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3. When The Sun Finally Rises: Wrestling With The Past (Gen. 32:22-32)

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Introduction

Perhaps your past has brought you to a point in your life of complete helplessness and hopelessness; when everything seems black and you don’t know where to turn; when you want to forget the past because it only brings you pain. Sometimes, the experiences and hurts of the past just don’t seem to go away, do they? The memories still stare you in the face as if it were yesterday. Old attitudes and habits still plague you.

Perhaps you’ve spent your life in an attitude of self-sufficiency, “I’ll-do-it-my-way,” “I-don’t-need-God” kind of attitude. But now you’re not so sure anymore. Perhaps you’ve perpetuated the habits with which you grew up. Your home life was anything but stable, perhaps abusive even. And now you realize that you’re just a carbon copy of all that you despise about your past and you desperately want to leave it all behind. Or, perhaps you’ve worked all the angles; you’ve taken all the tax breaks (interpreted the income tax rules liberally), and you’ve gained a measure of success and status.

But all of a sudden your life has come unravelled. Your empire has come tumbling down, and like Humpty Dumpty “all the kings horses and all the kings men can’t put it back together again.” Perhaps you’re facing the night of your life right now.

Well, remember this: The night of agony always comes before the dawn of relief. That’s the primary teaching of our text. The darkness of dread precedes the light of liberty. Chaos of conscience goes before the calm of communion. The trauma of struggling blocks the tranquility of resting. The turmoil of striving pre-empts the security of trusting.

A few years ago I had a frozen shoulder. I had never heard of such a condition before. One morning I woke up and thought I had slept on my shoulder the wrong way. But it didn’t go away. In fact, it gradually got worse so that by the time I went to the doctor, it was fully frozen. The pain was excruciating. In fact, one time I was waiting for my wife in a store, and someone brushed up against me, making me move my arm quickly. I nearly passed out, the pain was so bad. When I began physiotherapy treatment, the physiotherapist said, “I’ll have to hurt you to make you better.” In other words, the night of agony always comes before the dawn of relief.

Twenty years have now passed since Jacob tricked his brother, Esau. And many more years than that have transpired since he chased his twin down the birth canal, grabbing onto his heel for all he was worth. And so began a life of fancy footwork. Up to this point, Jacob has been running away, but ...

I. Running From The Past Doesn’t Solve Your Problems (32:22-24a).

Jacob was a product of his past ambition. From his birth he couldn’t stand to be in second place. He had to be number 1 and he set out to prove that he was the best. He cheated his twin brother twice (first, out of his birthright and second, out of his father’s blessing), pulled the wool over his old father’s blind eyes, and conned his father-in-law out of the best livestock. Jacob was a product of his past ambition.

And Jacob was a product of his past environment. He had been raised in a dysfunctional home. He observed his parents’ divided affections – his father Isaac loved Esau; whereas his mother, Rebekah, loved him, Jacob. He recognized his father’s lack of leadership and godly example. He learned from his mother how to stretch the truth convincingly. And then there was his twin brother, who was so much like him and yet so different: Jacob was a mother’s boy; Esau was a “man’s man.” Jacob was level-headed (Mr. Cool, the strong quiet type) and ruthless to get his own way; Esau was rough and ready, an outdoorsman, but complacent about life (he undervalued the things that mattered, like his birthright). Jacob was the product of his past.

So, when things turned ugly at home, Jacob began running. He ran to uncle Laban’s house where through cunning and clever manipulation he prospered. By this time he had 12 children and he had accumulated a significant net worth.

But, when things turned ugly again, he began running again. When Laban wasn’t looking Jacob loaded up his animals and his family and left without even saying “goodbye.”

And so you can see how Jacob’s past shaped his values and character. For him the end always justified the means. Friends and family were treated just like anybody else - if that meant stealing, fraud, scheming, treachery, so be it. With friends like him, who needs enemies?

But God is at work again in his life. When God tells him to return to his family in Canaan, Jacob thinks it’s a great idea to escape from Laban’s clutches, manipulation, and jealousy. But what he didn’t know is that God was saying: “Jacob, it’s time! Time to deal with your past!”

Running from the past doesn’t solve your problems because (1) the past has a way of catching up with you (22-23). It caught up with Jacob here at the river Jabbok. So far, he had gotten what he wanted but at a great cost. We don’t know if he ever saw his mother again and he had certainly severed his relationship with his brother. Up to now, he hadn’t worried about meeting Esau again. He could patch things up; he could buy him off with presents. After all, he was wealthy now (32:1-5). But Esau’s wrath has been festering for 20 years. When he hears that his brother is returning, his anger boils over.

Jacob’s men return from taking peace offerings to Esau and they report that Esau is coming with 400 men (32:6)! Jacob intuitively knows that this isn’t a welcome home party. Esau means business: this is all-out war! Jacob’s fancy-footed, slick-handed scheming now looks pretty inadequate. He has just run right into a brick wall, and with no more tricks up his sleeve, he has to face the music. He has to look himself square in the face and he has only one place to turn – that’s to God!

He could have kept running, I suppose, but he didn’t. Perhaps by this time he was sick of running, tired of the sleazy side of his character, hated who he was and wanted to put it right. Perhaps he had finally reached the end of himself and his self-sufficient, self-improving, ambitious lifestyle. Or, perhaps he knew that he had just run out of options: he’d tossed the dice just one too many times. Whatever the reason, he played his last card (22-23) by dividing his company into two, so that if Esau got one party the other could escape (cf. 32:7f.), and he sent them on ahead while he was left alone.

Running from the past doesn’t solve your problems because (1) the past has a way of catching up with you and (2) eventually you have to stop running. There comes a time when you’re “left alone” (24a).

To be “left alone” with God is both frightening and exhilarating. Jacob had been alone with God once before when he was on the run at Bethel, as we noticed in a previous article (“When the sun sets: Jacob meets God,” Gen. 27:41-28:22). That time it was exhilarating. There was the vision, the ladder, the angels. And God’s promise to Abraham from years ago was renewed so that Jacob declares: “Surely, the Lord is in this place. And I did not know it…How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the very gate of heaven” (28:16). That was exhilarating and undoubtedly Jacob made a genuine commitment to serve God at that time. But he still has issues to deal with. He still has the old “end-justifies-the-means” ethics to deal with. He still has his old scheming character that he had inherited from his mother to deal with. He still has the past to deal with before God.

Last time his encounter with God was exhilarating, but this time his encounter with God is frightening! Now he meets God again – not at Bethel, but at the river Jabbok. Jabbok is the place where we stop running and fighting; the place of intense blackness - the midnight of the soul; the place where the moment of truth dawns - that we’re completely spent, no more ideas, the past has caught up to us, we’re at the dead end in the road, we’re trapped in the web of our own weaving; the place where we are alone; the place of wrestling; the place of a meeting with God.

Running from the past doesn’t solve your problems but…

II. A Meeting With God Brings You To Your Senses (32:24b-29).

Jacob wrestled tenaciously and desperately all night “until the break of day” (24b). Perhaps he wrestled about his past behaviour and habits - his duplicity, lies, scheming, fraud; about his present predicament which loomed large - his pending meeting with Esau; about his future destiny: “How could he change once-and-for-all and face the future? How could he be a man of integrity, at peace with God and other people?” You can be sure of this, a meeting with God stops you in your tracks (25). When God “wrestles” with you, you don’t go anywhere. You may struggle but you can’t get away.

Many of you have probably experienced a night of wrestling with God. Some people are very content with the way they are - complacent, no longing for God, no hunger for him. But others would do anything to change the way they are and what they’ve done. Great people have wrestled with God in the night of their lives. After his tryst with Bathsheba, David cried out in the agony of his soul: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). After his seduction by Delilah, Samson pleaded with God: “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once” (Judges 16:28). After Elijah had succumbed to Jezebel’s threat, he moaned: “I, even I only, am left and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kgs 19:10). After Peter had denied the Lord with oaths and curses, he “went out and wept bitterly” (Lk. 22:62).

Some people come to Jabbok and decide to keep on running. They never face their past – only live for the present – and they don’t care about the future. They banish the past into the closet with all the other skeletons of their lives. They just rationalize what happened - make lifelong excuses: “I was a victim! It wasn’t my fault. There are lots worse than I.” They keep on running hoping that in the end they’ll escape. But there is no escape from God.

Some people decide to keep on running, others decide to wrestle this thing to the ground. They’re at the Jabbok where God stops them in their tracks. In fact, the only way to overcome your past is to “wrestle” with God. Maybe that’s where you are right now. Perhaps you’re plagued with regrets - about your family, about relationships. Or, you’ve abused your position of power - in your family, your church, your work. Or, perhaps you have a secret sin that for years you’ve tried to cover up or beat, but you can’t. Maybe you’ve neglected God in your Christian life and you have lived like an unbeliever; you’ve hurt someone and never been reconciled; you’ve suffered from abusive relationships that torture you; you’ve engaged in immoral behaviour that torments you; your shady business dealings keep you awake at night; your cheating on exams gives you cold sweats; your unfaithfulness to your spouse haunts you; you have character traits that you long to change – a poisonous tongue, a bitter spirit, a hot temper, or a critical attitude.

And now you’re at the point you can’t stand it any longer. Your conscience is driving you crazy if you don’t deal with it. You can’t cover it up any more nor can you ignore it. Now, naked and exposed under the midnight sky you wrestle with God. The veneer is stripped off; you look yourself straight in the mirror and you’re forced to face it head on - no more hiding down the dark alleys of your past, no more mind games, but a head-on confrontation with God.

Be aware your hip may be dislocated in the process (25). Jacob had been a survivor. He had always won out. Every time there was a dispute, he came out smelling like a rose. Every time he was in a fix, he came up with a solution. But now he would have an experience like none other. God would permanently wound him.

When you wrestle with God you may be wounded. You’ll certainly lose; God always conquers. And sometimes he has to cripple you. When you wrestle with God, you feel his body next to yours. You feel his power as he inflicts a wound. And when you feel that stabbing pain in your hip, you know the reality of his presence and his power. Wounds bring contrition, repentance, yearning for God. A. W. Tozer put it like this: “I doubt that God can use a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”

Where was your first Jabbok? When have you been wounded as you wrestled with God? When did you feel the stabbing dislocation of your hip as God deals with you and your past? When were you driven to call on God in your trouble?

A meeting with God (1) stops you in your tracks and (2) a meeting with God makes you cry for a blessing (26-29). Jacob knew all about the blessing of God. He knew how God had blessed his grandfather, Abraham, with a son at 100 years old. He knew how his father, Isaac, had been delivered from the jaws of death on Mt. Moriah. And he himself had received a blessing from his father. To wrestle with God is to plead with God for a blessing.

If you’re in pain today that others have inflicted on you, then cry from the bottom of your heart: “O, God, I will not let you go until you bless me! Rid me of the pain from all those years of abuse. Take away the torment of my mind. Remove the pangs of conscience that hang like a thick cloud.”

Perhaps you’re the perpetrator of sin – you’ve inflicted pain on others. Then cry to God in the agony of your soul: “O, God, I’m sick of the past. I need a second chance, a new beginning. I hate who I am and what I have done. I desperately want a fulfilling life. I want to put right the wrongs I have done. I desperately want to know You. Change me, O God!”

If you need to get right with God about anything, say: “O, God, I will not let you go unless you bless me! Forgive the sin of my life - my self-sufficiency that left you out; my infidelity, lusts, envy, covetousness; the pornography I’m addicted to; my pride; my unfaithfulness to my spouse; my cheating; my fraudulent habits; my deceitfulness; the abuse of my body with drugs and sex.”

God will honour your cry and bless you (27-29), just as he honoured Jacob’s cry and blessed him. And he’ll radically transform your life. He’ll bless you with a new name, a new identity (28). God asked Jacob: “What’s your name?” (27). That seems like a strange question for God to ask – didn’t he know Jacob’s name? Perhaps God asked Jacob his name to remind Jacob of the last time he had been asked that question, “Who are you?” (27:18). That question was asked by his old, blind father and Jacob had lied to him. Now he is before an all-seeing God and he gives his correct name. He acknowledges who he was and God responds with a great promise: “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” (28).

Jacob’s name told the story of his life. It was his identity as a usurper, whose birth portrayed what his life would subsequently be - the second-born twin who sought to overtake his first-born brother by grabbing onto his heel as he exited the birth canal; the one who would seek to trip others up and overtake them.

You need to acknowledge your old name, who you really are. Then, God will give you a new name – a new name that will take away the stigma of the old life; a new name to remind you that, formerly, you took charge of your life but that you struggled with God and finally prevailed; a new name that acknowledges that now “God is the ruler of your life.”

Running from the past doesn’t solve your problems but a meeting with God brings you to your senses, so that now…

III. Facing The Future Gives You Renewed Hope (32:30-32).

(1) You can face the future with renewed hope when you’ve “seen the face of God” (30). God breaks through our past and opens the future so that we can say: “I have seen God face to face and yet my life has been delivered” (30).

The place of wrestling is the place of divine appointment. It’s the place where we suddenly realize that the person with whom we wrestled is none other than God, that we have actually met God face to face and lived to tell the tale!

Have you ever seen God face to face? No one can see God and remain unchanged. You’ll get a new name and you’ll lose your independence. You’ll walk with a limp and lean on a cane for the rest of your life. To walk with God means to lean on him, to claim his power. Remember, Esau is always at the gate threatening, swaggering, waiting to throw us off the path. He’s the Judas (betrayer), the Diotrephes (pre-eminence), the Demas (loved the world), the Alexander the coppersmith (opposer). Whenever he shows up, he whispers: “We’re at the Jabbok again.”

You can face the future with renewed hope (1) when you’ve seen the face of God, and (2) you can face the future with renewed hope when the sun finally rises (31). As an aside, notice how the author has book-ended this segment of Jacob’s life with these two expressions: “The sun had set” (28:11) and now “the sun rose” (32:31).

Jacob emerges from the night and “the sun rose upon him” (31a). When God breaks through our past, the darkness of night becomes a beautiful sunrise. Sorrow may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:15).

Perhaps the sun hasn’t shone much in your life recently. You may have spent a lot of time in darkness, desperately longing for the sun to finally rise. Is that what you want more than anything today, to walk out of this service into the sun rise of your life? To feel the sunshine of God’s love shine upon you? To know the beauty of God’s truth as it infiltrates your soul? To bask in the radiant heat of God’s all-embracing mercy and power?

As he goes to meet Esau, Jacob “limped on his hip” (31b). The limp serves two purposes: (a) it reminds us that we can’t stand on our own, that we’re totally dependent on God, that we must lean on him. Every time you take a step, get out of bed, put your shoes on, you’ll know that a life lived for God is a dependent life. So, it reminds us that we can’t stand on our own, and (b) it preserves us from ever trying to run again. It ensures that we stay close to God.

The subsequent practice by the Israelites of not eating “the sinew of the thigh” (32:32) would surely have served as a constant reminder to them of what happened to Jacob that memorable night when God changed him from one who was running away to the man who was returning to be the leader of God’s people.

Final Remarks

Remember our thesis: The night of agony always comes before the dawn of relief. This scene closes at the dawn of a new day. In the early morning sunlight we see Jacob limping into the sunrise across the Jabbok, ready to face Esau with courage and joy. Now his life can begin anew. If you need to settle things with God and with other people, don’t continue to fight it, to put it off, to rationalize it. Don’t think there will be a better time. There’s never a better time than now.

Don’t be afraid that it’s too late or it’s too complicated. No amount of years is too long for God to span. It took Jacob years to deal with his habits, attitudes, and self-reliance until God wrestled him to the ground. And he has gone down in history as the father of the Israelites. No life is too far gone for God to bless.

If you had to choose whether to bless Jacob or Esau, whom would you choose? You’d probably choose Esau, because we look on the outward appearance. But remember that God looks on the heart, for where we see a cheat God sees a champion; where we see a runner God sees a wrestler; where we see a liar God sees a leader.

