The Sermon wrap-up


The writing of the sermon is done. As you saw, I ended up jettisoning about 50% of the work I did on it. Then why do all that work?

Two reasons. First, you need the confidence to get up and speak on a subject you absolutely know. I ended up going in a completely different direction than what I envisioned, and I think the sermon itself forced it.

The second reason is, that work is not wasted. You studied a lot, learned a lot. And the written text of a sermon is not final – I sometimes am skipping parts as I watch the congregation and their reactions – and that’s when my research will lead me to possibly offer up the definition of a hypocrite. I also ditched a sermon illustration, and held one more mentally in check. What you WRITE is not always what you SAY.

Now, for the delivery. The pulpit is not a cage, unless you only have the one microphone. I like to walk around a little. Little gestures here and there. If you’re looking at the congregation, they pay more attention. Try not to be distracted by a Deacon fast asleep in one row. It’s not always your preaching! Most Americans tend to go around in a complete state of exhaustion brought on by habitual dehydration, lack of fitness and muscle tone, and too much stimulation from television. THe odds of someone falling asleep during the service… well, it happens. That’s why you should consider a sermon on throwing out your television back in Matthew 5.

Remember, action. move around. Make eye contact. Vary your voice pitch. Go UP, go DOWN. And put some intensity in your voice. There’s room in here for intensity. It’s not a college lecture. Notice I really didn’t get into the whole “how to wash your hands in first century Israel”. I never mentioned an eggshell, I never mentioned large stone pitchers where water is kept. If your congregation perks up at this point in the sermon, by all means, deliver that. If they’re focusing on the sermon points, then skip it. You have to KNOW this material. That’s why we did about 8 hours of work on it. And don’t forget, you hae two more sermons to write this week.

The sermon ends when the congregation wakes up Monday morning. Everyone makes decisions they’re going to be more for the Lord on Sunday morning, as lunch is approaching. But as Lunch passes, so do the resolutions. If you preach it right… some of them begin to walk it Monday morning. That’s where the sermon REALLY is. It’s not you.

It’s your congregation. They ARE your sermon.

Give it your all.

The Sermon


Here is the complete sermon. It comes to about 31 minutes. you can download it here in PDF relationship-not-ritual, or copy and paste it from here into Logos and set the formatting.

Have Congregation turn to Matthew 15:1-9

Matthew 15:1–9 KJV

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Let us pray.

We come to, in this passage, a place where we reach the heart of one of the Lord Jesus Christ’s prophesied ministries. The Jews expected that the Messiah would resolve disputes about the law. That’s why in one spot, a man in a crowd calls out to the Lord to bid his brother divide his inheritance. He knew the Messiah would judge. They had certain teachings in their writings that they had argued to a standstill, and could not resolve. When the Rabbi’s come to a place like that, they drop the issue and say, ‘It is for Moshiakh to decide.’ Literally, they expected Him to come in, kick out the Romans, usher in peace, and then sit down and say, all right, bring me the questions you could not resolve.

There’s a Chassidic story about a travelling Rabbi who went from town to town in Poland, and would speak to the Rabbi’s that gathered. And one day, his carriage driver noticed that all the Rabbi’s always asked the same question. So, he asked the Rabbi, “Why don’t i take your place tomorrow, and you take mine? I’ve heard your teachings, and heard your answers every day.” The Rabbi agreed. And at the next town, he gave the speech, got the usual questions, and gave the usual answers, and all the Rabbi’s nodded at his wisdom. Then, at the end, one Rabbi asked him a question he’d never heard before. So he said, “You’re wasting my time with so simple a question? Why, it’s so obvious, so simple, that I’ll have my driver answer it!”

The Pharisees had a question: Why don’t your disciples wash their hands before they eat? Doesn’t that make them ritually unclean? And doesn’t that make the food they eat unclean as well?

It’s a logical question. And today, we wash before meals because there’s a lot of yucky out there. Doorknobs, shopping carts,little kids with runny noses touching everything because that’s what kids do! So we wash to avoid getting some kind of horrible disease that will make you melt into a pool of slimy liquid.

But the Pharisees aren’t worried about health. It’s like when I was observant, wore a yarmulke and black hat, and EVERYONE just festered to tell me keeping kosher had to do with refrigeration and health. I’ve heard it a hundred times. My answer is always, “God commanded it so that we should be Holy. Nothing to do with refrigeration or health.”

And of course, they went on believing what they wanted to, because their minds are made up.

In this case, the Rabbi’s are not open to teaching. They’re convinced they’re right. It just never occurred to them that they’re wrong. And the Lord chooses this as an opportunity to explain, and for them to learn.

This brings us to our first question…

Why do we allow traditions to violate the word of God?

