How to Preach
Notes from Stephen Bohr’s “End Time Preaching”
There are 3 types of churches
– Altar centered churches like Roman Catholic churches. Sacraments. Place baptism, mass, anointing sick
– Stage centered churches. Removed pulpit. Removed bible and put the drama of the biblical stories in it’s place. Hollywood style churches with gaudy colors and lights to appeal to emotion instead of truth
– Pulpit centered. Put bible and bible teaching as most important. Baptistery behind or on the side. Purpose of preaching is to lead souls to Christ.
Alternative 1: Preach psychology, philosophy, sociology, love, popular analogies, social issues
Alternative 2: Seek out God’s message and preach it, popular or not
No one is born a preacher or teacher. God calls us and gives us the capacity if we place ourselves in His hands. The disciples were humble fisherman Jesus changed into preachers.
Best way to learn is practice. Speak in prayer meetings.
Problem is when the waiter tries to make the food. Atmosphere, building, good price very secondary to good food
Churches are sometimes full feeding people junk food. Fast food Restaurants feed people who seek junk food. Target audience. Those seeking good food will search for a source.
EG White. Lamp with oil channel analogy. We are the lamp, the Holy Spirit is the oil.
Sermonizing. Preaching without personal effort to bring people to God is condemned. Should not be abstract. Visiting
2 Timothy 4:1-3 time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine.
Power of gospel to transform people. No changed lives, no gospel.
2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not.
Psychological fire in the bones
Meditation during the week
Would I enjoy this sermon? If I don’t enjoy the topic don’t preach it
Ezekiel hand of the Lord strong upon him
You must know the Lord from personal experience. If you have no personal experience, you’re speech will have no fire. Conversion of Peter after his heart was broken and healed
To slight any minister is to slight the one who sent him.
Pray before opening bible, before picking topic, before doing and picking research, to organize sermon, for those who accept the sermon, publicly pray before starting.
Clear mind, strong voice receptive heart
Martin Luther: Prayer is the better half of the service
Fast before preaching. proper sleep, follow all 8 laws of health for a clear mind
Dress: many people will be lost because of dress. Judge the pastor before hearing message. Person may never come back.
Dress speaks and has power to destroy or attract
Preacher study habits plus research is critical. Takes work to develop the knowledge and understanding to accurately convey the information about the most important subjects.
Life of pastor should be transparent.
People should expect more from someone receiving God’s tithe then they do from other people. Preparing sermons only Friday nights lead to mediocre sermons that the lay people can sense. This is effectively stealing the tithe.
Churches happy with their pastors do well financially. Unhappy churches do poorly financially
Content of sermons must be present truth, not just any biblical truth.
There is a tremendous danger of sociology dictating theology. Preaching should challenge society, not conform to it
If women are ordained, the next group wanting to be ordained will be homosexuals
Israel fell very low, but God was and is still in control. He is responsible for reform and our responsibilities to stay in the church and fight for the right message to be proclaimed no matter what happens. Jesus encouraged supporting the Temple and tithes and offerings to a system controlled by Pharisees and Sadducees, so we should do the same. God will correct the problems we see.
Noah’s day: if he preached the trinity, or preached how the just shall live by faith, he would be negligent. His message was, the flood is coming, prepare to meet your God!
This is today’s message. Repent before the end. Noah’s message is a message of love: don’t die! You don’t have to die! Do this to avoid the danger.
OT times: learn God’s law so you can understand right from wrong and stop doing evil out of ignorance.
NT times: learn God’s character so you can be more like God.
The message must address what the listeners lack or it is useless.
Principled love concerns itself with fulfilling needs. God does not express sentimental love. God is our Savior but He is also king and judge.
Popular preachers should be scared because truth is not popular. Truth offends some people at all times.
Truth deals with real needs not felt needs. Goes against the grain. Paul against works of Jews, Abraham against countrymen, Moses against Egyptian system, Noah against system, Martin Luther against Catholic system.
