Summer 2012 Edition
Produced by ...
Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
“Strengthening the Church in Biblical Preaching and Leadership”
The Biblical and Spiritual Foundations for Preaching
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
So far in this series on preaching we have discussed:
1. Preaching: What is it?
2. Preaching: Why do we do it?
3. Preaching: What is our responsibility?
In this edition we are going to explore “Preaching: How do we do it?” Even though each of us brings our own personality and style to our preaching, it is good to have an example of how to do it. We cannot improve on the examples of preaching we find in God’s word. Let’s look at one from the Old Testament and one from the New.
Here is an example of biblical preaching from the Old Testament. Notice the approach to this sermon – its structure, presentation, and response.
First, they read the text of God’s Word publicly. “So they read distinctly from the book, in the law of God…” (8a). This refers to the public reading of Scripture before anything was said. God speaks to your audience as you read His Word from the pulpit. This is probably one of the most important aspects of preaching. In reading the Scripture passage, you demonstrate to your people how to read Scripture – with clarity of pronunciation, with variety of emphasis and speed, and with reverence. You might like to practice reading a chapter aloud each day at pulpit speed. Mentally visualize your audience and concentrate on difficult names, words, and punctuation. Speak clearly so that everyone can hear the words and understand the ideas in the passage.
Second, they explained the meaning of God’s Word clearly. “…and they gave the sense” (8b). Verse 9 states clearly that they “taught the people.” To “give the sense” is to explain what the passage says and means. Sometimes people may understand the words on the page (what it says), but they do not understand what it means. In order to explain the Word clearly we must first interpret it accurately. That takes place in our personal study of the Word and the preparation of the message. Accurate interpretation involves “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). To rightly divide God’s Word means that we must understand the words, grammar, and context of the passage. Someone has said that “a text taken out of context is a pretext.” Context makes a huge difference in understanding what the original author intended to communicate to his original audience. Context includes historical, grammatical, literary, theological, and syntactical context.
Only when we understand it ourselves can we explain it clearly to others. Then, in order for our explanation of the Word to be clear, we must use language and speak at a level that the audience understands. That’s when true communication takes place. Many listeners do not know what some words in the Bible mean. We are not authorized to change these words - our job is to explain what they mean in their context.
Our primary task as preachers is to clearly explain the meaning of God’s Word, so that the people understand it. Remember my definition of biblical preaching: “Biblical preaching is the proclamation of God’s Word, the objective of which is to generate a spiritually life-transforming response in the listeners, by (a) accurately interpreting its meaning; (b) clearly explaining its truth; (c) authoritatively declaring its message in the power of the Holy Spirit; and (d) practically applying its significance to contemporary life.”
By following this pattern, we expose the Word of God so that people can see its truth and hear God speak.
Thirdly, they applied the significance of God’s Word. “They… helped them understand the reading” (8c). This is the application of Scripture (cf. vv. 10-12). They gave the sense which “helped them understand”. To understand here implies its relevance for life; its application to life.
Lastly, they called for a response to God’s Word. “Go your way...and all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (10-12). Fresh understanding of God’s Word demands a new way of living. If our behaviour, attitudes, beliefs, and deeds don’t change, then either we don’t understand or we are being disobedient to what we know. Understanding must produce obedience in the things of God. For this to take place, the preacher must apply the significance of the truth to the lives of the listeners; show them how the truth is to be lived out. And part of application is the call for a practical response to the truth.
Application is where we make the text relevant to the lives of our listeners. Unless we do this, we cannot expect them to respond; we cannot expect their lives to be transformed by the Word through the power of the Spirit. Preaching only accomplishes its objective when it changes the people’s character and conduct.
Here we see a good example of the model of Jesus’ preaching. He “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (27). Jesus was a biblical (or, expository) preacher. He took advantage of every opportunity to expound the Scriptures - He preached “in season and out of season”. Like Jesus, whether our audience is small or large, formal or informal, our handling of the Word should be expository if it is to be biblical. In other words, if it is to be truly scriptural it must be derived from sound exegesis and exposition.