1. State

It’s in man’s nature to want to have ritual, to have a tradition. It takes away that fearful “Not knowing what to do” thing. The first guy does the offering, and he may raise a hand at the end of it, because he is trying to figure out how to end this sacrifice thing. Okay, the real answer is you say “Amen” and walk away, and do some reflection on it. But that’s uncomfortable for us. So we see him raise his hand, and we think, “That’s what you’re supposed to do.” So we get up, do the sacrifice, and at the end of it, we raise our hand. Then a month or a year later, if someone doesn’t raise their hand at the end, we debate whether the sacrifice is valid.

Let me put this in terms of Independent Baptists. We’re commanded to baptize new believers. So we stretch it, and we see Baptism is the door to the Local church. So, someone who’s already been baptized but doesn’t have a letter, we often advise them, “Hey, you might want to do that baptism thing again.” Why? Were you born again all over again?

So, Jesus Christ, His disciples, and a group of Scribes and Pharisees – the Sadducees haven’t come along yet and gotten involved – are arguing about ritual cleanliness. Why?

2. Educate

Because the Pharisees have seen that washing is to be done to promote ritual cleanliness in many situations, up to and including Baptism, which is called Mikveh. So, the assumption is that we should make sure we have not defiled ourselves by eating with impure hands. You’re working in the marketplace, some Gentile comes up and buys something from you. He hands you money that for all you know was in a pig’s mouth an hour ago. It could be ritually defiled. So, now you’re afraid to eat your food, because now it could transfer the defilement into your stomach.

The Lord’s not too worried about that. He does what the Messiah is supposed to do, and gives judgment on that. Know where?

Well, that’s next Sunday, but essentially the answer is given in verse 15 It’s not what goes in you, but what is coming out of your heart. Ritual cleanliness is a minor issue, the Lord was saying. And to drive that point home, and for other reasons besides, he quite simply takes away their temple 40 years later.

According to William Barclay’s commentary on Matthew,

The scribes and Pharisees are not ill-naturedly seeking to entangle Jesus. They are genuinely bewildered; and in a very short time they are going to be genuinely outraged and shocked; for the basic importance of this passage is that it is not so much a clash between Jesus and the Pharisees in a personal way; it is something far more—it is the collision of two views of religion and two views of the demands of God.

We do have to be careful of William Barclay’s opinions, as he was a theological modernist, and denied the virgin birth of Christ. It’s recorded in R. A. Torrey’s book The Fundamentals, which every Bible Believing Christian should read at least once, that you cannot deny the Virgin Birth and still believe in the deity of Christ. William Barclay is aware of his error now. Regretfully.

But in this rare occasion, he’s partially correct. The Pharisees this early are not setting traps for the Lord. They quite simply cannot understand His reasonings. He seems to follow Pharisee teachings in some cases, because they are correct, but he then disregards others! This is completely baffling to their way of thinking!

However, Barclay is also partially wrong. This is not a “excuse me Rabbi, but I was noticing…” kind of question. In the parallel passage in Mark 7 we see in verse 2, they “Found fault.”

No kidding, they’re getting a little huffy with the Lord. “Rabbi, surely you know…!”

Now, NOTICE. The Sadducees are not involved yet! It’s just the Scribes, and the Pharisees at this point. They are outraged. Jesus Christ is eating with ritually unclean hands, in their opinions. It’s logical, to say the least. If you follow the flow of their argument, it really SOUNDS logical.

But it exceeds the written law. And this is a major point that the Lord disagrees with them. The Pharisees wrote commentaries on the 613 commandments in the books of Moses, and they called this the Mishnah. In the very center of the Mishnah is a chapter called Pirke Avos, which actually is a wonderful little chapter of folksy wisdom. The passage we’re reading today literally mentions Pirke Avot in its earliest form by name: The Traditions of the Elders.

The Pharisees are elevating that folksy wisdom above and beyond that of commentary, but up to that of Scripture.

The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge has a quote from the Talmud here, and I don’t know what tractate, because they don’t give the reference, but it reads…

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge Chapter 15

‘The words of the Scribes are lovely beyond the words of the law, for the words of the law are weighty and light, but the words of the Scribes are all weighty.’

The Lord turns the conversation around at this point, and I’m sure the Pharisees sat there blinking, trying to figure it out! What? Huh?

The point here is, you accuse me of eating with unclean hands… yet you sit there with unclean hearts.

I think I say it every week, but I absolutely hate Sermon Illustrations. I think you all can understand the Bible, and what I’m teaching, just from the sermon. However, I understand not everyone thinks like me, so I got this out of my voluminous Bible library to help you understand this point, which I’m sure you do anyway.

3. Illustrate

Thus Saith Our Lord Ye call Me Master and obey Me not, Ye call Me Light and see Me not, Ye call Me Way and walk Me not, Ye call Me Life and desire Me not, Ye call Me wise and follow Me not, Ye call Me fair and love Me not, Ye call Me rich and ask Me not, Ye call Me eternal and seek Me not, Ye call Me gracious and trust Me not, Ye call Me noble and serve Me not, Ye call Me just and fear Me not, If I condemn you, blame Me not.

