What I am teaching is expository or direct Biblical preaching. I believe there is a place for topical preaching and apologetic, or subject teaching. But you will find great power in sharing what God has to say to people in His word.
THE SPIRITUAL CONNECTION
OF THE SERMON
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
In preaching God must strike the hearts of people with the lightning of His presence. The first important factor in connecting to that is your own relationship with God, ultimately, consistently and immediately.
Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord.
The sermon must be anchored on the bedrock of God’s word.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:1,2
I actually think these 5 things are essential to sermon preparation.
Get yourself right.
Read yourself full.
Think yourself clear.
Pray yourself hot.
Preach yourself out.
This is not necessarily a sequence. God can give seeds of sermon ideas in any order.
What I have below is a good general order for laying a solid foundation for your sermon. I call it Serback for sermon background thinking.
Determine the specific Bible text you are going to preach. It can be long or short.
(Central idea of the text) A simple sentence that states the heart of the passage. This generally needs to be in the past tense. It states what the passage said to the people who first heard it.
You can focus on a specifics in a passage. For instance a sermon on John 3:16 may focus on the love of God, the gift of God, the Son of God, believing in God, not perishing, or eternal life.
You need a clear picture of the people you are addressing. The first distinction is Believers or Unbelievers. And you may know other things about the people who will hear you.
I have noted 11 basic human needs. You need to think about this yourself. I suspect many of you will come up with more needs.
- Divine Connection
- Ultimate security
PURPOSE OF THIS SERMON:
There are at least 6 major biblical purposes for a sermon. These are followed by a specific purpose which is stated as a simple sentence beginning with, “I want my hearers to . . .” You need to determine the major and specific purpose of each sermon.
- Doctrinal; “I want my hearers to know…” or “understand…”
- Devotional; “Praise God for. . .”
- Evangelistic; “I want my hearers to give their lives to Christ.”
- Consecrative/Actional; “I want my hearers to commit to…” or “I want my hearers to (do)…”
- Supportive; “I want my hearers to be comforted.”
- Promotional; (This is a type of consecrative sermon promoting a specific cause or program.)
If you do not know how you want your hearers to respond they will not know when you are finished.
This will be a simple sentence corresponding to your specific purpose statement, such as “Accept Christ as Savior and Lord.” This is not unlike the thesis of an essay.
You need to find a visualization of what you are saying. Jesus did this with the parables. “Behold, a sower went out to sow.”
Your picture will always draw certain emotions. It will help you to think about what emotion you wish to strike. Some legitimate emotions are joy, humility, sorrow, fear, anger, conviction, and submission. To some extent the emotion you strike in your visualization will apply to the entire sermon, although each element, possibly each sentence may strike a separate emotion. (One of my favorite preachers did not think this was helpful to him. He thought deciding ahead of time what emotion to strike would be contrived.)
Any emotion can be misused. I think it is valuable to note the reason you want to elicit a certain emotion.
Determine why this sermon is urgent for people to hear. You will find that settling this will be crucial to stirring the hearts of people. There are several reasons for urgency that sermons may touch.
CONNECTION TO THE GOSPEL
Every sermon needs to connect the the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will often need to think about a Scripture passage for some time, before you see how its truth links to the gospel.
I think it is worth noting which spiritual gifts you are asking God to give you in the sermon. Of course, you want to be open to whatever He decides to give. Several of the listed gifts are obviously part of preaching.
The word prophecy does not primarily speak of prediction in Scripture, although it can. It is a word for speaking from and for God.
- Spiritual Discernment
In Acts 2 each person heard in their own dialect. Everyone has their own heart language. Especially when I have preached through an interpreter, I prayed for that miracle. I believe it is more often needed than we think even when everyone speaks your language.
Charles Swindoll calls these principles emphasizing the importance of what you are saying.
It is good to think your points out so that they can all be drawn out of a single sentence.
Here are some examples.
YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN A TRUST.
“A Trust Includes The Responsibility of Faithfulness.”
“A Trust Includes The Risk of Faithfulness.”
“A Trust Includes The Reward of Faithfulness.”
DO YOU BELIEVE THIS
“Do You Believe This Ultimately?”
“Do You Believe This Immediately?”
“Do You Believe This Intimately?”
Linking points in a single sentence can be more effective than using parallelism like rhymes or alliteration in giving people something to remember.
When you have finished these foundations, you can compose your sermon.
Next week I will suggest a most unusual means of preparing a sermon that I believe will unleash the power of God in your preaching.
These are foundations for Biblical Preaching.