Preaching - Lesson 13

Classification of Messages

In this lesson, you will learn about the importance and benefits of classifying sermons into three main types: topical, textual, and expository. You will gain insights into developing each type of sermon, from selecting a topic or text to conducting research and analysis, organizing content, and applying the message to the audience. By understanding these classifications and their development process, you will become more effective in your preaching and better equipped to connect with your listeners.

Bryan Chapell
Lesson 13
Watching Now
Classification of Messages

I. The Importance of Sermon Classification

A. Introduction

B. Purpose and Benefits of Classification

II. Types of Sermon Classification

A. Topical

B. Textual

C. Expository

III. Development of Each Classification

A. Topical Sermons

1. Selecting a Topic

2. Research and Organization

3. Application and Illustration

B. Textual Sermons

1. Selecting a Text

2. Analysis and Interpretation

3. Development and Application

C. Expository Sermons

1. Selecting a Passage

2. Exegesis and Context

3. Structure and Application

  • 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



Classification of Messages

Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] This recording is provided courtesy of Covenant Theological Seminary. For a week from today. What I want to do right now, because we've talked about technical things for a while and candidly, everybody understands what conclusions are. It's really a matter of just doing them right. This isn't highly technical. This is more like the English essays that you wrote. It's just making sure that we have that exhortation in there and learning to speak with some pathos. But the conclusions are not going to be hard for us. So we've talked about some technical things for a while now, and I kind of went back away and think maybe philosophically with you for a little bit and ask you to go on to lecture 11 and your notebooks, go on to lecture 11 and just think about some things with me for a while about what our preaching involves and how it can help people. If you were to to think of the biblical images for what a preacher is and what a preacher does, what images do come to mind? If you think, what is a preacher biblically? What are some images that come to mind in the Bible? Shepard. Watchmen. Farmer going out to his field. So. Say or operator. You certainly have the Herald notion that one of they Herald Herald and giving out the good news or giving out the warning the watchman notion any. His words are to be enabling others to do the work of ministry. So any quicker. Michael, captain of the Army. Captain of an army. So one in charge of others. Teacher. Servant. How about Ambassador? We are. What for? Christ is no God. We're making his appeals. We are ambassadors for Christ as the God. We're making His appeal through us.

[00:01:57] There are other quite different ones. Tahrir of a live coal. One who sets fires. That's interesting. One who eats a scroll. One who eats a scroll. By the way, what's it make your stomach feel like after you eat it? Do you remember Marky Grimace? Which is appropriate. Vitter. That's right. Something to eat that that is taken in and actually is bitter to you because in that particular case, for the prophet, it was a message of judgment that had to be given to God's people. But you eat the scroll so that you will say what has to be said, even though it is bitter to your own stomach. Now, that's a very interesting picture. Another is simply of a stick. Like Moses had Let it Moses stick, do it. Carry forward the authority of God and the power of God by the staff that Moses took. It represented the authority of God in his hand, and it would occasionally speak for, in a way, by what it was representing, what Moses needed to say, it represented authority. Now, we could multiply these things several times, but I want you to think about these things because of the questions that are in the beginning of lecture 11, we should begin to see how diversified is the biblical perception of preaching and then see how sermons may vary so that we can be well-equipped for every preaching task. I can remember when I was a student here and Dr. Leon Harris, who was the now the emeritus professor of Old Testament, the time in chapel when he told us that his wife was dying of cancer. And he came and he said to us in his sermon. Whatever my God ordains is right. And I'll never forget the way he said it.

[00:04:04] It was so tender and powerful at the same moment. It was appropriate, I think, both for his situation and for the content of what he was saying. Some of you know the name Donald Gray Barnhouse, longtime pastor of 10th Presbyterian in Philadelphia. I listened to a sermon that he once preached against liberalism, and this was a particular line in there. He says this They obscure the vast truth of the scripture with their scrawny minds and their silly, finite thought, unaware of their pride. Well, that wasn't very tender. Did he have a right to speak that way? I would say he did. I can remember a famous Scottish preacher named Martin Allen, and I will always remember the end of his sermon where he simply said what I want you to know more than anything else. He said it was Scotch that I can't now imitate the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man, a bailiff, much. And it was it was just this electricity of how he said it. It wasn't tender. It wasn't bombastic or bold. But it seemed so appropriate for what he was saying. I want you to think about that appropriate language as you look at the back of Lecture 11 and look at the various words in Scripture that are used for preaching. What are the words that are associated with preaching throughout the scriptures? You see that he Old Testament terms first. Some of these we've already looked at Paresh Sarkar. Then various verbs to talk about what we're doing when we preach. This is at the end of lecture 11, the end of lecture 11 parameters to distinguish or specify, possibly even to translate in that Nehemiah passage cycle to give the sense for meeting, then the cost to understand is separate out for use from the application implication of been separate out for use.