The book of James taught that “bare faith” does no one any good, because it is dead just like a body without a spirit is dead
Faith and good works cannot exist separately.
If you preach the wrong message for the time you confirm people in their rebellion. Tell rebellious people that they are saved by faith does nothing, if you told the Pharisees in Christ’s they that they must reform, improve their lives and do good works and they will agree wholeheartedly with you
Rev 14 The three angels message is the final present truth since Jesus comes immediately afterwards.
Counsels to Writers and Editors, p.30
One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The non-immortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks. All this cry about changing the old landmarks is all imaginary.
Summary of 1st angel message
Fear god. Obedience of his commandments
Fear of the lord always deals with obedience to God’s commandments.
First used in:
Genesis 22:8 God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, an Angel calls to him to stop because “now I know that you fear the Lord” because you obey the Lord
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.
Job 28:28 And to man He said,
‘ Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding.’”
…fear of the Lord means to reject evil, and to obey God’s commandments
Give glory to God
1 Corinthians – many times Paul says that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore give glory to God in your body and in the spirit which belong to God
…Worship Him who made heavens, earth, seas and fountains of waters
Same words as Sabbath commandment
…For the hour of his judgment has come.
If you are judged at death this annuls the idea of a central judgment at the event of the second coming. If when you die you go to heaven or hell, you are judged at that moment of death so an event of judgment taking place at the second coming makes no sense. Therefore immortality of the soul annuls the judgment.
4 doctrines of the Adventist church especially attacked, hated by other churches:
1. The Sanctuary (time is short, the final events are happening now with God separating faithful followers and condemning unfaithful followers)
2. The Law of God (God is the essence of principled love, not sentimental love)
3. The Sabbath (restoration of yourself from God, time spent with God)
4. The Non-Immortality of the Soul (God is the source of life, we are mere creatures, without Him we will become nonexistent)
These are the precise four elements of present truth according to Revelation 14, meaning these should be the mission of the church. There is no message of present truth after this because after the three angels message Christ comes.
Social concerns are only of auxiliary importance to help promote the main message of the church. Stop smoking, vegetarianism is no good if you are lost.
People can be so earthly minded that they are of no heavenly good. If we preach the wrong message for the time people will hear and still be lost.
Worship is how you live your life, what set of rules and guidelines you following your actions. Daniels three friends refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar, refused to obey his commands when his commands went against God’s commands.
Passion must be in the church as primary role
1. Preaching must challenge society not conform to it. When society dictates what the church does instead of God. We need to stick to the church even if there is apostasy. God is in control of the church and will take care of problems in His church.
God’s word is the basis that delineates what our behaviors and actions are.
2. Present truth always goes against the grain. God accepts you as you are but does not leave you where you are. The idea that you remain as you are is not biblical.
4. God and the prophets always call for reform or change. We must do the same by meeting people where they are and taking them towards where God wants them to be.
Nicodemus – born again
Woman at the well – start with water, then give living water
Disciples meet as fishermen then called to be fishers of men.
3. If society dictates the church’s message, then people will hear what they want to hear and not what God wants them to hear. Echoing a godless society leads to a godless church. People don’t always know what they need, but God’s word fulfills these needs.
5. We cannot afford to waste time with philosophy. psychology, sociology. Look at all the condemnation Jesus had for preaching the traditions of men. Exciting antidotes and stirring emotions are not the message of God. Fanciful interpretations and elaborate theories are used to glorify the speaker, which is opposite of the spirit of God.
God’s word has transforming power. Our word is opinion and has no power. When we stand in the pulpit we are claiming to represent God. If we use our words we misrepresent God’s word as having no power.
6. The mission of the church is to give God’s message. If the mission is changed to be to fill the church, then all sorts of gimmicks will be used. This leads to a stagnant church.
Expository – expounding on a concept or idea.
Break idea down into component themes.
Find scriptures that support that theme and develop it.
Textual sermon, tied to one book, passage, or text. The passage becomes your outline.
All sermons should have one central text, one that conveys the central idea of the whole sermon and will be remembered.
