Old Doxoblogy

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Depository Preaching

Since I'm lazy and tired I'm going to republish another item from last July.

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge,"
(1 Timothy 6:20 ESV)

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13, 14 ESV)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:1, 2 ESV)

There are basically two kinds of preaching, Topical and Expository;

1) Topical Preaching-This is the kind of preaching that the Southeast is most accustomed to. There are two subcategories under this type of preaching, Biblical and unbiblical.
Unbiblical Topical Preaching is characterized by the preacher selecting a topic, studying the topic, breaking out Strong's to find a prooftext, and imposing his opinion of the topic on that text.
Biblical Topical Preaching is characterized by the preacher studying a topic in light of Biblical Authority, and then explaining the relevant texts.

2) Expository Preaching- This is the kind of preaching that explains the Biblical text, line upon line, precept upon precept. With Expository preaching you get the whole counsel of God, not in one sitting, but over a steady diet of Bible preaching, verse by verse, so that everything gets covered. My favorite texts may have to wait a while as the other texts are explained. This is the favored mode of preaching by myself and most of the Reformed camp.
I would like to continue in explaining, not the different styles of preaching, but the mission of both valid styles of preaching (Biblical Topical and Expository) as Paul describes it to Timothy in these verses. Paul describes his preaching to Timothy as a deposit. And so I call this Depository Preaching. As we get started exploring what this means we should remember that all parties have responsibilities in this 'Deposit'. Paul entrusts Timothy with truth that he has guarded with his own life and Timothy must continue guarding this truth from error and pass it along to the next generation who are to guard it as well.

First, Paul tells Timothy that he has entrusted Timothy with something. He later in 2 Timothy calls this the 'pattern of sound words' and 'that which you have heard of me'. Timothy no doubt understands that Paul is referring to the Gospel that Paul had preached, not in private, but publicly before many witnesses.

Second, Paul charges Timothy with three tasks concerning this 'deposit'; Guard it, Follow it, and Entrust it.

When Paul says 'guard the deposit' he is speaking of preserving the truth from error. He tells Timothy to guard the truth from irreverent babble, or unholy and vain speech. It is unholy because it makes light of God's own revelation of Himself. As such it is useless, or vain. He also tells Timothy to guard the truth from 'false truth'. Or that which claims to be true but in reality is not. He adds in the following verse that some have missed the mark concerning their faith. They have missed the Gospel by following a false gospel.

Paul also tells Timothy to follow the truth. Literally, to hold it fast as a treasure that has been committed to him. Paul then gives an example of those who had deserted him as testimony to the fact that they had let go of truth. May we hold fast to the truth, not let it be torn from our grasp, or turn away from it ourselves.

Paul's final instruction to Timothy is to entrust the truth to other faithful men. This is the Gospel of God's salvation. It dare not die with Timothy. And so Paul commands Timothy, that as he grasps the truth firm and pure to pass it along to others who can also hold it firm and pure.

Finally, as the Gospel has been passed down to us through the writings of the Apostles, we are to guard it, follow after it, and train up others after us who will do the same. As Irenaus wrote in his treatise 'Against Heresies',
"We have learned the plan of our salvation from no one else other than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us. For they did at one time proclaim the gospel in public. And, at a later period, by the will of God, they handed the gospel down to us in the Scriptures-to be the 'ground and pillar of our faith.'"
It follows then that we too should be about the preservation and proclamation of this truth of all truths, the Gospel.

Guard the Deposit, and Deposit it in others who follow behind us. Don't let the truth die. And we have this promise that even when Heaven and Earth pass away, this truth will stand. We also have the Holy Spirit through whom we have the power to guard, follow, stand in, and proclaim this truth, this Gospel, this salvation.

This is the mission of preaching. Guarding the truth, keeping it pure, and passing it along to others who will proclaim it faithfully.

Guard the Deposit.



Joe said...

I am very uncomfortable with so-called "topical" preaching, as there are few preachers who can pull it off. Most of the time it sounds like a philosophy lesson.

Expository preaching is more to my liking. It satisfies my need to continually hear and understand the Word of God.

And you never run out of topics.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I agree. The topical sermon either satisfies the preacher's interests or addresses a 'felt' need of the congregation.
Expository preaching addresses our true need by proclaiming faithfully God. Because God is 'who' we need.

Reformer said...

One also cannot take an agenda to the pulpit or be erroneously charge with having an agenda while sticking to the text!

The greatest compliment I ever received after a sermon was one my friend and new believer, Chad Curry, told me that he has changed the way he reads and studies his Bible because of the way I preach! PRaise the Lord! No more "verse a day to keep the devil away," Daily Bread type of personal "study." Now Chad does regular expository devotions!

Thanks for your comments Jeremy!

Jeff Wright said...

Excellent writing Jeremy.

I've got a question for you luminaries: What do you think of Andy Stanley's preaching?

He's topical, but it's closer to what I'd call topical exposition. It's principle oriented but he doesn't seem to pull punches. He's also pretty comprehensive.

Anyway - just wondering what your thoughts were.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I've never heard Andy Stanley preach. But I have an opinion about Topical exposition! Surprise!

I think the Topical sermon is a valid form of preaching but that it should not be the normal form of preaching. It should be done very carefully because there is always the tendency to impose ourselves on the topic we wish to expound. This is a danger any time we preach, but especially when we approach a sermon in this way.

Bhedr said...

I could'nt agree more w/ point 1 only in the southeast its Ventopical. I think its symptomatic of a pattern set by an early fundamentalist near the turn of the century. J Frank Norris. Have you heard of him? If not then just ask Phil Johnson. I'll bet he knows him well.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Ventopical? Are you inventing words, or is this one I should know?
Heard of J. Frank Norris? I know many J. Frank Norris'. I used to be a J. Frank Norris.
I may post on my Independent years, 1976-2000, in the future.

Bhedr said...

Ventopical-Using passages of scripture to whip the flock that has offended you the prior week, back into shape. This type off preaching is purely off the cuff and requires little preperation.
Hedricksters Dictionary 1st edition

BugBlaster said...

Good one Jeremy.

Ventopical sounds like a style I've heard once or twice.

There's still a danger of the preacher picking the topics to fit his own agenda in expository preaching, but it's harder to pull it off.

J. Wendell said...

Great post brother.

My understanding is that all preaching and teaching should be biblical and expositional whether it is a:
Book study (eg. Daniel, Galatians, Numbers)

Person study (eg. David, Jeremiah, Daniel)

Character study (eg. forgiveness, deference, courage)

Doctrinal study (salvation, angels, prophecy)

Other topics (eg. assurance, fellowship, worship).

Exposition means we expose the Word, I think it was C.H. Spurgeon who said, “The Bible is like a lion that needs no help defending it… just open the cage and it out.”

Oh my J. Frank Norris! Don't turn my crank.

Bhedr said...

Good points John.

I agree.

Crank? Are you one of those wind up preachers?