[00:06:15] But that is somewhat different than the nouns that are used, which often reflect the manner in which the message is being presented. Nabi conveys the idea of one who pours forth or announces under divine input. I mean, you get the idea of you heard the idea of somebody pouring out the sermon, pouring out the truth, who's the one who glows or grows warm? The preacher really warmed to his message today. Right. One who sees particularly the special insight caller, a caller, one who calls out and again, the verbs that begin to occur again called bizarre and thought would become various forms of expression to call out the saw, to announce the glad tidings. What's going to be the equivalent New Testament word to announce glad tidings. Evangelism. That's right. Yuan Golazo very similar to Bazaar on a top, which simply means to drip. There's an interesting concept of what preaching might be to drip words on people. Well, the New Testament words. Caruso love that one to sing out to herald the good news. Yolanda the Lizzo also to announce joyful news that is first to often with reference to the unchurched. Both Caruso and you on the Lizzo so often with reference to unchurched people you define for those who are churched where it's more technical, like we looked at these before dear Menudo, and they are no go. The idea of unfolding or opening up meaning or dialog am I, which means to reason or discuss or to converse. I remember how Paul reasoned in the synagogue that Jesus was the Christ. This has various other forms of explanation that are sometimes attached to preaching like parrots that they may not us or Rama. Other proclaim words DiAngelo Court Yellow. It's a whole new category of proclaiming with great boldness with these next three pairs the my elenco and epitome.

[00:08:25] Look how strong those words are. Even take the notion of rebuking. But look at the next two, how different they are. Parallel and parallel. Parallel. What? Where do we often associate with parallel percolate? For what? The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Encourager and Prometheus. Similar to give comfort, sheer consolation to look how epic tomato means rebuke. Prometheus means to give encouragement. Somewhat different than March zero simply to give a witness. Humble ago to say the same thing, to agree with and agree with what the Scriptures say to carry that message along. Somewhat similar to Carmelo, what word do we get from Carmelo? How Malevich. But in a curious what it actually means from a level meaning simply to converse to talk with. Let allowed to speak. Now the various teaching words to disco at the loosest and oh, a word that means to defend the truth apologia. Or even to share. Isn't that interesting? Sometimes the scriptures talk about just sharing the message enemy that I'm going to give across, that I share what I have with you. Now, the reason I want you to think about those various words is I think preaching sometimes gets presented as it is only one thing. Remember I asked you earlier this semester, when you think of preaching, what voice do you hear in your ear? What does Prince And you have some reflection of a circumstance or a person and that's preaching and I want you to me have you begin to think of the richness and the variety of expression of knowing the Lord is is filling up our tool bags with the vast wealth of the way, as well as the content of what Scripture addresses and saying, it's all for you, it's all for you to use.

[00:10:27] Paul will say at times to Timothy that he should rebuke with great authority those who oppose. And other times he will say encourage those who are downtrodden, which is the right thing to do. Wrong question. They're both right. How do you determine? I'm back on page one now of your lectures. If you were to think that, you know, preaching is is neither always sounding like Mr. Rogers or is it always sounding like Jonathan Edwards? How do you make choices? How do you decide what voice to talk in? What will govern your choices? Yes, sure. The church itself that when you say the church itself, what do you mean? Okay, so you're executing your listeners. Who are they? What's their circumstance in life? What are they dealing with? Are they in rebellion right now? Are they in grief right now? What's what's the appropriate voice for those different? What else? Beyond executing the people? What else might you have to look at? The message itself, particularly what the text is saying. The text itself may be being very tender or very strong. So being faithful to the meaning of the text is going to be part of it. What else? The people. The text. What else may govern? What? Your voice. You're going to use mine. Very good. That's the one people usually don't get. Who you are. God has called you to. Who are you? If you are going to say this in a way that conveys it has deep meaning for me, you're going to have to somewhat be reflective of your own person. How God made you. If a person like you were to express this deeply, what would it sound like? Not a person like you're not. If you were to express it deeply, what would you sound like? We've only forgot one piece, I think.

[00:12:21] And it's the situation. What's what's the circumstance as well. All taken into account as you are doing that. Now, as we think of those things, we also begin to recognize that we will make choices of the type of sermon that we use, not just the voice that we're using, but even the type of sermon that may be appropriate. Obviously, we're building expository messages this semester as a foundation, but we've never said that's the only type of sermon. So I want to give you a real quick run on other types of sermon, even though we're going to build expository sermons this semester. The first other type are topical messages, and technically it's this. The key feature of a topical message is it gets only its topic from the text, only the topic, not its developmental features. Topical sermon gets only its topic from the text. Other characteristics. The subject is divided and treating according to its nature rather than the text Nature How the topic is divided according to the topics nature rather than the text nature. For instance, today I want to talk about the history of our church as it deals with charismatic gifts. Now, is that material going to be in the text? It's not the history of our churches we deal with. Probably not. If I may, there may be biblical information that deals with it, but the nature of the topic is going to have to govern what I'm saying in that particular case. What does the world say is the cause of poverty? What does the Bible say is the cause of poverty? Well, part of this will come from the text. Part of it may have to come from secular sources. What does the world say is the cause of poverty? The types of subjects that lend themselves to topical treatment are things like moral or societal ills, moral or societal ills.