Let’s notice in this passage, the model of Jesus’ preaching followed by its effect.
When Jesus preached, he turned to the text of Scripture. “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets... in all the Scriptures” (27a). “All the Scriptures” of course refers to the Law, the Psalms, the Writings, and the Prophets. As preachers, we must preach the whole counsel of God. So, don’t just preach from your favourite passage or books, but from the entire scope of Scripture – “all the Scritpures.”
Next, Jesus explained the meaning of Scripture. “He expounded to them…” (27b). The word translated “expounded” comes from two Greek words: (1) “through” (or “by”); and (2) “interpretation” (literally, “hermeneutics”). So, Jesus made the Scriptures clear to them by the careful interpretation of its meaning. This is a very important task of preachers – to understand what the original author meant and then to explain it clearly to your congregation so that they can see it and understand it.
Part of explaining what the Scriptures mean and making them clear is to use illustrations (just as Jesus did) from different areas and walks of life, news items, history etc. in order to make the truth come alive.
Explanation is probably the single factor in contemporary preaching that is done the least and the worst – probably because it is hard and requires hard work. But it is the most important aspect of preaching for several reasons: (a) because our task is to make clear what our people would not figure out for themselves; and (b) because if you do not adequately explain the meaning, how can you expect the people to be obedient to it? In other words, they have to know the “what” before they can respond to the “how.” Thus, explanation comes before application.
Thirdly, Jesus exposed the subject of Scripture - “…the things concerning himself” (27c). He showed them that the Scriptures testify about Him (cf. Jn. 5:39). He is the theme of all Scripture. We, as preachers, must see Christ in all the Scriptures and point people to him. We fail in our task as expository preachers if Jesus is not the theme of all our preaching. We preach “Christ and him crucified” so that He can “conform us to the image of God’s Son” (Rom. 8:29; see also 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 1:28).
Then, Jesus applied the personal significance of Scripture - “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken” (25). This was direct application to them. Jesus was challenging them about their lack of faith in Him and in the Scriptures which spoke of Him. They needed his exhortation here to awaken them as to who He was.
Correctly applied, the Scriptures always minister personally and profitably. All truth has an application to life: “If anyone wants to do His (God’s) will, he shall know… the doctrine” (Jn. 7:17). Unwillingness to obey truth nullifies the whole purpose of preaching.
The expository preacher must relate the application of Scripture in such a way that its relevance to our character and conduct is both indisputable and irresistible (see Rom. 6:17; James 1:22-25).
Lastly, Jesus revealed the truth of Scripture. “Ought not…Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?” (26). Jesus showed them that the redemptive plan of God required that He suffer before entering into his glory. If these two people to whom Jesus was talking had understood the Scriptures clearly and accurately, they should have known that Jesus’ crucifixion was a necessary precursor to his resurrection and glorification. His death ought not to have caused them to walk away from Jerusalem in despair, thinking that it was all over, but it should have caused them to expect and look for his resurrection and ascension.
Jesus’ preaching generated an immediate response in his hearers. First, the preaching of the Scriptures warmed their heart. “Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us on the road and while he opened the Scriptures to us?” (32). “Heart” here is singular. The two people responded as one. Their hearts were fused together under the burning power of Jesus’ words. This is the response we long for in our own congregations, isn’t it? Hearts should melt under the preaching of the Word.
Second, the preaching of the Scriptures blessed their home. “Then they drew near to the village where they were going and he indicated that he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, ‘Abide with us for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.’” (28-30). Through the preaching of Scripture, Jesus “transformed that home into a sanctuary and the meal into a sacrament.” 4 The result was that the disciples’ home was instantly changed. This should be our goal as we preach the Word – that hearts are warmed and homes blessed so that they are never the same again.
