Friday, November 7, 2008

Good Example Of Bad Exposition

I heard an interesting sermon on the radio yesterday. I don't know who it was, so I can't give you his name.

He caught my interest with his strange paraphrase of Ephesians 5:25-33. He said something like, "Our passage this morning says, 'Husbands love your families as Christ loved the church...'" and he went on to talk about the husband's role in the family. He said the husband is the "CFO" of the family - making sure they are provided for and managed well. He talked about training children to manage their time and their money. He emphasized that children should be taught delayed gratification.

I didn't have any problem with his basic ideas about husbands taking responsibility for their families or training their children in managing their time and money. My issue is that he purported to be teaching them about Ephesians 5:25-33. (Maybe he was including 6:1-4 - it was hard to tell since after his loose paraphrase he didn't really refer back to the text.)

What he was doing was not exposition. The only connection between what he was teaching and what was in the text was that it did address fathers/husbands.

The text is all about Christ and the Church. He should have talked about how Christ gave Himself for the Church and why. He should have talked about how the church is united to Christ and what that means for our lives. In this passage the husband's treatment of his wife is the outworking of the truth about Christ and the church. If you don't focus on the basic truth about Christ, you don't have any foundation for the application to the family.

So what?
  • For one thing, he is NOT showing his people how to interpret scripture for themselves. They must look at this passage and say, "How did he get his lesson from this?" Indeed!!
  • Another thing is he has no biblical authority for what he is counseling. There is no tie between what he is saying and what the biblical passage is saying. Why should people take his word for it that the dad is to be the CFO of the family? Certainly not because of anything in particular that they found in this passage.
  • Finally, what he was teaching might have been sound counsel on how to manage your family and train your children about using their time and money, but it was trivial compared to the basic truth of the passage. What if your kids learn to handle money and time well, but end up in hell for eternity because nobody focused on the central truth of these passages?
Every preacher, myself included, is tempted to use his time telling people the things he wants to say. But the expository preacher is governed by what the text says. Exposition is the explanation of the text - not using the text as a jumping off place for my own ideas about a topic. If we do that we are disregarding the revealed word of God, we are substituting our own thoughts for God's thoughts, and we are trivializing preaching.
(2Timothy 4:1-4) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

No comments: