Philosophy of preaching, philosophy of the sermon

Below is a sermon which I preached at my last church. This sermon is based on 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and this is one of my favorite passages. I have never composed my “philosophy of preaching,” but if I had it would be similar to what is below. A philosophy is a way of think that impacts a way of acting. So, I certainly do have a philosophy of preaching as well as a philosophy of parenting, pastoring etc. I actually wrote up a philosophy of parenting a few years ago. Of course it will change as Mercedes gets older and I gain actual experience to go with knowledge. My philosophy of preaching and pastoring will change. But it must stay grounded in Scripture. 

Some quick thoughts before you read the sermon, or if you don’t have time to read the sermon. 

In Short: I do believe every sermon should have grace and truth (John 1:14). Truth is truth, and sometimes it is encouraging, but sometimes it is convicting which in the end should be encouraging if we take that conviction and make a change, Grace gives us God’s love and the ability to get through the truth. 

I believe every sermon must be filled with the Scriptures. The passage below is about preaching the Word. Preaching the Scriptures. I do nothing positive for the church if I simply tell jokes and short stories and foot note the Scripture. The Bible is God’s Word, it is God’s Revelation. That is what is important. People in native countries where the Scriptures are rare recognize that. We trivialize the Scriptures here. I know of someone who was preaching through an interpreter in a foreign country. Well this man started to tell a joke and the interpreter quit interpreting. This was because the interpreter was saving the preachers face. The people didn’t want to hear a joke, they were there for the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:15 and of course 2 Timothy 4:1-5 are about the power of the Scriptures. There is power in the Bible, and though history, psychology, archaeology, etc are important, they aren’t on the same level. 

I also do aim to apply the Scriptures to our lives today. The Bible is always relevant and will continue to be, but I do want to use “direct” application. This must come from Scripture not from me. This brings the Truth of the Word of God to our life. I am not afraid to and must never be afraid to bring God’s Truth to God’s people. Now, certainly some will not like this, that is okay. I know some will complain and call that “preachy,” but I am simply the messenger and the Word of God does convict. That is what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 talks about. 

I also hope to strive and strive and strive to use video clips, stories, quotations, and other illustrations to help people understand and apply the Scriptures. 

Also, it is interesting that a recent survey of 80,000 people showed that that 87% said they want to be taught the Bible in depth in church. 62% said they are not receiving this. 

Those are shorter comments than I intended. But I still hope to at a later point actually compose this into a nice document. As you have read the comments above and you read the sermon below, you will understand my thinking when I compose a sermon. As always, I am ready to answer questions. 

Intro:                

You know, I have been a member and a pastor at Wyoming Baptist Church for over four years. This is about my 220th Sunday with you. It would be around 227, but I have missed a few Sundays due to mission trips and vacations. Would you believe it? All but one of those Sundays I have heard a sermon or given the sermon, but why? 

What is the purpose of the sermon?

Why do churches have a sermon on Sundays?

What should the sermon consist of?

What if we simply sang some worship songs, had a prayer and left?

Who cares about a 20-25 minute sermon?

Who wants to think on Sundays?

Turn in your Bible to 2 Timothy 4 and I think we can all learn why we preach on Sundays.

You will see from this passage that God calls us to Biblical Preaching. Biblical Preaching is important.

Read text 2 Timothy 4:1-4:

2 Timothy 4:1-4

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“Preach the Word”

4  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Now, you may think, this is a text that doesn’t relate to you, it is for Preachers, for pastors. Predominantly you are correct, but it is important for you to understand why we need Biblical preaching and the importance of knowing Scripture. This is because by knowing the importance of Biblical preaching you may also know the importance of applying the sermon to your life.

  1. The introduction to the charge: verse 1 is an introduction to this passage.
    1. Paul is about to charge Timothy with a heavy responsibility
    2. Let me give you some quick background:
      1. 2 Timothy was likely written by Paul to Timothy in A.D. 66 or 67.
      2. Paul likely died at the hands of Caesar Nero soon after this.
        1. If we fast forward to verse 6 Paul makes it clear that he is about to die.
    3. So here Paul is about ready to die; consequently, he is about to give the young pastor Timothy a final charge
      1. Last words are important. The final instructions are meaningful.
      2. When I was in College we had to read Washington’s farewell address. It used to be that this Farewell address was normal teaching in schools. Who cares about a farewell address? Well, it is important, it is those last exhortations that a president can make to his country.
        1. Interesting that Washington said not to be a two party system, otherwise people will serve the party and not the country. Meaningful last words.
      3. Think of Jesus’ last words: Matthew 28:17-18: Go unto all the world and preach the Gospel and I am with you always
        1. I bet this was important to the disciples. As they faced trials they could remember, “Jesus is with me.” 
      4. These are Paul’s challenging last words to Timothy
    4. Look at verse 1, this charge is given in the presence of God and Christ Jesus. Notice how that is modified. Paul says that Jesus will judge the living and the dead when He comes again.
      1. It was common in the secular culture to bring a deity into an oath.
      2. An oath sworn by a deity or deities was considered especially binding and dangerous to break; in the same way, a charge witnessed by a deity or deities was sacred and inviolable. A broken oath would be avenged by the god whose name was violated; for Jewish people and Christians, the ultimate judgment was in the coming day of the Lord. (IVP Bible backgrounds Commentary)

Now let’s look at verse 2 in order to see the charge. The intensity of Paul’s feeling is evident from the use of nine imperatives in this section. Five of these appear with machine-gun precision in v. 2, and four others are in v. 5. Imperatives are usually commands.

