Preaching - Lesson 2

What's the Big Idea?

In this lesson, you will learn the essential components of sermon construction and the importance of preparation in delivering impactful messages. The lesson guides you through the process of developing a sermon from introduction to conclusion, emphasizing the need for a clear main idea supported by relevant points and illustrations. Additionally, you will explore various techniques for effective preaching, including storytelling, rhetorical devices, and engaging delivery methods. Finally, the lesson highlights the importance of self-assessment, feedback, and continuous improvement to refine and enhance your preaching skills.

Bryan Chapell
Lesson 2
Watching Now
What's the Big Idea?

I. Introduction to Sermon Construction

A. The Importance of Sermon Preparation

B. Goals and Objectives of Preaching

II. The Components of a Sermon

A. The Introduction

B. The Body

1. Developing a Main Point

2. Supporting Points and Illustrations

C. The Conclusion

III. Techniques for Effective Preaching

A. Storytelling and Illustrations

B. Rhetorical Devices

C. Delivery and Presentation

IV. Evaluating and Refining Sermons

A. Self-assessment and Feedback

B. Continuous Improvement

  • Gain insights into effective preaching principles, covering history, essential components, styles, and techniques, and learn how to prepare and deliver impactful sermons.
  • Gain valuable insights on sermon construction, learn techniques for effective preaching, and understand the importance of continuous improvement for delivering impactful messages.
  • Through this lesson, you gain valuable insights into the process of text selection and interpretation for preaching, as well as learning practical techniques for delivering engaging and relevant sermons.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the process of creating a sermon, from text selection to delivery, emphasizing textual analysis and message relevance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain the skills to craft clear, engaging, and memorable sermons by mastering the principles of effective outlining and arrangement in preaching.
  • Through this lesson, you learn to craft effective propositions and main points, enhancing your preaching clarity and impact.
  • By exploring homiletical outlines, you'll learn to effectively develop and structure sermons, understand various outline types, and apply engaging presentation techniques for impactful preaching.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into crafting engaging introductions for sermons, exploring their importance, characteristics, types, and the process of creating a compelling introduction that effectively connects to the message.
  • Through this lesson, you learn the importance of exposition in preaching, how to develop an expository sermon, and the role of the preacher for effective communication.
  • This lesson teaches you to create captivating sermon introductions using anecdotes, questions, and facts, guiding you through research, structuring, and presentation to maximize audience engagement and improve your overall sermon impact.
  • In order to understand the basic subdivisions of your sermon in expository development, it is important to it is helpful to see what the specific members of your sermon's body looks like in standard development.

  • By completing this lesson, you learn to effectively prepare and deliver sermons while focusing on personal growth, continuous improvement, and dependence on God.
  • Learn to effectively classify and develop sermons into topical, textual, and expository types, enhancing your preaching skills and audience connection.
  • In this lesson, you learn the significance of explanation in preaching and strategies to craft and deliver effective explanatory sermons while evaluating their effectiveness for continuous improvement.
  • By incorporating illustrations into your preaching, you engage listeners, clarify complex ideas, and enhance memory retention while learning effective guidelines to utilize various types of illustrations.
  • Explore this lesson to learn how to effectively use illustrations in sermons by isolating events or experiences, refining principles, and connecting with your audience through human interest accounts.
  • Through this lesson, you learn to effectively use illustrations in preaching to engage listeners, clarify concepts, and draw from various sources, while maintaining relevance, variety, and ethical considerations.
  • Gain insight into the importance of application in preaching, as well as principles and methods for effective application, to create impactful and relevant sermons that resonate with your audience.
  • Through this lesson, you learn to effectively apply biblical teachings to modern life, considering various approaches, overcoming challenges, and utilizing practical tips for context-sensitive and culturally aware application.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into crafting effective transitions in preaching and utilizing the dialogical method for increased audience engagement and message clarity.
  • Gain insight into various sermon presentation methods, their advantages and disadvantages, and learn to choose the right method and improve your preaching skills.
  • Through this lesson, you enhance your preaching skills by mastering vocal techniques and purposeful gestures, ensuring a connection with the audience while continually improving your delivery.
  • Learn the significance of dress and style in preaching and how to balance authenticity, appropriateness, and clarity to effectively communicate your message to your audience.
  • You learn to effectively repurpose old sermons, gaining insight into updating them for relevance, enhancing delivery, and managing time efficiently.
  • By studying this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial connection between the Word and Spirit in preaching and learn to balance them for effective and authentic sermons.
  • Through this lesson, you learn how to apply a Christ-centered, redemptive-historical approach to preaching, addressing common criticisms and enhancing your sermons.
  • Through this lesson, you learn to compose powerful redemptive messages that highlight Christ's work and connect biblical themes to modern audiences.
  • Through this lesson, you gain an understanding of redemptive principles in preaching, learning to identify them in Scripture and effectively apply them to your sermons while navigating potential challenges.
  • By exploring the importance of genre in biblical interpretation and applying redemptive interpretation to various biblical genres, you will gain knowledge and insight into the historical and literary context, redemptive themes and patterns, and contemporary application of different types of genres in the Bible.


Dr. Bryan Chapell explores the unifying principle of grace that binds all Scripture together. He outlines and demonstrates the principles and practice of sermon-crafting and delivery to illuminate the message of grace in each passage, and to submit it to God's Spirit for the transformation of lives through preaching.

Dr. Chapell is making these recorded lectures available for you to access at no charge on BiblicalTraining.org. However, there is no personal interaction with Dr. Chapell in this format. The assignments and activities described are for classes that he teaches in person. We left the descriptions in for your benefit, but we do not offer personal or group interaction to participate in these activities. You can, however, sign up for his new preaching classes at BryanChapell.com/courses.

