Rhetoric & Homiletics: Pt#2 – He Is Not Expositional! He Is Too. He Is Not!

shutterstock_110996834F Pt. #2 — Expositional Preacher? Maybe . . . Maybe Not ! 

Few — if any — preachers would not claim to be expositional. Have you ever heard a preacher say that they have no interest in expositional preaching.? 

Like I stated, what preacher-teacher doesn’t believe that they are expositional? But saying or believing that one is expositional, does not mean one is!

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, and standing in a pulpit doesn’t make you a biblical expositor. 

I have often heard it said that Andy Stanley is not an expositional preacher.

I have chosen to use Andy Stanley as the text-book case of the of these two posts for two reasons . . . . .

#1) He might be one of the most well-known and also well-critiqued preachers of our day.   One of the repeated criticisms of Anyd Stanley is that he is not an exceptional preacher.

#2) I believe that he is one of the most effective communicators of our day. If you have not read his book, “Communicating For  Change,” you have short-changed yourself. 1


As stated . . . . .

#1) Exposition means that one exposes, not invents.

#2) Expostion starts in “the study.”

#3) Exposition is about what the PASSAGE teaches.

#4) Exposition in the pulpit is different from exposition in the study.

#5) “Expositional Preaching” is not a verse-by-verse running commentary.

#6) Exposition aims at exposing a biblical truth or principle which is specific to that passage.

When John Broadus wrote his famous volume on expository preaching, he was writing it as a reaction to the “spring-board-preaching” of his day.

He was challenging the present-day practice of preachers who grabbed a word or a phrase and jumped off of it. 2

i.e. “Abraham said, Behold, here I am.” — Genesis 22:1, 22:7, 22:11 all work
There are three “here I am” times in life:  1) Salvation, 2) Discipleship, and 3) Santcification.  First in “Salvation” . . .

Broadus argued that the preacher needs to focus on a passage of Scripture, and the truth that was argued in that passage, and not on a biblical word or phrase.  It was not that most preachers were not being biblical, but they were not expositional.  The sermons were not unbiblical in content, but that the content was not deroived from the passage being citing.

In other words —  Had the author of that portion of Scripture been listening to the sermon, he would have said, . . .

“That is not what I was intending to say!
What you are saying might well be true, but that is not what I was saying.”

As I previous stated . . . .

Andy Stanley is as much of an expositional preacher than any others, and more than those who think that the kitchen is the dining room!

Andy spends time in the “kitchen,” understanding the biblical truth(s) and principle(s) of this-or-that passage — maybe better than many who believe that they are expositiors — in the study and in the pulpit!

Andy Stanley understands the difference between the kitchen and the dining room.
AND he understands that it is in the “dining room” that preaching takes place. 


As promised, let me further deconstruct “the how” — how Andy Stanley develops, surrounds ,and drives the BigIdea

The “BigIdea”: “Never lose faith in end of the story.

If we were to state the BigIdea in an expanded sentence form it would be something like this . . . . .

Sorrow, suffering, sin, and death globally mark this world.  Brutal realism understands that this is never going to change in our eartly experience. But never lose faith on how it is all going to end.

However, presentation of a truth matters in the dining room.  You want the message to stick!

So the challenge is to state this expanded sentence in a way that it will be remembered.

For what is the value or preaching-teaching Bible truths and principles
if they are not remembered?

•  He then works with three specific Bible accounts which teach and/or illustrate that biblical truth. . . . .

√ The account in John 9, The man born blind from birth

√ The account in Mark 4, the man let down from the roof.

√ Romans 5:12, by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin

(Note: Andy Stanley will also surround and drive that BigIdea by using the truths and words of Philippians 2, John 1, Hebrews 4, Romans 8)


•  Now, notice how Andy keeps calling up, driving that truth, the BigIdea . . . .

Please Note:
I’m going to progressive jump through large sections of the message to highlight how he continues to drive the BigIdea.3

I have included the timings because it helps see how he continually repeats and restates the BigIdea, how he keeps exposing, supporting, developing, illustrating that BigIdea.
Sermon Link


“What they did not understand or had lost sight of the fact is that there is a global relationship between sin and suffering, between sin, sorrow, and death.