The Lord desires Relationship, not ritual

Essentially, this is what this discussion boils down to. The Pharisees teach clean hands, the Lord is teaching Clean hearts. The Pharisees are teaching the traditions of men as authoritative, and the Lord is teaching us that only the word of God is authoritative. It is from this that Baptists derive our foundational principle, the Bible is our sole authority of faith and practice.

Relationship, not ritual.

Our Second Question.

Why do we abandon the Bible in favor of Tradition?

1. State

Edersheim writes in the Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah the entire cleanliness ritual. It’s a lot simpler now. You just take a two handled pitcher, and pour water on one hand up to the wrist. Then you take the other handle, and pour it on the other hand. Say the brahchah, and dry your hands, don’t spritz water on the floor or the Rabbi will yell at you.

But back then you had to scrub one hand with your knuckles, and it had to be drawn out with a ladle. The funny thing is, unless they had two ladles, according to modern Rabbi’s, those ancient Rabbi’s were eating with unclean hands.

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, KJV)

2. Educate

Leaving the hand washing issue, because the Lord here is pointing out it’s a minor thing, he now turns to the issue of the vilation of the commandments.

One commentary i have points out that the language of verse 5 is used in anger by the son. Apparently, he’s irritated with his father, for reasons unknown, and utters this ‘vow’ to cut off his parent from every kind of benefit he might gain from him. Essentially, He’s cursing his father and mother.. The son does not dedicate his goods or his services to the Temple; he just vows all away from his father. The Rabbis said: ‘Whoever shall say: “Korban is everything whereby thou mightest be profited,” he shall be bound.’

Since this essentially is rebellion against one’s parents, the Rabbi’s should have followed Deut. 21…

Deuteronomy 21:18–21 KJV

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

But they don’t! This is why in the book of Malachi, it reads thus… Yes, I just used the word Thus…

Malachi 2:2 KJV

If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart,

To give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts,

I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings:

Yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.

By teaching this, The Lord accuses the Pharisees and the Scribes, that their traditions are completely rendering the Law null and void by their traditions!

An example in our own time, since I’m picking on Baptism and traditions about it – is infant Baptism. Now, when anyone reads the Bible to look at Baptism, it’s pretty obvious the Bible forbids infant Baptism. You have to be born again, you have to make a profession of faith, and I’ve yet to see a month old infant do that. And since it’s pretty dangerous to shove a baby underwater, the Catholics came up with putting a little water on the Baby’s forehead. Well, that’s not a baptism. So you’re doing it wrong, for the wrong reasons, to the wrong person.

So let’s turn to the fill in on your handout…

All Protestant Denominations accept Infant Baptism except Pentecostals. Baptists are not Protestants, and reject Infant Baptism.

This is why the Lord says,

Isaiah 8:20 KJV

To the law and to the testimony:

If they speak not according to this word,

It is because there is no light in them.

If they violate the Bible, it’s pretty valid to question whether or not they’re saved. And in Mark 7, it points out that they had MANY traditions like this that violated the word of God.

The Bible says believers should be baptized. The protestants say infants should be baptized. The Bible shows them only baptizing born again individuals.. The Protestants call them covenant children, and insist they’re already saved because their parents are saved. The Bible says ye must be born again. The Protestants say you must be predestined. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. It’s not my words.

It’s God saying it.

We do things at our house, at our job, in our prayer life, in our Bible reading… and we do them because it’s our habit! It’s our tradition! And if it violates or makes the word of God of none effect, then it is no less hypocrisy in our dining room than it was that day in Galilee.

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown tell us in their highly overpriced commentary,

By putting the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements, their whole worship was rendered vain—a principle of deep moment in the service of God.

And this is what it boils down to! Jesus Christ wants to know us. If we’re born again, He wants to spend time with us. If you’re not born again, He wants you born again – and then wants to spend time with you. The only way to get some Baptists to pray is put food in front of them. But this is an issue so important to the Lord, that He even specifically adds this warning in the Bible…

Matthew 7:21–23 KJV

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

3. Illustrate

There was only one book in all my illustrations that had anything on traditions… and it was for them. That’s a sermon illustration right there! They have illustrations on Hypocrisy, but are afraid to speak against traditions!

Relationship, not ritual.

And thus brings me to my last question…

Why do we not see this as hypocrisy?

1. State

How: Jesus Christ ultimately points to the heart, and not to the letter. The Pharisees ultimately point to the letter, and the heart is up to you.

Psalm 78:36–39 KJV

Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth,

And they lied unto him with their tongues.

For their heart was not right with him,

Neither were they stedfast in his covenant.

But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not:

Yea, many a time turned he his anger away,

And did not stir up all his wrath.

For he remembered that they were but flesh;

A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

And this is the point that I emphasize, and that the Pharisees missed – or they never would have crucified the Lord – The Lord is full of compassion, and destroyed them not. He made it clear – you’re making me angry. And it’s abundantly clear that the Lord puts far more weight on how we treat one another, than how well we do hand washing, or was all of our body completely submerged under the water for Baptism.