Third, the exposition of the Scriptures unveiled their minds. “Then their eyes were opened and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (31). That’s what biblical preaching does. It opens people’s spiritual eyes to the truth of who Jesus is.
Fourth, the exposition of the Scriptures raised their hope. “So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together…He was known to us in the breaking of bread.” (33-35). Prior to hearing Jesus expound the Scriptures their hopes were dashed. But after, their hopes came alive again because Jesus was alive. Jesus was alive physically, but He also came alive to them again spiritually. They knew his living presence (34), his living peace (36), and his living power (49).
Along with these two examples of biblical preaching, we could point out the examples of the apostles:
· Peter (Acts 2:14-36). Exposition of Joel and Psalms
· Stephen (Acts 7). Exposition of historic parts of Genesis and Exodus. This is the best exposition of Genesis 1 in the Bible
· Philip (Acts 8:26-35). “Beginning at this Scripture, (Philip) preached Jesus to him.” (35) – exposition of Isaiah 53.
· Paul (Acts 17:1-3; 28:23). He reasoned with them out of the Scriptures concerning Christ.
So, we can conclude that biblical preaching is expository preaching – i.e. preaching that exposes the Word of God so that people can understand it and obey it. Biblical preaching in its basic form is preaching the Scriptures in such a way that the holy, unalterable Word of God forms the basis in detail of every part of the sermon. The title, the main points and subpoints all come from the text. Such preaching draws the people to the Scriptures, and its application to their lives becomes clear from it.
This model is based on the preacher being simply the mouthpiece for what the Scriptures say and mean, allowing God to speak through his Word, which is our only authority for preaching. As Dr. Olford once said, the crying need of the hour is for a return to expository preaching of the Word of God. The church can only grow, thrive, and serve when she is instructed and inspired by the exposition and application of the Scriptures. The task of biblical preaching is to allow the Word of God to speak, to bring out of the text what is there and expose it for all to see and respond to.
The word of God is the only true and lasting source of hope for the hopeless (Eph. 2:12). It alone can transform people’s lives when they understand it and obey it. Preaching is the means God has chosen to communicate his word and preachers are the instruments God has chosen to carry this out, week in and week out, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Being a Personal Example in Thought, Word, and Deed”
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
We’re studying what it means to display godly character to others; to mentor others through our own example. In previous editions of this journal, we have looked at being an example of commitment, consistency, confidence, consecration, compassion, and competence. In this edition we will examine what it means to be an example in conduct and conversation.
I’m going to deal at greater length with our conduct and conversation when we come to the subject of “holiness”. But, let me make some general remarks here.
After encouraging Timothy to “not let anyone despise his youth” – in a culture where older men were venerated and younger men (especially in church leadership matters) would have been looked down on – Paul writes, “but be an example to the believers ... in conduct” (1 Tim. 4:12).
The way Timothy should guard against being despised for his age is to “be an example … in conduct.” Paul is really saying, “Don’t let them look down on you because you are young (after all you are my apostolic delegate and I have given you the authority to command and teach these things (11) … Rather, act in such a way that not only will they not look down on you, but they will actually look up to you!”
So, what kind of conduct, do you think, would generate this kind of respect from others who might be tempted to otherwise despise or look down on you? Clearly, it is “godly” conduct. Conduct that causes people to recognize that God is at work in your life.
In writing to Titus, Paul says, “In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works” (Tit. 2:7-10). Good works in the context of Titus’ responsibilities within the believing community include integrity of doctrine (sound teaching), reverence (sound demeanour), words with which no one can find fault (sound speech), obedience to masters, well-pleasing in all things, not answering back, not thieving, but showing all fidelity, so that those who follow his model will “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
That’s what we need to model as Christian leaders – godly conduct, good works that motivate others to glorify God in word and deed.
