Similarity No. 3:
The Continuity of Exposition
If preaching is to be primary, it demands a certain kind of preaching, specially, biblical preaching. To this end, Lloyd-Jones and MacArthur have been known for their expository pulpits, a fundamental approach that involves long series through entire books in the Bible. Whether preaching verse-by-verse through whole books, or through sections within books, both men have used the lectio continua approach, meaning “continuous expositions.” This comprehensive modus operandi has served a balanced diet to their well-balanced congregations.
New Life Into a Classic Form
Amid many barren pulpits, Lloyd-Jones so gave himself to sequential expository preaching that, Old insists, he was “breathing new life into a very classic form.” Lloyd-Jones was able to “recover and popularize” expository preaching “throughout the English-speaking world.” He accomplished this resurgence at a time when “classic expository preaching…had all but died out.” Resisting this trend, Lloyd-Jones insisted: “The message should always arise out of the Scriptures directly.” In other words, the sermon must start and stay with the Scripture, saying explicitly what the text says. But more than that, Lloyd-Jones asserted: “It should be clear to people that what we are saying is something that comes out of the Bible. We are presenting the Bible and its message. That is the origin of our message.” In short, he maintained that true preaching “must always be expository.”
By this approach, Lloyd-Jones delivered over 4000 sermons from his Westminster pulpit, preaching twice on Sundays, once in the morning and once in the evening, and on Friday evenings (September to May). Further, he conducted regular journeys throughout the English countryside, preaching at least two to three times during the week, including numerous pastors’ conferences.
Lloyd-Jones’s Sunday morning sermons were intentionally directed towards Christians. From his Westminster pulpit, he preached through: 1 Peter (twenty-five sermons, 1943-1944), 2 Peter (twenty-five sermons, 1946-1947), Philippians (thirty-seven sermons, 1947-1948), 1 John (sixty-seven sermons, 1948-1950), and Habakkuk (six sermons, 1950). The most famous Sunday morning series by Lloyd-Jones was the Sermon on the Mount, a thorough treatment of Matthew 5-7 (sixty sermons, 1950-1952).
Other Sunday morning series included an exposition of John 17 (thirteen sermons, 1952-1953), Psalm 73, (eleven sermons, 1953), Spiritual Depression from Psalm 42 (twenty-one sermons, 1954), Revival (twenty-six sermons, 1959), Ephesians (260 sermons, 1954-1962), Colossians 1 (fourteen sermons, 1962) and the Gospel of John chapters 1-4 (1962-1968).
In the Sunday evening messages, Lloyd-Jones was purposefully evangelistic, preaching through: Isaiah 35 (six sermons, 1946), Isaiah 40 (nine sermons, 1954), Psalm 107 (seven sermons, 1955), Authority (three sermons, 1957), Galatians 6:14 on the Cross (nine sermons, 1963), Psalm 1 (four sermons, 1963), Isaiah 1 (nine sermons, 1963), Isaiah 5 (seven sermons, 1964), Joy Unspeakable (twenty-four sermons, 1964-1965), and Acts 1-8 (110 sermons, 1965-1968). In addition, Lloyd-Jones started a Friday night Bible study, early in his Westminster ministry, focused primarily upon Christians, an on-going series which became enormously popular. His first Friday night series was on Great Doctrines of the Bible (eighty-one sermons, 1952-1955). Far from being dry lectures, these messages were delivered with all the elements of dynamic preaching. This series was followed by his magisterial exposition of the book of Romans (372 sermons, 1957-1968), culminating in Romans 14:17, when he retired from the Westminster pulpit.
