The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 28 Summer 2018
Summer 2018 Edition
A ministry of…
Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Part I. Communicating The Message
In this edition, we come to the end of our 7 year series on “The Essentials of Expository Preaching.” In the next edition, we will begin a new series of articles on “The Dynamics of Church Leadership”.
In the last edition (Spring 2018), we looked at some steps in finalizing your sermon manuscript or notes, and some reminders on each section of your sermon from the introduction to the close. It is fitting, then, to conclude this preaching course with some comments on how to actually communicate the message. First let’s look once more at…
A. Practical Aspects Of Communicating The Message
1. The Use Of Sermon Notes
At the risk of repeating myself, I strongly recommend that you use notes when you preach. As I mentioned in the last edition of this journal, there are various forms of notes
- A full manuscript. If you are a novice preacher, you would do well to write out your sermon in full just as you would preach it.
- A sermon outline.
- An amplified outline (sermon brief).
In order to explain why I encourage you to use sermon notes, it’s important to understand some of the dangers of not using notes:
- Your message will be unbalanced. You will probably spend too long on one section of your sermon and not enough time on another.
- Your message will lack focus. You will go off on tangents and before you know it you don’t know where you are or how you got there. Getting back on track when that happens is often very difficult.
- Your message will either be too short or too long, because you lack a frame of reference to know where you ought to be during the time allotted to you.
- You will say things that are unimportant (or, worse yet, inaccurate or wrong), while you will forget to say things that are important. Your memory just cannot retain everything you need and want to say.
In addition to the advantages of using notes that I mentioned in the last edition of this journal, here are some more advantages which, to me, are equally important:
- Notes take the pressure off your memory. There is enough pressure in preaching without having to remember your outline, key points, illustrations, applications, and close.
- Notes leave your mind free for one function only – to communicate the message. I don’t want to have to remember what to say as well as how to say it. The actual preaching event is so important that I want all my concentration to be on the communication of the message, having already figured out the content. This does not eliminate spontaneity but it does not demand it. I would argue that the best communication is the extemporaneous use of notes – i.e. your notes set the agenda and content, but you deliver it as though you did not have notes.
2. Style Of Delivery
How you communicate your message will depend to some degree on your gifting, your training, your personality, and your experience. While we learn from others and are mentored by them, our style must be our own. It may be conversational or didactic, formal or more informal.
Be yourself, but don’t think that that permits casualness or lack of professionalism. No one wants to come to church to be embarrassed by the preacher. And people will not bring friends if they think there is any chance of being embarrassed either by your style or content. So, be yourself, but at the same time be polished, courteous, consistent, dependable.
3. Be Heard
A. Your Voice
Be conscious of the acoustics. Use your voice in a way that is appropriate to the acoustics and to the message. Learn how to use the sound system to your advantage. Make sure the sound operator sets you at the right volume and tone. There is nothing worse for your listeners than either not being able to hear you or being blasted out of their seat.
Vary your volume. This makes it interesting and indicates passion and the importance of what you are saying.
Vary your pitch. If you do not vary the pitch of your voice, you may fall into one or more of these annoying habits:
a) A monotone. This is where you speak with no variation in pitch. This becomes very boring very quickly for your listeners.
b) A low pitch or “growl”.
c) A constant high pitch. Intensity of speech or nervousness can cause some preachers to develop a high pitch. This is very distracting.
Varying your pitch, on the other hand, helps to provide emphasis to what you are saying, variety in how you say, and passion about what you are saying.
Practice your tone. All speakers have a tone. Your tone can be affected by nerves, or the volume of speech which can tighten up your throat. A nasal tone generally comes from tension in nasal muscle. A guttural tone, on the other hand, generally comes from tension in throat.
You can change your tone if it is distracting. You might need speech lessons but more likely you can change it just by being aware of how you sound and consciously changing it.
B. Your Speech
Watch your rate of speech. The tendency is to speak too fast or too slow. Speaking too fast wears people out (like machine-gun fire); too slow bores people to death. The average rate of speech in preaching should be slightly faster than conversational speech – e.g. about 180 words a minute. This rate of speech keeps people’s attention but doesn’t kill them in the cross fire.
Variety is important. Use faster speech to indicate excitement or to cover material that is not as important or does not demand such detail. Use slower speech to communicate important or complex ideas that need time to sink in.
Use pauses. A pause at the appropriate moment lays emphasis, creates tension, affects meaning, gets people’s attention. It says “This is important, so we need to pause.”
Pace. The pace at which you deliver the sermon should reflect steady progression toward a goal. Don’t be racing at one point (as though you are running out of time) and crawling at another.
4. Be Understood
Use an oral style that is easy to understand. Choose vocabulary that can be understood and if you use a word that is not common, always clarify what it means. Stay away from technical terms unless you explain them – we are not there to impress people with our knowledge, but we can use our preaching to expand people’s vocabulary.
5. Be Clear
Articulate your words well. Don’t slur words together. Be distinct. Lay emphasis where appropriate. Stress words appropriately so that your meaning is clear.
6. Be Natural
All body language should be natural, but if your “natural” body language in any way distracts from the message, change it.
Use gestures that are natural, appropriate, expressive. Develop your own gestures.
Be aware of how you look to the audience. Don’t make facial expressions that look comical or ridiculous or painful. In fact, don’t project anything that distracts from the message.
B. Communication And The Audience: “Keeping Contact”
1. Maintaining Eye Contact
Eye contact is important and sometimes hard to maintain. The easiest way to let everyone think you are looking at them is to focus your eyes in different sections of the congregation so that you are not looking at one person in particular but embracing an area of the auditorium. Focus your eyes on one area for a minute, then move to another area so that you cover the whole space.
Don’t look up to the ceiling or over the heads of the people. This is very annoying. Yet so many preachers seem to have difficulty looking at the people.
Set your notes at the right height on the pulpit so that your eye movement from notes to the people is limited. The higher you have your notes, the less you need to move your eyes up and down. Not only does this give less appearance of reading your notes, but it give the appearance of more continuous eye contact.
2. Addressing The Audience Directly
Use “you” in order to be personal, direct, and compelling.
Ask rhetorical questions (e.g. as Paul does in Romans). Questions draw the audience into the message. Appropriate questions overcome objections in advance. Questions help transition into application.
3. Applying Throughout
Throughout your sermon, answer the questions: “What difference does this make to you? How are you going to work this out in your life?”
A. Making It Personal
Speak to the heart; be emotive as well as didactic. Communicate your personal interest in them as people, your care and concern
B. Being Direct, Pointed
Every message should have an element of urgency. It really matters because Christ is coming etc.
The perspective of your sermon affects people in various ways – spiritually, eternally, theologically.
C. Using Visual Aids (Powerpoint; Movie Clips, Recorded Songs Etc.)
Visual aids should simply reinforce the message. If you use them, make sure they are well done or else they will detract from your message.
Primarily, the preacher is the visual aid. That’s where you want everyone’s attention directed, not because you want to be the personal centre of attention but because (1) you want undivided attention to your message; (2) you want to be the incarnation (visual aid) of your message.
C. Communication And The Preacher
1. The Vital Aspect Of Communication
“My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Cor. 2:4)
Proclamation of the message must be “in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Here, Paul is peaking of the act of preaching rather than the person of the preacher.
Our preaching must “demonstrate” that it is done under the direction, control, and enablement (“power”) of the Spirit. That’s what makes preaching effective in the lives of the audience.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said: “There is all the difference in the world between preaching merely from human understanding and energy, and preaching (with) the conscious smile of God.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival, 295, cited in Anointed Expository Preaching, 236)
The unction of the Holy Spirit is vital for effective, powerful preaching. The Holy Spirit is the divine agent who makes the truth live and makes the truth vital (cf. 1 Jn. 2:2; 2 Cor. 1:19-22).
2. The Vocal Aspect Of Communication
Let me suggest some exercises that help the voice:
a. Practice building the voice by breathing deeply from the diaphragm. This is how professional singers breathe. It gives control.
b. Practice training the voice by reading the sermon out loud. Concentrate on articulation, pronunciation and emphasis.
c. Practice testing the voice for the following characteristics:
a) Projection (strength). This is the ability to “throw” your voice so that everyone can hear.
b) Production (softness). Use breath control to regulate constancy of sound.
c) Protection (control). Know the limitations of your voice.
d. Practice resting the voice especially when your voice is tired or hoarse. Use periods of silence to relax your voice muscles.
e. Practice the healing of the voice by using, if necessary, salt, lubrication (throat lozenges), and care. Lubrication is particularly important as the mouth and throat tend to dry out if you’re nervous.
f. Practice guarding the voice. Avoid straining your voice. Try to guard your voice against wind and air-conditioning. Be particularly aware of talking on the phone for long periods of time.
g. Practice using the voice. Make it a subconscious effort every time you speak to be aware of how you use your voice. Many people’s voices sound bad, not because that’s the way they are made but because of how they use them.