As to Paul’s own conduct he said to the Thessalonians, “Nor did we seek glory from men...but we were gentle among Nor did we seek glory from men...but we were gentle among you...labouring night and day” (1 Thess. 2:1-12). His conduct among them was exemplary of a man of God – someone whom others would want to imitate.
“Be an example to the believers in word” (1 Tim. 4:12)
“In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works … sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” (Tit. 2:7)
Beware of compromising or plain sinful conversations - e.g. gossip, slander, lying, deceit, inferences, innuendos, seduction, murmuring, complaining, boasting, exaggerating, bad jokes (cf. Eph. 4:25, 29, 31; 5:4; Col. 3:8-9; 4:6; Matt. 15:11, 17-20). You can be drawn into those kinds of conversation so easily before you realize it.
Gossip, slander, backbiting etc. are very common among Christians. These indicate a poor state of spirituality – someone who is not walking with God, not showing the gentleness and grace of Christ.
This kind of conversation usually stems from issues of power or poor self-image – people use these kinds of put-downs of others to elevate themselves. Let’s be sure to be humble and gracious in our conversations with and about others.
Beware of jokes. When someone starts to tell a joke, I internally cringe. Sometimes, even with Christians, I have actually said that I don’t want to hear it. Don’t get caught up in joke-telling – it leads to foolishness (Eph. 5:4) - apart from the fact that jokes can be and often are misinterpreted to mean something that you did not intend, in which case they may offend people.
Joseph Stowell says: “If we violate integrity through our words in more casual and informal moments, then we will undermine the capacity of our words to carry appropriate weight when we speak on God’s behalf.” 5
By: Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin
Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
Though Easter this year is past, it is still a good thing to think about the cross. And there is no better person than Isaac Watts (1674–1748) to guide us in our thoughts. Pick almost any recent hymnal, look in the index that lists the authors of the hymns, and the name “Isaac Watts” will usually have a long list of hymns beside it. During his life, Watts penned over 600 hymns, and through them has powerfully shaped the way English–speaking Evangelicals worship God.
Watts was born to Christian parents in Southampton, England, on July 17, 1674. His father, who was also named Isaac, was a prosperous clothier as well as being a schoolmaster. A deacon in the local Congregationalist church, later known as Above Bar Congregational Church, the elder Watts suffered imprisonment at least twice for refusing to give up worship with this church. From 1660 to 1688 the Congregationalists, along with other groups outside of the Church of England, found themselves in the fierce fire of persecution, when a series of laws were passed which made it illegal to worship in any other setting but that of the Church of England. Of Watts’ mother, Sarah Taunton, we know little beyond the fact that she was of French Huguenot descent and after Isaac’s birth would nurse him while visiting her husband in prison.
The younger Watts was converted in 1689. The following year he went to London to spend four years studying in a theological seminary. After graduation in 1694 he went back to live with his parents in Southampton for two years or so. Apparently it was during this time in Southampton that he began to write hymns. Watts preached his first sermon in 1698 and four years later was called to be the pastor of what was the most influential and wealthiest Congregationalist church in London, Mark Lane Congregational Church, which he served till his death.
Watts’ literary activity up until around 1720 was primarily in the realm of poetry. By way of contrast, during his final twenty–eight years Watts almost exclusively devoted himself to writing prose. According to reliable tradition, his first incentive to write hymns came when he complained to his father of the general poverty of the psalmody in their Southampton church. His father’s response was a challenge to his son to do better. As history attests Watts did indeed do better, so much so that he is often called “the Father of English hymnody.”
In 1707 Watts published his first collection of hymns, entitled Hymns and Spiritual Songs, one of the earliest English hymnals. It was in this collection that such great hymns as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” first appeared. Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, a recasting of the psalms in the light of the New Testament for the purpose of public worship, came in 1719. Good examples of such “Christian paraphrases” of the Psalms would include “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” based on Psalm 90 and “Jesus Shall Reign,” drawn from Psalm 72.