[00:14:19] This may strike the next to may surprise you chief doctrines or practices of the church, chief doctrines or practices of the church. Well, I need many texts to build my case. Right. If I want to explain to you my church's view of infant baptism, I probably am not going to go to one text. I feel like I will have to support that through a number of texts. It actually will probably be a topical message built from different sources more than one text. It is often an essay approach. What are the dangers of topical messages? You can do this very quickly. What are the dangers of topical messages? Okay. It might become a lecture. Okay. It's putting. Your opinion may rule. Opinion may rule rather than the text ruling. That's its chief problem. The opinion may rule could be through the hobbyhorse that you like. It could be through just your particular imposing something on people. That's your opinion. Another form of messages are textual messages. Textual messages. He features a textual message, gets its topic and its main points from the text. What's not going to be from the text, by the way, in a text message, What's missing? The sub points, so it gets its topic and its main points from the text, but development will be from elsewhere. Chief advantages of this. It has the advantage over a topical approach in that it can be very topical but appears more anchored in Scripture. I'm at least getting the main ideas out of the text, even if not the development, the types of subjects that lend themselves to this treatment. Passages that relate to subjects in distinct but undeveloped form, passages that relate to subjects in distinct but undeveloped form. All this is of the world, the loss of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

[00:16:21] This is of the world and not of God, but of the flesh, lust of the eyes. Part of life I think about here is materialism, centralism, egotism. But I may be developing those other places. I may go through the life of David and say, Where does central that really materialism lead essentialism lead to egotism. But but that passage out of the New Testament doesn't really explain altogether what those terms mean in the passage. It's assuming, you know, from other places. So you have distinctions that are not developed that might lead to a textual message. What's the danger of textual messages? Can. You might do a lot of ice to Jesus, right. To explain that you might begin importing ideas on the text that are not there. So it's another form of opinion ruling. What we're going to do this semester and candidly for the next two semesters is expository messages. And they have this distinction. They get their topic. Main points and some points from the text. Now, can you substantiate further a sub point from other texts? Yes, of course. But first, you show the ideas here. What does that actually locking us down to? Making sure that we do. We say what this text says. Okay. And that's its main chief characteristics. It keeps answering the question, What does this text say? You see advantages? I'm just going to. We're going to keep reading them. Okay? You can do this. What are chief advantages and expository messages that you develop the text according to the information that's in the text? One of the advantages of doing that. People can see where you're getting it from, which means you develop the the education, the biblical education of the people to whom you're speaking. They see it in the text.

[00:18:28] Other advantages of the expository method. I thought you were going to say. That is it for you. If you're in consecutive preaching, you're forced to deal with subjects you might not naturally deal with yourself. Now, opinion isn't ruling the text. As ruling the text sets the agenda more than my opinion. If the text is setting the agenda, not only do I have subjects that I might not think of, I have authority that I might not have personally. This is what God says. This is what God says. And I can say that authoritatively at times, and that very sensitive subjects, because it's not my authority. It may not even be my agenda if I'm just rolling through the text. I may be able to talk about very sensitive subjects without pointing the finger at people. Why? It's just the next verse, you know? You know, it's just the next verse. Last week we were in chapter one this week where in chapter two, I didn't mean to call you a gossip. The Apostle Paul called you a gossip, you know. You know, it allows you a time to deal with those things so you have greater variety, greater authority. And you develop an educated congregation. So those are the things that are happening, greater variety, greater authority with the Bible setting the agenda and giving you the authority that you need. One of the dangers of expository preaching. I'll be honest. Go ahead. What's the main danger of saying? I'm going to tell you what this text says and explain it in Greek and give you the logic behind it. And. But it's boring for many in this culture. We just have to say for many in this culture, they just do not connect with expository preaching, particularly its stereotype.

[00:20:21] Why did we say exposition includes explanation, illustration, application? Because for even people in the church, at times expository sermons are caricatured as having no illustration, no application, just throw the information at them. And so what we're dealing this semester is we're trying to keep the pieces together, right? We are saying we want to speak with the authority of God's Word. We want to speak about subjects more than just a word in my brain. In my interest, I'm going to let God's word set the agenda. But even as I let God's Word set the agenda, I want to make sure that I'm still executing the people as well as the text. I need to speak to their necessities. And so their capacities, the words of the Westminster divines, it's not just enough to speak to the necessities. How do I speak so they can hear as well as what they need to hear? Here's what it's going to be like, guys. As you hear all those aspects of what God allows you to do. You can be a hero. You can be an encourager. You can be a rebuke. Or you know what? One of the old ideas of what a preacher was, he was a physician of souls. No wonderful language. What's the physician say sometimes? Sometimes a physician says you either take your blood pressure medicine or you're going to die and leave your children child fatherless in very bold. What else might a physician of souls say? We can't fix it here. The Lord can, but we can't. But whatever happens, you're in his hands. When you're a physician of souls, you're a you're one who gives diagnosis of the people as well as the text and speaks God's truth for their care in the voice necessary for that time, because God gives you that right and that authority. See you next time with your conclusions.