3. The Visual Aspect Of Communication
“I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3)
Nervousness in preaching is normal. Even the greatest and most experienced of preachers suffer from nerves and a sense of inadequacy. The apostle Paul asked, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16). This casts us upon the Lord – that’s good.
But nerves should not cripple us. That’s one advantage of being well-prepared and using notes. We can still speak with authority despite how we feel inwardly because we know that what we say is the word of God.
Personal appearance. In one sense we want to be veiled from sight so that the audience sees Christ in our message. On the other hand, we are the human agents God has chosen to deliver the message. Thus, we should present ourselves in a way that does not distract from the message. To that end, your personal appearance should be modest; and your personal appeal should not be seductive to anyone in the audience.
D. Communication And The Occasion
Every preacher should be sensitive to the occasion when selecting his topic or text, in preparing the content and thrust of the message, and in presentation of the message. If the occasion is a wedding, for example, your content must be appropriate to that occasion and your delivery would normally be focused on the happiness of the day.
The preparation and presentation would, of course, be very different if the occasion were a funeral, when the needs of the mourners would be addressed in the content of the message, and the delivery of the message would be appropriately subdued and sombre.
Similarly, regular Sunday messages would vary in their preparation and presentation depending on the occasion. Special Sundays like Thanksgiving, anniversaries, Easter, and Christmas would dictate the type of subject matter to be prepared and the manner in which they a represented.
E. Communication And The Purpose
Every sermon has a purpose. If the purpose is to deal with a specific failure in the life of the church or a particular problem in relationships, then the preparation of those messages and their presentation would be affected accordingly.
If the purpose is evangelistic or exhortative, again, the selection of the text, the content of the message and the style of presentation should correspond to that purpose.
Purpose, then, affects the topic or text selected, the application of the text, the illustrations used, and the manner of presentation.
Part II: Devotional Exposition
“Discipline In The Church” (1 Cor. 5:1-13)
By: Dr. Stephen F. Olford
Introduction With this chapter we commence a new section in the unfolding of this first letter to the Corinthians. Up to this point the apostle has been dealing mainly with the problem of divisions in the church. Now he turns to the equally serious matter of disorders in the church. There are three, in particular, which are mentioned within the scope of the next two chapters. They have to do with discipline in the church (5:1-13), lawsuits in the church (6:1-11), and impurity in the church (6:12-20). Our concern in the present study is that of discipline in the church. It is quite obvious from the reading of this epistle that the Corinthians were so preoccupied with their carnal wisdom and philosophy that they had overlooked the moral obligations of the gospel, to which they were committed. Wrong thinking always issues in wrong living. As a result, moral disaster had befallen the church and Paul had to confront them with this fact. He had to spell out, in no uncertain terms, the disciplinary action that had to be taken. As we consider Discipline in the Church, I invite you to observe, first of all:
I. The Seriousness Of Moral Disaster In The Church
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you…” (1 Corinthians 5:1). The construction of these opening words indicates that the sin in question was the subject of general gossip – not only within the assembly but throughout the city. There is no need to elaborate on the actual offense in question, except to notice that it was a most flagrant violation of the moral law. A Christian brother had been living immorally with his step-mother. The fact that the sin described is fornication indicates that the father was either dead or divorced. The absence of any mention of the woman suggests that she must have been an unbeliever, and therefore outside of the jurisdiction of the church. This form of immorality was so revolting and horrifying that it was not only condemned by Jewish law (Leviticus 18:8), but was also prohibited by Roman law. Indeed, it is a sin which was seldom found among the unregenerate Gentiles.
Now the Holy Spirit has seen fit to record his sordid story in order that we might learn the seriousness of sin in the church. If a Christian brother could sink so low in the days of apostolic Christianity, what does that say for our day, unless we learn the solemn lesson that this chapter contains. The seriousness of this moral disaster in the church is underlined by:
1) The Personal Culpability of the Offender “…he who has done this deed…” (1 Corinthians 5:2). Quite clearly, this offense was not just an isolated act of sin. To “have his father’s wife” meant that he had lived with her. Similarly, the phrase, “he who has done this deed,” indicates that he had practiced this sin over some period of time. Our first reaction is to deduce that this man was probably a nominal Christian without a saving knowledge of Christ. But Paul’s reference to him, both in this chapter and in his second epistle (2:6-8), would confirm the view that the man was truly born again, but tremendously backslidden in heart and life.