God sees into your life with all its past and he wants to bless you for the future. For you that may seem like a daunting task, but, as Max Lucado puts it: “For God… it’s all in a night’s work.”

If this message today has touched a cord in your life, why not make a commitment to God now, whether you have suffered pain or inflicted pain; whether you’ve been running or you’ve stopped running? Remember, God pours healing into hearts that are hurting; God gives grace to people in pain; and God extends mercy to sinners and saints who repent.

Perhaps this was what the hymn writer had in mind when she wrote:

I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.

I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

1. The Search FOR the Savior: The Search Of The Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)

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“The Search Of The Wise Men”

Following an exhilarating performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall, celebrated classical cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, went home, slept, and awoke the next day, exhausted and rushed. He called for a cab to take him to a hotel on the other side of Manhattan and placed his cello (handcrafted in Vienna in 1733 and valued at $2.5 million) in the trunk of the taxi. When he reached his destination, he paid the driver but forgot to take his cello out of the trunk. After the cab had disappeared, Yo-Yo Ma realized what he had done and began a desperate search for the missing instrument. Fortunately, he had kept the receipt with the cabby’s ID number. Before the day ended the taxi was located in a garage in Queens with the priceless cello still in the trunk. Mr. Ma’s smile could not be contained as he spoke to reporters. But of far more importance than the search for a musical instrument is the search for a matchless Saviour (“The Search for a Priceless Possession” the Chicago Tribune, 10-17-99, cited by Greg Assimakoupoulos).

Many people searched for Jesus Christ from the time of his birth to the time of his death. Some searched for him to serve him, others for what they could get out of him. Some searched for him out of genuine interest, others out of idle curiosity. Some who searched for him were rich, others poor. Some were Jews, others Gentiles. Some were religious, others heathen. Some searched for him because they cared for him, others because they hated him.

The title of this message is: “The Search for the Saviour,” specifically, “The Search of the Wise Men” (Matt. 2:1-12). In this text, the overall message is that wise people search for Jesus until they find him and worship him.

First, notice that …

I. Wise People Ask Pointed Questions About Jesus (2:1-2)

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?’” (1-2a). The text doesn’t tell us anything about these “wise men”, who they were or where they came from (except that they came from the east). So, let’s try to answer some of those questions.

1. Who Were These Wise Men (Magi)?

The term magi is used both negatively and positively. Negatively, it describes one who works magic, spiritism, divination. Positively, it describes one who seeks and possesses supernatural knowledge or ability. Simon Magus was one who used magic (Acts 8:9, 11). But Daniel was one who possessed supernatural knowledge and was made the “chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon” (Dan. 2:48) after he successfully interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

So, what sort of magi were these men in our passage? Could it be that men associated with spiritism or even the occult would have been among the first to seek, find, and worship the Messiah? Hardly! No, these men were probably political and religious advisers to the king, or philosophers and scientists, who undoubtedly made a study of the skies - through astronomy, that is, not astrology. These were “wise men” in the same sense that Moses was “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). They were men of learning and obviously deeply religious. So, we have a bit of an understanding of who these men were but ...

2. Where Did They Come From?

Wise men “from the east” (2:1) came to Jerusalem. Some scholars think that they were Median priests from Persia, who conducted sacrificial rituals and had magical abilities to interpret dreams and special signs. Some think that they were astrologers from Mesopotamia. Others think that they were three kings from Persia, Sabha, and Sheba. But, there’s strong evidence that they were, in fact, from Arabia (this research adapted from “Were the Magi from Persia or Arabia?” Bib-Sac. 156, Oct-Dec., 1999, 423:442).

First, there’s the evidence from geography. The term “the east” refers to the Arabian desert, east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. And it was “in the east” where the men saw the star - i.e. in their land to the east of Jerusalem.

Second, there’s the strong evidence of close Arab-Jewish relations at that time. Jews from either the captivity in Babylon or from Israel were settlers in Arabia. There were many Jews in Arabia before the rise of Islam. On several occasions the Arab tribes of the Nabateans assisted Antipas, father of Herod the Great, in military conflicts. In fact, Herod the Great’s mother was of Nabatean descent. Thus, by the time of Jesus’ birth, Arab-Jewish relations were very close culturally, socially, and religiously. This, of course, gave the Arabians access to the Jewish Scriptures and, as a result, the messianic hope was common among them.

Thirdly, there is evidence that the gifts of the magi were natural products of Arabia. Arabia was known for its supremacy in the spice trade, especially for frankincense and myrrh. A South Arabian tribe (Sabaeans) dominated the incense trade for centuries. Heroditus records that “the whole of Arabia exhales a most delicious fragrance.” According to Josephus, the incense used in the temple was from the Arabian desert. Also, the gold of Arabia was much sought after for its purity and abundance and is recorded in many biblical references (E.g. 1 Kings 10:10; Ps. 72:15; Isa. 60:6; Ezek. 27:22; 38:13).

This is compelling evidence that the wise men came from Saudi Arabia. But of more importance than that ...

3. Why Did They Come?

The text says they came asking the question, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (12:2a). Why would Gentiles want to find “the King of the Jews?” Because they had come “to worship Him” (12:2b). We could understand it if they were searching for a Persian or Arabian king, but to worship the King of the Jews?

The answer to this question may be another reason why these men probably came from Arabia. God historically used the wealth and strength of Arabia (the East) and Egypt (the West) for the protection and development of his servants. Notice these patterns in Scripture. Where did Abraham dismiss the sons of his concubines? To the East, to Arabia in order to protect his seed (Gen. 25:5-6). Who bought Joseph from his brothers when they threatened his life? Arabian traders. Where did they take him? To Egypt. When Moses’ life was threatened the first time as a baby (Ex. 1), where was he protected for 40 years? In Egypt. When Moses’ life was threatened the second time (Ex. 2), where was he protected for 40 years? In the Arabian desert. Where did Mary, Joseph, and Jesus flee for protection from Herod’s wrath? To Egypt (Matt. 2:13-15). Where did the apostle Paul go to learn the truth of God when he was converted? To the Arabian desert (Gal. 1:17).

And now, these magi from Arabia were called from the East to Israel “to worship Him”, the long-awaited Seed, the Messiah. And they brought with them the wealth of Arabia - gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Frankincense was a sacred oil, incense for religious rituals and for medicinal purposes. Myrrh was also sacred oil, incense for religious rituals, and it was also used for medicinal purposes and embalming. These costly substances would probably have provided the means for Joseph’s poor family to travel where? To Egypt, for protection from Herod’s wrath against the new-born King.

So they came to worship him but…

4. How Did They Know?

This is perhaps the biggest question of all. “For we saw his star when it rose (in the east) and have come to worship him” (12:2b). Was this a temporary star? Was it a coincidental confluence of planets or a meteor? No! This was a special star for a special purpose. This was “his star”.

How did they know it was “his star”? Not by astronomy or any natural learning. They probably knew Balaam’s prophecy: “A star shall come out of Jacob” (Num. 24:17). But how would they link that to this star? Most likely, they knew by direct revelation from God, the same way they knew not to return to Herod.

So wise people ask pointed questions about Jesus. And…

II. Wise People Follow The Signs That Lead To Jesus (2:3-10)

A search is much easier if there are signposts…

1. Their Signpost Was The “Star”

It doesn’t seem that the star lit their entire journey. If it had, then why did they rejoice greatly when they saw it again after leaving Jerusalem? So, it must have disappeared during their stay in Jerusalem. But even though it seems that it didn’t light their entire journey, it certainly induced them to come in the first place and it gave them a fix on the general direction to travel. Evidently, they had learned how to navigate by the stars.

Incidentally, since the Middle Ages, camel caravans have navigated north from the fabled city of Timbuktu, in Mali, West Africa, to Taudenni in search of salt - the gold of the Sahara desert. Still today, the Tuareg nomads of Niger trek in huge camel trains through the Sahara carrying loads of salt from the salt mines of Taudenni. Salt is still made into blocks for transportation, reminiscent of the fate of Lot’s wife. My wife and I have seen a documentary of these camel trains. They walk for days and days through the wasteland of the Sahara, guided by the stars, until they reach small villages on the edge of Niger or Burkina Faso (where I have been privileged to teach pastors over the last 10 or so years), where they sell a huge block of salt for $5 if they can find a buyer.

And so, these wise men, navigating by the stars, headed for Jerusalem. After all, where else would the Messiah be born than in the capital city of the Jews? Their journey to Jerusalem probably took four months or more. It wasn’t a matter of getting in a car for a few hours. Travel was hard, long, dangerous, tiring, and expensive. So, as they approached the city, you can imagine their excitement as …

2. The Star Led Their Search To Jerusalem

All the way there they must have talked about what they expected. I think they expected to find festivities. Perhaps streets closed for parades, people lining the streets, flags flying, shops and schools closed for a national holiday, roads jammed with crowds wanting to enter the city, special editions of the Jerusalem Post on every corner, hot air balloon rides and free popsicles and popcorn for the kids. I think they expected special services in the synagogue with special cantatas from the choir. But instead they arrived in Jerusalem to find just an ordinary day The women were probably buying their groceries in the street markets. The kids were in school, the banks were open, the mail was being delivered – everything was going on as usual.

And I can just imagine what they might have done. One of them might have asked one of the women on the street: “Can you tell me where the King of the Jews has been born?” only to receive a cold stare in return. Another might have gone up to one of the city policemen: “We heard that the Messiah has been born. Can you tell me where He is?” only to receive the rude reply: “You’re strangers around here aren’t you? If I were you, with your accent, I would keep quiet about that kind of thing.” I can see them going in frustration perhaps to the mayor of Jerusalem, who knows nothing. Finally…

3. Their Search In Jerusalem Led To Herod’s Palace (2:3-10)

When they arrive at the steps of the palace of King Herod, I think the butler wasn’t very friendly, but they talk him into letting them see Herod. After all they are important, high ranking officials visiting from a far country. Surely Herod would know where the king of the Jews was born. But instead we see that Herod is troubled. When Herod the king heard this (i.e. what they were searching for), he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (2:3). I can understand Herod being troubled, because if what they were inquiring about was true, this might mean an end to his dynasty. If this wase true, he might lose the loyalty of the Judean people

But why was “all Jerusalem troubled with him? Wasn’t this what they had been looking for all these years? Jerusalem wasn’t troubled because of any sympathy for Herod or because they didn’t want the Messiah to come. Probably Jerusalem was troubled because when Herod wasn’t happy, nobody was happy; because they knew that inquiries like the magi’s would result in more cruelty as this murderous king hung on to power.

So, Herod consults his own wise men. “…assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born” (2:4). He didn’t know the answer to the magi’s question, but surely “the chief priests and scribes” of Jerusalem would know. And indeed they did know that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem according to the prophecy of Micah 5:2 (2:5-6). But they didn’t know when it would happen and they didn’t know who the Messiah would be.

As a result, Herod devises a shrewd plan to uncover the perceived threat to his kingdom. It is a two-pronged plan – we’ll call them plan “A” and “B”.

Plan “A” was designed to determine the age of the child.Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared” (2:7). This was a clever trick to determine the time when the child was born. Because if he could find out when the star appeared, then Herod would know how old the child was. And once he knew how old the child was, Herod could get rid of him through mass murder by killing all the children born around the time the star appeared.

But there was also another plan. Plan “B” was designed to determine the location of the child. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child and when you have found him, bring me word that I too may come and worship him’” (2:8). This is the second part of Herod’s devious plan. Plan “A” would uncover the age of the child, but how much better if he could find out the exact location of the child.

But unwittingly, Herod was an instrument of God. His own wise men gave the magi the clue from the Word of God as to where the Messiah should be born. What more could they ask for? So they respond to it in belief. Thus, their search in Jerusalem led to Herod’s palace and…

4. Their Search At Herod’s Palace Led To Bethlehem (2:9-10)

“After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them…” (2:9a). It’s as though God said: “I’ll give you my sign again - the star.” “And the star they had seen… went before them until it came and stood over the place where the young child was” (2:9b). Now they had double confirmation - the sure Word of God (Mal. 5:2) and the sure sign of God.

This was no ordinary star, you see. Its first appearance gave them general directions to Jerusalem and now its second appearance led them to the exact place where Jesus was. No wonder that When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (2:10). The star was like an old trusted friend that they hadn’t seen for a while but now appeared again. Their search was successful. Any doubt they may have had in Jerusalem was banished. Revelation has resulted in discovery. God had revealed the truth of the Messiah’s birth to them in their own country and their months of search have now come to fruition. Everyone likes to be successful in what they set out to do - the wise men were no different.

First, wise people ask pointed questions about Jesus. Second, wise people follow the signs that lead to Jesus. And…

III. Wise People Search For Jesus Until They Find Him (2:11-12)

I don’t know what they expected to see when they arrived in Bethlehem. Would he be a young prince arrayed in costly robes? Would royalty be lying in a gold lined bassinette? Would the King of the Jews be waited on by royal nurses? Would there be a line of people waiting to pay their respects? How would they prove who they were so that they would they be allowed in? But look …

1. What They Found (2:11a)

“And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother” (2:11a). Was it a shock to them when they entered the house? Did it take them by surprise to discover his lowly birth, his isolation, his ordinary parents, just the child and his mother? Did they wonder if this was all a hoax when they saw no royal surroundings?

Something tells me that it was no shock. It seems to me that they were prepared for what they found. They already knew the indifference and ignorance in Jerusalem. If Herod hadn’t come to pay his respects, why would anyone else? If the news was so unknown, the circumstances must indeed be strange. I think they were prepared for what they found and their preparation is shown in…

2. How They Responded (2:11b-12)

They entered the house and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh (2:11b-c). Adoration follows discovery. True worship involves these two components – discovery and adoration. This is why they had come.

True worship is to “fall down” before him. It is to recognize his superior position by taking an inferior position, to prostrate ourselves in humility before him.

And true worship is to bring to him our very best - to surrender to him our very costliest possessions. The wise men brought the very best gifts they could, gifts fit for a King – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

By the way, the myrrh and frankincense were probably of greater monetary value than gold at that time. Though they probably didn’t realize the symbolism of their gifts, for us, however, “gold” represents the wealth and splendour of royalty; “frankincense” (the incense used by the priests in temple worship) symbolizes divine worship; and “myrrh” (that fragrant gum used to embalm the dead) foreshadowed Jesus’ death and burial.

They had done what they came to do – find the One who was born King of the Jews and to worship him. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way” (2:12).Herod might be able to deceive the people of Jerusalem, but not these wise men for they were instructed by God himself.

Final Remarks

This, then, is “The Search for the Saviour”, specifically, “The Search of the Wise Men.” This search by the wise men is a search of contrasts…

1. The Search For The Saviour Is A Contrast Of People

a) There is the contrast of the kings: Herod the Great vs. Jesus, the King of the Jews. Both were kings over a kingdom – but what a difference! Herod, a powerful murderer, ruled his kingdom through fear but he died and disappeared from the face of the earth. Jesus came to be our King, not through power and fear, but love and kindness, lowliness and gentleness. He died a sacrificial death on the cross and rose again. And He’s coming back, the all-powerful King, to rule the world.

b) There is the contrast of the people: Jews of Jerusalem vs. Gentiles of Arabia. The wise Gentiles from the east were eager to find new hope and salvation in the Messiah. They rejoiced at his birth and worshipped him. The foolish Jews were careless and apathetic, unconcerned that the very hope of all the ages had come and they ignored him. As J.C. Ryle puts it, “It isn’t always those who have most religious privileges who give Christ most honour.” As Jesus said, “the first shall be last and the last first” (Matt. 20:16).

c) The contrast of the wise men: Herod’s wise men vs. the magi. Herod’s wise men were the chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem. They were in the right place, had the right answers, knew the Scriptures since birth, but rejected their power and truth. The magi were men from the wrong country, far away from the centre of God’s dealings. Though their upbringing would not have included training in the Holy Scriptures, they recognized and bowed to their authority and message. Again, J. C. Ryle says: “There may be knowledge of the Scripture in the head, but no grace in the heart.” So, don’t put your confidence in your head knowledge.

d) There is the contrast of circumstances: Jesus’ poverty vs. the wise men’s riches. Jesus was born in a stable with nothing, only swaddling clothes. His parents were ordinary people with no wealth or fame. The wise men came with the richest resources of their land - gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Here is a forerunner of the scene at the cross. At the cradle, the wise men found Jesus as a helpless baby - they witnessed no miracles, heard no teaching; they saw no evidence of outward deity, power, or riches, and yet they said: “We have come to worship him.” At the cross, the thief saw Jesus dying - he witnessed no miracles, heard no teaching; he saw no outward evidence of deity, power, or riches, and yet he said: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42).

