Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
Have you ever wondered all that the pastor must do in order to prepare a good sermon?
Obviously, he must choose and then study his text. The pastor is exhorted to preach the Word (II Timothy 4:2) and the Apostle Paul tells the Ephesian pastors that when he was with them, he declared unto them all the counsel or purpose of God (Acts 20:27). The best way to do what Paul did is to preach through Bible books instead of preaching topics. So here is some of what a pastor will go through in putting together a truly biblical message, which is important if it is to be God’s Word and not the pastor’s word.
- Reading and rereading through the text.
- Translating any words from the original text to be certain of the exact meaning.
- Objective analysis of the text in order to interpret the passage and explain what is actually written. This is called exegesis.
- Studying the historical background.
- Studying the theological significance.
- Discovering the themes in the text.
- Finding cross reference texts that relate to the passage.
- Discovering ways to picture or clearly illustrate the text.
- Making certain that the explanation of the text is clear.
- Doing authoritative application revealing what God desires for the audience.
The pastor must always be careful that he is truly doing exegesis. The word literally means “to lead out of.” This basically means that the conclusions must all come from the text. Some pastors do the opposite of exegesis which is eisegesis, meaning “to lead into.” This is where the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text making it mean what he desires. This is being done in too many churches today. Thank God if you have a pastor that regularly does exegesis. Doing eisegesis is how error gets into a sermon which can lead to all kinds of heresy.
Today’s text exhorts the pastor to use exegetical methods to be certain that he is preaching the Word of God, allowing the text to speak for itself. It is the responsibility of the congregation to agree with what the Bible says instead of getting the Bible to agree with them.
I remember someone telling me that they wished they had a job like mine — working one day a week with nothing more than relaxation the rest of the week. The ten steps above are more than enough to keep the pastor busy throughout the week, especially if he is preaching two and three times. Added to this task are a number of other duties: counseling, visitation, administration, and a variety of other odds and ends. He also has a wife and children.
Pray for your pastor today. He has “a lot on his plate.” If your pastor is spending this kind of time in his preparation of the sermon, then it is most important that you come to the sermon with a deep desire to hear from God, from His Word. Pray for the Spirit of God to lead your pastor in the preaching of it and to lead you in the reception of it that you will respond in a way that will please God and accomplish the purpose of it.
George Stiekes held successful pastorates in churches in Michigan and Washington among other places. He currently resides in North Carolina and blogs at Reverent Reflections. We recommend his ministry and republish his material by permission.