What a warning this story is to you and me! Apart from the grace of God, there is nothing to stop us from sinking just as low. And the tragedy of such moral breakdown is that such sin is first against a holy God and then against the Body of Christ. When David realized his sin in the matter of Bathsheba, he cried “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done this evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). But added to this was the realization of how he had wrecked the life of an innocent woman and taken the life of an innocent and loyal man. This leads us to consider the second reason for the seriousness of moral disaster in the life of the church:
2) The Public Consequences of the Offense “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned…” (1 Corinthians 5:2). Like a cancerous disease, sin always poisons and paralyzes the body. Therefore, the whole fellowship was affected by this man’s moral breakdown. Instead of mourning they were boasting. Paul uses an unusual word to describe what should have been their attitude. They should have “mourned” he says, meaning to lament, as for the dead. They should have recognized that here was a man who had not only fallen from grace, but also had separated himself from the life of the church. Instead, they were boasting about their tolerance of sin, and by this very attitude had become partners in the sin.
John Morley once said “under certain circumstances compromise is the most immoral word in the English language.” And Morley is right! When a person or a church compromises on the issue of sin, God’s name is dishonored, Satan’s work is advanced, and the church is rendered helpless. Not only the man but the church should have repented long before Paul wrote this letter, for repentance is one of the greatest marks of regeneration. Only through contrite, broken-hearted repentance can we expect God to bless our lives and our churches. It seems, however, in our day, we have lost all sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Instead of mourning over our failures in the church we are boasting about our tolerance, our compromise, and our bigheartedness. God have mercy on us! Next let us consider:
II. The Standard Of Judicial Discipline In The Church
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together…with the power of Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4-5). Whatever else we think, God’s standard of discipline in relation to sin in the church is unmistakable and unalterable. There is no question but that this chapter is left to guide us throughout the age of the church in these matters. Please notice three things regarding discipline in the church:
1) The Meaning of the Discipline “…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). This solemn statement is supported with other expressions throughout the chapter such as “purge out the old leaven” (v. 7), and “put away from yourselves that wicked person” (v. 13). Quite clearly, the act of discipline involves the excommunication of the offender from the life and fellowship of the church. Such excommunication is described as being delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh (v. 5). Scholars expound these words in two ways; undoubtedly there is an element of truth in both positions.
There are those who maintain that Paul specifically mentions the destruction of the flesh in order to emphasize that when a person is excommunicated from the life and fellowship of the church, he is brought under the domination of satanic forces (see 1 John 5:19). Very soon a Christian living in this atmosphere learns that “the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). In other words, he comes to the end of himself, and therefore seeks to be restored to the Lord and to his rightful place in the fellowship.
Other students of the Word maintain that the destruction of the flesh implies and involves sickness and even death of the body. This was true of other delinquent members of the church at Corinth, to whom Paul refers in Chapter 11:30. Because of their demeanor at the Lord’s Supper they were sickly, and some slept. It was true of Ananias and Sapphira, who were judged by the stroke of death (Acts 5) for lying to the Holy Spirit (see also 1 John 5:16).
2) The Method of the Discipline “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together…” (1 Corinthians 5:4). Paul exhorts that the church should come together, recognizing the authority of the Head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ. In this particular instance, Paul, as a father to so many, also identifies himself with the church saying: “…when you are gathered together, along with my spirit…” Having thus convened, with recognition of the Savior’s presence, the Spirit’s power, and the clear teaching of the Word of God, the church is to pass judgment on the sin, and excommunicate the offender out of their presence. It can only be added that if this were done more often today, we would soon see revival visiting the people of God. So often we pray for refreshing showers to fall from heaven, while we condone sin in our midst. This is a contradiction. A third important aspect of this church action is:
3) The Motive of the Discipline “…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). It must be stressed that the ultimate motive in all discipline is that of restoring the sinning saint to the life of cleansing and victory in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is supported by what Paul has to say in the second epistle, where he scolds the Corinthians for having failed to receive back into membership the offending brother who was now repentant and on the verge of being “swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.” So he exhorts them to confirm their love toward him (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). In Galatians 6:1, Paul exhorts that all discipline should be exercised with a view to restoration. It is just as much a sin on the part of the church to fail in following up a repentant member as to overlook the discipline of a rebellious offender.