The search for the Saviour is a contrast of people. And…

2. The Search For The Saviour Is A Contrast Of Motives

A king asks questions about him but fears what may transpire. Religious people can answer questions about him but they have no interest in a relationship with him. Disloyal followers betray him with a kiss, but loyal followers weep over his grave.

Wise men, you see, still worship him. At the cradle, there were wise men from the east with its mystery. They searched for him, found him, and worshipped him. Just before the cross, there were wise men from the west with its culture and progress, Greeks who said: “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn. 12:21), but we don’t read of any interest in worshipping him.

The search for the Saviour is a contrast of people, a contrast of motives, and …

3. The Search For The Saviour Is A Contrast Of Responses

Some people search for God when they are in trouble but they don’t want God in their lives. As Proverbs 1:27-30 says: “When distress and anguish come ... then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke.”

Some people search for God because they hate their sin and need a Saviour. And surely the message of our text is that wise people search for the Saviour until they find and worship him. The word of God says: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me” (Prov. 8:17). “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7).

Well, I don’t know why you are here today or where you are in your spiritual search. Perhaps you’re curious but with no genuine interest in finding the Saviour. Perhaps you’re here because it’s the thing to do at Christmas. Or, perhaps you’re a genuine seeker for the Saviour. Perhaps in a certain sense, you have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him. If so, the promise and exhortation is that wise people search for Jesus until they find and worship him.

Related Topics: Christmas

網上牧師雜誌 – 中文版(繁體), TCh Ed, Issue 33 2019 年 秋季

2019 秋季版

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe 博士, 主席,
聖經講道學會
劍橋, 安省, 加拿大
郵箱: [email protected]
電話: 1-519-620-2375

第一部分:加強講解式講道

“強化應用” (第二部分)

介紹

在本雜誌的上一版,我們討論了怎樣強化講道的應用部分。在這一版,我們將繼續這個主題。

作為傳道人,我們應該記住神學是完全實用的,因此也必須實際應用在我們的講道中。真理不僅僅意味著知識,它也意味著實踐。真理的實踐必須成為我們講道的重要部分。這就是我們所說的應用。

但是許多傳道人往往發現,決定如何應用他們所宣講的真理使之既與今天的聽眾相關,同時又符合經文,是一件很難的事情。所以,這裡有些想法可以幫助你在講道中採取相關的應用。

A.發現好應用的有效提示[1]

首先,審視經文中的情況。問如下問題…

#1:當時的問題、事件或環境是什麼?

  • 聖經作者是寫給誰的?
  • 為什麼作者在那個時候寫信給這些人?
  • 需要指出的問題、狀況、試煉或痛苦是什麼?
  • 作者責備、糾正、勸告或解釋的本質是什麼?

#2:聖經給出的解決方案或要求的行動是什麼?

  • 作者是如何指出問題的?他給了他們什麼指導?
  • 神直接向他們指出了嗎?如果是,那麼神指示他們做什麼或者成為什麼?

#3:人們的反應是什麼?

  • 聖經作者期望或者要求什麼樣的回應?
  • 人們如何接收資訊以及他們對解決方案如何反應?
  • 他們對作者的指導有什麼樣的態度?

第二,審視當下的情況。問如下問題…

#1:今天人們的需求和問題有什麼相似之處?

  • 我們和經文中的人有什麼相似之處?
  • 他們的生活狀況和我們今天有什麼相似之處?要具體。

#2:對當下的狀況,經文中是如何解決的?

  • 關於這個問題,聖經告訴了我們什麼?
  • 哪些聖經原則可以應用到我們自己身上?

#3:今天我們該如何回應?

  • 基督徒該如何回應經文關於這個問題的指導?
  • 當下我們應該做什麼來糾正這個問題?在我們的態度、信仰、優先考慮的事情、價值觀、意志以及關係中,有我們需要糾正的東西嗎?
  • 我們必須做什麼來順服神的話?

第三,你講道的實際應用要具體

  • 我的會眾在他們的生活中如何處理相似的問題?
  • 我們和經文中的人有什麼相似之處?
  • 我期望我的會眾有什麼反應——認罪、悔改、遵行、懷疑、拒絕、生氣、發問、反對、接受、順服?

當你問這些問題的時候,試著通過明確地指出當前情況的類型給以回答。對於他們如何將真理應用到自己的生活中,要試著給出具體的指導。

應用要在你會眾的生活中具體、真實。想出可信的,實際的例子,哪怕因為保密的原因你不能說出實際情況,在這種情況下,如果合適的話,你可以請求某個人做一個與主題相關的個人見證。

所以,當你考慮經文中真理的實際應用時,要準備好回答自己問題和挑戰的答案。神想要整個會眾做什麼、相信什麼以及改變什麼?神在會眾每個人的生活中要他們做什麼、相信什麼或者改變什麼?神想要他們成為怎樣的人?

並且要常存盼望,例如,聖靈在我們裡面,幫助我們順服真理;我們的命定是確定且牢靠的,最終我們會從試煉中得到救贖;我們能因在基督裡的信心和未來的盼望而有喜樂。

最後,說明你建議你的會眾採取什麼樣的行動。要具體並舉例子。 他們需要採取什麼樣的行動才能使真理進入他們的生活,使他們活出神子民該有的樣子?他們應該採取什麼樣的具體措施?並在這個過程中向他們提供幫助。這是你作為牧師的責任,不是簡單地告訴他們根據聖經真理他們該如何做,而是切實説明他們實現這個目標。

比如,如果這個主題與基督徒忍受苦難有關,試著給他們一些具體的建議來應對這些考驗他們信心的難處(身體上的、精神上的或者情感上的等等)。例如,(1)他們可以來記一些相關的、使人有信心的經文(2)他們可以和基督徒朋友一起禱告,互相幫助;(3)他們可以將他們的難處與諮詢師、牧師或者聖經學習小組分享。給出經文,說明為什麼擔當彼此的難處是合乎聖經的。

結論

.記住,並不是每一段經文都可以直接轉變成應用。換句話說,你不能假設當時聖經裡發生的事情和現在的完全一樣,或者我們必須像他們當時的反應一樣。你如何過渡到今天的應用取決於經文。這就是你必須忠實于聖經作者意圖的地方。

B.好應用所具備的特點

1. 好的應用會突出信息的迫切

它必須有一種緊迫感,那就是必須現在就採取行動—比如,信從福音,順服神的意志,停止有罪的習慣和接觸等。

2.好應用會反映信息的強度

我所說的強度指講道中那些強調—鼓勵人們對神話語以及傳道人的勸戒做出積極回應。這不是一次愉快的爐邊談話,而是呼召。耶穌的比喻總是呼召人們做出某種行動,例如好撒瑪利亞人:“去照樣行吧”(路10:37)

3.好應用會與信息的目的相呼應

應用必須與講道的目的直接相關。它必須來源於講道的目的也指向講道的目的。無論你為你的講道定了什麼目的,你的應用必須通過使人們的生活有切實的不同來實現這個目的。

4.好應用會激發出信息的動機

任何一場講道的目的之一就是推動你的聽眾採取某種行動。你想要激發的動機就是那個能夠觸摸心靈,引導思路,刺痛良知、引導意志並付出行動的東西—不是通過掌控或者威脅,而是聖靈引導的、被真理喚醒的對神話語的回應。“我們最終的目的是推動意志,使它轉到另一個方向,加快它的步伐,使它能夠按著神誡命的方式歌唱” [2]

5. 信息能夠説明人們意識到自己的問題,並面對和處理。好應用能夠強化資訊這方面的功能。

在應用中,資訊以個人和直接的方式説明聽眾意識到自己的問題(不再是間接或者非個人的)。他們可能面對真理“原則”沒有回應,因為它是間接或者非個人化的。但是,當面對真理的“實踐”時,回應是不可避免的,是必須的。

.講解式的講道的本質就是讓人們意識到自己的問題,並去面對和解決,不論是直接或者間接。在大多數講道中,這種應用有兩種形式。例如,先知拿單斥責大衛(撒下12),以間接的應用(講故事)開始,但是以直接的應用結束:“你就是那個人”。耶穌在他的應用中也通常是直接的。

間接的方式,有的時候人們可能聽過就忘了,他們錯過了重點而不知道如何回應。但通過直接的方式,你不至於會冒這樣的風險。提後3:16-17似乎表明,聖經真理的應用應該(1)直接明確,而非間接和暗示;(2)說服並指責,而非建議和容忍(使徒行轉中使徒的講道)。

6.好應用使信息產生說服力

應用的主要目標是說服聽眾遵守真理,無論它是在整個講道中,還是在最後,或兩者皆有。講道中的解釋是為接下來的應用打基礎。因此一篇講道既是資訊性,又有改變性。

說服的能力來自於聖靈將神的話作用于人的心靈、思想、意志和良心。說服的工具是傳道人將真理與生活結合,以至於聽眾看到改變的必要性,並被說服去做些什麼。

當聖靈開啟人對神話語的理解,並通過傳道人的應用展示神話語的實際,這就是改變的強大催化劑。

為了使應用具有說服力,真理的講解和它的應用都必須被恰當地、禮貌地、謙卑地呈現出來,以便聽眾能夠接受。

7.好應用會從信息的解釋中浮現出來

應用必須被經文驅動,正如解釋被經文驅動一樣。 不要使用經文任意彈出你想要的應用。這是對你的讀者和經文缺乏誠信。你的應用一定要出自經文,與經文作者的意圖相符,並且你應用的要點與經文的主要觀點一致。

不要使用經文達到你自己的目的。這是對經文的亂用。當應用用於生活的時候,它不能以任何方式歪曲經文。這才是誠信地使用經文。這需要很多的訓練。搞明白基於經文的應用跟搞明白經文的意思同等重要。

注意,應用必須來源於經文,與此同時應用的範圍需要被“擴展”,如此,經文中隱含的意義才可能應用于生活的諸多方面。因此,一段經文,只有一個意思,卻可以有很多應用。

8.好應用會顯露信息中牧師的要點。

好應用引導人們去該去的地方。它會在人們受傷時關心他們,在人們違背的時候責備他們,在人們饑餓的時候餵養他們,在人們危險的時候保護他們。

9.好應用會使信息中抽象的真理具體化

不要擔心舉具體的例子會導致有的聽眾認為與他們無關—也就是說,他們可能認為既然你並沒有提到與他們相關的例子,因此他們就不需要有回應。在這裡,聖靈彌補這個空缺。聖靈會使用你給出的例子,使聽者的思想和良心中浮現出他們需要糾正或改變的東西等。

應用要具體,把真理與生活聯繫起來。為了有效地做到這一點,你必須關注生活中的一些情況,在這些情況下,特定的真理以特定的方式應用。作為傳道人,你的任務就是使聽眾明白這點並敦促聽眾遵行。不要停留在概念層面。很多傳道人都如此,他們很難從神學的抽象層面,來到具體的、有形的、生活的層面。

結論

不要忽視應用。在講道之前要回顧你的講稿,看看裡面有多少應用。足夠嗎?每一個主要原則都有應用嗎?我的導師,Stephen Olford 博士曾經敦促我們說,應用應該占講道的50%!

C.應用的參考準則

1.找尋真理、應許、命令和例子

應許、命令和例子的給出不僅僅是教義上或者理性上的認同。它們要被反復灌輸到生活中。聖經中的真理需要來相信並遵行。

對聖經真理的唯一正確的回應是信心,這不僅表現在被動地接受原則,而且表現在理解它們對生活的意義並活出它們(也就是應用)。注意,真理和例子可能是明確的,也可能是隱含的。

例如,一個明確的原則是:“你應該愛人如己”(利19:18). 雖然一個明確的原則是什麼或者說了什麼毫無疑問的,但它在生活中的表現可能因文化而異。我們的任務就是去發現這個具體的真理在今天我們所處文化背景下的應用。

一個隱含的原則可能是那些需要通過邏輯推理才能看到其對生活的意義。例如,“不要姦淫”,說明了純潔、忠誠和愛的必要性。

尋找這些原則,然後沿著抽象的階梯向上移動,以確定它們最廣泛的意義。接著,把它們應用到我們這個時代的社會生活中去。

2.學習應對應用舊約時會面臨的詮釋學挑戰

想要更多地閱讀這方面的文章,我推薦Tremper Longman III所著的Making Sense out of the Old Testament中的“基督徒如何將舊約應用於生活?” (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 103-136.

3.瞭解你所處的文化

這樣,你就可以把神的話用在真實的人和真實情況上。沒有意義的應用或者已經過時的應用幾乎沒有影響力。

聖經中的真理原則對任何時代的任何人都有意義。我們的任務就是要把它應用於我們的時代我們的人身上—這就是相關。

4.意識到沒有哪兩個傳道人必須以統一的方式應用經文

這並不是說一個對一個錯。這只說明他們的方式不同,或者他們呈現了同一真理的不同側面,或者他們的會眾受益于不同的應用方式。

5.不要在應用時耗盡精力

當應用的時候,保持你對真理的確信和熱情。當你將真理個人化的時候,這是保持強度的關鍵時刻。

6.作為一個這個真理也適用於你並且已經應用於你生活的人來講道

這並不意味著你必須使用“我們”。有時候,或者一般來說你會用 “你”使應用個人化以及具有說服力。但是,你要確保在你勸戒別人去遵行這個真理之前,已經應用於你自己的生活。

一定要把這作為你準備講道的一部分。當你準備好講稿,你要在神的面前回顧它,以禱告地方式回顧,求神向你顯明你需要應用於自己生活的真理。

7.視覺化你的聽眾

看到他們的需要(在不指向個人或者暴露隱私的情況下)。涵蓋聽眾生活的不同狀況(例如在家中、工作中、學校中、社區中)——包含每個人。

在每一種生活狀況中使用“可能”的情況。“可能你在工作中遇到這種…”等。你可能不能準確地描述每個人所面臨的情況,但你會在他們的腦海中觸動其他一些情況,在這些情況下,這個應用是針對他們的。

8. 記住應用的四個原則

#1.個人化的原則

這個原則就是傳道人要將真理應用於自己的生活。如果你對別人傳講你沒有應用到自己生活的東西,你的講道會沒有能力。當你這樣做的時候,不但神知道,聽眾也知道。傳道人必須傳講他所相信的並在自己的生活中活出來的東西。

#2.想像的原則

要想恰當地應用經文,它對你必須是真實的。人物、地點和情感必須活在你的想像中。如果它對傳道人來說是生動的,那麼看到它如何應用於其他人對你來說會更容易。

#3.擴展的原則

當我們對聽眾講道並引導他們,一段時間之後,傳道人會更瞭解他們——他們的怕和需要。我們對這些人的經驗(他們住在哪裡,他們是誰)使得我們能夠擴展經文的應用,以涵蓋盡可能多的方面。這並不是說我們可以不恰當地或者不準確地使用經文。每一段經文只有一種解釋,但是卻有針對人們經歷和問題的許多種應用。

#4.聲明的原則

聲明經文的應用必須明確且有權威。經文的應用必須沒有任何不確定性。人們來教會是為了尋求明確的方向,為了知道神說了什麼,他們必須怎樣生活,怎樣才能得到幫助來解決他們的問題。因此,應用必須公開聲明,這樣人們才不會被懸在半空,或者不知道重點是什麼。

第二部分 講道大綱

如果想聽關於這些的英文講道,請點選連結: Link 1 - 啟 2:1-4; Link 2 - 啟 2:5-7

題目:給七個教會的信:以弗所,正統但冷漠

主題:復興由神子民的悔改開始

要點 #1:首先,好消息:“表面上看,你們教會在屬靈上很健康”

(1)你們持續勤勞地做工(2a)

(2)你們清楚堅決地審判罪惡(2b)

(3)你們信實而不知疲倦地堅持(3)

要點 #2:現在壞消息是:“你們教會內部有嚴重的心靈問題”

(1)基督的診斷:“你把起初的愛心離棄了” (4)

(2)基督的處理:

(a) “回想你從哪裡墜落了”(5a)

(b) “悔改,行起初所行的事”(5b)

(c)警告“你若不悔改,我將把你的燈檯從遠處挪去”(5c)

(d)對聽從警告的人的應許:“得勝的,我必將神樂園中生命樹的果子賜給他吃”(7)


[1] 改編自Dave Veerman, 如何應用聖經 (Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993).

