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How to preach a good sermon

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Part 8: A call to respond

(Content of this section: A good sermon is delivered by a herald and its message so proclaimed)


In the previous part I pointed out that the word "preach" in the English New Testament is in the majority of places translated from the Greek word "kerusso" and that kerusso can be translated "to be a herald" as well as "to preach". I then noted that a herald proclaims a message publicly.

If you are going to preach a good sermon you need to recognise that you are a herald and the sermon is the message you have been given to proclaim publicly. Indeed, Kenneth Wuest translates the beginning of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy on the commitment he was to have towards preaching as follows,

Make a public proclamation of the Word with such formality, gravity and authority as must be heeded.

2 Timothy 4:2 - Kenneth Wuest's Expanded Translation

(Content of this section: Consider how essential a call to respond is)


Don't get worried there by the words 'formality' and 'gravity'. He’s not asking you in using those words to preach in an old fashioned way but rather to recognise the nature of the communication you are engaging in. In a sermon you are engaged in a proclamation that calls for a response.

What is the purpose of a sermon that has no call for a response? The preaching of such a sermon is like an angler fishing without a hook or a trawler man fishing with a hoop instead of a net.

I believe most people listening to a sermon want to know what they should do in response to the sermon. They can handle this. Providing that is - and this is essential - the sermon also ministers strengthen and wherewithal to make that response. The sermon must communicate not only the 'what should be done' but also the 'how in Christ they can do it'.

(Content of this section: The preaching style of the apostle Paul)


Now what I am saying here is nothing new. In fact it was the preaching style of the apostle Paul. He wrote, for example,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1 - NKJV



Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 - NKJV

(Content of this section: The preacher must both proclaim the Good News and call for a response)


You don’t have to look far in the epistles to find many examples of the writing of the apostle taking the form of a proclamation with a call to respond. The Holy Spirit wants God’s people to move up into the special relationship with Himself which He has provided through Jesus Christ. He wants them to move onwards in character so they are not only new creations on the inside but seen to be living as new creations on the outside. They have to be called to this better place in Christ Jesus by the preacher. The preacher has to proclaim the Good News and call the congregation in his or her sermon into a life lived within the sphere of that the Good News.


Paul sums this up the nature of this call into the sphere of life of the Good News in his letter to the Ephesians,

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands - that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:10 - 13 - NKJV


Preacher, call the hearers of your sermon to salvation, reconciliation, redemption, a life lived in a relationship with God, a life keeping company with Him who saved them, a life lived in grace and the love of God.

Preview of content in next part:

  • The hard work phase of sermon preparation - study!
  • There's a diligent study process needed in preparing a sermon
  • Look at the whole passage surrounding the scripture you want to present in your sermon
  • Examine how your scripture relates to the whole passage it's contained in
  • Look at the big picture the Bible reveals so as to appreciate better the details of scripture
  • Ensure there's a harmony between your scripture passage's theme and purpose and that of your sermon
  • Take care that your understanding of the words in scripture is accurate
  • Dealing with reductionism, that is, the narrowing of the meaning of words

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