Dr. Chapell is helped in this course by Zachary W. Eswine, Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program (BSW, Ball State University; MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary; PhD, Regent University). Dr. Eswine served as senior pastor of Grace Church of the Western Reserve in Hudson, Ohio, for six years before joining Covenant Seminary's faculty in 2001. He has served as a campus minister with the Navigators, as a church youth director, and as a chaplain-evangelist in retirement facilities. Since arriving at the Seminary, Dr. Eswine has also served as interim pastor for Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, as advisory pastor for the Chinese Gospel Church of St. Louis, and as interim pastor for Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in St. Louis. He has taught New Testament in Ukraine and served as a short-term missionary in the Caribbean. Dr. Eswine is a gifted preacher and has authored the book Kindled Fire: How the Methods of C. H. Spurgeon Can Help Your Preaching and numerous articles on homiletics. In addition, as an accomplished musician and songwriter, he has recorded three collections of original songs.

Philosophy and Goals of the Course

1. "Prep and Del" is an introduction to the basics of sermon construction and delivery. This is not primarily a course on the theology of preaching, but rather is a practical introduction to the tools, structures, and concepts that help preachers learn to put a sermon together. 

2. Because this course is introductory, certain standards of sermon construction are taught that I hope you will consider "foundational" rather than universal. There is not only one "right way" to preach. However, mastering the methods of this course will help you develop the tools needed for many kinds of future sermons. Students from many backgrounds and preaching traditions have found these tools helpful even as they prepare for other styles in the future. Other methods and styles will be taught and encouraged in future semesters.

3. In Dr. Chapell's seminary class, you would be asked to present some short oral assignments to the class in order to: a) begin integrating the information presented in lectures; b) begin honing your preaching skills; c) and, remove some of the intimidation of your first preaching experience next semester.

(At this time, we do not provide personal interaction to evaluate your progress. We included the suggested assignments and activities to give you direction as you apply the principles you are learning to your own sermon preparation and delivery.)

Recommended Books

Christ-Centered Preaching (text only) 2nd(Second) edition by B. Chapell

Christ-Centered Preaching (text only) 2nd(Second) edition by B. Chapell

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon [Hardcover]Bryan Chapell (Author)

Christ-Centered Preaching (text only) 2nd(Second) edition by B. Chapell
Christ-Centered Sermons: Models of Redemptive Preaching

Christ-Centered Sermons: Models of Redemptive Preaching

Highly regarded preacher and teacher Bryan Chapell shows readers how he has prepared expository sermons according to the principles he developed in his bestselling...

Christ-Centered Sermons: Models of Redemptive Preaching

Dr. Bryan Chapell
What's the Big Idea?
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] This recording is provided courtesy of Covenant Theological Seminary. So that you have that material in front of you. Who or what alone has the power to change hearts? The Holy Spirit? That's right. Can you do the whole thing? The Holy Spirit working by and with the Word in our hearts. Remember? That's the point. It's not the Holy Spirit working independently of His Word, but rather taking the Word and applying it to our hearts. The one who illumined excuse me, the one who inspired the word, also illuminates the page so that our hearts receive it properly. So the Holy Spirit, working by and with the Word in our hearts, is the power by which God transforms men and women eternally, not merely changes behavior, but transforms them. What aspect of preaching is the most persuasive ethos? Pathos or logos? That's right. It's ethos is the most important out from the midterm. You also need to be able to define each of those terms. Is what? That's right. It's the it's the verbal content. But that includes not just the words, but the logic, the content as well. Pathos means what? Emotive content. The emotive content of the message and ethos. Character. What's the keyword? That's right. The perceived character of the speaker. But those are key thoughts. It's important to know, of course, that when you are inadequate in ethos, it's the sufficiency of the word that takes the burden of transforming men and women off of us. But that's not to say that the spirit doesn't use our gifts, so we're instruments. Granted, the Spirit can leapfrog over our weaknesses, but the normal way in which God works is to use the character of the one speaking to confirm the authenticity of the word. God can work past us.

[00:02:03] That takes the burden off of us. At the same time, we have the blessing of being an instrument in God's hands. And for those who are renewed by the Spirit, being able to serve God for His glory is part of our blessing and our joy. Let's pray to God this morning as we praise Him for the joy He works in us. Let's pray together. Heavenly Father, we thank you that your blessings are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. We know that it is your faithfulness that has brought us here and ultimately that will equip us to go from this place with the message of your word. And so we pray that the mercies that you give us would be playing not only to our hearts, but that you would be equipping us through what we do in this class to make those mercies plain to others as well. We would be acknowledging before you in humility that we are only earthen vessels, but with joy, proclaim that you pour your glory out of earth and vessels so that the glory is all yours. Grant Father, your blessing upon us by your spirit, even now making us conform to your purposes and filling us with your glory for the sake of your son and our Savior, we pray in Jesus name. Amen. As we begin today. You see, the goal of this lesson is to understand the essential components of a well constructed salmon. Just to think about what that is, let me reflect from your readings just a bit. Why would the following be a terrible outline for a sermon? Here's my first point. My first point is this I Gapay is one of three Greek words for love. My second main point is this Esau was a Harriman.

[00:04:02] And my third main point expiation refers to the turning aside of the wrath of God. Now. Everything I just said is true. Everything I just said is biblical. Everything I said is in the Bible. Why would it make a terrible sermon? What these three main points lack that is necessary for a well-constructed sermon. Unity. That's right. There is nothing that seems to pull together the components of this stand, though. Well, that's true. There's nothing linking these very disparate ideas of three Greek words for love and Esau being a hairy man. What else is lacking? Purpose why we may begin to think that there is some reason to know about three Greek words for love at the same time, knowing that expiation is the turning away of God's wrath, while true, does not appear to have the same purpose as the earlier point. And because it doesn't have purpose, what does it also lack? Apparent application. It's these three things that are necessary for all good shamanic preparation. Every sermon to use your notes here, every sermon must have unity, purpose and application. Having said these things, we now want to explore them in depth this morning. Unity. Here's the key concept. How many things is a sermon about? One. That's right. You all know it. Sermons may have many facets. They may components them ever subsets of a central idea. But essentially, every sermon is about one thing. Now we need to talk about why that is. What is the need for a sermon at Unity? Well, first reason that we need unity is that sermons excuse me, that preachers need focus. The speaker himself needs focus. Why? Well, first, because the old hymn is true of us. We are prone to wander. Yes, we feel it.

