Expository preaching is a necessary corollary of the doctrine of the God-breathed nature of Scripture. The idea is not so much that God breathed into the Scriptures, but that the Scriptures are the product of His breathing out. Independent of what we may feel about the Bible as we read it, Scripture maintains a “breath of God” quality. Thus, the preacher is to make God’s Word known and make it understandable. He is to limit himself to it without adding or subtracting. (Derek W.H. Thomas, “Expository Preaching,” in Feed My Sheep, p. 35)
Derek Thomas, himself a careful exegete of Scripture, though he has chosen his words carefully as the above quote reveals, says something that should make those of us who are committed to expository preaching, stop and think: “Scripture maintains a ‘breath of God’ quality.” Of course Dr. Thomas is here referring to Scripture as a product, that is, God-breathed.
But I wish to use “Scripture maintains a ‘breath of God’ quality” to challenge the very nature of expository preaching that many hold to. (1) While I agree that expository preaching, properly defined, is a necessary corollary to the doctrine of inspiration, I object to those exegetes who think their conclusions are all there are to be had in any given text of Scripture. Yes, if Scripture maintains a “breath of God quality,” then as we seek to faithfully interpret Scripture, we should from time to time expect fresh insights.
(2) Expecting fresh insights as we seek to faithfully handle Scripture leads me to a second objections: we should never hold others to our definition of expository preaching, whether our own or one borrowed. For example, I consider every effort of sharing God’s Word with others, with the intent of either to reprove, rebuke or exhort as a kind of exposition. Now mine may not be as polished and refined as yours, but with the correct intent, that “breath of God quality” has the final say.
At any rate, I would encourage the reader of Scripture to acquire as much skills and tools as needed to correctly handle the Word of God, knowing that Scripture itself is God-breathed and therefore should be reverenced by the interpreter.