Words in the bible may have very different meanings than they have today. It is very important to constantly check a good concordance such as Strong’s or Young’s.
Start categorizing and organizing material as you gather it.
Use marginal references to find supporting bible texts and stories that give a fuller picture.
Use multiple bible translations, not paraphrase bibles, to catch different meanings.
Lookup any pertinent material in the spirit of prophesy, keyword search key phrases
Don’t look at the commentaries and dictionaries until last because you will discover things for yourself, often with better understanding and often different things than they will point out.
Use the things of nature to illustrate truth with analogy. “don’t be lazy” is nowhere near as powerful as “look to the ant”
Listen to other sermons: There is no plagiarism in God’s kingdom, truth does not belong to a preacher, it belongs to God.
Steps of preparation:
1. Pray repeatedly for guidance
2. Study the keywords/concordances/marginal references (Study the meaning of every single word, but be careful with added italics words)
3. Examine the grammar or syntax of the passage
4. Study the context of the passage
5. Take into account the nature of the text, poetry or prose. Hebrew poetry either uses parallels between one statement and the next or the second statement completes the idea in the first. Parables must also be dealt with stories to illustrate a certain point, tying each aspect to symbolical, not literal aspects. Historical prophesy.
6. Study the geography of the passage (camel / eye of the needle)
7. Study historical setting of the book, who the author is, who is written to. (Ecclesiastes, Haggai 2 prophecy of glory of the second Temple)
8. Culture and customs of the time (Locust represents invading armies or represent helicopters?)
9. Study the structure of the book, where it fits in a literary context with everything else within the book
10. Learn to ask the text questions and then seek for answers. Write up a list of all of the possible questions
Organizing the Sermon: a sermon is like a journey
1. Start with prayer, give an introduction strongly tied to the subject of the sermon (don’t ruin this with announcements, apologies, unrelated subjects). An example is giving a historical and geographical background of an event before describing the event in the sermon
2. Ask questions or a series of questions to inspire thought. Why do the wicked die twice? Why does God keep records if He knows everything?
3. Use stories to illustrate your point: baptism, Naaman, (concepts of humility before God, leprosy as sin, looking for a ceremonial or symbolic event that is refused, renewal to the point of a child, conversion and dedication to serve the Lord)
4. Know exactly what the goal or result is going to be and tell them how you are going to get there. Outline your message.
5. State a problem and then use the sermon to solve it. (For example: how can you find the true church among the haystack of 300 denominations?)
6. Preach only one sermon, only make one subject that is transmitted properly and in detail to the congregation. Transition cleanly from one point to another point and do not be too detailed. Hammer away at that point again and again.
7. Have a concise, clear closing. Do not conclude 10 times. Recapitulation, end with the arresting question, striking illustration, closing passage, a quotation or a poem
8. End with an appeal, Main reason that an appeal is not made is that pastor has a fear that the appeal will be ignored and the result will be embarrassing. Jesus made appeals that failed. Ellen White said we should always make appeals in every message.
9. Closing prayer, don’t preach another sermon in the prayer, simply ask the Lord to bless the people who made a decision
10. Visitation, people will respond in a marvelous way with personal contact. Ellen White states that preaching without visitation is sermonizing.
11. Preach without notes, wide margin Bible, write your sermon into your Bible and it will always be there. Discipline yourself to think in an organized way. Only memorize your central three or four points. Practice preaching your sermon several times and learn through repetition
Presentation of the Sermon
1. Clear and simple as possible. The more clear and direct the message is, the more likely that someone will make a decision based on the information.
2. Chain of responsibility: Preacher gives the seed or the information, the Holy Spirit plants the conviction, and then the hearer makes the decision. Everything in life is a co-operation with human and divine power.
3. Pulpit manners: sacred and secular differences are being lost in this society. The pulpit, the tithe, and the Sabbath are no longer separated and kept in reverence from the secular. The result is that they are considered meaningless.