[2] John Henry Jowett, The Preacher His Life and Work (New York: Harper and brothers Publishers, 1912), 172, cited in Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, 211.

Related Topics: Pastors

网上牧师杂志–中文版(简体), SCh Ed, Issue 33 2019 年 秋季

2019 秋季版

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe 博士, 主席,
圣经讲道学会
剑桥, 安省, 加拿大
邮箱: [email protected]
电话: 1-519-620-2375

第一部分:加强讲解式讲道

“强化应用” (第二部分)

介绍

在本杂志的上一版,我们讨论了怎样强化讲道的应用部分。在这一版,我们将继续这个主题。

作为传道人,我们应该记住神学是完全实用的,因此也必须实际应用在我们的讲道中。真理不仅仅意味着知识,它也意味着实践。真理的实践必须成为我们讲道的重要部分。这就是我们所说的应用。

但是许多传道人往往发现,决定如何应用他们所宣讲的真理使之既与今天的听众相关,同时又符合经文,是一件很难的事情。所以,这里有些想法可以帮助你在讲道中采取相关的应用。

A.发现好应用的有效提示[1]

首先,审视经文中的情况。问如下问题…

#1:当时的问题、事件或环境是什么?

  • 圣经作者是写给谁的?
  • 为什么作者在那个时候写信给这些人?
  • 需要指出的问题、状况、试炼或痛苦是什么?
  • 作者责备、纠正、劝告或解释的本质是什么?

#2:圣经给出的解决方案或要求的行动是什么?

  • 作者是如何指出问题的?他给了他们什么指导?
  • 神直接向他们指出了吗?如果是,那么神指示他们做什么或者成为什么?

#3:人们的反应是什么?

  • 圣经作者期望或者要求什么样的回应?
  • 人们如何接收信息以及他们对解决方案如何反应?
  • 他们对作者的指导有什么样的态度?

第二,审视当下的情况。问如下问题…

#1:今天人们的需求和问题有什么相似之处?

  • 我们和经文中的人有什么相似之处?
  • 他们的生活状况和我们今天有什么相似之处?要具体。

#2:对当下的状况,经文中是如何解决的?

  • 关于这个问题,圣经告诉了我们什么?
  • 哪些圣经原则可以应用到我们自己身上?

#3:今天我们该如何回应?

  • 基督徒该如何回应经文关于这个问题的指导?
  • 当下我们应该做什么来纠正这个问题?在我们的态度、信仰、优先考虑的事情、价值观、意志以及关系中,有我们需要纠正的东西吗?
  • 我们必须做什么来顺服神的话?

第三,你讲道的实际应用要具体

  • 我的会众在他们的生活中如何处理相似的问题?
  • 我们和经文中的人有什么相似之处?
  • 我期望我的会众有什么反应——认罪、悔改、遵行、怀疑、拒绝、生气、发问、反对、接受、顺服?

当你问这些问题的时候,试着通过明确地指出当前情况的类型给以回答。对于他们如何将真理应用到自己的生活中,要试着给出具体的指导。

应用要在你会众的生活中具体、真实。想出可信的,实际的例子,哪怕因为保密的原因你不能说出实际情况,在这种情况下,如果合适的话,你可以请求某个人做一个与主题相关的个人见证。

所以,当你考虑经文中真理的实际应用时,要准备好回答自己问题和挑战的答案。神想要整个会众做什么、相信什么以及改变什么?神在会众每个人的生活中要他们做什么、相信什么或者改变什么?神想要他们成为怎样的人?

并且要常存盼望,例如,圣灵在我们里面,帮助我们顺服真理;我们的命定是确定且牢靠的,最终我们会从试炼中得到救赎;我们能因在基督里的信心和未来的盼望而有喜乐。

最后,说明你建议你的会众采取什么样的行动。要具体并举例子。 他们需要采取什么样的行动才能使真理进入他们的生活,使他们活出神子民该有的样子?他们应该采取什么样的具体措施?并在这个过程中向他们提供帮助。这是你作为牧师的责任,不是简单地告诉他们根据圣经真理他们该如何做,而是切实帮助他们实现这个目标。

比如,如果这个主题与基督徒忍受苦难有关,试着给他们一些具体的建议来应对这些考验他们信心的难处(身体上的、精神上的或者情感上的等等)。例如,(1)他们可以来记一些相关的、使人有信心的经文(2)他们可以和基督徒朋友一起祷告,互相帮助;(3)他们可以将他们的难处与咨询师、牧师或者圣经学习小组分享。给出经文,说明为什么担当彼此的难处是合乎圣经的。

结论

.记住,并不是每一段经文都可以直接转变成应用。换句话说,你不能假设当时圣经里发生的事情和现在的完全一样,或者我们必须像他们当时的反应一样。你如何过渡到今天的应用取决于经文。这就是你必须忠实于圣经作者意图的地方。

B.好应用所具备的特点

1. 好的应用会突出信息的迫切

它必须有一种紧迫感,那就是必须现在就采取行动—比如,信从福音,顺服神的意志,停止有罪的习惯和接触等。

2.好应用会反映信息的强度

我所说的强度指讲道中那些强调—鼓励人们对神话语以及传道人的劝戒做出积极回应。这不是一次愉快的炉边谈话,而是呼召。耶稣的比喻总是呼召人们做出某种行动,例如好撒玛利亚人:“去照样行吧”(路10:37)

3.好应用会与信息的目的相呼应

应用必须与讲道的目的直接相关。它必须来源于讲道的目的也指向讲道的目的。无论你为你的讲道定了什么目的,你的应用必须通过使人们的生活有切实的不同来实现这个目的。

4.好应用会激发出信息的动机

任何一场讲道的目的之一就是推动你的听众采取某种行动。你想要激发的动机就是那个能够触摸心灵,引导思路,刺痛良知、引导意志并付出行动的东西—不是通过掌控或者威胁,而是圣灵引导的、被真理唤醒的对神话语的回应。“我们最终的目的是推动意志,使它转到另一个方向,加快它的步伐,使它能够按着神诫命的方式歌唱” [2]

5.信息能够帮助人们意识到自己的问题,并面对和处理。好应用能够强化信息这方面的功能。

在应用中,信息以个人和直接的方式帮助听众意识到自己的问题(不再是间接或者非个人的)。他们可能面对真理“原则”没有回应,因为它是间接或者非个人化的。但是,当面对真理的“实践”时,回应是不可避免的,是必须的。

.讲解式的讲道的本质就是让人们意识到自己的问题,并去面对和解决,不论是直接或者间接。在大多数讲道中,这种应用有两种形式。例如,先知拿单斥责大卫(撒下12),以间接的应用(讲故事)开始,但是以直接的应用结束:“你就是那个人”。耶稣在他的应用中也通常是直接的。

间接的方式,有的时候人们可能听过就忘了,他们错过了重点而不知道如何回应。但通过直接的方式,你不至于会冒这样的风险。提后3:16-17似乎表明,圣经真理的应用应该(1)直接明确,而非间接和暗示;(2)说服并指责,而非建议和容忍(使徒行转中使徒的讲道)。

6.好应用使信息产生说服力

应用的主要目标是说服听众遵守真理,无论它是在整个讲道中,还是在最后,或两者皆有。讲道中的解释是为接下来的应用打基础。因此一篇讲道既是信息性,又有改变性。

说服的能力来自于圣灵将神的话作用于人的心灵、思想、意志和良心。说服的工具是传道人将真理与生活结合,以至于听众看到改变的必要性,并被说服去做些什么。

当圣灵开启人对神话语的理解,并通过传道人的应用展示神话语的实际,这就是改变的强大催化剂。

为了使应用具有说服力,真理的讲解和它的应用都必须被恰当地、礼貌地、谦卑地呈现出来,以便听众能够接受。

7.好应用会从信息的解释中浮现出来

应用必须被经文驱动,正如解释被经文驱动一样。 不要使用经文任意弹出你想要的应用。这是对你的读者和经文缺乏诚信。你的应用一定要出自经文,与经文作者的意图相符,并且你应用的要点与经文的主要观点一致。

不要使用经文达到你自己的目的。这是对经文的乱用。当应用用于生活的时候,它不能以任何方式歪曲经文。这才是诚信地使用经文。这需要很多的训练。搞明白基于经文的应用跟搞明白经文的意思同等重要。

注意,应用必须来源于经文,与此同时应用的范围需要被“扩展”,如此,经文中隐含的意义才可能应用于生活的诸多方面。因此,一段经文,只有一个意思,却可以有很多应用。

8.好应用会显露信息中牧师的要点。

好应用引导人们去该去的地方。它会在人们受伤时关心他们,在人们违背的时候责备他们,在人们饥饿的时候喂养他们,在人们危险的时候保护他们。

9.好应用会使信息中抽象的真理具体化

不要担心举具体的例子会导致有的听众认为与他们无关—也就是说,他们可能认为既然你并没有提到与他们相关的例子,因此他们就不需要有回应。在这里,圣灵弥补这个空缺。圣灵会使用你给出的例子,使听者的思想和良心中浮现出他们需要纠正或改变的东西等。

应用要具体,把真理与生活联系起来。为了有效地做到这一点,你必须关注生活中的一些情况,在这些情况下,特定的真理以特定的方式应用。作为传道人,你的任务就是使听众明白这点并敦促听众遵行。不要停留在概念层面。很多传道人都如此,他们很难从神学的抽象层面,来到具体的、有形的、生活的层面。

结论

不要忽视应用。在讲道之前要回顾你的讲稿,看看里面有多少应用。足够吗?每一个主要原则都有应用吗?我的导师,Stephen Olford 博士曾经敦促我们说,应用应该占讲道的50%!

C.应用的参考准则

1.找寻真理、应许、命令和例子

应许、命令和例子的给出不仅仅是教义上或者理性上的认同。它们要被反复灌输到生活中。圣经中的真理需要来相信并遵行。

对圣经真理的唯一正确的回应是信心,这不仅表现在被动地接受原则,而且表现在理解它们对生活的意义并活出它们(也就是应用)。注意,真理和例子可能是明确的,也可能是隐含的。

例如,一个明确的原则是:“你应该爱人如己”(利19:18). 虽然一个明确的原则是什么或者说了什么毫无疑问的,但它在生活中的表现可能因文化而异。我们的任务就是去发现这个具体的真理在今天我们所处文化背景下的应用。

一个隐含的原则可能是那些需要通过逻辑推理才能看到其对生活的意义。例如,“不要奸淫”,说明了纯洁、忠诚和爱的必要性。

寻找这些原则,然后沿着抽象的阶梯向上移动,以确定它们最广泛的意义。接着,把它们应用到我们这个时代的社会生活中去。

2.学习应对应用旧约时会面临的诠释学挑战

想要更多地阅读这方面的文章,我推荐Tremper Longman III所著的Making Sense out of the Old Testament中的“基督徒如何将旧约应用于生活?” (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 103-136.

3.了解你所处的文化

这样,你就可以把神的话用在真实的人和真实情况上。没有意义的应用或者已经过时的应用几乎没有影响力。

圣经中的真理原则对任何时代的任何人都有意义。我们的任务就是要把它应用于我们的时代我们的人身上—这就是相关。

4.意识到没有哪两个传道人必须以统一的方式应用经文

这并不是说一个对一个错。这只说明他们的方式不同,或者他们呈现了同一真理的不同侧面,或者他们的会众受益于不同的应用方式。

5.不要在应用时耗尽精力

当应用的时候,保持你对真理的确信和热情。当你将真理个人化的时候,这是保持强度的关键时刻。

6.作为一个这个真理也适用于你并且已经应用于你生活的人来讲道

这并不意味着你必须使用“我们”。有时候,或者一般来说你会用 “你”使应用个人化以及具有说服力。但是,你要确保在你劝戒别人去遵行这个真理之前,已经应用于你自己的生活。

一定要把这作为你准备讲道的一部分。当你准备好讲稿,你要在神的面前回顾它,以祷告地方式回顾,求神向你显明你需要应用于自己生活的真理。

7.视觉化你的听众

看到他们的需要(在不指向个人或者暴露隐私的情况下)。涵盖听众生活的不同状况(例如在家中、工作中、学校中、社区中)——包含每个人。

在每一种生活状况中使用“可能”的情况。“可能你在工作中遇到这种…”等。你可能不能准确地描述每个人所面临的情况,但你会在他们的脑海中触动其他一些情况,在这些情况下,这个应用是针对他们的。

8. 记住应用的四个原则

#1.个人化的原则

这个原则就是传道人要将真理应用于自己的生活。如果你对别人传讲你没有应用到自己生活的东西,你的讲道会没有能力。当你这样做的时候,不但神知道,听众也知道。传道人必须传讲他所相信的并在自己的生活中活出来的东西。

#2.想象的原则

要想恰当地应用经文,它对你必须是真实的。人物、地点和情感必须活在你的想象中。如果它对传道人来说是生动的,那么看到它如何应用于其他人对你来说会更容易。

#3.扩展的原则

当我们对听众讲道并引导他们,一段时间之后,传道人会更了解他们——他们的怕和需要。我们对这些人的经验(他们住在哪里,他们是谁)使得我们能够扩展经文的应用,以涵盖尽可能多的方面。这并不是说我们可以不恰当地或者不准确地使用经文。每一段经文只有一种解释,但是却有针对人们经历和问题的许多种应用。

#4.声明的原则

声明经文的应用必须明确且有权威。经文的应用必须没有任何不确定性。人们来教会是为了寻求明确的方向,为了知道神说了什么,他们必须怎样生活,怎样才能得到帮助来解决他们的问题。因此,应用必须公开声明,这样人们才不会被悬在半空,或者不知道重点是什么。

第二部分 讲道大纲

如果想听关于这些的英文讲道,请点击链接: Link 1 - 启 2:1-4; Link 2 - 启 2:5-7

题目:给七个教会的信:以弗所,正统但冷漠

主题:复兴由神子民的悔改开始

要点 #1:首先,好消息:“表面上看,你们教会在属灵上很健康”

(1)你们持续勤劳地做工(2a)

(2)你们清楚坚决地审判罪恶(2b)

(3)你们信实而不知疲倦地坚持(3)

要点 #2:现在坏消息是:“你们教会内部有严重的心灵问题”

(1)基督的诊断:“你把起初的爱心离弃了” (4)

(2)基督的处理:

(a) “回想你从哪里坠落了”(5a)

(b) “悔改,行起初所行的事”(5b)

(c)警告“你若不悔改,我将把你的灯台从远处挪去”(5c)

(d)对听从警告的人的应许:“得胜的,我必将神乐园中生命树的果子赐给他吃”(7)


[1] 改编自Dave Veerman, 如何应用圣经 (Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993).