  1. Preach the Word
    1. The Greek word for preach means to proclaim or announce. It could be used of the town crier that went around announcing news. When the people of the day heard the Greek verb used here they would not think about a discussion, nor teaching, but most likely a proclamation.
      1. Also, notice that preaching is not the same as teaching. At the end of verse 2 Paul mentions instruction. They are separate. Preaching, to me, is passionate proclamation with a purpose.
    2. Look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul was already writing about Scripture
    3. What did Paul mean by “the Word”? it is likely he was talking about the Gospel. By Gospel he would not only be talking about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, but anything else that relates.
      1. I think Paul also was referring to the Old Testament Scriptures, especially since Paul was talking about Scripture in the previous verses.
      2. Much of the New Testament was likely written and circulated by now and I wonder if Paul had that in mind. From 1 Corinthians 14:37 we can tell Paul knew he was writing Scripture.
    4. What does Paul say next? Be ready, or prepared, in season and out of season. Paul wanted Timothy to be ready to preach Scripture all the time, whether he was feeling good or not.
      1. In college my preaching professor said, “A pastor must be ready to preach, pray or die at a moment’s notice!”
    5. Now look what preaching includes:
      1. Correction: some translations will say “reprove.” This means a soft correction
      2. Rebuke: this is a sharp correction
      3. Encouragement or exhortation.
      4. Instruction
      5. And all this is to be done with patience
        1. Let’s apply this.
          1. I must ask am I ready to be convicted and corrected through the Word of God proclaimed in preaching? Are you?
          2. Am I ready to be instructed, to learn?
          3. Am I ready to be encouraged? Many will say yes.
            1. The first question is the hard one. We don’t like to be corrected. Interesting that Paul uses two words, one for correction and one for a sharp correction.
            2. When you are convicted during a sermon don’t take it personal as an attack from the preacher. We preachers are not that good. It is God convicting you and that is a good thing. God is shaping you into who He wants you to be. I know you don’t think you are perfect. Listen to this:

Heb 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

(from New International Version)

We preach God’s Word and God’s Word is convicting. Next, Paul gives an illustration of why we must preach God’s Word with instruction.

  1. The illustration of the future:
    1. Verses 3 and 4 describe a time when people want to hear what they want to hear. Do you think that time has come?
    2. Survey of Church Leaders: A survey taken of 521 clergy and laymen attending the National Council of Churches’ General Assembly in Miami Beach showed a movement away from traditional belief, as follows:
      1. Little more than half believed Jesus to be divine.
      2. Only one-fourth thought biblical miracles literally happened.
      3. One-third declared the devil “definitely does not exist.”
      4. Only sixty-two percent looked forward with “complete certainty” to a life after death. [1]
    3. There are some really good preachers out there, and there are some that sound like good preachers. The test is Scripture. We must declare all of Scripture.  You may look at the above example and think “well they are being honest about their beliefs.” True, but they shouldn’t be pastors because they really are not Christians. How can you be called a Christian if you don’t believe Jesus is who He said He was? Christian means “little Christ.”
    4. Sometimes people don’t want to believe the authority of Scripture because they don’t want to be under the authority of Scripture.

Charles Templeton was a popular evangelist who worked with Billy Graham. He realized he didn’t believe the Gospel, so he got out of preaching.

What would prompt a Princeton Theological Seminary graduate who once drew crowds of 40,000 as an evangelist to wash his hands of the Christian ministry?

Toronto-born Dr. Charles Templeton was so busy criss-crossing ocean and continent in his new capacity as television producer that he hardly could find time to explain.

“If you’re going to preach effectively,” said the 42-year-old Templeton as he left for Rome and Cairo to secure personality interviews for TV, “you have to have conviction. My convictions as to some aspects of Christian doctrine have become diluted with doubt. I don’t say I’m right and all others are wrong. But feeling as I do, I could not go on in the ministry. So I left.”

“The decision to change my vocation was a slow and painful one,” said Templeton. “I could continue to preach, with mental reservation, or accept the alternative and leave the ministry. It became clear to me that I had no other choice.”

—Christianity Today[2]

We need Biblical Preaching so that people know when the wrong doctrine is being taught. In verse 5 Paul gives a conclusion to this charge:

  1. The summary and conclusion of the charge
    1. Paul changes back to Timothy.
    2. Paul says “Keep your head in all situations.” What this really means is be sober, don’t give in to excess.
    3. Endure hardship: preaching Biblically
    4. Share the Gospel
    5. Fulfill the ministry

Close: 

Who cares about a 20-25 minute sermon? Hopefully we all do, God does.

Who wants to think on Sundays? I hope we all find it exciting to learn more about the Gospel by which we live and are saved for all eternity, and further to learn how to share that Gospel with others.

“If you are called to preach do it, but if you can do anything else do that” those were the words that Rev Larry Stewart was told by his grandfather. You may know that Larry is a friend of Steve Cummins and shared those words with me at one of my ordination meetings. His grandfather was a pastor. But look at these words from another famous preacher: 1Cor 9:16-18:

16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

We preach because God calls us to. We preach because people must be instructed in godly living, we preach because people need the encouragement that can only come from God’s Word. We preach because people need the conviction from God’s Word. We preach because the Word of God is living and active (Heb 4:12).

I preach because “woe to me if I don’t preach!”

Let’s pray


[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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