4. Speak slowly, clearly, and forcefully with correct grammar, enunciation, and pronunciation. Never apologize or show off because you want the attention to be on God not yourself. There is power in pauses. People will look up with expectation in a moment of silence. Modulate your voice and use dynamics.
5. Practice, reflection, repetition are essential for improvement.
1. Preach doctrine and not Christ
2. Preach Christ and not doctrine
Doctrine is the bark of the tree – protects our relationship with Christ. All error is dangerous and will leave to problems with your relationship to Christ.
For example, the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine results in
– Being unprepared for the time of trouble
– Doubt in God when things turn out different than expected
– No deep concern for others if they are going to have another chance
3. Make sure that the supporting arguments within the sermon are foolproof.
– If thinking listeners can tear apart the logic of statements, this will lead to strengthening unbelief
4. All of our teachings must be practical, must have a obvious action
– Blessing of spending time on the Sabbath
– Pouring out the storehouse of the blessing for tithing
– Never use fear or negative motivation because God does not work like this
5. The sermon must appeal to the intellect as well as the emotion, because emotion fades, and emotion will never bring permanent transformation
– The Holy Spirit will never does anything independent of the Bible.
– Spirit and truth must go together, they cannot be separated
– Conviction and action must go together, they cannot be separated
6. Always speak in pleasant tones, and use words that are kind and courteous
7. Enthusiasm, energy, and conviction. The two dangers are enthusiasm without substance, and substance without conviction
8. The word must be presented with urgency, as a life-and-death matter because if it is present truth, it is life-and-death. There might be people in the audience that this is the last sermon they will ever hear.
9. The message should be be extremely simple. Any fool can make simple things complicated, genius is required to make complicated things simple.
10. Be careful about length, no more than an hour.
11. Illustrations should be used because they improve understanding, improve memory, and are much more powerful than abstract concepts. Look around your own life and in your reading for sermon illustrations. The illustration must perfectly fit the subject. Don’t use illustrations for entertainment as pure humorous illustrations cheapen the subject, don’t build a sermon around an illustration, build illustrations around a passage of Scripture or a subject.
12. The SDA message is a chain of truth; each link is essential and that everything together. Knock down one, and the rest fall like dominoes.
For example: If you reject the law of God, it impacts your view of the Sabbath, your view of the judgment, your view of why Christ had to die, and affects how you live.
Calls That Get Responses
1. Always ask for a decision at the end of every sermon. At every meeting some call or appeal should be made some people make a firm decision in their lives.
2. Information must be clear, correct, and understandable before anyone will use that information to make a decision.
3. It is vital to understand the basis for people decisions: which is the information they have heard, collected, and trusted throughout their lives
Their frame of reference: “Don’t you think you want to give God his 10%?”
Use God’s frame of reference: “don’t you think it’s wonderful that Almighty God who has everything will of us and our resources to do His work? Jesus who came and died for us will give us off His power to bless others but only if we do our part.” … the Bible and Jesus should be the basis of every call.
5. The purpose should be specific and clear, not vague
6. Use personal and specific calls with eye contact.
7. Emphasis positive benefits of the decision.
8. Move people from theory to practice, from concept to action.
9. Natural and spontaneous rather than artificial and mechanical. Memorize & practice it.
Three key questions to ask
– Is it clear to you?
– Isn’t it wonderful…?
– Because the Bible and Jesus say…, don’t you want to respond to Jesus?
10. Remember to always quote the Bible as the basis of decisions. If you use a personal illustration, always use the Bible to back it up.
11. Emphasize that it is vital to make a decision immediately.
Learn to observe changes of expression, body language. Visit your listeners to learn if you can do something better.
We receive these because we are selfish, self-conscious.
1. Pray for calm
2. Study well and practice delivery
3. Breathe deeply
4. Remember that you are on God’s mission
One pastor preaches in front of a mirror to practice.
The final reward of preaching, it may take years before the seed of truth takes growth. Don’t look for immediate results, preaching is in the seed planting business and some seeds may take 10 years to germinate.