From & Before God A Practical Introduction to Expository Preaching, by Sugel Michelén. B&H Publishing, 2019.
From & Before God is truly a masterpiece as an introduction to expository preaching. Honestly, I would think the rich historical and theological detail in which Sugel goes into in this work would make From & Before an invaluable resource to any pastor! I know that reading through this book, while given to me to review, has been greatly edifying and educational, and thus a benefit not only to me, but the very church I pastor.
Sugel Michelén breaks this work into three parts. The first part is “The Theological Anchor” of expository preaching, where he covers gives the theological-historical reasoning behind the method. The direction with which he goes with this is obviously simple, yet missed by so many who read the Word of God. It’s outlined with the chapter names:
1. God Has Spoken.
2. God Speaks through His Written Word Today.
3. God Commands Us to Preach His Word. And there it is.
And there you see it. The theological-historical reason for preaching expositionally. For those that are familiar with expository preaching, seeing where Michelén is going with these chapters comes naturally. Regardless, they are worth the read. I learned a lot, or more like re-learned and understood what I already knew better…a lot. And for that, I give the glory to God for this work to be written and translated into English, and for the opportunity to read its pages.
However, the book does not stop there…
Sugel Michelén goes onto the practical side of things, getting to “Part Two: The Nature, Form, and Content of the Expository Sermon”. For me, this was by far the best part of the book. In answering the question “What is an expository sermon?”, he writes, “Simply and concisely, it is the kind of sermon that helps hearers understand the meaning of the biblical text, and what God wants us to do in light of what the text teaches.” (p.54). I must admit, upon reading this chapter, I was convicted in that I have been, at times, what he calls, “a kind of walking biblical commentary.” (p.54).
Since reading this, I am taking more purposeful steps to make sure I do less lecturing and more helping the congregation understand. While there is a lot of explaining, my prayer is that they understand the text. Sugel Michelén and this book, From & Before God have pushed me to become a better preacher. A better expositor of the Word of God.
Lastly, filling the bulk of From & Before God, Sugel Michelén goes through the “Step-by-Step Preparation of an Expository Sermon”. In this last section of the book, he takes us on a journey through the process of writing and preaching (kind of) a sermon. This particular sermon is on Exodus 17:1-7 and is titled “From and Before God”. While everyone process for sermon preparation is different, as is the author’s from mine, the most interesting chapter in this section, to me, was the first, “Choose the Passage”. The title of the chapter might come across as misleading to some, because in all reality, you’re being challenged to not choose a passage to preach, but to choose the long-range plan of preaching all of the Bible. Choosing to preach man passages, one after another, Sunday after Sunday, laying out the Word of God as it is written.
From the first page to the last, From & Before God takes you on an a true adventure through all the various aspects of Expository Preaching. From the why and the how, to the here’s how it’s done, Sugel Michelén has written a true masterpiece in this work, one that will rest for many years to come on my closes shelf as a reference as I continue to grow as a preacher. Wether you are a new pastor (as am I, in my second year of my first pastorate), or a veteran, measuring your tenure in decades, From & Before God will push and challenge you to be better than you currently are.
Disclaimer: The publisher, B&H Publishing, sent me this book for free to review.