It is the preacher’s responsibility and high calling to proclaim the Scriptures. We must herald the Word. We must declare the Truth. We must announce the Good News. We must teach the Bible.
This means the text must be our focus, not something supplementary to it. We must spend time with the text, thinking about it, reflecting on its structure, preaching its meaning, and unfolding its content.
Some people falsely believe that topical preaching (bouncing here-and-there-and-everywhere, pulling from this verse and that one) every week will teach believers more about the practical Christian life. I think a consistent serving of expository preaching (choosing a passage and then preaching the point(s) and implications of that passage) accomplishes Christian growth as God intended.
The proposed benefit of topical preaching (dealing with many topics week in and week out) is sometimes unfortunately portrayed as an advantage over expository preaching. But, while recently studying for a series in Colossians 3, I was reminded how expository preaching is often topical itself.
Take Colossians 3 as a good example. In over twenty verses, Paul deals with a variety of topics: the believers’ identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus (3:1, 3), the mindset of the Christian (3:1-2), the return of Jesus (3:4), the resurrection body of the believer (3:4), the need to put sin to death (3:5-11), the wrath of God (3:6), the centrality of Christ in all things (3:11), the Spirit’s fruit in the lives of believers (3:12-17), worship (3:16), marriage (3:18-19), parenting (3:20-21), and honoring God in the workplace (3:22–4:1).
Behold, preacher! By expositing Colossians 3, you would preach all of those different topics. People grow in their understanding of the Bible when they wade in the waters of biblical exposition. Churches benefit from sustained treatments of Bible passages (and–chapters, even entire books).
This doesn’t mean you have to take the book of Genesis and preach it all the way through without a break. But in selecting chunks of the Bible and then preaching them, you will inevitably cover a wide range of topics.
Expository preaching, therefore, doesn’t exclude topics. Instead, expository preaching deals with topics as the text addresses them. Preach the Word!