[2] John Henry Jowett, The Preacher His Life and Work (New York: Harper and brothers Publishers, 1912), 172, cited in Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, 211.

Related Topics: Pastors

網上牧師雜誌 – 中文版(繁體), TCh Ed, Issue 32 2019 年 夏季

2019 夏

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe博士, 主席

第一部分:加強講解式講道

“強化應用”(第一部分)

介紹

你在講道中所講解的聖經真理的應用,常常是大多數講道最薄弱的部分。除非講道使真理更具體、形象、個人和實際化,否則講道只是抽象真理的講解,仍然停留在理論層面(想法、定義、老生常談)

應用往往是最薄弱的地方可能因為…

1)我們花費太多的時間在講解上面以至於很難從理論轉向應用

2)我們從對經文解釋的研究中累積了太多的東西要講,以至於沒有時間來溝通其他的東西

3)我們感到理論和實踐之間的緊張

4)我們視真理為真理,非常珍視它,非常享受它,以至於應用它似乎就降低了它的價值

5)我們擔心聽眾的反應。當我們在應用中談到具體方面的時候,我們的資訊就變得個人化,有的時候可能會引起負面的回應,因為我們觸摸到人們的緊張神經,暴露了痛點,激發了良知。

6).我們自己必須首先理解經文並且應用到自己身上,才能夠將經文應用到其他人身上。這有可能是痛苦的。

講道往往容易要麼強調講解要麼強調應用。有的傳道人專注於講解,而有的著重應用。一方面,對那些準備講稿並花費很多時間來弄明白經文說了些什麼的傳道人,往往容易著重於講解而忽視了應用。另一方面,對於那麼花很少時間來研究經文的傳道人,往往容易著重于應用而忽視了講解。

. 講道既需要講解也需要應用。如果你不應用所講解的真理,那麼你就無法顯示真理怎樣與生活相關。我們必須講解某段經文的含義以及它與日常生活的聯繫。人們想要也需要應用於他們生活中的真理——他們的人際關係,他們的想法,他們的習慣,他們的信念,他們的問題等等。

只講解卻沒有應用就如同講道的任務沒有完成一樣。只理解卻不考慮如何應用就如同只完成了一半的工作。當你研究這段經文來理解它的含義,你也必須考慮它實際應用的意義。你不能只研究一段經文而不將它們與現實生活聯繫。這才是真理被活出來的地方。這也是經文的目的——被遵行。

除非我們從聖經的世界來到當代世界,否則我們只是把真理和我們的聽眾留在了經文古老的背景中,除了知識之外,沒有任何有用的目的。

聖經講道必須從“是什麼”到 “那麼怎樣”再到“現在做什麼”。當我們講解真理的時候,我們解決的是真理的“是什麼”(也就是真理意味著什麼?)。當我們應用真理的時候,我們解決的是真理的“那麼怎樣”(也就是真理引起怎樣的不同?)。當我們實行真理的時候,我們做出真理所要求的“現在做什麼”(也就是我們現在必須做什麼以及它會怎樣改變我們)。

有的人會說聖靈負責應用的工作,而不是我們。當然,如果沒有聖靈將神的話作用于人們的心靈、良心和意志,我們的講道將毫無功效。最終,神話語的應用只有在聖靈的作用下才會改變生命。但是對講道來說也是同樣的——只有聖靈才能使其產生功效。所以,有人會問,為什麼要講道?

我們講道是因為講道是神指定的和我們溝通他話語的方式(羅10:14-15),包括它的意義和應用。聖靈使用我們作為管道來講解和應用經文。傳道人有義務和責任來告訴人們怎樣將神的話語具體應用於他們的生活。

應用是聖經講道不可缺少的部分,因為…

1)它將聖經的真理和聽眾的生活緊密聯繫起來。我們的工作是理解原文作者所講的內容和目的,並決定如何將這些資訊應用於我們今天的會眾。通過應用的方式,你將剛剛解釋的經文與它如何影響你會眾的生活聯繫起來。

2)應用在神在過去對他百姓的教導與今天對我們的教導之間架起了橋樑

3)它將經文的智慧忠告與每個人的現實生活聯繫起來——他們對喜樂、與神的親密關係、被修復的人際關係、遵行神的話語以及基督裡的盼望等等的需要。

4) 它克服聽眾的“那麼怎樣”的異議——比如“這和我有什麼相關?”或者“我必須做什麼或者改變什麼來回應經文?”

5)它從真理的 “是什麼”過渡到基督徒的“如何”應用真理。

6)它清楚說明已經被解釋過的聖經真理實際上影響一個基督徒如何在市場、家中、學校、鄰舍中生活等等。我們的會眾中有很多只是周日來到教會,但是其他的時間就像一個非基督徒一樣生活。

7) 它將教導的原則轉變成可以實踐的東西——可以相信的一個教義;可以採取的一種態度;可以改變的一個關係等

在應用中,我們敦促人們…

a)我們敦促人們將他們所聽到的真理“視覺化/具體化”。接受不僅僅是思想上認同也是經歷的改變,生命的改變。如果他們只是理解了真理卻不採取行動,又有什麼益處呢?我們的任務是通過將真理從抽象的理論過渡到具體的、可行的、生動的實際,説明他們看到(視覺化的)真理(也就是它在現實生活中看起來如何)。

幫助他們“具體化”真理,避免人們主觀的判斷“神要對我說”什麼,也就是,沒有試著來理解原文作者想要表達的意思。怎樣將聖經真理以具體的、實踐的方式呈現出來;怎樣將真理與人們的日常生活結合——這對很多傳道人來說是很難的。

我們必須讓人們看到真理的樣子,這樣他們才能在自己的生活中看到它並聯繫起來。我們想看到他們說“是的,生活中確實是這樣,我需要這個。我有這個經歷”。我們想要真理道成肉身——也就是把真理活出來。畢竟,基督徒的整個生活就在於道成肉身,不是嗎?要像基督,也就是讓基督的真理在我們的生活中彰顯出來。

問題是“我們怎樣才能做到?”我們可以通過給出“具體的”情況和例子。這樣的情況和例子要適用於不同的聽眾(他們的年齡、身份、工作、關係、經濟狀況等),而且能夠幫助他們在實際生活中看到你所講的。

b)我們力勸人們“個人化”他們所聽到的真理。我希望人們說“是的,我需要這個。我想要這樣或我想要這樣做或想要順服這個或相信這個“等。

c)我們力勸人們“實際化”他們所聽到的真理。我們想要他們採用它,練習它,實踐它。我們呼籲人們去順服和遵守神的話因為真理是要被遵行的。我們呼籲人們順服和實踐,以至於他們的生活有真理的樣子。我們通過邀請和挑戰他們按著講道中所教導的,以實際的方式改變他們的生活,來幫助他們“實際化”真理。

A.應用必須切合聖經經文

講解式講道不是寫評論,只要傳遞資訊就可以。它的著重點在於將經文中所闡釋的真理應用于信徒的生活。要想應用原則,你必須先要解釋這個原則所出自經文的內容。如果沒有“是什麼”,你就無法解釋“怎麼做”。你不可能在不瞭解職責所依據的原則的情況下堅持執勤。因此,應用必須基於你所講的經文。這可能是現今講道中的最大缺陷。傳道人在沒有令人滿意地、準確或清楚地解釋經文含義的情況下,就離題進入應用。如果聽眾不理解經文的意思(也就是我們所傳內容的權威),又怎能指望他們遵守呢?

此外,你的應用不但必須基於聖經經文,也必須受到聖經經文的限制。換句話說,你的應用應該僅限於所講經文的主題和範圍。應用必須基於經文中的真理然後適當應用。你不能夠從經文中任意提出你想要的應用。就像你的講解要受限於一段經文的內容和主題,你的應用也是如此。換句話說,應用必須出自你對經文的解釋。

雖然如此,但我確實相信我們可以在符合原文作者的總體意圖和經文主題的前提下,自由廣泛地“擴展”應用。這樣可以保證我們在遵循經文的基礎上,將經文應用到很多不同的情況以及我們聽眾面臨的挑戰。

我們可以合理“擴展”應用的方法之一是通過使用演繹邏輯或推理。因此,應用包括“暗示”。根據定義,暗示為應用擴大了範圍。我們生來具備推理的能力。因此…

1)應用要有邏輯。讓人們知道這段經文如何引導你的邏輯,得出你現在的應用。

2).應用要具體。舉例子。

每一場聽道,聽眾都想知道三件事:

1)你在講的是什麼?(經文的主要內容——也就是主題)

2)你的觀點是什麼?(對經文的理解——也就是主要和次要論點)

3)你想讓我做什麼?(經文的推動力——它在我生活中的應用和目的)

記住,你沒有權利邀請人們對你沒有講解以及他們沒有聽明白(也就是沒有視覺化)的真理做出回應。

B.應用必須有計劃

作為講解式的傳道人,不論是講解還是應用,我們都應該有計劃。

1.我們的應用必須“個人化”

這要求我們指出問題的時候,不要造成不和或衝撞。應用要求個人對真理的接受和順服。因此,聽眾必須:

a)接收資訊。

b)在心中思想資訊——換句話說,反思資訊如何影響他們的生活。

c) 通過詢問他們需要做些什麼來確定需要改變的是什麼

d)決定改變並計畫實行。或者是需要對某人負責,或者改變常規或習慣等。

為了使你的應用個人化,你必須嘗試以具體的和個人的(他們在哪裡生活以及如何生活的)方式面向廣大的受眾,。想想你該如何將你的講道應用到他們的個人、家庭、工作、教會和社區生活中。也要試著將你的講道應用到他們的思想和內心——比如他們的態度、信仰、關係(與神以及其他人)、行為、願望、動機、價值觀、優先順序和性格。

2.我們的應用必須具有“實踐”意義

這裡我們談談人們應該如何回應。僅僅知道資訊“是什麼”是不夠的。我們也必須告訴他們“怎麼做”。我們往往止步於“是什麼”。“是什麼”確實很重要,但是這並不能構成完整的講道。

a)必須要有基於聖經對信徒和非信徒悔改的呼召

b)必須要有基於聖經對更新的呼召。 每一次講道,對信徒來說,必須是一次更新和復興;對非信徒來說,是獲得重生的機會。

c)必須要呼召回到聖經的實際。因為我們生活在文化化的基督教時代,而不是基於聖經的基督信仰,所以在我們社會中有一種趨向這種膚淺基督文化的趨勢。傳道人需要呼召他們的會眾回到聖經的實際。

3.我們的應用要有“目的”

我們的講道必須有目的,有目標。所有的經文都指向基督(西1:27-19)。這是講道最終也是最主要的目的,以至於人們離開的時候,能夠更像基督。這是我們講道的主要原因。

C.應用必須激勵人們付諸行動。

每一次講道都需要一個四重的運動來激勵聽眾在個人的操練中學習順服:

1. “思想”必須被我們的講道所教導(理解力)

每一次講道必須教導——拓展大腦,去思考和理解以前沒有考慮過或理解過的事情。乾糧(也就是“肉”)屬於長成的人(來5:14)。你必須成長跨越基督信仰最基礎的東西。膚淺的教導產生膚淺的基督徒。

2. “心靈”需要被我們的講道所觸摸(願望)

要想 “促使”一個人行動,你必須瞄準他的“心靈”。心是我們身體的主要器官。“心”這個詞指的是一個人生命的隱秘源泉,也是神做工的地方。

為了使聽者產生“運動”(行動),就必須觸及心靈。

.觸及心靈的講道,使聽眾能夠和裡面的人物或者事件產生共鳴,並接受其中的原則。顯然,這需要一個從一般過渡到具體的過程。

聖經中“心靈”指做出決定和選擇的地方。是一個人思想和意志匯合的地方。僅僅充實思想是不夠的,你也需要觸及心靈。

這裡的重點是願望而不是理解力。講道要激發心靈來回應,是心靈被喚醒。要做到這樣,講道必須有熱情。

3. “意志”必須被我們的講道所引導(決定)

僅僅教導思想和觸及心靈是不夠的。你也需要引導、強調和塑造意志使其順服神的話,向自己死,向基督活,脫去舊人,穿上新人(加2:20;弗4:22-24)

如果只有思想和心靈被影響,是不夠的。一個人的意志也必須被引導使其自願順服神的話並且將它活出來。

4. “良知”需要被我們的講道所紮(察覺)

在應用中,良知是一個有力的工具。它能有力地推動人去順服。它能提醒人們哪裡沒有順服真理。它也能暴露出一個人的生活中哪裡犯了罪需要被審判。

.因此,基於聖經的教導會激發良知,使人們產生順服。

s結論

整個應用都必須是個人化的、有實踐意義和目的,它要影響一個人的整體——思想、心靈、意志和良知。心靈固然是產生行動的巨大推動力,但是如果你能夠將思想的轉變和心中的願望結合起來,這會是一個更強大的力量來激發良知,從而促進一個人在意志上順服神並遵行真理。

D.應用最好貫穿整個講道

真理的應用穿插整個講道,聽眾就不會忘記應用所基於的真理。它使真理和實踐緊密結合。將應用和你剛剛講過的經文緊密聯繫起來,這會使你的應用更有權威,因為不是你在說,而是經文本身在說。

有的傳道人在結尾的時候才提到應用。這也是可以的,但是有幾點不利之處:

1)如果你總是這樣做,你的聽眾很快就會知道,那麼你就會失去了影響力,因為他們已經準備好不理睬了(“哎,又來了”)。我建議只有為了強調和肯定你在講道過程中已經講過的應用時,才將應用放在結尾。

2)它將真理的解釋和應用分開來,以至於你的聽眾不能自然地將它們彼此聯繫起來。

我認為你應該從引言開始直到講道的結尾,不斷地應用真理

1)在“引言”中,你應用當你…

a)建立傾聽的需要以及這堂資訊的必要性時

b)聯繫到經文的時候

c)用“一句話概括你的講道”時(也就是,你的主題、主旨)

2)講道“主體”中,你應用每一個真理原則…

a). 在你的主要觀點和次要觀點的措辭中。它們的用語應該是應用型的——也就是,使你的聽眾被包含其中,看到他們自己在真理-原則中。

b)在你解釋每一個要點的當中或者最後

c)在舉例中

3.在“結尾”,你應用真理…

a)當你總結講道的時候

b)當你最後一次實際化、個人化講道的時候

E.為什麼應用這樣困難?

1.因為它本身就難!這是辛苦的工作因為:

a)它要求經文的準確。

b)它必須和人們以及他們的文化相關。

c)它要求個人的反省和誠懇。

2.因為傳道人認為應用顯而易見。

你很容易這樣認為,即你所講解的經文與它在你聽眾生活中實際應用之間的聯繫顯而易見的,所以你並不需要說明,聽眾自己就會明白。我們很容易認為我們的聽眾能夠自己“得知”真理如何影響他們的生活。

當然,這往往不真實。應用並不會自動跳出來,正如真理不會自動跳出來一樣。需要有人指出來。

3..因為傳道人曲解了講道的目的

講道的目的是為了改變人們的生命使其更像基督。我們通過講解真理然後說明它如何改變我們來達到這個目的。這就是應用

應用是我們將聖經真理與聽眾每天的生活聯繫起來的方法。這意味著舉例說明真理在你會眾的生活中是什麼樣的,勸戒你的會眾改變,指出錯誤,責備錯誤的態度和關係等等。

記住,所有的理論都是非常實用的。它的目的是為了影響一個人的行為、心願、優先順序、價值觀、目標、關係等等。

一個好的講道不但教導真理而且讓人知道這和“我”有什麼關係。一個經過仔細雕琢而完成的講道才指導應用。真理是為了被遵行(羅6:17)。這才是能夠改變你聽眾生活的東西——不是幾個要點的精明措辭,而是真理在生活當中的應用,引起人們的改變。

4.因為傳道人需要在講道之前就徹底地思考清楚應用

太多的傳道人認為他們可以對應用進行臨場發揮。這是不能夠的。應用需要提前的深思熟慮,因為你的會眾不同,他們的生活情況也不同,但卻都需要被觸及。你有…

a)年輕人、中年人、老年人

b)專業人士、藍領、辦公室人員、工廠職工等

c)已婚的、單身的、離婚或者分居的

d)年輕的專業人士、退修老人

e)有子女的、無子女的、單身的

f)公立學校、高中以及大專的學生

g)富人、窮人和中產階級

要將神的話有效地應用于如此廣大的群體,需要講道之前仔細的思考。

F.尋找應用

我們面對的問題是,當你揭開經文中的每一個真理時,該如何過渡到應用?你在不偏離經文的主題以及原文作者的意圖的前提下,如何找到真理在實際生活中的應用?