The Only Legitimate Way to Preach
Like Lloyd-Jones, MacArthur made the same commitment to expository preaching. He writes: “Preaching and teaching must be expositional, setting forth as clearly, systematically, and completely as possible the truths of God’s Word and only those truths.” MacArthur emphatically asserts: “It is for that reason that expository preaching—preaching that systematically and thoroughly explains the meaning of Scripture—is the only legitimate way to preach.” Consequently, he states that the message must never originate with himself: “The preacher’s responsibility is not to create messages from his own wisdom or cleverness or to manipulate or sway his listeners by means of his own persuasiveness of charisma but to interpret, explain, and apply God’s Word as clearly and completely as possible.” This is the genius of MacArthur’s preaching. Starting at the first verse of chapter one and moving consecutively through the entire book, he simply reads, explains, and applies God’s Word. MacArthur is a mouthpiece for the biblical text.
In all, MacArthur has delivered some 3,000 expositions at Grace Community Church. For over forty years, he has stood in one pulpit and faithfully expounded the Scripture, Sunday by Sunday. On Sunday mornings, MacArthur has preached, verse by verse, through: Romans (1969), the Gospel of John (seventy-eight sermons, 1970-1972), Acts (103 sermons, 1972-1975), 1 Corinthians (eighty-one sermons, 1975-1977), Ephesians (sixty sermons, 1978-1979), the Gospel of Matthew (226 sermons, 1978-1985), 1 Timothy (fifty sermons, 1985-1987), 2 Timothy (twenty-seven sermons, 1987-1988), Philippians (forty-six sermons, 1988-1989), 1 Thessalonians (thirty-six sermons, 1990-1991), Philemon (four sermons, 1991), 2 Thessalonians (seventeen sermons, 1992), Titus (twenty-four sermons, 1992-1993), 2 Corinthians (ninety-six sermons, 1993-1998), the Gospel of Luke (298 sermons, 1998-2008), the Gospel of Mark (2009-2011).
On Sunday evenings, MacArthur has likewise expounded: Habakkuk (three sermons, 1969), 1 and 2 Peter (1969), Hebrews (forty-three sermons, 1972-1973), Galatians (twenty-four sermons, 1973-1974), Colossians (twenty-three sermons, 1976), Zechariah (nineteen sermons, 1977), Daniel (thirty-one sermons, 1979-1980), Romans (124 sermons, 1981-1986), James (thirty-four sermons, 1986-1987), 1 Peter (fifty sermons, 1988-1990), 2 Peter (twenty-seven sermons, 1990-1991), Revelation (eighty-seven sermons, 1991-1995), Genesis 1-11 (forty-nine sermons, 1999-2001), 1 John (forty-two sermons, 2002-2003), 2 John (four sermons, 2003), 3 John (two sermons, 2003), Jude (fifteen sermons, 2004).
In addition, MacArthur has also preached the following topical expository series: The Superiority of Christ (seven sermons, 1972), The Second Coming of Jesus Christ (twenty-three sermons, 1973), Is the Bible Reliable? (twelve sermons, 1974), God, Satan, and Angels (nine sermons, 1975), The Charismatic Movement (twelve sermons, 1977), Spiritual Bootcamp (four sermons, 1978), True Worship (eight sermons, 1982), The Anatomy of a Church (eight sermons, 1983), Heaven (eight sermons, 1987), Spiritual Growth (four sermons, 1988), Seven Steps to Spiritual Stability (six sermons, 1989), Whatever Happened to the Holy Spirit? (six sermons, 1989), The Love of God (six sermons, 1994-1995), The Fulfilled Family (eleven sermons, 1996), A Biblical Perspective on the Middle East and Terrorism (four sermons, 2001), The Doctrines of Grace (ten sermons, 2004), Spiritual Terrorism (ten sermons, 2004), Making a Case for the Bible (five sermons, 2006), Why Every Calvinist Should be a Premillennialist (six sermons, 2007), The Kind Of Worship God Desires (five sermons, 2008), Romans chapters 3, 4 and 5 (ten sermons, 2009), Hebrews 11 (twelve sermons, 2009-2010), 1 Corinthians 13 (four sermons, 2010), 1 Corinthians 15 (six sermons, 2010).
Journal Article written by Dr. Steven Lawson (used with permission).
TO BE CONTINUED