[00:06:10] I mean, there are so many interesting, wonderful, good things to say in the scriptures. And yet we recognize that we've been in sermons and sadly may produce sermons that just seem to wander about and do not have a central purpose that people can grab on to. A second reason that we need unity as preachers is that preachers need focus to funnel the infinite exegetical possibilities. If you were to go over to the library and you would begin to research any particular verse, you're going to be overwhelmed initially because you will see that there are many commentaries dealing with any portion of the Scripture, and that means that books have been written on practically or could be written on practically any verse. There are near limitless exegetical possibilities of what could be said about any portion of Scripture. And while it seems at first constraining, Oh no, I, I just have to concentrate on this one central idea, ultimately you'll find it's very liberating because when you are in that labyrinth of infinite exegetical possibilities, there are so many things that you could say that you just get overwhelmed with the possibilities when you are able to say, I know there are many things I could say that I am going to relate those things that deal with my central purpose. Then actually you feel freed from all the possibilities, all the complexities of the sermon that could be there. You know, John, start in some tongue in cheek way, says, The great torture of every preacher is that he has to throw away 90% of what he knows about any particular message when he preaches the sermon. There is so much any passage contains. But being able to focus is what allows us to move forward and our listeners to move forward with us.

[00:08:05] And of course, that's the other reason that we need harmonic unity, not merely because speakers need focus, but because our listeners need focus as well. Since you've already done this, some of you, you've gone over to the library and you began to just take in what's there. And if you were to go to research virtually any passage of Scripture, you will find in the commentary sections in the library, book after book after book on any passes that you're looking at. And now to say, I've got to preach on this and kind of the evangelical standard, though it varies greatly by state as well as by nation. But, you know, you'd kind of say the average is about a 30 minute message. Well, I'm going to come across material that could be sufficient for 330 minute messages as I would look at virtually any part. So if I've got these infinite exegetical possibilities, how do I know what I'm going to grab? How do I know, out of all the possibilities, what to actually say? And the thing that's going to free you from this infinite labyrinth of possibilities is unity. We will press hard on it this semester and we'll say, yes, all those things are true. But what is this thing you're trying to say in this message? And I would just say initially, it seems so constraining. I could see all of this, but you're just kind of making me focus on this. But after a while you'll find it's actually freeing because when I know what I'm directing things to, I actually have some basis for the choices that I will be making out of all the possibilities that could come. So speakers need unity because I promise to wander, but also it actually helps us with the infinite exegetical opportunities.

[00:09:50] Of course, the second reason for somatic unity, the second need is not only that speakers need focus, but that listeners need focus. One of the things that we'll talk about with some frequency is this almost all of us have been trained quite well on how to write essays for readers. But sermons are not essays. Sermons are for listeners. And there are different ways in which you communicate to a listener versus a reader. There are things that we'll talk about that your sixth grade essay literature teacher would not like. We'll talk about things like one of the most powerful tools that preachers have is repetition. Now, if you were writing an essay, your English teacher would say, Don't say it again. That's redundant. But in an oral medium, we will say, it's not redundant, it's power. A listener doesn't have the ability to back up into the paragraph and read it again. So what we are doing is providing all kinds of cues and signals and means to grasp the material as it's going by. And that includes unity. We have to have some way to coalesce things to let people know that that kind of mad wall of words that's coming at them. What is that all about? And unity is giving us the means of helping find their way, because sermons are for our listeners and not readers. And then just beyond that, all good communication requires the same. All good communication requires a theme. Even the novel that's many, many pages long somewhere has its theme, what it's basically about. Certainly your essay would reflect that, and we would say the temptation for all of us as preachers is to think, I have so many good things to say and it's all important.

[00:11:46] It's all true, and just to kind of throw it at people. But back to the analogy that was in your reading, it's so much easier to catch a baseball than a handful of sand. They may weigh about the same equal gravity, but if you don't pull it together, it's very hard to grasp. In fact, what we know as a rule of communication is if the preacher does not supply unity, who will? The listener will. He is required somehow to pull the information together. If I were just kind of speaking about subjects not spiritual, but just generally telling you about a movie I saw last week, I would find some way not to tell you the whole plot and all the details. I would say, you know, it was a boy meets girl. It was a cops and robbers. It was a western. I would have some way of pulling it together before I expected you to deal with all the details. And that's what preaching is about, too. As we prepare sermons, recognizing we have to have unity for our sake and the listeners sake. It is talk about the nature of harmonic unity. What what goes into making it, what it should be. You only know one key idea, and it's filling in your blanks here in expository preaching. The meaning of the passage is the message of the sermon. In expository preaching, the meaning of the passage is the message of the sermon. We want what God says to be what we say. So part of unity is saying, what's the big idea of the passage? What's it dealing with? Because when I identify that, that's also going to be the big idea of the message if it's reflecting what's in the text.

[00:13:32] So the Bible says what God says. I want to say what the Bible says. I need to make sure that this thing is my thing. The meaning of the passage is the message of the sermon. Now, remember two The meaning of the passage that becomes the message of the sermon is the big idea. Now, some of this is just taxonomy and terminology. In preaching circles, that word big idea is mentioned over and over and over again. What's the big idea? And by that, we're looking for the unifying theme of the passage that is also reflected in the message. What's the unifying concept of the sermon? The originator of that terminology, as simple as it sounds, is a man named Hadden Robinson, who still teaches at Gordon Conwell Seminary, which, by the way, as soon as I leave you today, I'm heading to Gordon Conwell Seminary to lecture in his classes. And that's a kind of the privilege that we've been friends a long time, and so we're able to do that. But here's Hayden Robinson, who's kind of the the granddaddy of preachers this day and the teaching of preaching. He says that this way you determine the big idea by asking this you don't have to get all those down, but just listen to the concept here. You determine the big idea by asking, what's the purpose of the biblical writer here? What is he trying to communicate? What is his name? What's his idea? What's his concept? This leads us always to original intent. Now, that's the key terminology. The big idea is seeking to get us to the original intent of God and the author of the text. My goal is not, I said Jesus to bring from my experience what the text means.