一般而言,我建議,聖經原則的實際應用不應該超出其在經文中的應用範圍。這恰恰強調了準確瞭解經文主題的重要性。你必須將你所講解的真理和你的應用直接聯繫起來。

首先,問自己如下的問題:

a)這個作者寫的是什麼?

b)為什麼作者給這些人寫這個?

c)在人們的生活中,有哪些情況需要糾正、鼓勵、安慰、確據、責備、引領等?

d)作者如何將這個真理應用于他讀者的生活?

e)作者期望從他的讀者得到怎樣的回應?

這些問題的答案為你的應用設立了參考。

其次,問自己如下問題以發現適於當代的應用:

a)經文中哪些普遍的、不變的真理可以直接應用於今天的生活?

b) 當代哪些情況、挑戰、問題等等在本質上與經文的原始聽眾所面對的相似?我們當代的聽眾在哪些方面經歷與原始聽眾相同的情況?

第三,從一般性的應用進入具體的、個人的應用。一般性的應用告訴人們,經文中的真理如何應用於家庭、工作、教會中等等。這不錯,但是我鼓勵你更進一步,在你們的文化和環境下具體應用到生活中去。這個很難。那麼,你該如何做呢?

同樣的,你通過提問來探究真理的個人應用:

a)這個真理對我會眾的日常生活意味著什麼?

b)教會中有哪些挑戰、需求、生活方式、信仰以及境況需要被處理——個人的、經濟的、教會的、社區的、關係的、屬靈的、倫理的等等。

c)這個真理可以應用到我們生活的哪些方面?

第四,考慮你期望會眾有怎樣的回應。你期望他們如何改變他們的價值觀、優先順序、關係、信仰、態度、操練、動機、願望、性格等等?

最後,向你的會眾提出挑戰,問他們:

a)神想讓我如何對待這個真理?

b)我怎樣才能做到這樣的改變?我需要做什麼?

c)我該如何開始?

G.傳講你所發現的應用

1.你必須瞭解你的會眾和教會

當你問以上的問題時,你不但是針對你自己的生活,也尤其要針對你會眾的生活。

所以當你問問題(尋找相關的應用)的時候,你必須通過想像你的會眾坐在長椅上,或者流覽你的教會名錄,將你的會眾放在腦海中,考慮他們的生活情況、需要、問題、挑戰等等。

2.你從以上的操練出發列出適合的應用

現在你將經文應用於與其所述需求相對應的實際需求上。這些應用不要讓人覺得在針對某一個會眾,也不要洩露隱私。這些應用本質上來說仍然是普遍性的,但是通過列舉這些原則怎樣應用到你會眾所處的特殊情況中,你將網收得更緊,也更清楚地說明應該如何應用這些原則。

所以,你可以說:“如果你過一個聖潔的生活,在你的工作場所你應該…(例如,不要和異性過近)等等”。接著你可以給出多種方式來實踐這個應用。

你所講的應用實例會激發你的會眾在他們自己的具體生活中來操練。

3.試著給出足夠的例子來涵蓋你整個會眾

你可以通過涵蓋不同的年齡、婚姻狀況、經濟狀況等等來這樣做。以下四種情況可以包含每一個人:

a)學校

b)工作場所

c)家庭

d)社區

4.如果可能,不要忘記,要點使用應用性的措辭

這樣做有幾點好處:

a)應用會貫穿你的講道,而不只是在某一部分

b)你在要點中所建立的原則將是個人化的,而不只是抽象的真理

c)你的要點會有更大的影響力

關於應用的總結

理論,傳講地恰當,完全是實踐性的。聖經不僅僅是為了用知識填滿我們的頭腦,也是為了改變我們生活、思考和行動的方式。特別是,每一場講道都應該幫助我們通過實踐經文中普遍恒久的真理,使我們更像基督。為了這個目的,我們必須清楚準確地講解經文,並應用到相關的個人化的實際情況中。

Part II: Sermon Outlines講道大綱

如果想聽關於這些的英文講道,請點選連結: Link 1 - 約 21:15-17; Link 2 - 約 21:18-19; Link 3 - 約 21:19-25

題目:“呼召去服侍”

主題:基督徒服侍的教導

要點 #1:愛主是服侍主的保證(15-17)

a)雖然我們的忠誠軟弱,耶穌仍然珍視我們的愛

b)雖然我們的忠誠軟弱,耶穌仍然想要我們的服侍

要點 #2:服侍主的目的是榮耀他(18-19a

a)我們年輕的時候要榮耀他(18a)

b)我們年老的時候要榮耀他(18b-19a)

要點 #3:服侍主的模式是跟隨他(19b-23)

a)我們回應他的呼召而跟隨他(19b)

b)我們的眼睛仰望他而跟隨他(20)

c)我們管好自己的事情而跟隨他(21-23)

Related Topics: Pastors

网上牧师杂志–中文版(简体), SCh Ed, Issue 32 2019 年 夏季

2019 夏

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe博士, 主席

第一部分:加强讲解式讲道

“强化应用”(第一部分)

介绍

你在讲道中所讲解的圣经真理的应用,常常是大多数讲道最薄弱的部分。除非讲道使真理更具体、形象、个人和实际化,否则讲道只是抽象真理的讲解,仍然停留在理论层面(想法、定义、老生常谈)

应用往往是最薄弱的地方可能因为…

1)我们花费太多的时间在讲解上面以至于很难从理论转向应用

2)我们从对经文解释的研究中累积了太多的东西要讲,以至于没有时间来沟通其他的东西

3)我们感到理论和实践之间的紧张

4)我们视真理为真理,非常珍视它,非常享受它,以至于应用它似乎就降低了它的价值

5)我们担心听众的反应。当我们在应用中谈到具体方面的时候,我们的信息就变得个人化,有的时候可能会引起负面的回应,因为我们触摸到人们的紧张神经,暴露了痛点,激发了良知。

6).我们自己必须首先理解经文并且应用到自己身上,才能够将经文应用到其他人身上。这有可能是痛苦的。

讲道往往容易要么强调讲解要么强调应用。有的传道人专注于讲解,而有的着重应用。一方面,对那些准备讲稿并花费很多时间来弄明白经文说了些什么的传道人,往往容易着重于讲解而忽视了应用。另一方面,对于那么花很少时间来研究经文的传道人,往往容易着重于应用而忽视了讲解。

. 讲道既需要讲解也需要应用。如果你不应用所讲解的真理,那么你就无法显示真理怎样与生活相关。我们必须讲解某段经文的含义以及它与日常生活的联系。人们想要也需要应用于他们生活中的真理——他们的人际关系,他们的想法,他们的习惯,他们的信念,他们的问题等等。

只讲解却没有应用就如同讲道的任务没有完成一样。只理解却不考虑如何应用就如同只完成了一半的工作。当你研究这段经文来理解它的含义,你也必须考虑它实际应用的意义。你不能只研究一段经文而不将它们与现实生活联系。这才是真理被活出来的地方。这也是经文的目的——被遵行。

除非我们从圣经的世界来到当代世界,否则我们只是把真理和我们的听众留在了经文古老的背景中,除了知识之外,没有任何有用的目的。

圣经讲道必须从“是什么”到 “那么怎样”再到“现在做什么”。当我们讲解真理的时候,我们解决的是真理的“是什么”(也就是真理意味着什么?)。当我们应用真理的时候,我们解决的是真理的“那么怎样”(也就是真理引起怎样的不同?)。当我们实行真理的时候,我们做出真理所要求的“现在做什么”(也就是我们现在必须做什么以及它会怎样改变我们)。

有的人会说圣灵负责应用的工作,而不是我们。当然,如果没有圣灵将神的话作用于人们的心灵、良心和意志,我们的讲道将毫无功效。最终,神话语的应用只有在圣灵的作用下才会改变生命。但是对讲道来说也是同样的——只有圣灵才能使其产生功效。所以,有人会问,为什么要讲道?

我们讲道是因为讲道是神指定的和我们沟通他话语的方式(罗10:14-15),包括它的意义和应用。圣灵使用我们作为管道来讲解和应用经文。传道人有义务和责任来告诉人们怎样将神的话语具体应用于他们的生活。

应用是圣经讲道不可缺少的部分,因为…

1)它将圣经的真理和听众的生活紧密联系起来。我们的工作是理解原文作者所讲的内容和目的,并决定如何将这些信息应用于我们今天的会众。通过应用的方式,你将刚刚解释的经文与它如何影响你会众的生活联系起来。

2)应用在神在过去对他百姓的教导与今天对我们的教导之间架起了桥梁

3)它将经文的智慧忠告与每个人的现实生活联系起来——他们对喜乐、与神的亲密关系、被修复的人际关系、遵行神的话语以及基督里的盼望等等的需要。

4) 它克服听众的“那么怎样”的异议——比如“这和我有什么相关?”或者“我必须做什么或者改变什么来回应经文?”

5)它从真理的 “是什么”过渡到基督徒的“如何”应用真理。

6)它清楚说明已经被解释过的圣经真理实际上影响一个基督徒如何在市场、家中、学校、邻舍中生活等等。我们的会众中有很多只是周日来到教会,但是其他的时间就像一个非基督徒一样生活。

7) 它将教导的原则转变成可以实践的东西——可以相信的一个教义;可以采取的一种态度;可以改变的一个关系等

在应用中,我们敦促人们…

a)我们敦促人们将他们所听到的真理“视觉化/具体化”。接受不仅仅是思想上认同也是经历的改变,生命的改变。如果他们只是理解了真理却不采取行动,又有什么益处呢?我们的任务是通过将真理从抽象的理论过渡到具体的、可行的、生动的实际,帮助他们看到(视觉化的)真理(也就是它在现实生活中看起来如何)。

帮助他们“具体化”真理,避免人们主观的判断“神要对我说”什么,也就是,没有试着来理解原文作者想要表达的意思。怎样将圣经真理以具体的、实践的方式呈现出来;怎样将真理与人们的日常生活结合——这对很多传道人来说是很难的。

我们必须让人们看到真理的样子,这样他们才能在自己的生活中看到它并联系起来。我们想看到他们说“是的,生活中确实是这样,我需要这个。我有这个经历”。我们想要真理道成肉身——也就是把真理活出来。毕竟,基督徒的整个生活就在于道成肉身,不是吗?要像基督,也就是让基督的真理在我们的生活中彰显出来。

问题是“我们怎样才能做到?”我们可以通过给出“具体的”情况和例子。这样的情况和例子要适用于不同的听众(他们的年龄、身份、工作、关系、经济状况等),而且能够帮助他们在实际生活中看到你所讲的。

b)我们力劝人们“个人化”他们所听到的真理。我希望人们说“是的,我需要这个。我想要这样或我想要这样做或想要顺服这个或相信这个“等。

c)我们力劝人们“实际化”他们所听到的真理。我们想要他们采用它,练习它,实践它。我们呼吁人们去顺服和遵守神的话因为真理是要被遵行的。我们呼吁人们顺服和实践,以至于他们的生活有真理的样子。我们通过邀请和挑战他们按着讲道中所教导的,以实际的方式改变他们的生活,来帮助他们“实际化”真理。

A.应用必须切合圣经经文

讲解式讲道不是写评论,只要传递信息就可以。它的着重点在于将经文中所阐释的真理应用于信徒的生活。要想应用原则,你必须先要解释这个原则所出自经文的内容。如果没有“是什么”,你就无法解释“怎么做”。你不可能在不了解职责所依据的原则的情况下坚持执勤。因此,应用必须基于你所讲的经文。这可能是现今讲道中的最大缺陷。传道人在没有令人满意地、准确或清楚地解释经文含义的情况下,就离题进入应用。如果听众不理解经文的意思(也就是我们所传内容的权威),又怎能指望他们遵守呢?

此外,你的应用不但必须基于圣经经文,必须受到圣经经文的限制。换句话说,你的应用应该仅限于所讲经文的主题和范围。应用必须基于经文中的真理然后适当应用。你不能够从经文中任意提出你想要的应用。就像你的讲解要受限于一段经文的内容和主题,你的应用也是如此。换句话说,应用必须出自你对经文的解释。

虽然如此,但我确实相信我们可以在符合原文作者的总体意图和经文主题的前提下,自由广泛地“扩展”应用。这样可以保证我们在遵循经文的基础上,将经文应用到很多不同的情况以及我们听众面临的挑战。

我们可以合理“扩展”应用的方法之一是通过使用演绎逻辑或推理。因此,应用包括“暗示”。根据定义,暗示为应用扩大了范围。我们生来具备推理的能力。因此…

1)应用要有逻辑。让人们知道这段经文如何引导你的逻辑,得出你现在的应用。

2).应用要具体。举例子。

每一场听道,听众都想知道三件事:

1)你在讲的是什么?(经文的主要内容——也就是主题)

2)你的观点是什么?(对经文的理解——也就是主要和次要论点)

3)你想让我做什么?(经文的推动力——它在我生活中的应用和目的)

记住,你没有权利邀请人们对你没有讲解以及他们没有听明白(也就是没有视觉化)的真理做出回应。

B.应用必须有计划

作为讲解式的传道人,不论是讲解还是应用,我们都应该有计划。

1.我们的应用必须“个人化”

这要求我们指出问题的时候,不要造成不和或冲撞。应用要求个人对真理的接受和顺服。因此,听众必须:

a)接收信息。

b)在心中思想信息——换句话说,反思信息如何影响他们的生活。

c) 通过询问他们需要做些什么来确定需要改变的是什么

d)决定改变并计划实行。或者是需要对某人负责,或者改变常规或习惯等。

为了使你的应用个人化,你必须尝试以具体的和个人的(他们在哪里生活以及如何生活的)方式面向广大的受众,。想想你该如何将你的讲道应用到他们的个人、家庭、工作、教会和社区生活中。也要试着将你的讲道应用到他们的思想和内心——比如他们的态度、信仰、关系(与神以及其他人)、行为、愿望、动机、价值观、优先顺序和性格。

2.我们的应用必须具有“实践”意义

这里我们谈谈人们应该如何回应。仅仅知道信息“是什么”是不够的。我们也必须告诉他们“怎么做”。我们往往止步于“是什么”。“是什么”确实很重要,但是这并不能构成完整的讲道。

a)必须要有基于圣经对信徒和非信徒悔改的呼召

b)必须要有基于圣经对更新的呼召。 每一次讲道,对信徒来说,必须是一次更新和复兴;对非信徒来说,是获得重生的机会。

c)必须要呼召回到圣经的实际。因为我们生活在文化化的基督教时代,而不是基于圣经的基督信仰,所以在我们社会中有一种趋向这种肤浅基督文化的趋势。传道人需要呼召他们的会众回到圣经的实际。

3.我们的应用要有“目的”

我们的讲道必须有目的,有目标。所有的经文都指向基督(西1:27-19)。这是讲道最终也是最主要的目的,以至于人们离开的时候,能够更像基督。这是我们讲道的主要原因。