A prominent theme in Watts’ hymns is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Bernard Lord Manning, a student of Watts’ hymnody, rightly asserted in a 1942 study that the cross forms the centre of Watts’ thought. In fact, the Victorian biographer E. Paxton Hood labeled Watts “the poet of the atonement.”
Consider, for instance, the hymn, “Grace and Glory by the Death of Christ.” Stanza 2 powerfully expresses the truth that Christ’s work of atonement on the cross pardons all of our sins—past, present, and to come. The following stanza then declares that ultimately everything that is good in the life of a believer stems from the mount of crucifixion:
2. We see the blood of Jesus shed,
Whence all our pardons rise;
The sinner views th’ atonement made,
And loves the sacrifice.
3. Thy cruel thorns, Thy shameful cross
Procure us heavenly crowns;
Our highest gain springs from Thy loss,
Our healing from Thy wounds.
In the well-known hymn “Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,”—originally entitled by the hymn-writer as “Godly Sorrow Arising from the Sufferings of Christ”—Watts is utterly astonished that Jesus suffered the hell of the cross for one as completely unworthy as he. Watts’ heart is at once overwhelmed with sorrow because of his sin (stanzas 1, 2, and 4) and overflowing with joy due to his experience of God’s stupendous love and amazing grace (stanzas 2, 4, and 5):
1. Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
2. Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut His glories in,
When God the mighty maker died
For man the creature’s sin.
4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.
5. But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do.
In “Dead to Sin by the Cross of Christ,” Watts responds to the Antinomianism of his day. Since Christ’s death has broken the chains of sin (stanza 3) and destroyed sin’s power (stanza 2), to persist in sin then is to abuse the grace of God (stanza 1). In essence, such an attitude and lifestyle re-crucifies Christ (stanza 1).
1. Shall we go on to sin,
Because Thy grace abounds,
Or crucify the Lord again,
And open all His wounds?
2. Forbid it mighty God,
Not let it e’er be said
That we whose sins are crucified
Should raise them from the dead.
3. We will be slaves no more,
Since Christ has made us free,
Has nailed our tyrants to His cross,
And bought our liberty. 6
“Authentic Ministry: What is it?” (2 Cor. 4:1-6)
Paul had been the object of many false accusations both from the “false apostles” and the Corinthians Christians. The “false apostles” had accused him of being inconsistent, lacking authority, being weak in body and speech, and hiding behind powerful letters rather than confronting them face to face (2 Cor. 10:10ff.). The Corinthians had accused him of not being truthful, by saying he was coming to visit them but did not (cf. 2 Cor. 1:15-20). Ironically, the “false apostles” were accusing Paul of being inauthentic, false.
This second epistle to the Corinthians is really a personal apologetic, Paul’s defence of himself and his ministry. In this passage (2 Cor. 4:1-6), Paul sets out the marks of an authentic minister.
“We have this ministry even as we have received mercy.” “This ministry” is the ministry of the new covenant (3:6-18); the ministry of the Spirit (3:6,8) – life; the ministry of righteousness (3:9); the ministry of glory (3:8). Such a ministry emboldens (3:12) and encourages us (4:1).
The basis on which we have this ministry is that “we have received mercy” (cf. Eph. 2:4, 7), not because of any merit or ability of our own, but because we have been born again - i.e. “received mercy” (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12-17). Because it is all of God’s grace there is no room for self-approval, self-commendation in ministry. It isn’t our ministry, it’s God’s and he has entrusted it to us on the same basis on which we have received his mercy, his salvation.
Knowing that our ministry is rooted in God’s grace gives us courage. For the One who bestows his grace on us at salvation will continue to do so throughout our ministry. “Therefore, we do not lose heart.” Though we face the same obstacles that Paul faced (i.e. physical, spiritual, social etc.), nonetheless, because of God’s mercy, we do not lose heart (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58) - i.e. we have courage.
