“…and the common man heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37 KJV). Oh, how the people loved to hear Jesus preach. And there was good reason for that. They could understand Him. Without a class on topical preaching, textual preaching, or expository preaching, the Master of communication connected with people’s mind, will, and emotions. He never told stories for entertainment, enjoyment, or amusement. It was always for employment, and it always did one thing…brought honor to the kingdom and brought Glory to the King.
Good preaching doesn’t just inform. It transforms. The great D. L. Moody used to say, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives.”
In John 10, our Lord tells us, “I have come that you may have life.” Every sermon that is filled with Jesus should have life, too. The gospel is good news! So let me tell you what that means for us who communicate God’s Word.
It means our sermons need to be persuasive. They should be positive. They should be provocative. They should stir emotion. It is a serious crime for a preacher to take the most exciting news and make it boring. I tell my “young guns” – “It’s like drilling for oil. If, after 20 minutes, you’ve not hit oil, stop boring.” Our sermons should be plain – plain and simple.
Dr. Adrian Rogers, my spiritual daddy, used to say, “Make your message as simple as you can. When it’s finished, go back and simplify it again. Then read it over, and one more time, make it even simpler. Preach it and people will say, ‘How profound’.”
But there is something else every sermon should be. Here it is…it must be practical. Do you know why God reveals Himself in His Word with so many names? It is because one of those names on that particular day meets the greatest need for you in your life. That’s what preaching does. It meets needs. It’s practical.
Let me give you three questions to ask yourself as you prepare your practical message this week. Every sermon has three important parts to it: Introduction – Exposition – and Conclusion.
As you begin the message, ask yourself, “What?” In the Introduction you tell them what you will be telling them. Then as you exegete the text you begin the Exposition. That’s the “tell them” stage. But as you tell them, ask yourself this question. Not just “What?” but “So what?”
The “So what?” question is practical. Why are you telling them what you’re telling them? It’s because you are taking them somewhere. It is not for impression – it’s for expression. Impression without expression leads to depression. Every message is taking us to an action. To an act of obedience, a decision, a destiny. I’m not preaching to show them how much I know. I’m preaching to show them how much God knows. I don’t want them to be impressed with me. I want them to be impressed with Him. Practical preaching is powerful peaching. I ask “What?” Then “So what?”
When I come to the Conclusion, there is one more question to ask – “Now what?” What’s the take-away? What do I want them to do with this truth they have just heard? 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us – “All scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching (tells us what is right), for reproof (tells us what is not right), for correction (tells us how to get right), and for training in righteousness (tells us how to stay right).”
Remember we are dying men preaching to dying men. Hearts are hungry. We have the Bread of Life. They need a word that convicts, corrects, converts, and constructs. They came to hear something practical. Do it with illustration, do it with argumentation, do it with motivation. But don’t forget, they want to know how – so make sure you preach it with application. And if you do, they will say of you what they said of Jesus…“The common man heard Him gladly.”