How We Speak God's Word Today
“Simeon viewed the preacher as duty-bound to the text. He was committed to staying on the line, never rising above the text of Scripture to say more than it said and never falling beneath the text by lessening its force or fullness. This conviction – this mature restraint – is often missed today by those who handle God’s Word. Frankly, it is the undoing of so many of our churches, even doctrinally sound ones. Much of what we think is faithful biblical preaching actually misses the mark because of a lack of self-restraint…It is my prayer that this little book, among other thing, might be used by God to help anyone explore the ways that teachers and preachers of the Bible might rediscover this conviction.”
Expositional Preaching is a concise and balanced book that, despite its length, is a remarkably useful tool. Grounded semi-autobiographically and ruthlessly delivering on practicality on every page, it arcs upward in complexity from beginning to end. In an evangelical world where “expositional” is the soothing word to be equated with “faithful to Scripture”, the term has almost lost its meaning. Helm does a stellar job of re-introducing meaning to the word, before providing a comprehensive exploration of the essential steps to take in sermon preparation. The brilliant simplicity of Expositional Preaching is why I cannot write all that much about it.
The methodology of preaching is fascinating. I have come across preachers wholeheartedly committed to Helm’s vision in theory, but who fall short in practice. I have come across preachers who would be hesitant to sign up to his vision, but functionally live it out on a Sunday morning. Practice what you pre-preach. The book raises many questions that appear to go unanswered; is there really “one main point” for every natural preaching unit? Should books, or passages, be (purely?) preached sequentially? However, the book is streamlined for practicality rather than systematically exploring each and every methodological complexity. Perhaps it is wise that Helm sidesteps these issues in which (arguably?) there is Biblical freedom. In fact, one gets the impression that a remarkable amount of wisdom has gone into what not to include, accentuating the genius of its simplicity. Helm, for example, labels himself a “rigidly sequential” preacher but does not exhort us to do the same.
Expositional Preaching has its own oddities (a pleasing focus on the importance of the Holy Spirit in preaching and a slightly disappointing low view of systematic theology), but it remains a surprisingly broad book. Although Helm primarily takes aim at those not from a conservative-evangelical background, there are a few barbs aimed at those belonging to a church with a self-proclaimed confidence in its “good teaching”. Either way, let this great little book straighten you out.