He is free also to treat the text in its widest possible form. He may, if he chooses, include the historical circumstances, the emotional state of the author, and the situation of the intended recipient. Nor must he confine himself to the central idea of the passage, though he must be aware of it. Its satellite ideas may be used. (Romans 6 is on the subject of sin, yet one may use the chapter to speak of baptism.)
The value of expository preaching is obvious. One is certain that he is preaching God's truth, not man's opinion. There is even more value in preaching through a book. Subjects come up naturally. No one can suspect that the minister is selecting his themes out of pique or whimsy.
If expository preaching has advantages, it also has dangers. It can degenerate into nothing more than a dull, verse by verse explanation. Bowie describes such preaching as "a few groping comments on each successive verse, like a blind man tapping with a cane." Paul S. Rees calls this "a caricature of expository preaching, without organization and without termination." It is, says Rees, "overweighted by technical and labored explanation and damagingly undernourished with such things as illustrations and applications." Expository preaching, then, ought to have an outline, illustrations, an introduction, an application, and a conclusion.
Two of these needs are addressed in this book: outline and illustration. It is expected that the preacher will make his own outline, using the one printed here as a starter and perhaps as a model, but modifying it to suit his own personality, his audience, and his aim. It is expected that he will select from the illustrations those that suit him and reject those that do not. Perhaps even those rejected can serve as a stimulus for finding better and more apt illustrations of his own. The object is to provide both a catalyst and a model.
The table of contents lists each sermon by topic. In some cases, the topic may also serve as a title. In other cases, a possible title is suggested on the outline page.