How can we preach the great truths of God’s Word so the sermons are warm, moist, and delicious rather than cold, dry, and tasteless? Allow me to present for your consideration a recipe for a style of preaching that your people will devour like fresh brownies.

 

STEP 1:

Your basic ingredient is the Bible.

That’s always the best place to start in preaching. Focus on a particular text as directed by the Holy Spirit. If you preach regularly through books or large sections of the Bible, you will cover all aspects of doctrine over time. On the other hand, you may feel a need to preach a sermon, or sermon series, on specific biblical truths to deepen your people’s understanding and faith.

Preach the Word, not the doctrine. The doctrine emerges from the Word. If we preach the doctrine first, rather than allow the doctrine to emerge from the text, we tend to impose our theological systems upon the text. Truth systematized sometimes ceases to be truth.We must not take the simple direct meaning of a text and subjugate it to systems of human logic that we have built around a particular topic.

Don’t choose a text based on pet themes. Be careful at this point. Michael Quicke warns: “While providing solid thematic teaching, continuous doctrinal preaching can run the risk of becoming too cerebral. Preachers who use doctrinal triggers can also organize Scripture around preferred topics and miss the wider counsel of Scripture.”5 Quicke defines a trigger as “that which causes a sermon to be born, the reason for its conception and delivery. Just why did a preacher choose that particular text or theme rather than another.”6

Preach contextually. Preach the doctrine within the context of the passage. Avoid textual sermons based on a single verse or even a phrase. Doctrine is not gold to be extracted from the surrounding, worthless quartz. All Scripture is inspired and profitable. If you merely pull the doctrine from a passage and ignore the context, you will tend to distort the doctrine and abuse the Scripture. If God gave us the doctrinal truth within a larger context, then He must have meant us to understand that truth within the context.

Focus on analyzing the text, not the doctrine. Let the doctrine emerge naturally from the text. If you have to manipulate the natural interpretation of the text to meet a predisposition to a certain doctrine, you may not understand the doctrine accurately.

Dig deep. Wiersbe advises: “Surface preachers are satisfied with outlines, stories, academic explanations and surface applications; but depth preachers want to stir the heart, excite the imagination, and eventually capture the will.”7

Stay with the text at hand. Not every sermon has to incorporate every passage related to a doctrine. Resist the temptation to tell everything from every verse in the Bible about that doctrine. If you need to say more than the particular passage contains, preach a series of messages.

If the text is not completely clear, bring in corollary texts — as you would in any other sermon — to support and illustrate.Avoid using too many or you will be distracted and the people will be confused. For example, consider a sermon based on Acts 2:37-38: “What shall we do? … Repent and be baptized.” Because Scripture interprets Scripture, this sermon needs one or two corollary texts to amplify and clarify the doctrine, lest someone mistakenly believe that baptism alone saves.

Olford adds that we must be careful to “rightly divide the word of truth” by ensuring that our interpretation of the text is historically accurate, contextually accurate, grammatically accurate, and, therefore, doctrinally accurate. He writes: “Never leave a passage without asking: What is the theological message of this passage? What are the principles that transcend centuries, cultures, countries, and other barriers that may be derived from the passage?”8