H. A. Ironside: Expository Teacher & Preacher

H. A. Ironside:
Expository Teacher & Preacher
 Richard L. Mayhue, Rediscovering Expository Preaching,
The Master's Seminary Journal 1:1 (Spring 1990) pp. 109128, http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj1e.pdf
 Ed Reese, The Life and Ministry of Henry (Harry) Allen
Ironside, Reese Publications, 8824 Northcote Avenue,
Munster, IN 46321,
 George Philip, Expository Preaching, The Rutherford
Journal of Church and Ministry, Vol. 3.1 - Spring 1996,
 Scott Christmas, An Essay on Expository Preaching, Grace
Community Church, Jacksonville, Florida,
http://www.gracejax.com/Resources/Question, issues, and
articles/what is expository preaching.htm
And are you born again yet, my boy?
 Harry Ironside was born October 14, 1876 in
Toronto, Canada to Godly parents
– By the time he was 11, he was preaching regularly to a
gathering of 60 children and a few adults
 When Harry was 13 years old, however, Scotch
evangelist Donald Munro challenged Harry and said
“Are you born again yet, my boy?”
– For six months, Harry battled with doubt – he wasn’t sure
he was saved!
 Then, in February of 1890, Proverbs 1:24-32 came
to his mind, and late one night he fell on his knees
and said, “Lord, save me.”
– At age 13, he later said, “I rested on the Word of God and
confessed Christ as my Savior.”
 Harry was born again!
Ironside the Writer and Composer
 Although Ironside had only an 8th grade education,
he was a prolific author
– Between 1900 and 1951 he published over 80 books,
including Notes on Daniel the Prophet and Holiness, the
False and the True
– His writings make him one of the most prolific authors in
the Christian field in the 20th century
 He is also the author of the well known hymn,
I'm overshadowed by His mighty love; Love eternal, changeless, pure
Overshadowed by His mighty love; Rest is mine, serene, secure
He died to ransom me from sin; He lives to keep me day by day
I'm overshadowed by His mighty love; Love that brightens all my way
Ironside the Preacher!
 From the age of 16 until he went to be with the Lord
at 74, Ironside preached almost continuously,
averaging 500 sermons per year
– He preached to crowds ranging in size up to 10,000,
traveling 30,000+ miles a year
– Many thousands came to know the Lord through his
– In 1935 he preached the funeral service for the famous
evangelist Billy Sunday at Moody Church
 His sermon title was “Billy Sunday’s Spiritual History - Without
Christ; In Christ; For Christ; With Christ”
 He served as pastor of the 4000 member Moody
Church for 18 years from 1930 to 1948
– During his first 14 years of service only two Sundays went
by without seeing somebody saved
“Therefore I urge you to imitate me”
 Jesus commanded us to follow Him, and Paul
echoes this with a command to “imitate me” (1
Corinthians 4:16)
 God used Ironside to “lead many to
righteousness” through his preaching and
teaching ministry
– Q: What can we, as Bible teachers, learn from
Ironside and his ministry?
– A: First, he preached!
 We have a Biblical mandate to teach the Word
“in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2)
The Mandate to Teach
 First, we must teach. We have a clear mandate
from the Lord on this matter:
– Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I
have commanded you. And surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
– Plus many other Scriptures (e.g., 1 Timothy 4:13; 2
Timothy 2:2, 4:2; Titus 2:1)
 What else can we learn from Ironside?
– His style of teaching!
 One of the key aspects of Ironside’s style of
teaching is its expository nature
What is Expository Teaching?
 Simply put, expository means “setting forth of the
meaning or purpose”
 “The meaning of what?” (you should ask )
 The answer is simple: the meaning of the Bible!
 Over 33 Greek verbs in the New Testament are used
to portray the richness of Biblical teaching/preaching
– Kyrss: “I preach”, “I proclaim” (e.g., Matthew 3:1, 4:17; Acts
28:31; 2 Timothy 4:2)
– Euaggeliz: “I preach the Gospel” (e.g., Luke 8:1; Acts 8:4-5,
– Martyre: “I testify”, “I bear witness” (e.g., John 1:7-8;
Revelation 1:2) (Kim Sun Il)
– Didask: “I teach” (e.g., Matthew 28:20; 1 Timothy 6:2; 2
Timothy 2:2)
Setting Forth God’s Word
 The Word says: “I preach”, “I proclaim”, “I
testify”, “I bear witness”, “I teach”, “I guide”,
“I explain”, “I announce”, “I declare”, “I read”,
“I interpret”, “I exhort”, “I speak”, “I open” …
We Must Know God’s Word!
 To teach something, you must know it.
 To teach God’s Word, we must first and foremost know
it ourselves!
– We must immerse ourselves in God’s Word!
