SGBC Modesto

Exposition or Exemplary?

March 27, 2024 by

William Heinrich

G. Campbell Morgan once preached from II Samuel 9:13: “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem; for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame in both feet.” He used this as exemplary teaching in the following ways: (1) His being lame taught human depravity; (2) His being lame in both feet taught total depravity; (3) His dwelling in Jerusalem taught justification; (4) His sitting at the king’s table taught adoption; and (5) His sitting at the king’s table continually taught the perseverance of the saints. In his Advanced Seminar, Bill Gothard named the brothers of Goliath and taught a spiritual doctrine from either their names, six toes, or deeds. This is not Bible exposition, but it is hermeneutical confusion.

The student of God’s Word should approach the Bible in search of what it says, not for a hidden meaning. When the Bible is proclaimed, the student should be able to go back at any time to the Scriptures taught and to find the truth given. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), not some hidden exemplary teaching that does not say what the preacher says it does. God’s Word is to be rightly divided (II Timothy 2:15) and not handled deceitfully (II Corinthians 4:2). Our hearts are to be warmed by His Word, not by a story about His Word (Luke 24:32). It is the Word of God plainly taught that equips the believer for every good work (II Timothy 3:16 – 4:5).

Every preacher needs to read a good book on the science of interpretation (hermeneutics). There may be many applications to a passage, but there is only one correct interpretation. What it meant to the person or persons to whom it was written is essential. Context is vital; type of literature, such as proverbs or epistles, makes a difference. Similes, hyperboles and aphorisms all must be properly considered. Grammar, history, culture, and comparing Scripture are the science of interpretation.

To draw things out of the Bible that simply are not there will exalt the teacher. He will seem to have special insight, for the student will soon say, “I would never have gotten that out of that passage.” It will also cause the student to not trust his own ability to understand the Bible when he reads it. This will greatly impede spiritual growth, while it places the exemplary teacher in an exalted position.

God gave man the Bible so he would read it for what He has said, not what He has not said.