He wants Relationship, not ritual, not traditions.

2. Educate

Isaiah 29:13–14 KJV

Wherefore the Lord said,

Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth,

And with their lips do honour me,

But have removed their heart far from me,

And their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people,

Even a marvellous work and a wonder:

For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,

And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

Because in many ways the Pharisees make an idol, a god out of learning and study, the Lord does what He always does – He mocks that idol. They worship learning and study – fine. Let them forever study, but never come to the truth.

Incidentally, this comes in the Bible just before the Lord ministers to a Gentile for the first time, the Syro-Phoenician woman. Whosoever believeth… whosoever thirsteth, let them drink… whosoever will. The Lord will turn nobody away. Nobody. Until the very end, when the Lord says, THe time is now… did you choose? Have you chosen? And if they have not, but chosen their rituals and traditions instead, His answer is simple – away with ye. I never knew ye.

Instead of traditions, Bible. Instead of theories, doctrine. Instead of ritual, a relationship with the one True Living God, who walked in Galilee and died in Jerusalem, and paid the price for us, that we could be sons and daughters of the most high.

The Lord was not rebuking Bible study. Indeed, He places a huge priority on it.

Deuteronomy 6:5–9 KJV

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

3. Illustrate

Don’t stay away from church because there are so many hypocrites. There’s always room for one more. Arthur R. Adams (b. 1861)

We must learn to have a relationship with the living God. The Risen and Ressurected saviour demands a relationship. It’s so important that He literally says without it, we may actually not be saved!

Speak the Truth in Truth

Sooner or later, every Christian reaches a point for one reason or another where they go through the motions , pretending to a holiness they really don’t feel. Sooner or later, every believer settles into comfort zones, and then traditions set in. We assume our traditions are the Scriptural way of doing things. What is not important to God is not our traditions, it is not our demeanor, but rather – our relationship to God, to Jesus Christ.

final point

Today, we can rest assured that Jesus Christ wants relationship, not ritual with His redeemed. And if you are not sure you have a relationship like that, it’s easy, it’s free. All you have to do is repent of your sins. Acknowledge your sins have separated you from an Almighty and thrice-Holy God, that you deserve only Hell for all eternity. But the Lord provided a free way for you. Accept that. Go to the Lord right now, and tell Him you want a new life, a new way, that you’ll live for Him, that He will be your Lord and Master. Ask Him to save you, while there’s still time.

Being a Pastor 20 – Finishing the sermon


Technically, a sermon is not finished until Monday morning. It’s not until the congregation puts it into practice. I think it is important to emphasize that Christianity is not a spectator sport – that the congregation actually must put into practice what the pastor preaches. And of course, the Pastor has to do it first.

So, what do I have to do to outline? In reality, you can check that off, because that’s the first thing I did, even before I put everything in the sermon body. The usual method is this:

  1. point one
  2. point two
  3. point three

really easy to outline that.

yet, recently, I saw a website where someone had done the “How to use Logos to write sermons”, back in version 4 or 5. He advocated an addition.

  1. point one
  2. state
  3. educate
  4. illustrate
  5. point two
  6. state
  7. educate
  8. illustrate
  9. point three
  10. state
  11. educate
  12. illustrate

In the sermon outliner, I indent these. But in HTML format, that’s hard to do, In other words, the state educate illustrate part is indented as sub points.

So, that transforms this from a semi-inductive to (i think?) a deductive? I can’t remember the name of the sermon type that tells you what the points are, gives you the points, and then reminds you what the three points are.

I don’t like those. I don’t like them because… I just prefer semi-inductive. “Who?” “what?” “Why?” I think is for my way of thinking the natural, ordered way to approach a Bible passage. And I’m pretty sure that you attract to your church people who follow your way of thought. Otherwise, a deductive person would hear my sermon, and be unsatisfied with semi-inductive. And go elsewhere.

We even at the beginning of this series wrote out our sesrmon point questions, and I’m not really seeing a reason to vary them. The focus has changed slightly from being a housecleaning to being that of a “Why do we do this?” kind of sermon. But the questions still work well.

What I write now is the exposition. If I tell you point A is New York, Point B is Chicago and Point C is Big Fork, you could draw a route map. So, at this point, I’m drawing a route map, but in words and ideas. My big tools are the interrogatives… you remember those from 7th grade English, right? Who what when where why how. And… we already did THOSE, right

This long and complicated (not really) template we’ve followed has given you all the tools in front of you to build this sermon.

Why do we allow traditions to violate the word of God?

The Lord desires Relationship, not ritual

Relationship, not ritual.

Why do we abandon the Bible in favor of Tradition?

We do things at our house, at our job, in our prayer life, in our Bible reading… and we do them because it’s our habit! It’s our tradition! And if it violates or makes the word of God of none effect, then it is no less hypocrisy in our dining room than it was that day in Galilee.

Relationship, not ritual.

Why do we not see this as hypocrisy?

