On Sermon Application

“Without the ‘so what?’ we preach to a ‘who cares?’ No passage relates neutral commentary on our fallenness. No text communicates facts for information alone. The Bible itself tells us that its message is intended to instruct, reprove, and correct.”

Questions for Reflection

  1. Preachers, how do you include application in your sermon?
  2. Congregants, how do you prefer application to be delivered? In one chunk at the end, after each section’s main point, or mixed in with the explanation?

Resources

Brian Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, 52-53.

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On God’s Word

God’s Word is bold, honest, and direct, cutting across the grain of popular culture. It penetrates hearts, illuminates minds, and transforms lives. Our circumstances and preferences don’t inform or liven up the Bible, dictate its meaning, or determine how it applies to our lives.

It is eternal truth, living and active, and it cuts to the heart of every issue.

Its meaning is fixed, and applicable to everyone, everywhere. Scripture speaks with absolute authority as it guides believers, confronts error, and brings clarity to even the most confusing theological questions.

There is simply no substitute for Scripture. Nothing else is as trustworthy and steadfast as the Word of God. Church tradition changes over time. Authors and pastors make mistakes. Even your own conscience can be wrong.

All believers must be like the Bereans Paul describes in Acts 17:11, measuring everything we hear, read, and see against the perfect, unchanging standard of the Bible.

The authority and power of God’s Word is unmistakeable and unforgettable.

Question for Reflection

  1. What do you think about God’s Word?

Resources

John MacArthur, John MacArthur: Servant of the Word of the Flock, 240.

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How Can We Distinguish Between True and False Teachers?

Preacher

How can we distinguish between true and false teachers? Jesus provides us with a test in Matthew 7:15-20. He says,

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Beware of Sheep in Wolves Clothing

Jesus tells us there will be those who come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. They will act like Christians, sound like Christians, but they are not Christians. Instead they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, who want to do nothing but deceive those they are teaching.

Jesus tells us to “Beware” or “Watch out” for these teachers, which means we can’t accept everyone’s teaching before examining it and them. Just because they claim to preach the Word, doesn’t mean they do. Just because they claim to live by the Word, doesn’t mean they do. It is up to us to discern their fruit, which is their message and life.

Examine Their Message and Life

Given Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, we are looking for those who live by the narrow way and preach the narrow way. The narrow way involves all of what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. Some of which are a requirement to be:

  • Poor in spirit – We see a necessity to depend on God.
  • Act as Salt and Light – A witness for the gospel.
  • Deal with our anger, lust, and marriage problems.
  • Have speech that is true.
  • Don’t retaliate, honor others, and don’t seek self glory.

If a teacher is not willing to teach the narrow way, he is a false teacher. If a teacher is not willing to live by the narrow way, he is a false teacher.

True teachers live and teach the narrow way.

If the person we are listening to does not live by and teach the narrow way, no matter how entertaining, we are not to listen to them because they are a false teacher.

We Have Work To Do

Given Jesus’ command and warning, when we come to attending a church service, listening to a podcast, or watching a preacher on T.V. we have work to do. We can’t be a passive listener seeking entertainment. We have to be active.

Being active involves listening attentively to the message. Taking note of what is being said. Checking the Scripture as the preacher speaks. And finally, examining the message afterward.

When it comes to listening to a sermon, we have work to do. We can’t sit by idle soaking in the message because the person speaking to us might be a false teacher.

The Reason We Should Make This Distinction

It is important we make this distinction because those who follow false prophets are headed down the broad road to destruction. Those, however, who follow true prophets are headed down the narrow road to eternal life.

You see, those on the broad road don’t want a narrow road message. Instead, they want their ears tickled. While, those on the narrow road don’t want a broad road message, they want to hear the true teaching of the Word.

So then, depending on who you are drawn to listen to, depends on what road you are following.

Question for Reflection

  1. What preachers are you drawn to – narrow road preachers or broad road preachers?

Resources

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Post adapted from my most recent sermon