1. Authentic ministers renounce secrecy and deceitfulness. Those who have received mercy “renounce the hidden things of shame (or, dishonesty).” They reject the practices of inauthentic ministers. The gospel changes everything – our motives and our methods. We give up the old ways associated with the old man and practised by false teachers – those who have not received mercy.
Authentic ministers do not practice in secret things that would be shameful if known by others – whether that be motives, thoughts, desires, habits, lusts - especially those that appeal to the senses (sensual) (cf. 2:17). This is what is stumbling so many men in ministry today – particularly pornography, which is both secret and shameful.
Authentic ministers do not “walk in craftiness”. They don’t deal deceptively with others - no trickery. That lifestyle is characteristic of what we once were as “sons of disobedience” (cf. Eph. 2:1-3). But not anymore. Anything that remotely smacks of craftiness takes its character from Satan (Gen. 3:1; Jn. 8:44). Therefore, those who practise craftiness in their ministry (i.e. not transparent) are ministers of Satan (2 Cor. 11:13-15), not of God.
Authentic ministers do not “handle the word of God deceitfully”. They do not misrepresent the truth of the gospel. They do not use Scripture inaccurately or for their own purposes.
2. Authentic ministers manifest openness and truthfulness. Authentic ministers are the exact opposite of false ministers in character and practice. They do not practise secrecy and deceitfulness but openness and truthfulness.
They “manifest the truth” in speech and conduct, such that it is manifested to every human conscience. Others intuitively recognize them as authentic, transparent. Their actions and speech commend themselves to the discernment of others.
Authentic ministers act “in the sight of God.” That’s the sphere where everything is open and naked, nothing hidden or secret. This is a far higher standard of scrutiny than human conscience or inspection. Every minister of the gospel is accountable to God. This is the ultimate test: Whom do we serve? Are you conscious of serving God, of his inspection and approbation of your ministry? Are you walking in the light and are unafraid of what it may expose? (Jn. 3:19-20).
The gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. Though it is openly preached, its truth is veiled to those whose minds are blinded by the “god of this world.” The gospel ministry which is life-giving and glorious (3:6-11), admittedly, has no effect on those who do not believe. This is not an admission of ineffectiveness of the gospel but of the effectiveness of Satan’s deception in those who do not believe. Their minds are veiled (cf. 3:13-18) by Satan so that the light of the gospel of Christ’s glory cannot shine on them – so that they cannot see and believe the One who is the “image of God” (cf. Heb. 1:3).
That’s why Satan “has blinded their minds” – he doesn’t want them to catch a glimpse of God’s exact representation in Christ, for if they did he might lose them. There is nothing impotent or ineffective about the gospel. The problem is with the minds of the hearers, not the message. It is glorious, but they are deluded. It is open, but they are veiled.
So, the gospel is “veiled” (obscure, obstructed, dim) to those who are “perishing” (who wilfully refuse it), and behind their unbelief lies the deception of Satan, who is the father of lies. Satan has no influence over the age to come, but in this age he is permitted a measure of influence, an influence that he has usurped and which is only temporary. Satan is the “god of this age” - the one to whom the majority of this age submit; the one whose character is stamped on this age (deception, rebellion, sensuality); the one who deceives humans into bowing down to him rather than to the one true God.
Only the one true God can dispel the darkness of Satan’s deception and beam in the light of the gospel.
It’s not about us (5). The gospel (3) is not about us. “we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord.” That’s who we serve and that’s who we preach – “Christ Jesus the Lord.” We are His servants who proclaim a message about Him, not about ourselves. If it were about us, you could understand why some would not believe our message, but it’s about Him:
· Christ - the anointed (“we preach Christ and him crucified”)
· Jesus - the Saviour
· The Lord – the Master, the supreme One, Sovereign
There is only one Lord, one Master – and that is not us. We are not bosses, not lords over the flock (1 Pet. 5:3). We are his ministers - “your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.” We are ministers who serve God’s people “for Jesus’ sake”. That’s our motivation – we do it “for Jesus’ sake”; that’s why we do what we do.