The Lord despises Hypocrisy

Speak the Truth in Truth

final point

Today, we can rest assured that Jesus Christ wants relationship, not ritual with His redeemed.

Who: Jesus, the Pharisees

What: Arguing about ritual cleanliness

Where: Galilee

When: This comes just before the Lord ministers to a Gentile for the first time, the Syro-phonician woman.

Why: What is commanded?

How: Jesus Christ ultimately points to the heart, and not to the letter. The Pharisees ultimately point to the letter, and the heart is up to you.

Okay, I can tell you by experience, that wwwwwH usually ends up in that order throughout the sermon, but not always. your WHO entry will need to be in point one.

What and Where will probably be in point one. Now when will probably end up in point two, and why will be in pont three. How is ultimately tied to the point of the sermon, and so both must be in point three. “Show them, tell them, make them” should be the command of the ministry.

Now that I’ve essentially completed the checklist at the top, let’s delete that.

Now, do your outlining. The parts we’ve just talked about that, drag them or cut-paste them into the points we’ve discussed. I actually did a little re-arranging as I did this, as I felt my points were good, but one sub-point is out of place now. So, I fixed that. Tomorrow, you’ll have the sermon, so you can see that.

Now READ. One thing I sometimes do is change color of words in parallel passages to highlight the differences. I won’t do that here, because I’m now getting ready to write this sermon. I’ve got my mindset – WRITE THE SERMON. All the work is done. Drag, drop,, cut. So, read, note your essential points in the texts you’ve collected, CAREFULLY look at the clippings from commentaries and decide if it truly educates or not, decide if any scriptural points are… indeed scriptural (JFB is my commentary of choice right now, and they tended towards modernism, and add to the Bible on an infrequent basis – something you have to watch for).

I moved my statistic into it’s spot, and it occurred to me to choose that as a fill-in on the handout. By highlighting infant baptism and protestants and selecting “fill-in”, Logos places it on the handout section of the sermon file, with blank lines in place of those words.

In one sense, all the men in the congregation love fill ins, but you now run the risk of them ignoring every part of the sermon that does not get to the fill-in!

While writing it, I suddenly thought of an old chassidic joke I knew. Chassidic stories tend to fall into one or two types – teaching stories, and Chelm stories. Chelm stories usually involve the wise men of chelm who basically can’t figure out how to tie their shoes. Nudniks, every last one of them. So I tossed in the story of the Maggid (a travelling Chassid teacher) and his coach driver. The coach driver is from Chelm, but I don’t get into that. It’s a good way to explain WHY the Rabbi’s are asking Jesus Christ these questions in the beginning, and later on, why they ask him question traps, to try to prove to everyone that He’s not the Messiah, or get Him to say something the Romans can arrest Him for.

As I wrote this, I realize that I summed up the second quote by Barclay, so I can delete that now. It takes a minute off my sermon time. This is something you’ll realize, if experience hasn’t taught you this already. you’ll basically assemble the Encyclopedia Britannica in al 47 volumes, and cut away at it until you have a Reader’s Digest article.

Most of what the commentators say, you can explain in a quarter of the words. I try to attribute what I learn from where. It’s honest, and the congregation knows you did your homework, and they appreciate it. They don’t care, but… if you DON’T attribute it, and someone gets the JFB and reads what you just quoted on Sunday, they’ll think you stole the entire sermon from somewhere, even if all you did was provide a quote without attribution. Remenber, quoting without attribution is considered plagiarism. And it was the biggest controversy two years ago among pastors, plagiarism in sermons. Remember, a great many of the commentaries that Wordsearch, Logos, and Accordance charge money for are public domain, and you can get them for E-Sword for free. So sooner or later, someone’s going to read that quote from JFB or the Expositor’s commentary.

By the way, I didn’t do as thorough a job in this one as I normally do. Few of you have Quickverse any more, and usually I stop and read all my commentaries in Quickverse as well. And then, i STILL don’t use any of it. I’d say personally, get the Evanggelical commentary by Elwell, and whatever he says, if your stuff agrees, you KNOW it’s wrong!!!

Seriously, Elwell’s commentary is so bad, if I’d bought it hardcover, I’d have returned it in some anger. And you better believe I’d be leaving a review on Amazon or CBD.

But hey, I studied. And that gives me confidence when I step into the pulpit next, to preach with authority that what I’ve learned is correct, that I’m preaching the correct interpretation. And literally, ten percent of preaching a quality sermon, one that changes lives is… preaching with CONFIDENCE. Quiet confidence. Not bragging kind of confidence, like Jason Cooley, but “this is the truth” confidence like Marc Monte and Dan Botterbrodt.

Or you could drink 22 cups of coffee and just go all Danny Castle on the congregation.

This article’s taking 90 minutes to write, because I’m writing my sermon as I do it.

All right… once you have enough in to knw the structure of your sermon, forget your template for a minute. cut and paste or drag (depending on your software) the Bible texts you’ve collected. THESE are your go-to commentaries. Not JFB, not BKC, not Matthew HEnry or Poole, but the KING JAMES BIBLE. You CANNOT go wrong by using more Bible than commentary.

