“Expository preaching at its core is more a philosophy than a method.”
A few day ago, my Twitter feed filled with reactions to the death of Haddon Robinson. Ironically, the majority of the folks in the pews, unless they’ve heard Robinson’s radio program, aren’t familiar with the man who so heavily influenced evangelical preaching.
Robinson championed, taught, and wrote about expository preaching. He defined it as, “The communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearers.”
This long definition mentions each component of a good expository sermon. First, the sermon communicates “a” biblical concept. The sermon is about one thing. Second, proper contextual study determines the passage’s main idea, or concept. Third, the Holy Spirit applies the point of the passage to the preacher, so that he can then communicate that same idea to the congregation.
Robinson wrote, “Whether we can be called expositors starts with our purpose and with our honest answer to the question: ‘Do you, as a preacher, endeavor to bend your thought to the Scriptures, or do you use the Scriptures to support your thought?’”
Expository preachers have one job. We report what God said and explain how it applies. Robinson’s legacy, to those committed to this philosophy, is invaluable. I’m particularly grateful for his focus on the sermon’s central idea—that the sermon is an arrow, not a shotgun.
Robinson’s contributions will live on through his foundational book, Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages, which is now in its third edition. Generations of believers will continue to benefit from Robinson’s teaching, as it impacts their pastors. God will use the influence of someone they never knew to help them grow closer to the Lord.
I can’t think of a better legacy.
 Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014), 5.