Just as Jesus became a bondservant (Phil. 2:7) so we make ourselves servants of God’s people for Jesus’ sake. Ministers who make themselves prominent and whose ministry is more about them than the message, more about the vessel than the treasure, are not authentic ministers for Jesus’ sake.
It’s not about us. It’s all about God (6), the One who, at creation, commanded light to shine out of darkness (6). And He has shone his spiritual light into our hearts in order to illuminate our understanding of God’s glory as reflected in the face of Jesus Christ. We cannot bring about salvation, only God can. Only the God of creation is the God of redemption (re-creation). “The light of the world is Jesus” – the One who created light has become light. This was so vivid in Paul’s memory, when the light of God enveloped him on the Damascus road and flooded his soul with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Only the face of Christ could adequately, properly, and fully manifest the glory of God such that we could understand it.
God commanded the light to shine “out of” darkness, and through the gospel he has beamed “into” our hearts the light of the knowledge of his glory as incarnated in the human face of Jesus (Jn. 1:14). Just as in his work of creation, God commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, so in his work of redemption he commanded the Light to shine into the darkness of our human condition so that we could know him.
The source of ultimate truth (about who we are, who God is etc.) is only from God. “I am the…truth” Jesus said. He is the final and full revelation of God. Hence, it is in his “face” (his person, his identification) that we come to know our glorious God.
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Preparing a sermon is hard work. Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of sermon preparation is to discover the structure of the passage. First, we need to identify the subject – what is the author talking about? Once you have identified the subject of the passage, the next task is to discover what the author says about the subject – what points does he make about the subject? Of course, all the points that he writes about will all be connected to the subject – that’s what gives a sermon its unity. And yet, each aspect of the subject is different from the previous one and the next one – that’s what gives a sermon its progression, its flow of thought. Usually, in a passage of Scripture, the author makes two or three, maybe four, points about the subject. Unless you identify these accurately you cannot properly prepare your sermon.
Once you have identified the subject and the points that the author makes about the subject, you now have the structure of the passage, which, of course, forms the structural outline of your sermon.
This process is true of any form of communication. In order to communicate coherently, everything has to connect to the same subject. And in order to communicate logically, each point has to be a progression in the unfolding of the subject.
In each edition of The NET Pastors Journal, I provide you with sermon outlines so that you can see how I have developed them from the passage. Also, if you click on the link provided, you can listen to the audio version of that sermon if you wish.
My sermon outlines are from a series I preached in John’s gospel. This edition continues that series with two more sermon outlines.
For the English audio version of this message click this link: Link 1 - John 9:24-34
Subject: Jesus is the Sent One from God
Point #1, 2, 3 – see the spring 2012 edition
Point #4: The Hostility of the Religious Leaders (24-34)
1. Hostility based on their commitment to God (24-25)
2. Hostility based on their commitment to Moses (26-34)
Subject: Jesus is the Sent One from God
Point #1: Jesus came into the world to save (35-38)
1. He came into the world to save those who “believe” in Him (35-36)
2. He came into the world to save those who “see” Him (37-38)
Point #2: Jesus came into the world to separate (39-41)
1. He came into the world to effect spiritual sight in believers (39b)
2. He came into the world to effect spiritual blindness in unbelievers (39c-41)
1 See Stephen Olford (with David Olford), Anointed Expository Preaching (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998), 69-71.
2 See Stephen Olford, Preaching the Word (Memphis: The Institute for Biblical Preaching, 1989),34-48.
3 Adapted from Olford, Preaching the Word of God, 45ff.
4 Olford, Preaching the Word, 46.
5 Stowell, Shepherding the Church, 154.
6 In the final section of this article, I am indebted to an unpublished paper written in 2002 by Dan Brubacher—currently serving as Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries at West Park Baptist Church in London, Ontario—for its form of argument and examples used.