[00:15:30] It's to have God speak to me through the text. What was the original intent of the author? Now you recognize that so much of what you do in seminary exegesis, New Testament studies, Old Testament studies, history, all of that is saying, What did the writer mean to say? Because that's what I want to say. If I'm being fair to his intent and therefore to what God is intending to say, the definition therefore, is this In expository preaching, unity occurs when the elements are about passage. Now, new terminology again or expository unit. What politicians talk about expository unit more than just passage are the verses and chapter divisions in the Bible inspired that. Luke write those down? No, not at all. Sometimes you will find, of course, that the expository unit has to cross over what to Our English translations appear to be the passage. This paragraph. Even the verse divisions were not inspired. They were not included originally in the text. So for us to come with our understanding and say, Do I need to cross over a verse, do I need to cross over a chapter? In fact, you will discover at times that the expository unit, what needs to be preached on may run over many chapters. If if you don't know what happens in Jobe 4242 it is very difficult to explain what happens in Jobe one end to. The expository unit is trying to say what the God mean to say and what chunk of Scripture. Sometimes very little, sometimes quite large, will be needed to get the big idea. To actually, within context, say it correctly. So in expository preaching, unity occurs when the elements of a passage or expository unit are legitimately shown to support a single major idea.

[00:17:36] That is the theme of a sermon. Now, Head Robinson says that this way the idea of a sermon is a subject and it's compliments. A subject, and it complements sometimes the notion of the one big idea of a message gets people a little frightened because, I mean, I just have to talk about this one thing over and over and over again for 30 minutes. No, you talk about that one thing in terms of its development. There may be many facets, many subsets, but it's all about one thing. Now, you'll join the last 20 years of harmonic students. Now, this. This is a sermon. Okay. The unifying concept is the seat of this stool. It's. It's all about one thing. So the big idea is the subject, and it's complements the things that support it. We get in danger in preaching when we have a subject and the support sits over here somewhere or it doesn't. The subject of the main point may not appear to support the subject of the sermon at all. So we want to make sure in unity that we have a good idea and it's complements. That is, all the major parts of the sermon complement the main idea. Now, what happens if I have to say something? Victory to the text and it does sit over here. I recognize I've got the wrong seat. I do not yet have a unifying concept that deals appropriately with the subjects of the text. So I may have said this touch. This text was about God's guidance, but the more I began to study, I find, you know, there's things in here that really don't reflect much about guidance, that does not appear to be what Paul's main idea was. So I'll have to change.

[00:19:30] What I said was the big idea as I'm preparing this message, because it does not adequately reflect the material in the text. And my goal was to say what the tech says. So one of the test not only of whether a sermon has unity, but whether it has truth. Is whether the big idea can be supported by the major components of the text. So I'm testing myself. The my support points support what I say is the main idea. Do those support points adequately cover what the text is talking about? A sermon is about how many things. Sermon is about one thing. That's the key concept of systematic unity. If you say, What's the process by which we obtain unity, it's not a mystery. It's not that hard. We read and digest the passage to determine what's the big idea of the writer first thing. What's the big idea of the writer? I read and digest the passage to determine what is we. By the way, here, it's that little article that's critical. What is the big idea of the writer? Now, at the end of that phrase, you want to put a big or or the what themes in the passage? What themes in the passage have sufficient material? What themes in the passage have sufficient material to develop the main theme of a sermon? What themes in the passage have sufficient material to develop the main theme of a sermon? Now, believe it or not, I just lead you into one of the major debates in the history of Homologs. Do you recognize the debate? The question is this Can a minor theme of a passage be the major theme of a message? Can a minor theme of a passage the a major theme of a message.

[00:21:40] Now, there are certainly those in the history of Hamlet who will say no. But I want you to think about it for a little bit in this way. If you were looking at Luke 15, you would recognize there are a series of parables there relating to lawlessness, right? There is lost sheep, lost coin lost son. I am going to guess that sometime. In most of your spiritual experiences, you have heard a sermon on your assurance of God's love. Because God is like the Father who received again, the Prodigal Son. And if you have sin in your life, if you have been prodigal, you can still have the assurance of God's love because of the nature of that father toward his son. Ever heard such a sermon? Would you say that Sherman came out of that text? Would you say it's wrong? Most of you say not. But if you said, is the purpose that big idea of the total passage of Luke 15 through a sure Chronicles of God's love, is that basically what that passage is about to assure prodigal sons of God's love? Is that what that's about? No. Who is the passage actually directed to? Who is listening in and what are they concerned about? As Jesus tells these three parables of loss is to remember what just preceded the parables of lawlessness. What are the Pharisees doing? They're upset. Who is Jesus eating with? The publicans and the prostitutes. And what are they saying? How can you deal with people like this? If you were really a representative of God. You would know that you're not to deal with people like this. Now Jesus tells parables of lawlessness, and for those who are sinners, there's the wonderful assurance of how the father deals with his younger son.

[00:23:35] But who is really the point of the parable? It's not the younger son. Who is it? It's the older son. The older brother. Because what's the upset about? The father is receiving centers. They a center, the prodigal. And what Jesus is really telling the account for is to remind the Pharisees that they are being like the elder brother who are upset that God is gracious. Now, is that an appropriate message for the sermon that you shouldn't be upset that God is gracious toward senders? Is that an appropriate message? But you also said it was appropriate, Most of you, when I said this is appropriate to talk about God, the father receiving centers. What did you do? You recognize that while there was a major overarching theme, the wrongness of being upset with God's grace, you also recognized that there were some themes that might have sufficient content for a sermon like God is Gracious toward Sinners. Like me, like you, I would recognize. I think you do, too, if you actually come to the conclusion that only the big idea of any passage, not the minor themes, is sufficient for a sermon. What will you be required to preach on every time? It's hard to tell. You might have to do a whole chapter every time. You might have to do the whole book every time. Because after all, the chapters are just minor points of the bigger book. By the way, the books are just minor points of the whole message of scripture. So where we're going is this. It's that word sufficient. Minor themes. Minor themes also can be the big idea of a sermon. If there is sufficient material now, this becomes a judgment call, right? Is there sufficient material in this passage to support what you're saying? And particularly for an expositor who's is not going to be importing from other places, but saying, I'm going to tell you what this text means? You're saying within this text, is there sufficient material to say God is gracious towards centers? Is this sufficient material to say you should tithe? Because after all, the father provided things for the son here.

