February 15, 2013
I’ve found in my own preparation it’s easy for my sermon development to become merely science. You find the right information, discover the right interpretation, arrange your thoughts in an orderly manner and you have a sermon ready to preach. With all of the digital Bible study tools at our disposal it’s become easier to “build” a sermon. We can cut and paste quotes from commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and other materials with great ease. We can then organize the quotes with our outline and be ready to preach on Sunday.
I contend that there is much more to sermon preparation and delivery than that. There is an “art” to it all. Our sermons should be more than well-organized truth. They should be developed as we wrestle with the implications of the text for our own lives. We should seek not only to inform but to persuade with Spirit-filled unction. We should learn from the ancient Greeks and make sure that our rational appeal (logos) is accompanied by a credible life (ethos) and an emotional appeal (pathos). I believe this threefold approach is modeled by Paul in Acts 18:1-4. Paul was in Corinth working as a tentmaker to support himself (ethos). He was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath (logos). And he was laboring to persuade Jews and Greeks (pathos). He wasn’t just presenting interesting lectures, he was trying to lead people to salvation in Christ. There’s no doubt that there was a science to Paul’s preaching, but there was also an art to his preaching.
We should go after people’s hearts as we seek to show them the beauty of Christ and the power of the Gospel. Here are some questions to ask as you prepare sermons and seek to practice the science and the art of biblical preaching:
- How does this text apply to my own life?
- How does my sermon engage people’s minds and affections?
- Is the main point of this sermon clear and compelling?
- How can I make this sermon memorable?
- How can I better communicate these truths?
- What do I want people to believe after they hear this sermon?
- What do I want people to do after they hear this sermon?
- Is there a balance in this sermon between informing and pleading?
- Am I content with this sermon if it’s the last one I ever preach?
- How does this sermon make much of Jesus?
- Am I ready to preach this sermon to the glory of God?
Have a great Sunday!
February 12, 2013
Do you hear it? It’s everywhere. All Christians struggle with it. All churches deal with it. It’s a ubiquitous problem. And it’s a sin. It’s called gossip. For some reason we are prone to excuse ourselves of this sin. We think it’s no big deal. But we must remember that the tongue can be a deadly poison and a raging forest fire, causing destruction (James 3:1-12). In his book Respectable Sins Jerry Bridges defines gossip as “the spreading of unfavorable information about someone else, even if that information is true.”
This article is really helpful in understanding the danger of gossip and the reasons we are prone to this sin. May we glorify Christ with our tongues!
February 8, 2013
I’ve been enjoying reading Fred Sanders book The Deep Things of God. In chapter 6, Sanders discusses the Trinitarian dynamic we experience when we read our Bibles. In one part of this chapter, Sanders examines a hymn book that was edited by the great G. Campbell Morgan. The hymn book is comprised of songs that are all about the Bible. As Sanders writes, “Fifty love songs to the Bible!” We should love the Bible because we encounter God in the Bible. We experience communion with God in the pages of Scripture. We are changed as the Spirit of God opens the eyes of our hearts and illuminates God-breathed truths to us. Do you love your Bible? One of the hymns in the aforementioned hymn book was written by the prolific writer William Cowper:
The Spirit breathes upon the Word,
And brings the truth to sight,
Precepts and promises afford
A sanctifying light.
A glory gilds the sacred page,
Majestic, like the sun,
It gives a light to every age,
It gives, but borrows none.The hand that gave it still supplies
The gracious light and heat,
Its truths upon the nations rise
-They rise but never set.
I want to have a holy reverence and appreciation for the Bible. I want to love my Bible because it helps me to love my Savior more and live for His glory! As the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:97, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” And in verse 127 he writes, “Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.”
Do you love your Bible?
February 1, 2013
Here is a great question for pastors to consider; What is the proper measure of the effectiveness of our preaching? Jim Shaddix in his book The Passion Driven Sermon offers some helpful thoughts:
…as shepherds serve up a steady diet of healthy Bible food and the flock consumes it, believers are being changed into the image of Christ. This is happening even though neither preacher nor people notice it on a week-by-week basis. It is the work of the Holy Spirit within them. Therefore, the effectiveness of pastoral preaching cannot and should not be gauged by what happens at the altar on Sunday morning or by what parishioners say as they shake the minister’s hand at the back of the church after the service. The effectiveness of pastoral preaching must be gauged by whether or not we who listen to preaching look more like Jesus this year than we did this time last year.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged by that food for thought. Have a great Sunday as you preach the Word!