C.应用必须激励人们付诸行动。

每一次讲道都需要一个四重的运动来激励听众在个人的操练中学习顺服:

1. “思想”必须被我们的讲道所教导(理解力)

每一次讲道必须教导——拓展大脑,去思考和理解以前没有考虑过或理解过的事情。干粮(也就是“肉”)属于长成的人(来5:14)。你必须成长跨越基督信仰最基础的东西。肤浅的教导产生肤浅的基督徒。

2. “心灵”需要被我们的讲道所触摸(愿望)

要想 “促使”一个人行动,你必须瞄准他的“心灵”。心是我们身体的主要器官。“心”这个词指的是一个人生命的隐秘源泉,也是神做工的地方。

为了使听者产生“运动”(行动),就必须触及心灵。

.触及心灵的讲道,使听众能够和里面的人物或者事件产生共鸣,并接受其中的原则。显然,这需要一个从一般过渡到具体的过程。

圣经中“心灵”指做出决定和选择的地方。是一个人思想和意志汇合的地方。仅仅充实思想是不够的,你也需要触及心灵。

这里的重点是愿望而不是理解力。讲道要激发心灵来回应,是心灵被唤醒。要做到这样,讲道必须有热情。

3. “意志”必须被我们的讲道所引导(决定)

仅仅教导思想和触及心灵是不够的。你也需要引导、强调和塑造意志使其顺服神的话,向自己死,向基督活,脱去旧人,穿上新人(加2:20;弗4:22-24)

如果只有思想和心灵被影响,是不够的。一个人的意志也必须被引导使其自愿顺服神的话并且将它活出来。

4. “良知”需要被我们的讲道所扎(察觉)

在应用中,良知是一个有力的工具。它能有力地推动人去顺服。它能提醒人们哪里没有顺服真理。它也能暴露出一个人的生活中哪里犯了罪需要被审判。

.因此,基于圣经的教导会激发良知,使人们产生顺服。

s结论

整个应用都必须是个人化的、有实践意义和目的,它要影响一个人的整体——思想、心灵、意志和良知。心灵固然是产生行动的巨大推动力,但是如果你能够将思想的转变和心中的愿望结合起来,这会是一个更强大的力量来激发良知,从而促进一个人在意志上顺服神并遵行真理。

D.应用最好贯穿整个讲道

真理的应用穿插整个讲道,听众就不会忘记应用所基于的真理。它使真理和实践紧密结合。将应用和你刚刚讲过的经文紧密联系起来,这会使你的应用更有权威,因为不是你在说,而是经文本身在说。

有的传道人在结尾的时候才提到应用。这也是可以的,但是有几点不利之处:

1)如果你总是这样做,你的听众很快就会知道,那么你就会失去了影响力,因为他们已经准备好不理睬了(“哎,又来了”)。我建议只有为了强调和肯定你在讲道过程中已经讲过的应用时,才将应用放在结尾。

2)它将真理的解释和应用分开来,以至于你的听众不能自然地将它们彼此联系起来。

我认为你应该从引言开始直到讲道的结尾,不断地应用真理

1)在“引言”中,你应用当你…

a)建立倾听的需要以及这堂信息的必要性时

b)联系到经文的时候

c)用“一句话概括你的讲道”时(也就是,你的主题、主旨)

2)讲道“主体”中,你应用每一个真理原则…

a). 在你的主要观点和次要观点的措辞中。它们的用语应该是应用型的——也就是,使你的听众被包含其中,看到他们自己在真理-原则中。

b)在你解释每一个要点的当中或者最后

c)在举例中

3.在“结尾”,你应用真理…

a)当你总结讲道的时候

b)当你最后一次实际化、个人化讲道的时候

E.为什么应用这样困难?

1.因为它本身就难!这是辛苦的工作因为:

a)它要求经文的准确。

b)它必须和人们以及他们的文化相关。

c)它要求个人的反省和诚恳。

2.因为传道人认为应用显而易见。

你很容易这样认为,即你所讲解的经文与它在你听众生活中实际应用之间的联系显而易见的,所以你并不需要说明,听众自己就会明白。我们很容易认为我们的听众能够自己“得知”真理如何影响他们的生活。

当然,这往往不真实。应用并不会自动跳出来,正如真理不会自动跳出来一样。需要有人指出来。

3..因为传道人曲解了讲道的目的

讲道的目的是为了改变人们的生命使其更像基督。我们通过讲解真理然后说明它如何改变我们来达到这个目的。这就是应用

应用是我们将圣经真理与听众每天的生活联系起来的方法。这意味着举例说明真理在你会众的生活中是什么样的,劝戒你的会众改变,指出错误,责备错误的态度和关系等等。

记住,所有的理论都是非常实用的。它的目的是为了影响一个人的行为、心愿、优先顺序、价值观、目标、关系等等。

一个好的讲道不但教导真理而且让人知道这和“我”有什么关系。一个经过仔细雕琢而完成的讲道才指导应用。真理是为了被遵行(罗6:17)。这才是能够改变你听众生活的东西——不是几个要点的精明措辞,而是真理在生活当中的应用,引起人们的改变。

4.因为传道人需要在讲道之前就彻底地思考清楚应用

太多的传道人认为他们可以对应用进行临场发挥。这是不能够的。应用需要提前的深思熟虑,因为你的会众不同,他们的生活情况也不同,但却都需要被触及。你有…

a)年轻人、中年人、老年人

b)专业人士、蓝领、办公室人员、工厂职工等

c)已婚的、单身的、离婚或者分居的

d)年轻的专业人士、退修老人

e)有子女的、无子女的、单身的

f)公立学校、高中以及大专的学生

g)富人、穷人和中产阶级

要将神的话有效地应用于如此广大的群体,需要讲道之前仔细的思考。

F.寻找应用

我们面对的问题是,当你揭开经文中的每一个真理时,该如何过渡到应用?你在不偏离经文的主题以及原文作者的意图的前提下,如何找到真理在实际生活中的应用?

一般而言,我建议,圣经原则的实际应用不应该超出其在经文中的应用范围。这恰恰强调了准确了解经文主题的重要性。你必须将你所讲解的真理和你的应用直接联系起来。

首先,问自己如下的问题:

a)这个作者写的是什么?

b)为什么作者给这些人写这个?

c)在人们的生活中,有哪些情况需要纠正、鼓励、安慰、确据、责备、引领等?

d)作者如何将这个真理应用于他读者的生活?

e)作者期望从他的读者得到怎样的回应?

这些问题的答案为你的应用设立了参考。

其次,问自己如下问题以发现适于当代的应用:

a)经文中哪些普遍的、不变的真理可以直接应用于今天的生活?

b) 当代哪些情况、挑战、问题等等在本质上与经文的原始听众所面对的相似?我们当代的听众在哪些方面经历与原始听众相同的情况?

第三,从一般性的应用进入具体的、个人的应用。一般性的应用告诉人们,经文中的真理如何应用于家庭、工作、教会中等等。这不错,但是我鼓励你更进一步,在你们的文化和环境下具体应用到生活中去。这个很难。那么,你该如何做呢?

同样的,你通过提问来探究真理的个人应用:

a)这个真理对我会众的日常生活意味着什么?

b)教会中有哪些挑战、需求、生活方式、信仰以及境况需要被处理——个人的、经济的、教会的、社区的、关系的、属灵的、伦理的等等。

c)这个真理可以应用到我们生活的哪些方面?

第四,考虑你期望会众有怎样的回应。你期望他们如何改变他们的价值观、优先顺序、关系、信仰、态度、操练、动机、愿望、性格等等?

最后,向你的会众提出挑战,问他们:

a)神想让我如何对待这个真理?

b)我怎样才能做到这样的改变?我需要做什么?

c)我该如何开始?

G.传讲你所发现的应用

1.你必须了解你的会众和教会

当你问以上的问题时,你不但是针对你自己的生活,也尤其要针对你会众的生活。

所以当你问问题(寻找相关的应用)的时候,你必须通过想象你的会众坐在长椅上,或者浏览你的教会名录,将你的会众放在脑海中,考虑他们的生活情况、需要、问题、挑战等等。

2.你从以上的操练出发列出适合的应用

现在你将经文应用于与其所述需求相对应的实际需求上。这些应用不要让人觉得在针对某一个会众,也不要泄露隐私。这些应用本质上来说仍然是普遍性的,但是通过列举这些原则怎样应用到你会众所处的特殊情况中,你将网收得更紧,也更清楚地说明应该如何应用这些原则。

所以,你可以说:“如果你过一个圣洁的生活,在你的工作场所你应该…(例如,不要和异性过近)等等”。接着你可以给出多种方式来实践这个应用。

你所讲的应用实例会激发你的会众在他们自己的具体生活中来操练。

3.试着给出足够的例子来涵盖你整个会众

你可以通过涵盖不同的年龄、婚姻状况、经济状况等等来这样做。以下四种情况可以包含每一个人:

a)学校

b)工作场所

c)家庭

d)社区

4.如果可能,不要忘记,要点使用应用性的措辞

这样做有几点好处:

a)应用会贯穿你的讲道,而不只是在某一部分

b)你在要点中所建立的原则将是个人化的,而不只是抽象的真理

c)你的要点会有更大的影响力

关于应用的总结

理论,传讲地恰当,完全是实践性的。圣经不仅仅是为了用知识填满我们的头脑,也是为了改变我们生活、思考和行动的方式。特别是,每一场讲道都应该帮助我们通过实践经文中普遍恒久的真理,使我们更像基督。为了这个目的,我们必须清楚准确地讲解经文,并应用到相关的个人化的实际情况中。

Part II: Sermon Outlines讲道大纲

如果想听关于这些的英文讲道,请点击链接: Link 1 - 约 21:15-17; Link 2 - 约 21:18-19; Link 3 - 约 21:19-25

题目:“呼召去服侍”

主题:基督徒服侍的教导

要点 #1:愛主是服侍主的保证(15-17)

a)虽然我们的忠诚软弱,耶稣仍然珍视我们的爱

b)虽然我们的忠诚软弱,耶稣仍然想要我们的服侍

要点 #2:服侍主的目的是荣耀他(18-19a

a)我们年轻的时候要荣耀他(18a)

b)我们年老的时候要荣耀他(18b-19a)

要点 #3:服侍主的模式是跟随他(19b-23)

a)我们回应他的呼召而跟随他(19b)

b)我们的眼睛仰望他而跟随他(20)

c)我们管好自己的事情而跟随他(21-23)

Related Topics: Pastors

2. The Search FOR the Savior: The Search of the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)

Related Media

When you search for something it’s easier if you have a clue to guide you. Treasure hunts are based on signs. If you follow them, you find what you’re looking for.

The wise men searched for the Saviour by following the star and the Word of God, and they found him. But they weren’t the only ones to search for him. The shepherds also searched for the Saviour.

This sermon is part of our series: “Christmas Searches: The Search for the Savior.” And the title for this sermon is: “The Search of the Shepherds” (Lk. 2:8-20).

The angel had told the shepherds of the birth of a Saviour in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord. But what good would the news be if they could not find him, for to not find him is to not know him. His birth is the start. To find him is the challenge. And to know him is the goal.

How then could they find him? They knew that he was born, and they knew when he was born (today), and they knew where he was born (in Bethlehem). But where exactly in Bethlehem was he born? It was census time and the town was full of strangers, so much so that there were no vacancies in the inn. So, how could they hope to find him? What they needed was a sign!

What we learn from this passage today is that “God provides a sign for all who search for the Saviour.” First notice…

I. The Situation Of The Announcement (2:8-9)

8 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.”

Shepherds were the lowest echelon of that society. Perhaps we might think of them as “homeless people”, street people, despised people of society. People who smelled badly and dressed in worn out, dirty clothes, whose habits were not attuned to a sophisticated society. Here they were, just doing their lowly job, “keeping watch over their flocks by night.” No one knew who they were or where they were. Frankly, nobody cared. But to them was made the greatest announcement the world has ever heard.

Jesus’ birth was not announced to rich men, but to poor shepherds; not to wise men, but to uneducated shepherds; not in the capital city by The Jerusalem Daily Post, but in the country somewhere outside the insignificant town of Bethlehem; not by the king, but by an angel; not to the highest government officials in their ivory towers, but to the lowest of society on a lonely hillside; not to famous or prominent people, but to unknown, unnamed shepherds; not at noonday to the entire city, but at nighttime to a few shepherds.

There was no fanfare in the city, but there were fireworks in the countryside. There were no lights in the city, but “the glory of the Lord shone” in the dark countryside. No special editions of newspapers in the city, but “good news of great joy” in the countryside. No singing in the city, but a “heavenly host praised God” in the countryside.

Doesn’t this remind you of what the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians?

18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:1:18-21)

Well, no wonder the shepherds were “filled with great fear”! The brightness of the Lord’s “glory” that broke through the darkness of that Judean night terrified them. The word “glory” means the weight or significance or excellence of something or someone that generates a response of awe and wonder. The shepherds’ response to this supernatural occurrence was “great fear.”

A number of years ago, our family went to Banff, a tourist town in the Canadian Rockies, to attend a relative’s wedding. After the wedding, some of us stayed around for a few days’ vacation. One day, everyone wanted to go skiing. After all, that was the big attraction in that area. To not ski at Banff would be like going to Vail, Colorado, and not skiing. That’s just what you do when you go to Banff. The trouble was that neither I nor my daughter had skied before. So we decided to rent the equipment and take a lesson before venturing up a ski lift on our own. When we arrived at the pro shop, we were told that all the ski lessons had been booked for that day and had already left. So, we said, “Ok. We’ll just rent the equipment anyway and go up on our own.” The man looked at us with one of those “can’t-believe-what-I-just-heard looks.” He said, “I don’t recommend that, sir.” I said to my daughter, “Well, what do you want to do?” She replied, “We didn’t come all this way to not ski.” So, I said to the man, “No problem, we’ll rent the equipment and go up on our own.”

So that’s what we did. Once we started up the side of the mountain in the ski lift I knew we were in trouble as the base of the mountain slid from view. Not only that, but when the ski lift stopped and we thought we were at the top, we actually had to get out and enter another one! We reached the top and upon getting out, I promptly fell flat on my back. There I was staring straight up into a beautiful cloudless blue sky at the top of Sunshine Mountain. Almost immediately I saw a little old lady looking down at me and she said: “Would you like me to give you a quick lesson before I take my last run for the day?” So that’s what she did. She showed my daughter and me how to snow plough in order to slow down, and how to crisscross sideways across the mountain in order to control your speed etc. And then, as quickly as she came, she was gone. I’m convinced to this day that she was an angel.

But then we were on our own. And as we started down the ski slope, I realized just how scary this was. The bottom of the ski slope seemed like miles away, the slope was so steep, and there were trees on either side. My heart almost beat out of my chest. So with trembling knees we proceeded very slowly down until after 40 minutes we reached the bottom, where we joined my wife and her friend who were sitting waiting for us. Evidently, our faces were white with fear and exhaustion. But after about 15 minutes of resting, my daughter said, “We didn’t come here just to take one run. Let’s do it again!” The second time, we made it down in 20 minutes. A great improvement.

All that to say, that skiing down Sunshine Mountain at that time was without doubt the scariest experience of my life. The shepherds also were “filled with great fear” when the glory of the Lord shone around them. You see, fear is the natural response to divinity – it’s startling, unsettling.

So, Jesus’ birth was announced to ordinary people in an ordinary place, to the “whosoevers” of the gospel, to the “least of these” as Jesus described them. God’s good news is declared to ordinary people in the most ordinary circumstances.

That was the situation of the announcement of Jesus’ birth. Then there were…

II. The Signs From The Angels (2:10-14)

There were three signs for the searching shepherds…

1. The Sign of the Angelic Sermon (2:10-11)

10 “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The shepherds’ fear was soon assuaged by God’s grace, which was extended to them through the angels. For the angel did not come to instill fear but to announce “good news of great joy for all people.” The angelic sermon was one of “good news.” Good news is characterized by “great joy,” therefore they need not “fear”. And it was declared to “all people,” specifically “to you,” the shepherds, who represent “all people.” In fact, the shepherds represent us.

