I’ve picked up Albert Mohler’s book He is Not Silent again. In chapter 3 he addresses the issue of defining expository preaching. He urges us to drop the language of “I prefer expository preaching” in favor of defining true exposition, which is true preaching. Mohler has major concerns with the contemporary emphasis on topical and narrative preaching, and urges the reader to understand true preaching as simply the reading and explanation of a biblical text.
(I would agree with Mohler’s concern, but wish to add a couple of qualifiers. I would suggest that true exposition must go beyond reading and explaining a text – a very mind-focused concern. Thus preaching is not only to say what the text says, but to appropriately do what the text does, too. Furthermore I would also suggest it is possible to learn much from the narrative preaching camp, as long as you think through what it means to be expository in your philosophy of preaching. And it is wrong to tar all topical preaching with the same brush…there is a place for periodic expository-topical sermons.)
Mohler goes on to state that where there is a decline in expository preaching, there is first an abandonment of the conviction that the coming of the Word of the Lord is a matter of life and death. Earthing his thoughts in Deuteronomy 4:32-40, Mohler offers three points for the development of both a theology of and a passion for, expository preaching. First, the only true and living God is the God who speaks (present tense – He speaks today through His Word preached.) Second, God’s true people are those who hear God speaking to them. Third, God’s people depend for their very lives on hearing His Word. Thus, preaching is always a matter of life and death!