In a recent article, Ed Stetzer explains why he primarily uses verse-by-verse exposition in his own preaching ministry. Here are three of the reasons he cites:
It brings you to passages you normally would not want to preach.
“I’m preaching through the book of Matthew right now, and we recently came to chapter 19. Jesus has very strong words about marriage and adultery being the allowable exception for divorce. It is a hard passage to preach, as Jesus is quite forthright; His commands are countercultural for our day. Thus, as I preach through Matthew, I am forced to stand before my congregation with conviction, raising a view of marriage that Jesus said the world would not be able to handle. I do that because the text brings me there, just as the text might bring me to racism, consumerism or other issues that challenge modern listeners.”
The authors of the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, actually have themes or purposes to what they communicate.
“As I preach through Matthew, Jesus is making His path to the cross, and the writer is reminding us of the countercultural values of the kingdom. In other words, Matthew did not haphazardly collect and write down these passages.
“I am being more faithful and helpful as a preacher if I communicate to my people what Matthew said. This does not mean it has to be a boring, running commentary; but I would be ignoring part of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration if I did not preach the text as the author—and Author—delivered it.”
It teaches people how to read the Bible.
“The Bible is not best read as a series of unrelated passages. Our preaching should encourage a better way to look at Scripture. By preaching through books of the Bible, I show people they can open books of the Bible, read them and trace the thoughts and the arguments presented. In other words, by preaching expositionally, I actually can teach people to read the Bible well and better.” (Read Stetzer’s next two reasons.)