This man was not blind because of personal sin but this man was blind because sin was wreaking havoc in the world.

That the presence of sin in the world resulted in illness and resulted in this man’s blindness.

It was the consequence, the global consequence, of sin in the world.

That day is coming to an end and night is coming

While I am in the world, I’m going to show you that I have come to address the root issue. There is hope but in the meantime.

I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to reverse the consequences of the global impact of sin on the world.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man,” and right on the heels of sin, as soon as sin entered the world, sin held the door and right behind sin came death through sin.

And in this way, he said, “in this way, “death came to all people.

But here’s what you need to know. Christians, Christians have never, Christians have never believed that God doesn’t allow bad things to happen to good people.

In fact, just the opposite. Christians believe that the worst possible thing happened to the best possible person.

But this is not the end of the story
and that is not the end of the story.

(Other Supporting Bible Passages – Romans –>Hebrews)

(Examples of sorrow today – children sick and died, suffering)

For in this hope,
for in this hope,
not in the hope that everything’s gonna work out today,
not in the hope that everything’s gonna work out for us eventually.
not in the hope that everything’s ultimately gonna be fine now.

But in the ultimate hope that Jesus came to Earth
not only to die for our sins
but to demonstrate He has the power
over the global consequences of sin.

And one day, — one day, the world will be as we know it should be.
One day, the world will be as we know it should be.
One day, there will be
no more sin,
no more sorrow,
no more death.
But not yet.

(C.S. Lewis quote)
I was made and that you were made for another world

We must never lose faith in the end of the story.
This is just the messy, messy middle

Our present sufferings, our present sufferings are nothing to be compared with our future hope.

that one day God will, in fact, make all things new
We were made for another world.



Andy Stanley understands . . .

•  the difference between the kitchen and the dining room

•  that preaching takes place in the dining room

•  that exposition means that I expose and drive the biblical truth or principle found in the passage.

•  that an expository message surrounds and drives that principle/truth/BigIdea

•  that expositional preaching is not — “This verse says this, this verse says this, the next verse says this, the next verse says . . . . “

•  that preaching is laying out or serving the meal to the minds and hearts of the listeners in a way that truths stick.

•  that it is the stickiness of biblical truths that changes lives.


You ought to go buy his book!
He understands pulpit communication!



1. If you are a preacher, and if you have not read his book because you have been unaware, not antagnoistic, contact me in the comment section, and I will buy the first ten people who contact me a free copy.

Unfortunately, point-#1 might have caused you to reject point-#2.  Theological disagreement and/or envy can even cause preachers to permit an honest appraisal.

Let me also suggest, that whether or not you have a theological disagreement with Andy or others, we are all going to find out where we had it really wrong, theologically, one day.  But it is unfair and unnecessary to call each other “heretical” when it does not involve the fundamentals of our faith.  Keep the main things, the main things — as Alistair Begg often says — another fellow “heretic” and great preacher who also understands how to communicate effectively!

2. That is why “topical sermons” where held s being non-expositional.  “Topical sermons” were “spring-board” sermons.  Fortunately that has changed, and most realize that one can preach on a biblical topic “Grace” from multiple passages of Scripture, expositionally!


3. If you want to see how powerful and sticky the use of a concisely stated BigIdea is, notice what Andy says early on . . . .

And here’s what he (Stockdale) said.
He said . . .
“I never lost faith in the end of the story.”
“I never lost faith in the end of the story.”
This is such a powerful statement to me.
I thought about just reading this and then we could just close in prayer.
This is such an extraordinary, extraordinary statement.
Andy so well understands the strength and stickiness of a BigIdea, he “tongue-in-cheek” suggest just ending it there and going home.  And he is absolutely right in his response to the statement of this BigIdea.
4.  I could point to a number of great examples which illustrate his ability to communicate biblical truths.  Here are two of many . . . .
“How in the world did you survive “eight years in a POW camp?”
(A great way to bring draw the listeners into the message!)
“But the fact is, that when sin entered the world,
it held the door for sorrow, death, illness, and despair.
They snuck in right behind sin.
When sin entered the world, death came in along with it.”
(Powerful picture of sin coming into the world.)

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