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The Road from Text to Sermon

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The process of constructing a sermon that communicates the meaning of the text as well as its application.


The Road from Text to Sermon

Lecture by Zack Eswine


What we need from Scripture is not just answers to pass the test. What we need is help to know how to live life. How do the truths of Scripture help me to live? (As a Christian, in God’s sight, for his glory) We’re trying to equip people for living.

6 Questions to ask of a passage:

I. What does this text mean?

A. Read, re-read, digest the text.

B. Psalm 1. Who is the blessed man?

II. How do I know what it means?

A. Create a thought-flow outline: discourse analysis, outline

1. Subject, object

2. Sentence and paragraph structure

3. Independent and dependent clauses

4. Conceptual outline

5. For larger texts: use conceptual outlines (less detail)

6. For smaller texts: use sentence analysis (more detail)

7. ALWAYS show what verse you used to get a point.

B. Use the development of this outline to lead you to and through an in-depth study of:

1. Language

2. Genre

3. Context: involves 4 things

a. Observation: what is there

b. Comparison: with other scriptures

c. Word study

d. Context study: historical background, intratextuality (references within the same work), intertextuality (references with other works)

e. Redemptive: where is this passage located in light of Jesus?

III. What concerns caused this text to be written?

A. Study the author’s intentions: Why this text to this audience?

B. The passage’s context: Specifically, what’s going on with the audience that they need to be written to?

C. God’s mind

1. God is the author of Scripture

2. Why is God saying this to his people?

D. Remembering

1. Causal concerns may be implied (implicit) or stated (explicit). John’s gospel was written “so that you may believe.” John 20:30-31. Galatians written because of Judaizers twisting the gospel.

At this point, you have a lecture. Not a sermon. “People need the word of God to come to bear on their lives.” 2 Tim. 3:16.

IV.What do we share in common with (mutual human condition):

A. Those to whom the text was written (recipients)

B. Those by whom the text was written (author)

How we answer these 2 questions will determine how we find the Fallen Condition Focus. This can be a specific sin that the text is concerned with. Or it can be the simple fact that we are not God <&mdash> we are finite. What’s in their heart is what’s in my heart. What they needed to hear, I also need to hear.

We can also ask, how are we not like the recipient/author. Biblical foundation for mutual human condition: 1 Cor. 10:13. We face the same temptations. It if helped the audience then, it can help me.

V. How can we respond to the truths of scripture?

A. Why do we need this? So what? What difference does it make?

B. How does it apply to us? How does it shape my actions and beliefs?

1. Prophet Nathan to David: “You are the man [in the parable]” Nathan is applying the parable.

2. Joshua 24: In light of what’s been said, “choose this day whom you will serve.”

C. What change does God require of my heart and life?

VI. What is the most effective way I can communicate the content and application of the text?

Since we have so much information, we use organizational tools.

A. Collection: Grouping multiple ideas into single thought packets

B. Subordination: Prioritize and arrange major and minor supporting ideas.

C. Simplification: Make complex ideas simple. Not vice versa.

1. Complexity does not equal greatness or maturity.

2. Seriousness does not equal complexity plus volume.

3. We change KISS from, “keep it simple stupid,” to “keeping it simple is smart”

4. The best preaching says profound things simply.

5. Col 4:3-4 “that I might make it clear.”

I. Introduction

D. Explanation: there are four ways we can explain a text:

1. Repeat (just say it again)

2. Reword it

3. Define it

4. Prove it (show connections, grammar)

You owe no more to explanation than what’s required for people to get it. When people understand, MOVE ON.

E. Use communication tools to keep it simple

1. Determine how we can best say something

2. Exegete our listeners: social class, age, what do they listen to, read?

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