The good news is that “unto you is born this day…a Saviour.” It’s a present reality not a future hope. He is born in the “city of David – that’s Bethlehem. You may wonder why Bethlehem is called the city of David. Well, Bethlehem has always been a place of great significance. Originally it was called Ephrata (Mic. 5:2); later it was called Ephrata-Bethlehem or simply Bethlehem. The first time Bethlehem is mentioned in the Bible is when Rachel, the wife of Jacob died there (Gen. 35:19-20; 48:7). It’s mentioned again when Ruth travelled to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 1:19, 22). And there Ruth eventually married Boaz and gave birth to Obed, who would become the grandfather of David. Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David and it was there Samuel anointed him as the future king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:1).

“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ, the Lord.” The good news is that the Messiah, the Anointed One has come! The One who delivers us from our enemies has come! The One who rescues us from peril has come! The Royal One, the Davidic king has come! “The Lord,” the absolute sovereign, God himself, has come in flesh!

That was the sign of the angelic sermon. Then there was…

2. The Sign of the Earthly Stable (2:12)

12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

The wise men’s sign was a star: the shepherds’ sign is a stable. They wouldn’t have to search through every house, motel room, or campsite. Their search was for a stable, where they would find the Baby.

This is a most unusual sign isn’t it? A baby in a feeding trough? Could this be the confirmation of the angelic announcement? Who would look in a place like this for a new born baby? And especially one who was supposed to be the Messiah child! If the angel had not directed the shepherds and if the star had not guided the magi, then, neither would have searched for him nor found him.

If you were looking for a King, where would you look? Not in the best hotel, nor in an inn, and certainly not in a stable, but in a palace. In a good hotel you might find dignitaries. In an inn you might find tourists and visitors. In a stable you might find horses and cows. But you would never find a King there - especially the Saviour of the world!

If you did find a baby in a stable, what would you think? You might pity the baby or try to help its mother. You might report it to the Children’s Aid Society. Or, you might just pass by on the other side. If someone told you that the baby is the King of the Jews, the Saviour of the world, the Messiah, you might ignore them, scorn them, or, you might consider them a little daft. Probably you wouldn’t believe them.

The sign for the shepherds was a baby in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes. The sign was so unlikely that it had to be given by an angel or else it would have been dismissed out of hand. We would have expected pomp and glory fit for a King, but that is reserved for Jesus’ second coming, not his first coming. His first coming was in humility and isolation. If his birth had been glorious, the humble shepherds would not have come near. But in a stable, the poorest people on earth may come to him, alongside dignitaries from a far country.

In his best-selling book, “The Jesus I Never Knew,” Philip Yancey contrasts the humility that characterized Jesus’ birth to a visit from the Queen of England. Yancey was attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah in London. During the performance he looked toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, and, he said, “I caught glimpses of the way rulers stride through the world – with bodyguards and a trumpet fanfare and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry. Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the Unites States and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved – her 4,000 pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, 40 pints of blood plasma, and white kid-leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, 2 valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost $20 million. In meek contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendant present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feeding trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him.”

The sign of his birth foretold the story of his life and death. The humble shepherds are given a sign of a humble Saviour. At his birth he was bound in the stable with swaddling clothes, at his death he was bound by nails to a cross, and in the tomb he was bound with grave clothes. At his birth he lay helpless in someone else’s manger and at his death he lay in someone else’s tomb. He was born with animals and died with robbers. He was born in a manger and died on a cross.

Humble as the sign was, we must take Christ as we find him. How do we find him here and what is the sign? The first sign is humility. We find him in a stable not a palace. Solomon built a temple for God but God came to earth in a stable, “made lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:9). The second sign is love. He left heaven’s glory and stooped down to earth because he loved us (Jn. 3:16).

There was the sign of the angelic sermon. The sign of the earthly stable. And…

3. The Sign of the Heavenly Song (2:13-14)

13 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”

An unusual sign is confirmed by an unusual occurrence. An angelic sermon is followed by an angelic song. A stable of humility is accompanied by a celestial harmony. An angel preached a great message to the shepherds and a heavenly host sings a great anthem to God. An inglorious sign is followed by a glorious song.

The stable and the song - one balances the other. The stable speaks of earthly poverty. The song speaks of heavenly riches. The stable speaks of humility below and the song speaks of glory on high. The stable presents a little helpless baby. The song presents a great and all-powerful God. In the stable the shepherds find him. In the song the angels glorify him. In the stable, the animals “low” a lullaby. In the song, the angels sing a sweet melody. The sign of the stable points the way to Christ. The song of the angels points to the glory of Christ. No angel ministered to Jesus at his death, but multitudes sang at his birth. The angelic multitude bears authoritative witness that the sign and the Saviour are true.

The choir sang: “Glory to God in the highest.” The heavens rejoice and praise God for salvation’s plan, that there is a remedy for sin, that there is “peace on earth among those with whom he is pleased.” The result of Jesus’ coming is that peace has been made possible between God and man (Col. 1:20). Those who know His peace are those who are the recipients of God’s favor, God’s grace. And the One who perfectly embodied all God’s favor was this Baby. He is the One in whom God is well pleased and all who follow him benefit from God’s good pleasure.

That was the meaning of Christmas to the angels. They sang not only of the One who was born but of the grace that had come.

The situation of the announcement is confirmed by the signs from the angels which initiated…

III. The Search By The Shepherds (2:15-20)

15 “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’”

1. The shepherds acted in faith (2:15-16). They gave no thought to who would watch over the sheep. For a shepherd to leave his sheep, especially at night, was unthinkable, irresponsible. All their livelihood may be wiped out by this single act. But nothing would stop them in their desire to find the Messiah. Nothing would stop them from acting in obedience and faith.

16 “And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” They searched for a baby and found the whole family. What they saw was exactly what the angel had promised - a baby lying in a feeding trough. Their faith was honored. The angels’ testimony was true.

The shepherds acted in faith and…

2. Their search was successful (2:17-20). Their success was evident in the responses.

There was the response of the shepherds’ “testimony” (2:17). And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” The sequence of faith is this: God’s Word prompted them to take action and their action gave rise to their testimony. They heard the Word from the angel and they acted in faith. They confirmed the sign and they testified to everyone about what the angel had said.

There was the response of the people’s “wonder” (2:18). “All who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” They were amazed at what they heard. But there’s no evidence that it affected their hearts or that it stirred them to action.

There was the response of Mary’s “reflection” (2:19). “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She reflected on the events, attempting to understand them. She “treasured these things” because they were of inestimable value - they confirmed all that the angel had told her (Lk. 1:26-38). She “pondered them in her heart.” She reflected on everything that had happened.

There was the response of the shepherds’ “praise” (2:20). “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” What they had heard agreed with what they saw and they praised God just as the angels had.

Final Remarks

Remember our thesis: “God provides a sign for all who search for the Saviour.” So, what is our response and duty?

1. Our duty is to find Him, so that the news “unto you is born” culminates in the declaration “we have found the Messiah” (Jn. 1:41).

To find Christ is to bring glory to God, to acknowledge that we are sinners and that we need a Saviour, to respond in obedience to God, to bring honour to what God has done.

To find Christ is to have peace with God: (1) to have peace through his person (“He himself is our peace,” Eph. 2:14), (2) to have peace through his work (“He has made peace through the blood of his cross,” Col. 1:20), (3) to have peace through his justification (“Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Rom. 5:1).

To find Christ is to be well pleasing to God. God has declared: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” When we find and delight in Jesus Christ, we are well pleasing to God.

So, our duty is to find him. And…

2. Our duty is to worship Him, so that the song “Glory to God” culminates with adoration, “Worthy is the Lamb.” He has put a new song in our mouths even praise unto our God.

Related Topics: Christmas

Bible Learning Games And Activities

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ZONK

Bible Story ZONK:“ZONK” is a nonsense word that can be pronounced the same in any language. It has no real meaning. The original source of this game is unknown to this writer.

ZONK is played using a set of cards, die cuts (cut outs) of a similar design or any similar material where the one side of the playing pieces are identical. For example, if you are using die cut designs, you can use die cuts of leaves (but they all need to be identical) or of an ark, rainbow, heart, etc.

A giant set of playing cards or even a regular size deck of playing cards can also be used or use the CBS4Kids Bible Storying Game Card Pack of 60 story symbols. Use post it notes and on the opposite side of the story symbol print and attach “point” numbers in the 100’s - 1000’s. Attach the cards symbol side down with rolled tape to a whiteboard or bulletin board or on a large table.

Divide your group into two teams. In turn, a player from each team can select up to three cards, return them over one at a time and must state the story the symbol represents. When children name the story correctly they receive the points on the card for their team and that card is removed from play. They can only continue up to three cards at a turn if they name the symbol correctly. If incorrect, the turn stops and that symbol card is turned back over. The game continues until all cards are removed from play.

If you are using playing cards the face cards become the ZONK cards and the Joker cards can be used for SUPER ZONK.

For using other blank cards or die cuts, you will need about 40 plain cards and 8-10 ZONK type cards with the word ZONK written on the back. All cards must look the same on the side facing those playing the game.

The cards are all placed on a bulletin board, whiteboard or other flat surface. If cards are laminated or have a glossy surface you can attach cards will a small section of rolled masking or other tape.

Next you need a set of questions for the game. Bible question can be drawn from basic Bible knowledge or from last week’s Bible lesson or at combination of questions from the last month or quarter, etc.

If you are playing the game with a mixed age group, make a list of questions in categories, i.e... questions for kindergarten – first grade (ages 5-7, different questions for grades 2-5 (ages 8-10) and then other questions for grades 5&6 (ages 11-12) You will need at least 10 questions for each grouping.

Next you form teams. For all the same age or grade this is easiest just divide your group. For mixed age groups, make sure you assign an equal number from each age bracket to each team.

To Play the Game:

  1. A player for one team is called on. You ask that player the Bible question. (No helping from their team) If they get the question correct they go to the ZONK board. Then they can begin removing and turning over cards to expose the point value. Whatever point value they turn over, their team gets those points. They may (or may not) decide to continue turning over cards and can turn over as many as they want for their turn. Their team can call out and help them decide what to do. As long as they continue getting point cards their team gets the points, BUT…. if they turn over a ZONK card their team looses all those points in that round. Those cards are removed from the playing field. The player can decide to stop whenever they want. If they stop before turning over before a ZONK card they get to keep those points.
  2. The next team player is called on and the game is repeated. That player, if answering correctly, gets to play in the same way.
  3. If a team player gets the question wrong, the opposing team gets one chance to answer the question, and if correct, they get the extra turn.
  4. If you elect to play SUPER ZONK with a deck of cards and leave the Joker cards in the playing field, if a team player, in turning over cards, turns over a Joker card – their team looses all points up to that level in the game and must begin over collecting points. Since there are only two Joker cards in each deck this decreases the chances of turning over the Joker card.
  5. At the end of the game each team totals points and the winner is declared.

Some beginning Bible game questions:

Grades 1 / 2

  1. Who climbed a tree to see Jesus?
  2. Who was born in the city of Bethlehem?
  3. Who was thrown into a den of lions?
  4. Who took his family and animals and birds and other living things and went into a boat called an ark?
  5. Who ran away from God and took a boat in the opposite direction and was swallowed by a giant fish?
  6. What was the name of the boy whose father made him a coat of many colors?
  7. What showed the wise men the way to find Jesus?
  8. Who came to visit Jesus when he was born and bought him gifts?
  9. What do you call a man who takes care of sheep?
  10. What is the name of Jesus’ mother?
  11. Who is God’s only son?
  12. Where is Jesus today?
  13. What did God put in the sky to remind us He would never destroy the earth again with a floor and rain?
  14. Name three things God created when he created the world

Grades 3 / 4

  1. What were the names of the first two children of Adam and Eve?
  2. What Old Testament person lost his strength because of a haircut?
  3. Who did Jesus raise from the dead who had been buried several days?
  4. What kind of animal talked to a prophet in then Old Testament?
  5. Who walked on the water with Jesus?
  6. What was the name of the boy who had a coat with many colors whose brothers sold him to slave traders?
  7. Who tempted Jesus on the mountain to disobey God?
  8. Name 5 of the 10 Commandments
  9. What was the name of the sea that God dived so the Israelites could leave Egypt and walk across on dry ground?
  10. What Pharisee came to Jesus at night to ask him about being “born again”?
  11. When God wrote the 10 Commandments He did not have paper. On what did God write the 10 Commandments?
  12. How many sons did Noah have who helped him build the ark?
  13. What did the boy give to the Disciples to help feed lunch to 5 thousand people?
  14. Who asked God to make the sun stand still so his army could win a battle?

Grades 5 / 6

  1. How many books are in the Bible?
  2. How many books in the Old Testament?
  3. How many books in the New Testament?
  4. What books make up the “Gospels”?
  5. What book of the Old Testament contains the 10 Commandments?
  6. What book of the Bible describes the Fruit of the Spirit?
  7. Who wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament?
  8. What is the last book of the Old Testament?
  9. Which books of the Bible make up the “Pentateuch?
  10. Who wrote the book of Revelation?
  11. What book of the Old Testament states “wise sayings”?
  12. How many did Jesus feed with five loaves of bread and two fish?
  13. What is the last book of the New Testament?
  14. Who did God tell to take his son and sacrifice him on a mountain altar?
  15. What was the name of the king who tried to kill David?

Related Topics: Children, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources

Bible Teaching Ideas: The Ten Commandments And Ten Fingers

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Start with your hands together in prayer. This reminds us that God heard the prayers of the Hebrew people when they were in slavery in Egypt and freed them (Exodus 3:7, 20:2). The commandments are a way for us to show our gratitude for God’s love in our lives.

1. “I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me.” Hold up one index finger for the number one. We worship one God.

2. “You shall not worship idols.” (Idols, false gods, are not only things like statues, but also anything we place our ultimate trust and allegiance in, for example money or possessions.) Hold up two fingers. Should we worship more than one God? No, two is too many! One of them must be an idol, and we should not worship it!

3. “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.” Use three fingers which stand for the three persons of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. ” Be careful how you use the name of God. God wants us to use His name in loving, caring ways, as we pray and as we talk about Him, not in swearing or in anger.”

4. “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.” Hold up four fingers; fold your thumb under to let it rest. The thumb has the right idea. It’s the Sabbath, and the thumb is following the commandment to take a day of rest.

5. “Honor your father and your mother.” Hold up all five fingers on one hand as if you are taking a pledge, to honor your parents.

6. “You shall not kill.” Pretend the index finger on your second hand is a gun, shooting at the first five fingers. God’s sixth commandment teaches us not to do what has become too commonplace in our society.

7. “You shall not commit adultery.” Hold one hand out flat. The five fingers and hand becomes the floor of the church. Two fingers on the other hand are the man and the woman to be married, standing in the church, making promises to each other. This commandment calls for couples to keep the marriage promises they make.

8. “You shall not steal.” Hold up four fingers on each hand, for the eighth commandment. If you stretch out your fingers slightly, these become the prison bars, which hold someone who has been arrested for stealing.

9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Hold up all five fingers on one hand and four on the other. Fold you second thumb under and turn your hand around, so the thumb is hiding. It is secretly going around telling the other fours fingers on that hand, lies and rumors about the five fingers on the other hand. It is “bearing false witness,” as it talks behind people’s backs, spreading gossip, criticizing others without talking directly to the people involved.

10. “Do not covet what belongs to your neighbor.” Hold out your hands, palms up, and wiggle all ten fingers to show that they’ve got the “gimmies.” (Give to me) Your fingers are saying, “Gimmie what belongs to you.”

Related Topics: Children, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources

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