[00:26:08] Well, you say, well, that may be a minor theme in there, but there's not sufficient material to develop the point exegetical not from this passage. So is there sufficient material to support what I say is going to be the main theme of the sermon. Now, if you've done that, those two ideas of unity, identifying what's the big idea of the writer, what themes in the passage have sufficient material to develop the main theme of the sermon? The second major thing we do for unity is melt down the supporting ideas into a proposition. Another key term We knock down the supporting ideas into a proposition. A proposition in the history of preaching is one crystal clear statement of the big idea. One crystal clear statement of the big idea of the to use your essay language. The theme of the message. We're saying, is there sufficient material here to support what I say is the theme and that is the proposition, as I stated. Is it apparent to me after I've studied and hopefully to the listeners, after they heard you that there was sufficient material in the passage to support that proposition for the message, the mark of success in unity, in developing that proposition is what's the blank going to be there? The what test the 3 a.m. test. The 3 a.m. test. Now, even you smile as you say it, and I meant for you to do that. But the goal is this, you know, to say if your if your spouse or roommate were to bump you out of bed at 3 a.m. in the morning and were to say, Preacher, what's the sermon about? It ought to be a rather crisp, clear statement because at 3 a.m. you're not going to think in some 111 and Psalm 112, the classic structure of the Hebrew enables the listener to understand that God is not only communicating his nature, but showing how they are transfer demands so that his nature is part of their nature and this is part of his atoning redemptive process.

[00:28:16] After way too long, God transfers his nature to us. Same thing. Now I'm going to prove it, establish it, develop all that within the message. But a proposition is trying to have one crystal clear statement of what the message is united around. Unity is striving for these things. Unity is striving for a single thrust versus multiple thoughts. Unity is striving for a single thrust versus multiple thoughts. One sermon really cannot be about the cause of Absalom's sin. The cure for alcohol addiction. And the case for infant baptism. Now notice the great alliteration. It's still way too broad, right, for it to be unified about anything. Homosexuals have kind of a a cute way of reminding us how we're going to do this. Remember this little acrostic, C.A. i t k t m t t m t. But it stands for The main thing is to keep the main thing. The main thing. The main thing is to keep the main thing. The main thing. And unity, harmonic unity in a message is striving very hard for that ethic. The main thing is to keep the main thing. The main thing. Your greatest threat is your knowledge of the passage. You want us so much. John Scott, in a book that you're going to read next semester says the greatest torture of any preacher is throwing away 90% of what he knows about a passage to preach on it. If you know people who listen to us in local churches, as you get out and start preaching, they kind of smile when they talk about the seminary sermon. What do they mean? They included everything they ever heard in a systematic class and said it as fast as they could get it all in. Instead of recognizing I've only got this much time, but God's people have this week, next week, next week, and next week.

[00:30:32] This week we're going to talk about this. We're going to deal with this theme that the Scriptures are addressing sufficiently that they see this is what this passage is about and it's too much material. I used to deal with a smaller bite of the passage. What's the purpose of this mainframe? What are we trying to get to when we talk about the big idea that the passage is about? We're trying to get to a purpose that I will identify as the fallen condition focus. When we identify that big idea and we say, Why is it here? We don't really have to guess why it's here. The scripture itself is telling us the purpose of every passage. If evangelicals would not make John 316 their only motto, first we would say the other major motto verse of evangelicals is second Timothy 316, second, Timothy 316 and 17. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction. Righteousness that the man of God might be. Here comes the really hard word that the man of God might be perfect. Thoroughly furnished until all good works. Now it's that work perfect that we stumble over. It's actually the Greek word aureus, which means complete. All scripture is given for these various purposes doctrine, truth, correction, and righteousness to complete us. Now, if Scripture is given to complete us, what does that necessarily say about us? We are what we are incomplete. Apart from what God is providing, we are incomplete. We are fallen creatures. We have holes in us that the Scripture is designing to fill by telling us of the work of God, identifying falseness, what's what's wrong? What hollow tissues and Lutheran traditions called the burden of the text? What is wrong that God must be addressing with his redemptive work in order for us to be whole or complete before him again, in your notes, our solemn nature requires scriptures completion and all Scripture has this purpose of completing us.

[00:33:05] Thus, every passage has a fallen condition. Focus what I'll simply call the SCAF from time to time. The f, c f. The purpose of the text is not just to give you information for the text for the test tomorrow. You know there's no test tomorrow. The goal of the passage is not so that you will go home and have more knowledge alone. The purpose of the text is to deal with us as fallen creatures in our fallen condition. With the knowledge of what God can do about that. So there is foreignness being addressed. A foreign condition is the purpose that's beckoning behind the words. It's the purpose that's even beckoning behind the information. It's the answer to the why question. Okay, I see what's here. Why is it here? Why did the Holy Spirit? Require a biblical writer to write this down. If it's not just that, we'll be able to answer right questions on a test. What is the purpose? What is the burden of the text? Let me tell you why that's so important, and I hope you feel a little bit the weight of it right now. When you come to seminary, you have the wonderful privilege and begin to see the scriptures within greater detail and with more knowledge through more tools that you are provided than virtually anyone else in the culture. And that that is a great gift, that is a wonderful privilege. But if you're not careful, you can get caught into just displaying the joy of your privilege instead of the reason you have been given it. When people look for the common denominators of great preaching, that's a difficult thing to do. If you were to go to the library and you to look at those multiple volumes of 20 centuries of great preaching, and you would say what is common among all of these sermons, I will tell you, you will struggle to find a common denominator.

