Saturday, 30 June 2007

Expository Preaching

Expository preaching (also referred to as systematic exposition) is a form of preaching that expounds upon the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture. While the term could be used in connection with any religion that has organised worship that includes scriptural teaching, the term is most usually used in relation to Christianity, and is thus concerned with the exposition of the Bible. The practice probably originated from the Jewish tradition of the rabbi giving a "Dvar Torah", explaining a passage from the Torah, at the conclusion of prayer services.
Expository preaching differs from topical preaching in that the former concentrates on a specific text and discusses topics covered therein, whereas the latter concentrates on a specific topic and references texts covering the topic.

There are two ways in which texts are selected for exposition:
- use of a lectionary (common in many mainline denominational churches), or
- letting the preacher or individual church decide which books or passages are examined (common in evangelical churches from both mainline denominations and independent churches).
Advantages & Disadvantages
The main advantage of expository preaching is that, if done without bias, the entire Bible will eventually be covered. In addition, the preacher will never be lost for a sermon subject, since few preachers have ever preached through the entire Bible in their lifetime or with one congregation. Should they be so fortunate to finish the entire Bible with the same congregation, many years will have passed with (hopefully) lots of new faces in the congregation, so they can start over.

The main disadvantage is that expository preaching covers many topics and necessitates often lengthy diversions into other passages for clarification. The Biblical authors covered many topics in their writings, and the expository preaching method does not allow for detailed coverage of a particular topic when only a specific text is covered. Therefore, in order to properly address the context and content at hand in a given passage, the preacher does become topical by concentrating on the topic at hand, and integrating other supporting passages. Consequently, covering the entire Bible in an understandable, yet sufficient, level is a time-consuming task.

Most expository preachers will never cover the entire Bible in their lifetime, although W.A. Criswell managed to do it over a 17 year period as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. John MacArthur (pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA) has spent nearly a decade in the book of Luke alone.

Prominent Expository Preachers
Many famous evangelical preachers have used systematic exposition.

Perhaps the greatest evangelical preacher of the 20th Century was D Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. His series on Romans took years to complete as he worked through the book almost a verse at a time.

Other famous expository preachers include John Stott, Dick Lucas and Charles Spurgeon from England, William Still from Scotland, Phillip Jensen and David Cook from Australia, and Ray Stedman, and Fred Craddock from America.

John MacArthur is probably the best known expository preacher in America, and is a proponent of the expository method of preaching (and an outspoken opponent of the topical method as used almost exclusively by some churches). In addition, the Calvary Chapel group of churches, headed by Chuck Smith, include the regular use of expository preaching as one of their distinctives.

Many such prominent preachers in the second half of the twentieth century have put on record that to a lesser or greater extent they were persuaded of the importance of systematic exposition as a result of reading the works of A.W. Pink.

Scriptural basis
For those who believe that the dominant source of Christian understanding is the Bible, it may seem obvious that expository preaching should be essential (though this is not the case with the seeker movement). Nonetheless the logic of their position demands that preaching itself should have a scriptural warrant.

The biblical basis for expository preaching can be found in many places in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is perhaps the most important, for it states that Scripture is "breathed out by God", which means that the Bible is actually God's words. The phrase "breathed out" is also a link to the Holy Spirit, which shows a link between the work of God's Spirit, and the work of God's Word. The verse also goes on to explain that Scripture is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness". This shows that the Bible is not theoretical, but practical in its application. Finally, it states that "the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work". This has been claimed to show the sufficiency of scripture - that it is all that a Christian needs to understand his faith and how to live his life.

Another important verse is Ephesians 6:17, which states that the "Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God". This indicates again the link between the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of God's word. It shows that when the word of God is read, examined and applied, there also works the Holy Spirit.

A third important verse is found in Hebrews 4:12, which says that "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart". This second picture of God's word as a deadly sword is deliberate, not because of the violence it implies, but because of the change it can bring to those who listen to God's word. Here also the word of God is almost given a personality of its own - which implies, again, the hidden work of the Holy Spirit as it works with the word of God to change people's lives.

Most churches that are committed to Reformed Theology and Calvinism are similarly committed to the practice of expository preaching. Most of the notable preachers mentioned above are Calvinistic in their theology. Expository preaching is not limited to those who embrace this theology, however, and can be found in a wide variety of churches.

Books on Expository preaching
1. I Believe in Preaching (Between Two Worlds in USA) - John Stott
2. Preaching and Preachers - D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
3. Rediscovering Expository Preaching - John F. MacArthur Jr.
4. Biblical Preaching - Haddon Robinson

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Saturday, 23 June 2007

Bible Translations

New American Standard Bible
(NT 1963, OT 1971, 1995 updated edition; Lockman Foundation, revision of ASV)
While no translation is perfect, the NASB is the best overall version widely available. It barely edges out the ESV, primarily because it is slightly more literal. More than any other modern version, the NASB avoids restructuring the text or interpreting passages for the reader. The NASB also makes concordance a priority, but does not go overboard in doing so. Its textual decisions are in accord with the best manuscripts. The Updated Edition is consistently contemporary in its language but maintains a good balance of reverent formality and natural readability. The NASB is a conservative translation and thus upholds the central teachings of the Bible. This version's layout is helpful and creative, with its indications of historical presents and a combination of paragraph and verse-by-verse format. One improvement for future printings would be separating the footnotes from the abundant cross-references.