Now this solemn chapter fittingly concludes with:
III. The Secret Of Spiritual Deliverance In The Church
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new batch, since you are unleavened, for indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Reminding them again that their boasting was not good, Paul points out that just as leaven permeates the dough, so sin has a way of affecting the total church. No one can excuse himself on the basis of being an insignificant or inconspicuous member of the church. Indeed, the whole fellowship is as strong as its weakest member. If we are to know the glory, the power, and the blessing of our God in a local assembly, we must give attention to the continuing secret of deliverance for the individual as well as the corporate life of the church. The secret is threefold:
1) There Must be a Hatefulness of Sin “Therefore purge out the old leaven…” (1 Corinthians 5:7). In Old Testament times the Jewish household was instructed to remove all leaven in preparation for the Passover. Every little nook and cranny and mouse hole was to be examined with a lighted candle for any traces of leaven. This symbolized the complete break with the old manner of life in Egypt, and their entrance to new life in which they were designed to enjoy fellowship with God. Paul says we must purge out the old leaven remembering that Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. Any trifling with sin is a reflection on the holy Lamb of God who gave His life to save and to keep us from sin. Our entire Christian attitude should be that of celebrating the victory of our Savior, not with malice or wickedness in our hearts, but with sincerity and truth (v. 8). The test of whether or not we are living in victory is our attitude to sin. From the passage before us, it is quite clear that it should be one of utter hatefulness and abhorrence of sin.
2) There Must be Helpfulness to Sinners “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). Apparently Paul had written to them on a previous occasion concerning this matter of holy living, but some of them had misunderstood his instruction to be about their contact with the world. Now he writes again to explain that the doctrine of separation does not imply isolationism. While we are in the world we have to mix with people who are fornicators, covetous, extortioners, and idolaters. Our Savior was a friend of publicans and sinners (Matthew 11:19). At the same time, we must remember that while He mingled with them in a redemptive helpfulness, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26). Nothing brings conviction home to the heart of an unconverted person more than the radiance and redemptiveness of a holy, helpful life. There are hungry people all around us who long to know deliverance from the power and pollution of sin. Therefore in our Christian walk, let us bear in mind that while we are to be characterized by a hatefulness of sin, we must maintain a God-given helpfulness to sinners.
3) There Must be a Holiness in Standards “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone who is called a brother and is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:11). There is much loose talk today about holiness which does not involve holy standards, but Paul makes it quite clear that if we know anything of holiness in our lives, then it has to be demonstrated in a separated walk, even if it involves withdrawal from a brother who is walking disorderly. As we have seen in this very chapter, it is possible for a brother to be a fornicator, or covetous, or an adulterer, or a drunkard, or even an extortioner, and Paul adds, with such we should not even share a meal.
Indeed, in 2 Thessalonians 3:14 and 15, we are explicitly exhorted to withdraw ourselves from all such in order that they might learn the nature of their sin and its consequence. We cannot pronounce judgment upon the sins of the world because that realm is out of our jurisdiction (see vs. 12-13); that is God’s province and prerogative. But in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and with the word of revelation in our hands, we are to judge sin in or own lives and in the church. Therefore, concludes the apostle, we must put out of our midst every believer who comes under the category of “a wicked person” (v.13).
Conclusion: This is solemn teaching and we cannot escape either the authority or relevancy of the divine challenge to our hearts. If therefore, we long for God’s favor and benediction upon our lives and upon our churches, we must view sin in all the seriousness of its essential character. We must fulfill all the demands of divine discipline and, most important of all, we must live and learn the secret of day-by-day deliverance. God grant that your life and mine might ever be characterized by a hatefulness of sin, a helpfulness to sinners, and a holiness in standards by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (See also 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 7:1). We dare not lower God’s standards by acting or being otherwise characterized.
Part III: Sermon Outlines
Title: The Kingship of Jesus
Point #1: The kingship of Jesus separates cynics from seekers (33-35a)
1. Cynics sneer at the kingship of Jesus (33)
2. Seekers hunger for the kingship of Jesus (34-35a)
Point #2: The kingship of Jesus separates the physical from the spiritual (35b-38a)
1. Jesus explains that his kingship is not a physical entity (36)
2. Jesus explains that his kingship is a spiritual entity (37)
Related Topics: Pastors