So we have talking about so many things about preaching. I am about done though, I think. We will see.
Sermon is written. It has 2 points. Both points from the text, you have stated, and placed in the text. Now it is time to Explain and Prove.
Just so we are clear. to state and place the point when you actually preach should not take any longer than about 30 seconds to a minute. If you go longer than that, then you have already wandered over into explaining.
Explaining the POINT.
I have to say, that you should be explaining the point of your sermon, which if it arose from the text means you are explaining the text. So let me give an example.
In John 3:9-15 (since this is the example Cali and I keep using to discuss these things.) I had 2 points.
My first point was Jesus is the revealer. I then did three things under that point:
- I set the text in context of Nicodemus’ question from verse 9 and the connection of that to verses 1-8.
- Then I described that Jesus is the revealer and no one else is. Then in the explanation of this I went to Hebrews 1:1-3, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15-16, and John 14:8-9.
- Then I described how Jesus the revealer has condescended to us in his revelation. Here I spent time in verse 13 and talked about the way in which God has revealed himself throughout time. And by example taking up Old Testament examples and such.
My Second point was Jesus is the Cure. Here I centered in on the phrase lifted up, and took a journey from Numbers, back into John to other places he mentioned lifted up. And from this journey, I would draw out a few points: Christ must become our curse, Christ’s curse means we have a problem that we mus see, and Christ’s curse is our cure, if we but look to him.
So this is explaining my two points and the journey I took. Next Prove the point.
PROVE the point
When I say prove, here is what I am after. I want the people to walk away with a particular understanding of the text, and the application of that text to their life in such away that they can come back to it later and remember it when they read it.
So when I give the explanation to prove the point, I use as much information as is necessary to get the point across and prove it, but I stop short of giving them everything I have.
- Sometimes we get into ancillary arguments that the people don’t care about it and knowing the details of will not help them at all.
- Sometimes after giving two or three proofs of our point, we have established a pattern for them to go and search on their own. I like to give them the space to chase those things out.
- Sometimes I totally miss the mark on this. Sometimes I think I have given enough to prove my point and I find out, nope I sure did not. And Sometimes I think something is important because of who I am dealing with in my life and so everyone needs to know these things. But that is not the truth. This is where I think the art of preaching is founded on good pastoral ministry. The more you know your people, the better you can tailor your sermon to meet their needs.
A sermon that does not seek to explain the word of God, is not a sermon but an opinion. I have found some of the greatest helps in two areas: Understanding the small words that connect phrases together and show the logical flow of the text and the connections between the testaments and epochs of God’s dealings with his people. If God is truly the same, yesterday, today, and forever, then we should expect similarities in why he works salvation for his people. Too often the sermon stops short at defining Greek or Hebrews words and stays there, but we want to do more. We want to take what God has inspired John to write and understand, as best we can, the way he was inspired by the Spirit, and then season our understanding with God’s inspiration of other authors of different times so that through the fullness of times, we might come to see what it is God is saying to us today.