English Standard Version
(2001, Crossway Bibles; revision of RSV)
The ESV has the same general strengths as its cousin, the NASB: it is a conservative, literal translation from the oldest manuscripts, presented in contemporary English. The ESV handles difficult textual decisions slightly better than the NASB, and the real paragraph format may also make it more attractive to some people. It is, however, somewhat less literal than the NASB, and occasionally is too interpretive. The editors have done an excellent job of retaining the best of the RSV while ridding it of its liberal biases. The ESV is theologically the strongest version out there. It would be nice, however, to see pronouns referring to God capitalized.

New International Version
(NT 1973, OT 1978, 1984 edition; Committee on Bible Translation)
The NIV is the most popular and one of the most conservative Bible versions. Its textual decisions are very good, slightly better than those of the NASB, and it balances literalness with readability to produce what many seek in a translation. This balance is not perfect, however, as the NIV sometimes oversimplifies the text–missing the nuances of verbs, deleting conjunctions, and often undertranslating. As an "international" version, it avoids regionalisms and may be read with equal delight across the English-speaking world. For those who find the NASB too stilted, the NIV is the highest-rated choice among the ten best-selling translations, and it is much better than either of its two revisions, the NIrV and TNIV.

Bible Translations

English Versions of the Bible

Comparing Bible Translations - Analysis

Comparing Bible Translations - Conclusions

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Saturday, 16 June 2007

Pastoral theology / Doctor of Pastoral Theology (P.Th.D.)

Practical theology, sometimes called pastoral theology, is theological reflection that is grounded in the life of the church, society, and the individual and that both critically recovers the theology of the past and constructively develops theology for the future.

Pastoral theology is the branch of theology concerned with the practical application of theology in the pastoral context. This approach to theology seeks to give practical expression to theology. Normally viewed as an 'equipping' of ministers, practical theology is often considered to be more pragmatic than speculative, indeed, essentially a practical science. Hence its main interests are in those areas of theology which will aid the clergyman in ministry. Topics tend to include homiletics, pastoral care, sacramental theology, and ethics.

All branches of theology, whether theoretical or practical, purpose in one way or another to make priests "the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1). Pastoral theology presupposes other various branches; accepts the apologetic, dogmatic, exegetic, moral, juridical, ascetical, liturgical, and other conclusions reached by the ecclesiastical student, and scientifically applies these various conclusions to the priestly ministry.

Doctor of Pastoral Theology
The Doctor of Pastoral Theology (Abbreviated P.Th.D. for the Latin Pastoralis Theologiæ Doctor, PThD) is a theological professional degree geared to provide higher academic training to those who have already entered the pastoral ministry and who seek to continue their work while pursuing further theological study.

The Doctor of Pastoral Theology (P.Th.D.) is comparable to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or the Doctor in Theology (Th. D.) in terms of its academic load and level of study, with a grade of research represented by its required doctoral dissertation project of up to two hundred pages. Said pre-approved dissertation is usually expected to relate and compliment the doctorate candidate's ongoing field of work.

Like the Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D. = Sacrae Theologiae Doctor) issued by the pontifical university system of the Roman Catholic Church, which builds upon the work of the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) and the Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.), the P.Th.D. also necessitates the completion of both a Bachelor's degree and a Master of Arts degree in a field of ministry training. The P.Th.D., however, is meant to further enhance the teaching, preaching, and leadership effectiveness of the current pastor/overseer of a congregational ministry, while the S.T.D. graduate is usually expected to seek the professorate in a Catholic university--see Sapientia Cristiana on Ecclesiastical Universities, Part One, Section VII, Article 50. n.1 at [1].
Society for Pastoral Theology

Pastoral Theology (Catholic encyclopedia)

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Saturday, 9 June 2007

Cambridge Declaration of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Thesis One: Sola Scriptura
We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation,which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Thesis Two: Solus Christus
We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.

We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ's substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Thesis Three: Sola Gratia
We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God's wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

Thesis Four: Sola Fide
We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God's perfect justice.

We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ's righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God's glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

See the full "Cambridge Declaration of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals" here.,,PTID307086CHID581262CIID,00.html

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

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Saturday, 2 June 2007

Recommended Books

Visit my library at

Blackaby, Henry T. and Richard (2001), Spiritual Leadership. Nashville: Broadman & Holman.

Blaising, Craig A., Gentry, Kenneth L. & Strimple, Robert B. (1999), Three views on the millennium and beyond. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Chapell, Bryan (2005), Christ-centered preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Collins, Gary R. (2007), Christian counseling, 3rd ed. Nashville: Word Publishing.

Dever, Mark (2004), 9 marks of a healthy church. Wheaton: Crossway Books.

Erickson, Millard J. (2006), Christian Theology, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Fee, Gordon D. and Stuart, Douglas (2003), How to Read the Bible for all its worth, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Kostenberger, Andreas J. & O'Brien, Peter T. (2001), Salvation to the ends of the earth: a biblical theology of mission. Leicester; Downers Grove: Apollos; Inter-Varsity Press.

Noll, Mark (2001), Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Piper, John (2002), Brothers, we are not professionals. Nashville: Broadman & Holman

Sng, Bobby (2003), In His Good Time: The Story of the Church in Singapore, 1819-2003. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore.

Stott, John (1994), Between two worlds: The Art of Preaching in the 20th century. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Tidball, Derek (1986), Skillful Shepherds: An Introduction to Pastoral Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Weber, Stu (1993), Tender Warrior. USA: Multnomah Books.

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