Lourenco Gonzalez writes from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he serves the local congregation as elder.

The true purpose of all gospel preaching is to uplift Christ, to bring men face to face with His claims, and to lead them into the liberty of the gospel. But preaching methods differ. For example, doctrinal preaching usually aims to set forth some particular point of belief. Various texts from different scriptures may be used in order to get a composite picture, and thus give the full revelation of God on the subject.

Expository preaching, on the contrary, seeks to develop some particular portion of scripture, perhaps a whole chapter, or even an entire book. It cannot be undoctrinal, or antidoctrinal—for no revelation from God can be divorced from doctrine—yet the process of development will largely be within the environment of the Scriptural passage itself, an unfolding of the message of the writer. Such features as the historic aspects of the book, the political, economical, social, and religious conditions at the time of writing, the influence of the writer upon subsequent history—all these and other factors are taken into consideration.

The one great purpose of all true Scriptural exposition is to interpret God and His will to man. And though the analysis is stronger if it is developed in relation to the historic setting of the past, in order to appeal to the human heart today, the application of that revelation must be brought in the setting of the present.

If it is recognized that "the whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ" (Gospel Workers, p. 250), then the expository student will find the Savior in every scripture. Just as in England they say "All roads lead to London," so every book of the Bible, every chapter, in fact every verse, links with a highway that leads to Christ.

A noteworthy example of this type of preaching is the apostle Peter's Pentecost sermon. Notice how he brought the message in the setting of Joel's prophecy but applied it to his own generation. Another classic is Philip's study with the Ethiopian official. He "began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus." In each case the reaction on those who listened was immediate. Men found the way of salvation and were baptized into Christ.

In applying the message of the Scriptural passage, a real expositor will be accurate as well as informative. We could wish that all preaching reached that standard. It is a rare privilege to hear the Word of God expounded and interpreted within the framework of historic accuracy and correct textual exegesis. It requires more than merely a concordance, a denominational commentary, and a set of doctrinal beliefs to develop in this form of preaching, for the Scripture becomes more than merely something to prove a point or build up a case. Instead it is an avenue along which we traverse in the revelation of God.

The expository preacher pursues his study along these lines: (1) the writer himself; (2) the book's objective; (3) its influence upon contemporary and succeeding generations; and (4) its application to the problems and experiences of today.

A knowledge of history and archaeology, a familiarity with Biblical languages, and adherence to sound principles of Scriptural exegesis are all essentials in expository study. If, as preachers, we determine to live with the Word of God and seek for the guidance of the Spirit of Christ, then the Lord will quicken our imagination and help us to unfold and communicate to our hearers messages often hidden in the mine of truth.

"The minister who makes the word of God his constant companion will continually bring forth truth of new beauty. The Spirit of Christ will come upon him, and God will work through him to help others. The Holy Spirit will fill his mind and heart with hope and courage and Bible imagery, and all this will be communicated to those under his instructions" (Gospel Workers, p. 253).

These are wonderful words, and the expression Bible imagery is particularly significant. What is Bible imagery? What purpose can it serve in making truth live? An old elocution teacher used to say, "Always talk to a picture." Why a "picture"? Because only as men see will they act. Moses "endured, as seeing Him who is invisible." The preacher's work is "to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery" (Eph. 3:9). How well the Master understood this! "Through the imagination He reached the heart" (The Desire of Ages, p. 254).

"With clearness and power He proclaimed the gospel message. His word shed a flood of light on the teachings of patriarchs and prophets, and the Scriptures came to men as a new revelation. Never before had His hearers perceived in the word of God such depth of meaning" (Ministry of Healing, pp. 21, 22).

He was able to take the plain dead letter of the law and make it the voice of the living God. But more! He promised that "every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven" will be able to do the same (Matt. 13:52). He too can bring forth "things new and old." The scribe of that day was an interesting type, so trained in his art that every detail of the transcription must be relayed with minute exactitude. He dare not introduce anything new. He lived with dry parchments and the dead letter. But even such as he, if instructed in the methods of Jesus, could bring forth new revelations from the old settings. In exposing his soul to the imagery of the Word he was copying, he would discover a new pulsating life. And coming forth from the warm rays of divine light, even a scribe could become the voice of the living God. But this promise is also for the heralds of truth today.

It requires much more study, however, more general knowledge, and a deeper consecration to develop in the field of expository preaching. But if we would fulfill the apostolic injunction to "preach the word," we must expound the Scriptures. Our Lord was first a student of the Word, then an expounder of the divine revelation. We surely are not aiming too high if we suggest that the Adventist preacher in a community should become known as a sound evangelical expounder of God's Word, not merely a lecturer on certain subjects. This method of study and ministry is more difficult, but it promises more inspiration to both preacher and congregation.

Lourenco Gonzalez writes from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he serves the local congregation as elder.