In last week’s Adult Gospel Advocate Foundations study, the topic of “The Commission to Preach” was discussed.
It’s a good lesson. It particularly does a fine job at distinguishing between preaching and teaching.
I’ve told people I enjoy teaching more than preaching only to have them look at me as if I have a third eye. To most people there is no distinction. I assure you there is.
Many of the questions at the end of this particular lesson were simplistic. I don’t believe it’s to the fault of the editors – it just comes with the territory of the topic. But one question generated a lot more thought in my mind than it did in the class. “What components must be present in a biblical sermon?”
I think it’s hard to be “technical” about answering such a question. Doesn’t mean I haven’t had people share their thoughts with me on how I should preach, what I should talk about or what I shouldn’t say! What I mean is there are many component examples from the scriptures, but very few examples are constantly repeated.
- Most people believe a sermon should be at least 25 to 30 minutes. But have you ever thought about the “average” duration, or even the longest or shortest amount of time, biblically recorded sermons actually take?
- Does every sermon require a “non-inspired” quote component, as Paul’s sermon at Areopagus?
- Where does the speaker have to be in relation to his audience? Front and center? Sitting? Standing? Level with listeners, or above them? Examples abound!
- Do biblical sermons require illustrations or analogies, as the vast majority of Jesus’ sermons?
- Are quotes from the Old Testament a must? Ever noticed how often they are used in “biblical” sermons? I know some people who wouldn’t like that.
- How much scripture has to be included? Entire chapters, or will single verses suffice?
- Does every sermon have to mention Heaven or Hell? John the baptizer wasn’t shy about warning people was he? Nor was Jesus!
- Must every sermon be ended with the steps of salvation? I’ve heard some people continuously give them, despite the fact they were only preaching to people who were already Christians.
- Does every sermon have to be proceeded by an invitation song? Think about that!
Do you see why I believe it’s hard to be “technical” about answering such a question?
If you were to ask my opinion (and yes it is only my opinion) I believe no less than three general components must be present in a biblical sermon:
- The conviction (or at least genuine honesty) of the speaker.
- A scriptural basis for the topic.
- Points and explanations that people can actually understand.
I believe if a person is able to include these general components, the rest of the examples found in the scriptures will find their way in to help support the task.
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:” (Matthew 5:1-2 NKJV)