[00:35:11] They are so different given the era. It could be that type of preaching that reflects ancient Greek rhetoric, highly ornate, very doctrinal oriented, not much dealing with the text explicitly. It might be Puritan preaching. Again, dealing with the text. But typically this way, getting a key verse, getting a thought out of it, and then going to many different passages to develop the doctrine that's in that text or from the time of John Broaddus, expository preaching as we know it today, which is saying look at the text and explain what it means on the basis of the biblical writer who wrote it. Not going to all those other different places until you have proven the ideas here first. So you will find ornate preaching, Puritan preaching, expository preaching, many different kinds of preacher was the common denominator here a great preaching. How did they all get in this? Who made the choice and why? The common denominator of all great preaching is that it gives hope. Not that it gives information. All preaching gives information to some extent. The common denominator of all great preaching is it uses the information in the text to give. Hope. Why are we dealing with foreignness? So that I will recognize there is no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man. What you're struggling with the people in the Bible were struggling with and God gave them aid. So I am telling you what they are struggling with, what the burden of the text was. So when you struggle with something also you will know how to deal with it with the divine solution that God is providing here. Romans 15 four in your notes says that this way everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.

[00:37:10] Now there's information was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope. At the bottom of that page where you've got a little bit of space. I want you to write down the definition of the FCF because it's going to become very critical for what we're doing. So as you think about the definition of the FCF, this becomes important. I will guarantee you it will be on the midterm. The FCF is the mutual human condition. The FCF is the mutual human condition. That contemporary believers. That's us. The mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those. Four or by whom the text was written. The SDF is the mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with us for or by whom the text was written that requires the grace of the passage. That requires the grace of the passage. To manifest God's glory in his people. To manifest God's glory in his people. I'll do it all. The SCA is the mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those four or by whom the text was written. That requires the grace of the passage. To manifest God's glory in his people. What are we doing? We are starting the message, thinking of it redemptive by saying, as I look at this text, what is the burden of the text and what is the hope of God? Why is it here? If I don't ask that question, I will get into sermons that are merely lectures on topics. I am going to talk to you today about justification by faith alone. Well, that's very interesting. And I can tell you all the places in Scripture, the justification was by faith alone, how God expressed it and what the words histamines and all those kinds of things, that great information.

[00:39:39] Why do I need to hear that? Why do the mass of people, even in our churches, base their justification on their sanctification? Am I okay with God? How am I doing today? Instead of faking what he has done. What's the burden of the text? What becomes the problem if I think I'm okay with God based on how I am doing? Then honesty will always take me to an understanding that I have no assurance before God. Why did the Holy Spirit write this down? What was the burden of the text? Why did it have to be there? What now is the hope that God is providing? The SCAF is taking us beyond the mere factual questions to the redemptive answers by saying, Here's the problem, that's human. You got holes in you, by the way. You can't fix it. God can. So by dealing with following us through following us. I'm forced to deal with the divine solution. The implications of the FCF applications of the FCF. Number one, We should never press on a text. We should never press on a text until we have determined why the Holy Spirit put it there. We should never preach on a text until we determine why the Holy Spirit put it there. The great temptation was to preach on what you know, the facts rather than going beyond that to say, Why are they here? So we're going to say until I've gone onto the why question, I'm not ready to preach. And that's number two, until we have determined and FCF until we have determined and FCF of a text. We do not know what it's about until we determine and FCA of a text. We do not know what it's about. Even if we know many true facts about it.

[00:41:42] Even if we know many true facts about it, if we can't answer the question, we don't really know what it's about. Now you have to write all this down. But I'll just tell you kind of the the pastoral way of approaching this and we'll talk about it more as we move through both this course and others. You know, one very good way to find out if you're really dealing with the burden of the text is after you determine what the text is about. Oh, this is about justification by faith alone. This is about God, somebody he knows what's going to happen tomorrow. After the ask, I asked you to answer those questions of what the text is about. Then I will encourage you to go in through the Hu door. Sounds like Dr. Seuss. I know. They went through the house door. All right. God knows tomorrow. That's very interesting. Who needs to hear that? Now you're pestering. Now you're not lecturing only you're saying what's the burden of the text? Who think pastorally for a moment. Who needs to know that God knows tomorrow? Any of you struggling to find a job right now? Any of, you know, young people who are still worried about their college choice for next year. They have no idea who for whom Is it important to know that God knows the one who loves you and gave his son for you? He knows tomorrow. Who needs to hear that? When you think of the WHO question, you'll get to the why. Answer Why is this here? To deal with people like me. So I look at the text and say, What's its burden but enables me truly to preach as God intended. How do I determine the SCA? How do I determine the FCF? Here's a three step process that's in your reading.

[00:43:43] So if you don't get it all down, that's fine. But I think you'll you'll kind of fairly readily understand the components, the the process of determining the FCF. This first ask what does the text say? That's kind of a bare information question. What does the text say? In classic hand Robinson language, it's what's the big idea here? What's the text say? What's the big idea? Now, that is a very important step. What's this text say? What's going on here that's necessary? Important. Cause all your knowledge and skills and the tools that you're being given here at seminary. What does the text say? For me, the sadness is I think that many, many preachers in this culture end their sermon preparation when they have ended the answer to that question. What does this tech say? I'll give you the information. And because I was being true and faithful and executing the text, I think I have preached, I'm going to keep pressing you on and say, Why did you sit down in the pew to listen to that man just so that you would get more facts? What were you really expecting a second thing to do to determine the FCF is this. Then I always say, What does the text say? But what concerns or concerns did the text address? What concern or concern did the text address? Now, looking at its context, what was going on that Philippi that Paul wrote that I plead with Yoda and sent the kid to be at peace. Was it? So he would have us be able to pronounce Yoda and sincerely sometime in the future? No, no, no. What? Why did he write that? What was going on then? That Paul needed to write? What was that burden of that time? Okay, so what percent of concerns require the writing of the text in its context? And then number three, what I think takes a lecture into being a sermon is answering the question, What do we share in common with what do we share in common with those four or about whom it was written? Or the one by whom it was written.

