Saturday, August 07, 2004

On the writing of sermons

I just finished preparing my outline from the manuscript I completed earlier this week. I'll preach it tomorrow. Nothing I've ever done improved my preaching more than studying the Scripture, hearing other messages on the subject, and writing a message out. I am not terribly original in my preaching, but I try to make a sermon fresh, relevant, and appropriate for my hearers. Writing it out permits me the luxury of reading and rereading it to make sure it fits. By outlining it, I take the basic notes into the pulpit to keep me on target but it also gives me freedom to slightly change the wording.

After all I've said this week, you may be wondering why I would be so concerned with relevance. Sound doctrine is important and must be taught, but truly relevant messages build on sound doctrine. Right now I'm preaching through the letter of James. James doesn't say a whole lot about Christology, soteriology, or pneumatology. He does, however, discuss the importance of not showing favoritism because of position or standing. Had his readers not understood the doctrine of grace, I seriously doubt if his counsel would make much sense. His admonitions concerning "managing the mouth" must have some basis in recognizing that this can't be done without assistance from the indwelling Holy Spirit. I could go on. I think it is interesting that every discussion of eschatology in Scripture results in teaching about practical living.

The sad fact is, however, that we are trying to build "houses of practical teaching" on sand. There must be BOTH (pardon my shouting) sound doctrine and practical admonition.

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