You’ve got several passages saved in your sermon document… Deut. 6:5-9, Psa 78:36-39, Isa. 29:13-14, Mal. 2:2, Col. 2:8, Isa. 8:20, Rom. 3:31, Matt. 7:21-23, and you still have to compare Matt. 15:1-9 with Mark 7:1-13.

And trust me, next Sunday’s sermon is going to build off of what you teach today, because next week you’re dealing with what comes out of a man is what defiles him. You have essentially the same thing, but too much to teach in one sermon. Many people say a sermon should be 25 minutes, and guess what? I’ve barely started writing the sermon, and i’m at 28 minutes. I’ll chop about 2 minites out of that by omitting Mark 7, but you have to compare, and explain what the differences are. You’ll go over that again in about a year, and only a few people in the congregation will remember the point you raised by introducing the differences.

Being a Pastor 19- The Sermon 12


I know what everyone’s thinking – I have a sermon due on Sunday, and your system seems to take weeks!

Well actually, once you’re used to it, what I’m taking weeks to do in analyzing actually I do in about 45 minutes. I’ve actually sat down and written two or three sermons in one day using this method.

If you continue to use the methods you’ve always used, you’ll get the results you’ve always gotten. I started out this series with the confession that most IFB preachers I’ve heard couldn’t preach their way out of a maze that only had straight lines and no corners.

The whole idea here is to preach as grand as the passage you are preaching. Really. If the thought of a sermon on the one verse “Jesus Wept” doesn’t bring to mind a powerful sermon, you need to gather all the articles in this series and print them out!!!

By now you should have learned enough about analyzing this passage to know you could have preached this three ways. good! You’re learning. You should make some notes on outlines for the next tie you get to this passage. Remember, if you’re preaching Expositorially, you’re going to hit this again in Mark! Preach it another way then. And most of your work will be done already.

If Ihad a seminary, I think that Homiletics would be in the first semester, and every student would be required to preach their way through Matthew by graduation. If not actual preaching, they’d be required to write out the sermon.

Why write your sermons word for word?

When writing, the preacher is confronted with the manner in which to express the ideas, because of the effect of “listening” to the words as they go down onto the page. By revision and by continuous practice, clarity, interest, and force are developed.

H. C. Brown Jr, H. Gordon Clinard, Jesse J. Northcutt, and Al Fasol, Steps to the Sermon: An Eight-Step Plan for Preaching with Confidence, Revised. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 184.

Many of the great preachers literally wrote out their sermons word for word. That’s the way I’ve always done it, and I’m always reading you NEVER should. I’m glad to read someone saying, it’s a valuable tool to focus your thoughts.

Application is the biggest part. As my Seminary teacher said, “Every sermon boils down to one simple question… so what?”

Answering the ‘so what’ gives us our answer. How do I apply this?

You have to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Why?

because without it, we may well ask ourselves… are we saved? Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, we may well be justified in asking ourselves, “Is there any proof I am saved?” If you cannot answer that question, there’s your answer. Remember, Many will say… “Lord, Lord!” And He will answer… “Away with you. I never knew ye.”

So, make sure you look that passage up and add that to your text collection section. Thought you were done with that, right? Yeah, that always happens when writing sermons. You always end up collecting more material than you can use… and still find something you needed to include!

Here’s where we stand so far…

__1. Purpose

_X_2. Who,What,Where, When,Why,How

_X_3. Brainstorming

_X_4. Research

_X_5. Text gathering

__6. Categorizing

__7. Outlining

_X_8. Definitions-Restatements

_X_9. Comparisons-Contrasts-Synonyms

_X_10. Facts-Statistics

___11. Explanations

_X_12. Examples

_X_13. Illustrations

_X_14. Quotes

_X_15. Application

_X_16. 14 word summary

You don’t always have to have an explanation section. I’m answering that elsewhere, so it’s not a problem.

What about categorizing and outlining? Categorizing is the part where you cut and paste or drag the research and text collection parts into the body of your sermon. At this point, we’re VERY close to finishing the sermon. Literally, I usually can finish all this in about 45 minutes. One of the reason a Christian should read through the Bibles as many times as possible before going to Seminary is this reason: I spent a year reading through the Bible three times in one year. I wrote articles about it. It’s so soaked some parts of the Bible in my head, that now I can look at a passage, know right away the main point of the passage, and with a little research (as I’ve shown you) can assemble the main theme of the sermon. I’ve resisted the advice of the experts, because as you saw in articles 3-5, I don’t agree that every passage has One Big Message. I showed with this one, I literally had three Big Messages, and simply had to pick one. That’s okay, this comes up again in Mark 7, and I’ll use another of the two leftover themes in that passage.

At this point, you just need to write the point of the sermon, and now you’re done except for… writing the sermon. Which actually is going to be fairly easy, because by the time you cut and paste, all you have to do is link and fill, and write some exposition. If you’ve been writing a Christian blog, trust me… you’ve been training yourself to write exposition anyway!