[00:46:02] When David says My tears have been my drink all the night long. He's the one who wrote that text. Anybody ever cry in the night? David did. He's like me in some way. So I don't just think he was going through a hard time. How are we like him? Why did the Spirit record his experience for me? How are we like him? I hope you're getting the big hint here. The hint is this the mutual condition thing that we talked about in the AFC? If that mutual condition finding out what's going on, the text, how it's like my condition is the key to the most powerful and poignant preaching, identifying mutual condition, not just saying describing the text. Here's what happened to Israel. Here's what David did. You know, all important, all true. But how is that person, that group of people, the one who wrote that, the one about them, it was written. How are they like me? What mutual condition do we share that I now know that God treated them as God. Rescue them so He can redeem, rescue or help me. Now, the key here, it's not just that the mutual condition is what makes powerful preaching, but the more particular you make, the SCAF typically the more powerful the sermon. This is, again, a difference between an essay and a sermon. In an essay, you typically write large principle. Today I'm going to talk about the problem with sin in the world. Oh, great. What does that have to do with me? Typically, the more personal and particular you make the FCA, the more powerful is the sermon. Today we are going to talk of how you can be faithful when your boss is a sinner. Anybody in the scriptures has to be faithful, even though their superiors were pagan.

[00:48:19] Oh, that subject addressed in numerous places. So I become much more particular about what's the FCF in order to deal with people in general. Simple rubric of preaching. If you try to preach to everyone, to whom do you really speak? No. One. If you try to preach to everyone, all universal principle for all people in all places you actually speak to, no one is to abstract. But if you will speak to just one. To whom do you speak? Everyone. There is no temptation taking you, but such as is common to man. If you actually will deal with an individual facing a common human dilemma. Everyone listening. If I am talking about an aging person in a nursing home who is not visited anymore by her family or friends but has found fellowship with God, the whole congregation, none of them or people in nursing homes. But do any of them know loneliness? Do any of them know what it feels like to be abandoned by family and friends and to need to find God as the one who is your friend? If you speak of one clearly who has a human condition, a fall in this, everybody knows exactly what you're talking about and they will listen in because you have become pastoral in your particular. And not just lecturing about universals. Now, there's a balance here, right? Because that mutual human condition, you have to have some understanding of the human condition and you're actually personifying it when you become particular. But that mutual human condition, you have to have the pastoral, as they say. It does apply to enough people. But I'm going to talk about it in particular terms. Yes. Okay, Mary. Yes. I'm going to summarize just for the tape here.

[00:50:15] Is it is it And I really say that when we preach, we should actually think of people in the congregation who are going through situations or conditions that this text would be applicable to and actually think of those very people. So that as I'm working on a man who really be good for Mary and Sudhir, this summarized correctly, and the answer is I am definitely saying that that if we are thinking only in abstraction now, when I'm through, we're way down the road a few weeks here. Okay. But no, that's great question. So let me just tell you where we're going to go. My goal when I am. Pastoring, as I preach, is to actually think going through the who or who needs to hear this and to actually even the words I choose the constructs to actually prepare to minister to these people that God has put in my context, not people somewhere else to these people. So I am going to think of these people in their actual contexts, but I will never name them. Okay. I will speak about their situations and I will not identify them. Okay. So I may talk. If you've had this happen, you're in a congregation and let's say it's a congregation that has many, many college students in it. So I will purposely, as I am doing application, talk about some of the temptations that I know are on college campuses. Now, if I were in a rural farm district made of mostly older people, I am not going to be talking about college temptations to this group of people. I'm going to be talking about the fact of the economy destroying the farm families and young people having to move away and then wondering if they're even going to be here next year.

[00:51:59] And God's assurance to them and how they overcoming the temptation of There's no hope because I don't know what's going to happen, deals with people in a rural setting versus college young people. There's no reason to resist because God doesn't know what I'm doing. What God knows is still the subject, but I am definitely going to deal with that subject. In terms of the following the principle, the universal principle, you're pressing on good things here, the universal principle. We will apply to specific situations that God has put in front of us, but I will not be able to do that. Well, if I haven't said what's the specific situation that here in the text? First, what was David dealing with? What were the principles of his situation that God's redeeming work is dealing with? And the sermon is most apt to deal with the text when even the applications that I'm giving are most close to the situation of the text. The little preaching rubric you apply, what you explain. So what you explain the text is about is what you'll apply when people really get upset with you is when you begin to apply what you haven't explained. Or especially you haven't proven the tech says that's when you really get in trouble. Yes. Yes, the problem of the preacher trying to solve his own personal problems when he's preaching from the pulpit. It's a balance, isn't it? Sometimes the sermons that are most powerful are when you are preaching to yourself that you know your struggles and you know that you have to deal with this. But if the if the pulpit becomes the hobbyhorse, I'm just always dealing with me and my concerns and all of that, two things begin to happen.

[00:53:43] One, you rob people, the whole council of God, you're just dealing with you rather than the three subjects of the text. This is, by the way, one of the reasons we do consecutive preaching, moving through a book. So I'm dealing with more themes than just come to my mind. The other thing that can happen if the preacher too frequently only deals with his problems is that people stop thinking the text applies to them. They actually thinking he's doing self therapy in the pulpit. He's talking on that subject again. It's just what he's struggling with. And you actually end up removing the scriptures from the people. This is always a balance. Over and over again, we'll talk about pastoral prudence. On the other hand, if the preacher never identifies with what people are struggling with the way others have written. If the preacher is the only one in the congregation who does not recognize there's a storm outside. Then again, the preacher is not able to minister. So there is redemptive transparency. I have to from time to time say we may and you we struggle with this. And God helps us all. Remember, all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned each to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. So even the Prophet is willing to be transparent at times. But if the pulpit becomes what I think of as a sympathy bench, I'll just feel sorry for me. You know, I'm just really struggling. You know, and then you can say that's actually not redemptive transparency. That's selfish transparency. We get to a lot of this as we go. Let's just kind of get going today, because you all are right on the good questions, but I need to make sure just one more thing about the FCF is clear to you in that portion of your notes.