 Examples of Godly men and women who immersed
themselves in God’s Word
– Daniel: “I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures” (Dan 9:2)
– Ezra: “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and
observance of the Law of the LORD , and to teaching its
decrees and laws in Israel” (Ezra 7:10)
– The early church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’
teaching” (Acts 2:42)
– Peter Waldo of ‘The Poor Men of Lyons’ studied for seven
years (The Pilgrim Church by E. H. Broadbent)
Through Us, God Opens His Word!
 We see several examples of how God the Father,
Jesus & the disciples ‘opened’ God’s Word for others
– God the Father revealed the Truth to Peter: Simon Peter
answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”
(Matthew 16:15-17)
– On the road to Emmaus Jesus “opened their
understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures”
(Luke 24:27, 32, 44-47)
– Jesus taught about Himself from Isaiah 61:1-2 in the
synagogue (Luke 4:16-22)
– “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear
and giving the meaning so that the people could
understand what was being read.” (Nehemiah 8:8)
– Philip explained Isaiah 53:7-8 for the Ethiopian Eunuch
(Acts 8:26-40)
 God’s Word must be revealed to us by God Himself!
How Then Can We Teach
in an Expository Manner?
 Proclamation
– We are ambassadors of Christ, declaring the
greatness, goodness and perfection of what God
has done in the work of salvation through Jesus
Christ His only begotten Son
 Instruction
– We are to teach people, leading them into the truth
of God’s Word, “line upon line”, “precept upon
precept”, directly addressing serious spiritual issues
 Application with Exhortation & Encouragement
– The purpose of true preaching is to call for and
enable the obedience of faith in our daily lives
The Setting for the Message
 What else can be said about expository
preaching & teaching?
– It is not lecturing. Nor is it being deliberately
provocative. Nor is it self-indulgent theorizing.
– Teaching, in order fully to be a means of grace,
must be set in the context of worship;
– The service must be a complete whole leading the
people to God in adoration, praise and prayer,
preparing them to hear God’s Word;
– Enabling worshipers, after the teaching of the Word,
to express their response in the words of a carefully
chosen psalm or hymn.
Some Potential Pitfalls
 It’s instructive to review potential pitfalls – we make
mistakes, but let’s not repeat them!
– Hobbyhorses: some have a stable! 
– Need to cover complete books of the Bible!
 Nonetheless, topical and other messages may be appropriate at
– What is our purpose/motive as messengers?
 Remember that Jesus wept over the lost (Luke 19:41) and saw them
as sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)
 We must never ‘speak down’ to the congregation. Who are we to give
the impression that we are superior? We must never give the
impression that we know it all.
– Who is hearing our message? Children? Students?
 People are HUNGRY!!!
Another Potential Pitfall
 Need for Prayer Support
– In Ephesians 6:19-20, in the context of spiritual warfare,
Paul asks prayer for utterance
– In Colossians 4:3-4 the emphasis is on prayer providing the
open door for the Word preached – the prayers of the people
pushing back the barriers and opening the doors of hearts
and minds
– In 2 Thessalonians 3:1 prayer is asked that the Word “may
run swiftly” like a rushing river!
– Every messenger desperately needs the earnest and faithful
prayers of brothers and sisters committed to lift him up on a
regular basis
 James 5:16 “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails
In Summary
 If we allow Scripture to speak for itself;
 If we see to it that we use biblical language and categories,
going as far as Scripture goes on any subject and then
stopping, refusing to extrapolate on the grounds of mere logic;
 If we truly believe that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of
God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be
complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”;
 If we know the Truth of God’s promise when He says that His
Word will not return void but will accomplish what He has sent it
to do (Isaiah 55:8-11)…
 … then we will know the thrill and the privilege of expository
ministry. We will find again and again, as Paul found in Philippi,
that hearts have been prepared by God, and are opened up to
receive the Word (Acts 16:13-15).
Let us pray…
 Heavenly Father, we have seen a wonderful example of a
“man after Your own heart” in Harry Ironside - his diligence,
persistence and fortitude are worth emulating. Oh Lord, like
Ironside, we too yearn to serve you to the fullest extent
possible, and we ask You oh Lord to use us in every way,
on every day, to “turn many to righteousness” so that we
too, like Ironside, may shine “like the stars for ever and
ever”. Please, please, dear God, teach us Your Word,
teach us how to properly and effectively witness to others
who You are. Grant us grace to truly obey your command
to “Love one another”, and in so doing, reveal to all
mankind that we are Your disciples. And Lord, if there is
anyone here this morning who has never realized the Truth
of the free gift of salvation, please, please, Lord, I beg You,
please open their minds at this moment to understand Your
Truth and be born again. Oh Lord, we bless You, we love
You, and we pray in Your holy Name.
 In Jesus’ Name, Amen.