LECTURE 5 ON SERMON PREPARATION The Subject and the Text

Expository preaching requires the selection of a text. Preacher’s choice should be governed by clarity, and the needs of the congregation if he is picking a text at random. However one should not avoid any part of Scripture, which means that you should not focus on the New Testament alone. If choosing an isolated text it should not be a casual choice but the text should captivate the preacher. I personally preached through Bible books, eliminating the possibility of avoiding any difficult passages, and assuring that all of Scripture would be preached. Then one must select a subject. Of course in topical sermons this is not an issue but the same rules apply. The subject should be the central theme unifying the text. It should be clear and brief. Chapell supports expository preaching, which is most common in the NT itself. He also recommends series. On this site there are written series of sermons for your perusal. Chapell gives us two practical list of helps. The first is tools. This includes study Bibles, Lexicons and grammatical aids, concordances, topical Bibles, other translations, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and commentaries. My personal experience is that these tools help the preacher to understand the passage, however, the Holy Spirit may lead you to an understanding and an outline not suggested in any commentary. Many times I have found that the commentaries, at least those in my library, did not explain or apply the passage in the way that I thought they should. The second list is principles of interpretation. These include the context, the appropriate Scriptural meaning in the light of the “analogy of Scripture,” the background, and the redemptive significance. Many passages cannot be understood apart from the background of usage in the Bible. J.Peter Vosteen’s contribution in Logan speaks first of dependence on the Word. However, in analyzing the contact with the congregation he supplies several important truths. The church is a family and the preacher is serving the family of God. One of his controversial points is his opposition separating the children in a worship service. Now I must tell you that my greatest blessing in my ministry is for parents to come to me and tell me that their kids love coming to church because they understand the sermon, but I did not dumb it down. There was something there for the erudite, for the saints in progress, and for the children. This should be the goal of every sermon. And, of course, the Gospel is offered to all generations and all peoples.

Morris reminds us that our preaching must be related to the secular environment in which the congregants live. Surveys have shown that most Americans, when asked, will say that they believe in God. He calls this theoretical belief. He reminds us that we are combating secularism and tolerance and that these are not congenial to the exclusive nature of the Gospel. As for our personal study, Miller comments on the importance of acquainting ourselves through reading and study with the classics and other contemporary literature. This will help us to relate our messages to contemporary ideas and events. My first homiletics course was at Fuller Seminary. Dr, Clarence Roddy advised his students to read the Reader’s Digest as a source of illumination. In the end, the safest and best sermons are textual expositions.