So, what’s the point of the sermon?

Sooner or later, every Christian reaches a point for one reason or another where they go through the motions , pretending to a holiness they really don’t feel. Sooner or later, every believer settles into comfort zones, and then traditions set in. We assume our traditions are the Scriptural way of doing things. What is not important to God is not our traditions, it is not our demeanor, but rather – our relationship to God, to Jesus Christ.

There you go. Tomorrow, we start filling in, categorizing and outlining.

Being a Pastor 18 – The Sermon 11


spent the last hour going through my sermon notes from this series. I’m now going through the checklist at the top – that will be the first thing deleted once done. According to the Logos sermon file, it won’t remove more than a minute. Literally, with all the text gathering and research, I’m now up to a 21 minute sermon, and in reality, I’ve only got the skeleton, and a few words in it.

Now, I open Bible Analyzer and get my definitions of transgress and hypocrite. Why not use the Mirrian-Webster’s from Logos? Because the Mirriam-Webster’s removes the Bible from Websters. No thanks, I want the 1828.

TRANSGRESS’, v.t. [L. transgressus, transgredior; trans and gradior, to pass.]

1. To pass over or beyond any limit; to surpass.

2. In a moral sense, to overpass any rule prescribed as the limit of duty; to break or violate a law, civil or moral. To transgress a divine law, is sin. Legislators should not transgress laws of their own making.

TRANSGRESS’, v.i. To offend by violating a law; to sin.

HYP’OCRITE, n.

1. One who feigns to be what he is not; one who has the form of godliness without the power, or who assumes an appearance of piety and virtue, when he is destitute of true religion.

And the hypocrite’s hope shall perish. Job 8.

2. A dissembler; one who assumes a false appearance.

Fair hypocrite, you seek to cheat in vain.

Now, I need quotations and sermon illustrations. I despise sermon illustrations. I think I’ve mentioned it about a thousand times. Apparenlty, most people do not. So, I’m stuck using something I don’t believe in.

I have FAR MORE sermon illustrations in Quickverse than in anything else. so Quickverse it is. Um… that ones’ horrible. That one’s worse… why are we talking about the Crusaders as if they’re someone to serve as a role model? Pass on that one. Brother so and so said… nope. Cardinal So and so said… nope. There’s a stained glass window of the Virgin Mary… nope. Hm.

I hate sermon illustrations. I know all the books say I should collect my own. But you know what? If I hate sermon illustrations, I could go through an entire life of pithy sayings, sad kittens and little kids with lost baloons, and I’d never notice the sermon illustrations at my feet, because I despise them. I think other pastors should follow me around, because I’m sure that sad-eyed puppies line the sidewalks as I walk into work, and I’m missing the illustrations everyone needs. Nope, I’ll just use some of the trite ones, and I’ll be honest and tell my congregation that I hate sermon illustrations, and I got this one out of a volume in quickverse.

Honesty goes a LONG way with a congregation! Do not pass off the story of the squirrel falling out of the tree right in front of you as if it happened to you, when you get it out of a book on sermon illustrations. Offer your recycled sermon illustrations as, “I was reading a book on sermon illustrations, when I saw a story about a squirrell falling out of a tree. And so it is when we try to rely upon tradition to hold us up, instead of the Bible blah blah.”

By the way, I really did have a squirrell fall out of a tree in front of me once. I looked at my wife and told her, “As God is my witness, I have no idea what to do.” After a minute, the squirrel got up and ran away.

There you go. Sermon illustration. tell people you were reading a blog by Philip Dean, and…

so, what did I choose for my sermon?

__13. Illustrations

Pretending Judge Rooney, of Chicago, fined a man $100 plus court fees and sentenced him to jail for ninety days for impersonating a doctor and practicing medicine without a license. I wonder how many professing Christians, ministers, and laymen would be “hit” by a law fining those who pretended to be Christians and were not. Are we leading or misleading people by our pretensions?

Thus Saith Our Lord Ye call Me Master and obey Me not, Ye call Me Light and see Me not, Ye call Me Way and walk Me not, Ye call Me Life and desire Me not, Ye call Me wise and follow Me not, Ye call Me fair and love Me not, Ye call Me rich and ask Me not, Ye call Me eternal and seek Me not, Ye call Me gracious and trust Me not, Ye call Me noble and serve Me not, Ye call Me just and fear Me not, If I condemn you, blame Me not.

Hypocritical Excuse The man who says he is kept away from religion by hypocrites is not influenced by them anywhere else

__14. Quotes

Don’t stay away from church because there are so many hypocrites. There’s always room for one more. Arthur R. Adams (b. 1861)

There was only one book in all my illustrations that had anything on traditions… and it was for them. That’s a sermon illustration right there! THey have illustrations on Hypocrisy, but are afraid to speak against traditions!

