Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:21
Today's Devotional Insight...
One Way To Make Sure You’re Preaching a Sermon, Not Leading a Bible Study
I love Bible studies. I love sermons. Both have their place and both can be tremendously beneficial in the life of the church and the spiritual diet of the believer. But I’ve observed that some sermons are actually Bible studies and some Bible studies are actually sermons. Though I will grant there can be a fine line between the two, I find it helpful to force myself to distinguish between them, especially when I am asked to lead one or the other.
In general, a Bible study is teaching while a sermon is preaching; a Bible study is aimed at the head while a sermon is aimed at the heart; a Bible study is meant to increase knowledge while a sermon is meant to increase holiness; a Bible study is helping people to know what a passage says while preaching is appealing to people to live what a passage says.
For my part, I love to study the Bible to know what it says and what it means. I am not naturally the kind who speaks boldly and declaratively or to whom application comes easy. For these reasons and others, I find I need to guard against inadvertently preaching a Bible study. If I’m not careful, I can get so wrapped up in the joy of exploring a passage, figuring out its structure, and studying its every nuance that I miss the heart altogether. I’m prone to miss the “so what?” element that defines a sermon.
Paul (not the Apostle, but my friend and co-elder) has taught and modeled something that has helped me a lot: When structuring a sermon, make each point an imperative. Or, if that doesn’t fit, work the word “you” into the outline. This naturally turns it from the head to the heart, from information to application. At its best, it allows the preacher to lay the foundation of the passage’s content, then to build upon it the urgency of one of the passage’s many implications. There is, after all, one correct meaning to a passage, but an endless variety of applications.
Today’s Pastoral Resource...
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