Expositional Preaching – review

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Book Review – David Helm, Expositional Preaching

David Helm is a brilliant synthesizer. In his new book, „Expositional Preaching” he achieves a big task, namely to show us the big picture of expository preaching and to guide us to the most important points in developing a healthy way of doing Bible exposition. From the beginning, Helm defines expository preaching as „empowered preaching that rightfully submits the shape and emphasis of the sermon to the shape and emphasis of a biblical text.” He shows the connection between the belief that the Bible is inspired by God and inerrant and the necessity of expositional preaching.

Following his model of preaching, Charles Simeon, he says that the most important task for a preacher is to „bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I think might be there.” So, if we believe that the Bible is truly the Word of God, we will have a desire to show God’s thoughts, not our mere opinions. And only a healthy expository preaching will get us there.

The most helpful thing that David Helm is doing in his book is to show briefly how one gets to this kind of exposition. Usually the preacher goes from the biblical text directly to his audience, through contextualization, in hope that he will bring a relevant message for his church. Although contextualization is an important step in preparing the sermon, nevertheless we need to give it the proper place, or we will fail in being faithful to the Word of God.

The steps for expository preaching that Helm suggests briefly are exegesis, theological reflection, and contextualization. The right order is important. The exegesis of the text assures us what the text was meant for them and then. It is the basis on which we discover the right meaning of the text. But the second step was a great discovery for me personally. Although I knew that every sermon has to be Christocentric, I was confused about the way to get there. So, theological reflection is the second step that needs to be taken carefully. Right here we need to make the proper connection between the text, especially if it is from the Old Testament, and Christ and the gospel. If we miss this step, we will have overly intellectual sermons or moralistic ones. Especially the biblical theology is playing a crucial role in helping us to connect the meaning of the biblical text with Christ and his Gospel, because, as Helm affirms, Christ is the fulfillment of all Scriptures. Clearly this is not an easy step, but Helm is offering us the big picture of the history of redemption which is the single most important line through all the Scriptures. How can we properly connect the Old Testament with Christ? He draws our attention to prophetic fulfillment, historical trajectories, themes and analogies.

The last step is bringing the message of the text to us, today. Now that we have clear in our mind what the meaning of the text is in relation to Christ, we can search to be relevant. Understanding the audience and giving the proper application will help to be that way.

Helm achieved in this relatively small book to give us the most important and necessary elements of expository preaching, and he did a really good job. It certainly modeled my way of preparing the sermons, looking to exalt our Savior, humble the sinner and promote holiness through the very words of God.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Crossway for the purpose of providing a review.

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