[00:55:31] I asked for examples of the FCF. Remember? I said it's the natural human condition that we share with. Those are the text, and I use that word burden a lot. So I hope you recognize that the FCF is always something that's wrong. It's always something that's negative, it's something that's wrong. But I want you to hear this. It is not always a sin. It is not always a sin. If I were to say to you what a legitimate subject that a sermon can address, can a sermon address the subject of dishonesty? Sure. Address the subject of unfaithfulness. Sure. Can address the subject of rebellion. Sure. The common denominator of all these things are their sins. Can a sermon address the subject of grief? Is grief always a sin? No. What is it? It's a consequence of being a fallen creature in a fallen world. That's why it's not the skin condition Focus. It's the fallen condition. Focus. Sermons can certainly deal with sins. And, you know, many, many times should, but not always. Sometimes people's hurting and brokenness, which has to do with Hurricane Ivan and not somebody individual. Sin is a legitimate subject of a sermon. Are there going to be pastors with heavy pastoral, biblical work to do in Florida in the next few weeks? You know, and to say something like you're sinners is not going to be the best subject for those sermons. To say it seems hopeless. But God is here and he is sovereign. He's still on the throne. And you can have faith in him. So SCAF does not hand means them but does not always mean. And it's important that you recognize that as well. Now, when the Bible and the sermon is identifying and SCAF a burden of the text, we have to ask the question why is it doing that? Why is the message? Why is the passage identifying something wrong? And the answer is, of course, so that we will apply the truth of the Scripture to that problem.

[00:57:52] And this, of course, is called application. Dr. Rayburn, who, as I mentioned, she was the founding president here from this course for many years. His portrait is still outside in the lobby here. And I think a number of you have kind of walked by and seen it already. Dr. Rayburn had been an Air Force colonel. And even as a seminary president, he kind of kept that varying, you know, and that demeanor, you know, just somebody that we all respected and feared a little bit. And it and here he used it because he loved us and in very remarkable ways at times. And it was it was kind of at this point that he would do this. He would say, gentleman, little gruff, you know, And he said, I don't care where you go as a preacher. I don't care how big the church. I don't care how well they say you've preached. Wherever you go in the world, wherever you preach. At the end of your sermon, I want you to see me sitting on the back row. I have a frown on my face. My arms are crossed. And as you are leaving the sanctuary after your wonderful sermon, I have a question for you. So what? So what? Oh, so the Israelites went into the Promised Land. So what? So Paul was shipwrecked. So what? What's the driving at? What's this have to do with me? Also information made, even dealing with problems. But what does this have to do with me? When we are preaching, we are not merely giving information. We are preaching for transformation. The construction of this is numerous. Again, going back to that makeover, as it were, a second Timothy 316 and 17, all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable.

[01:00:01] It's got a purpose for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, righteousness that the man of God might be fairly furnished and do all good works. There is a reason that the doctrine reproof correction are being given it so that we would live according to the doctrine. Reproof, Correction, Instruction. There is application expected as Presbyterians, you know, it's often very hard to get a get a rise out of a congregation. But even Presbyterians have an inverse, you know that for Presbyterians. The aim in verse is Titus two one You can almost always get an amen out of Presbyterians with us one. You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Amen. So say Presbyterians believe that, you know, you must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. How does it continue? What is in accord with sound doctrine that Titus is being told he must teach? Teach the older man to be temperate, worthy of respect. Self-controlled sound. That sound in faith. Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanders or they the whine when they can find the younger women to love their husbands, to show, to be self-controlled and pure, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. What is in accord with sound doctrine that he must teach? How people are to live in accord with sound doctrine application. It's even the pattern of the epistles. You know this, right? All the epistles of the Apostle Paul are going to begin with a salutation, with some greeting. Then there's going to be a lot of doctoral instruction. Now, how are the letters going to end? Practical application. There are implications of what you know, and he is telling Titus and it will occur other places will see in the future.

[01:01:59] This you must teach for a purpose of people knowing how to live. That is application the implications for us. Simply this preaching is to transform as well as inform. Preaching is to transform as well as inform the father of expository preaching. As we know it. John brought us who is dealing with the liberalism that was coming into the church and this culture from Europe when he was saying we must make sure that we are saying what the Bible says, the father of expository preaching when he said so what is the main thing to be done in preaching? This is going to surprise you because you would think that the father of expository preaching would say the main thing to be done is to explain the text. He didn't. Guess what the father of expository preaching said is the main thing to be done. He said It is application. Because he recognize the temptation is simply to become dispensers of information and forget what the purpose of the text is. It is to bring the power of God into the lives of God's people so they will live according to His ways. Therefore, preaching will always include the second preaching implication. Preaching will always include two things. What is true? And what to do about it. It's not just one or the other. Preaching that is just what is true is abstraction. Preaching That is just what you should do is arrogance. Preaching. That is what is true and what to do about it. Is ministry. What is true and what to do about it. What we're doing with that FCF earlier is we're creating this longing for the word remember as the deer pants for water. So my soul thirst for you. The SCAF is building that so that we can then say, and here's what now God has caused you to thirst for his will, word and ways.

[01:04:04] What are the consequences of not doing application? A message is pre sermon pre pre sermon until its ideas and components are applied to an SCA. That is, you can say many true things in a pre sermon like God is good. God is loving God his kind God is patient. All good information but it's not a sermon until you have applied those aspects to an SCA, to someone who is fearing me to know that God is good, loving, kind patient. When you take the truth and you apply it to that mutual human condition. Now you have a sermon. Pre sermons only describe the text. Pre sermons only describe the text. Simon's apply the text to an FCF sermons. Apply the text to an FCF. Some years ago, there was a professor who came about this time of the year to lecture for us. He was an expert in his typology, the archeology of the Hittites, and we listened with rapt attention for about three days of that lecture and then some student there to ask at the end of those lectures, What do these Hittites have to do with Hittites of the Bible? And he said. Oh, these are the hit types of the Bible. And we all said. But what we've been saying here all this time is this has nothing to do with us. Now, we didn't just leave perplexed. We left mad. If all you do is dispense information, your people will not leave with a kind of appreciative. Oh, that was interesting. They will be hurt and mad. I came to be ministered to. Why didn't you apply this to my life? We are not ministers of information alone. We are ministers of transformation. We are speaking the Word of God to give hope to God's people in their fallen condition.

[01:06:21] And when we approach the Scriptures that way, God not only wonderfully blesses, He wonderfully heals his people through the ministry He gives us. We'll talk about a lot of the specifics as we go of how we do these things. But these are the early things. Every sermon to be a sermon requires unity, purpose and application. See you next time.