lord can’t be found there!
The BigIdea Of The PASSAGE: (which can be stated in different ways.)
• Light Only Emits Light
• No Holiness, No Eternal Life
• The Word of Life Is The Light Of Life
• A Dark Walk Says You’re Lying To Yourself and Others
• Communion With Jesus Requires Confession
• Fellowship & Joy Come Through Living Out That Light
• Jesus Doesn’t Travel On Those Dark Roads
• Light Always Chases Away The Darkness
√ Yes, some words are worth explaining – simplifying – expounding – illustrating – clarifying – translating – investigating – reminding – reveling in . . . .
for the benefit of the listeners
to drive home the point-BigIdea.
• Word of Life
• with the Father
. . . . BUT NOT as new theological points of which to jump off from or lilypad from and to, BUT to enhance and drive the argument which John is making!
√ Yes, there is still more to John’s argument as he moves on to the subject of confession because confession is part of being in the light. “Confession” also fits into the argument being made in 1:5-6.
Nevertheless, there is an argument being made, and that argument . . . .
♦ is the BigIdea of the passage
♦ should be the center of gravity
♦ is what gives unity to the message
♦ may be explained, proven, clarified, applied, illustrated, cross-referenced
♦ is where the passage is aiming at
♦ may be found in a verse, but preceded by other verses which contribute to it
♦ carries the weight of the verses of the passage
♦ does not negate the importance of the other verses, but highlight how they play into the argument.
♦ is where you want to lead the listener to
1. John Broadus includes an extended section of present-day examples of such “springboarding” (my word, not his) — see pgs 44-52.
“There has been during the present century considerable improvement in various quarters as regards strict interpretation in the pulpit. But to show how much laxity on the subject still prevails, it is proposed to mention a few examples of passages which we have all heard preached upon, or used by preachers in argument, and whose meaning is beyond question very different from that commonly attached to them. It is strange how powerful is the tradition of the pulpit; how often able and thoughtful men will go all their lives taking for granted that an important passage has that meaning which in youth they heard ascribed to it, when the slightest examination would show them that it is far otherwise.” — pg. 44
2. An expositor’s Interpretative Decision: Does “the beginning” refer to . . . .
A – The beginning as found in Genesis 1:1
B. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” – as stated in Mark 1:1 ]
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