We’re almost ready to analyze. Just a few more sections to complete, and we’ll deal with them tomorrow.

Being a Pastor 14 – The Sermon 7


The template I added to the top of my header now serves as the fill-in sheet to record my research. I don’t always do sermons this way – often I prep my template first, THEN read the passage.

As I research, I always continue to question if my 3 points are the right ones. This can either be a housecleaning service, or it can turn to discussing Religion vs. Ritual. My research so far is actually moving me into halfway between the points.

The important thing to be aware of is this, and here’s where experienced pastors balk. “I just spent ten minutes coming up with my sermon points, I’m not re-visiting them.”

If, as you read the text, you do not find evidence that you’re going in the wrong direction, that’s fine. On the other hand, if the evidence you’re discovering makes you question your points and you don’t change them… what does that imply? What does that mean? Will you have to stand before Jesus Christ and have to admit you simply were lazy, and thus taught the congregation the wrong application of the text?

The answer here is, if you’re getting the feeling you’re going in the wrong direction, save the sermon document with a new name, close the old one, and redo your points on the new one. You may preach that sermon later on.

If time is of the essence here (you’re bi-vocational, it’s Tuesday afternoon, you just got done with work and dinner, and now you’re in your study to begin working on the sermon), the decision to change in mid stream is not a time waster, but a future time saver. PLEASE don’t be one of those pastors who preaches the same text the folllowing week. Trust me, you have no idea how much that stresses your congregation, if you’re doing an expository schedule. “How long will we be in this book of the Bible?” They worry, and with good reason. I know of one pastor who’s been preaching in 1 Samuel for 6 years.

So… what if I turn this sermon instead to being less about tradition, but more about a relationship with Jesus Christ? What happens with my points?

Let’s go to the brainstorm section of the document. The idea here is to take 5 minutes, and write down all the words that pop into your head. Ritual, hypocrisy, commandment, legalism, pharisee, unlawful, unclean, hands, heart, soul, clean, works, faith.

That took two minutes for me, including a moment to sip some coffee, cough a couple of times because I’ve still got that irritating cough, and watch my cat paw-paw in my lap.

Make a check off as you complete each section of the sermon preparation.

“Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, And they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, Neither were they stedfast in his covenant. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: Yea, many a time turned he his anger away, And did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” (Psalm 78:36–39, KJV)

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, And with their lips do honour me, But have removed their heart far from me, And their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, Even a marvellous work and a wonder: For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isaiah 29:13–14, KJV)

“If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, To give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: Yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.” (Malachi 2:2, KJV)

This is my text gathering session. What I’m doing here is looking in my passage guide in Logos, and following the hyperlinks. Logos, when you type a reference in the go box, will quickly search everything in your library, and will pull together cross references from every book in there. It has a separate link for the TSK – the TSK could cause this section in some cases to grow 4 times as large, so many times it doesn’t list the references from the TSK.

By the time I’ve added Luke 5:30-32, I’m convinced that the emphasis on the passage is more about Heart Vs. Hands. The Pharisees want a relationship with God where it is their works, their hands, their self righteousness. In many ways, they’re right, and in many more, they’re wrong. They’ve put the cart before the horse. There is some emphasis on walk with God. But in Galatians, we discover the revolutionary idea that the idea of the law with its demands of touch not, taste not is only to bring you to Christ.

Christ is in their midst. right there. And He’s telling them its not about ritual, it’s not about religion, it’s about the Heart!

Ah! So, my questions in the points are actually a trap! The Lord literally allowed them to ensnare themselves with their own words. He’s there not to trick them, not to defeat them in a play on words debate…

He’s there to try to lead them to repentence. It worked… the Pharisees were divided over Him. The Sadducees were not. But the common people were siding with the Pharisees, and believing upon Jesus.

Get your heart right with God, Jesus Christ is tellling them. And then the ritual things fade in importance. your focus is upon God. You’re so wrapped up in liturgy, and ritual, and trying to build a fence around the law so that no one should accidentally transgress… that you’re building laws upon laws, and blind guides that you are, you have NO IDEA you’re transgressing the very heart of the Law you’re trying to protect!

Okay, I see the direction of this sermon. I’m preaching not to the congregation, I’m not preaching to the other denominations who add things and replace things, and utterly reject things the Bible calls for… I’m preaching to everyone, in the form of the Pharisees.

And all four paragraphs I wrote above just landed in my sermon section under the “explanations” category. This is not a housecleaning sermon, it;s a heart cleaning sermon.

More tomorrow!

Being a Pastor 13 – The Sermon 6


Okay, we’ve chosen our 3 points, our message and our three subpoints.

sermon3

Now, what I do is I put in a temporary section at the top, and paste in a template I’ve used since 2013 or so. It helps to focus on – what am I trying to preach?

One of the first mistakes I noticed in my first few sermons was I was trying to teach EVERY doctrine in EVERY sermon. I began to use the sermon template because my seminary demanded it… and I noticed that by completing every section, I was kept on track.

Here it is.

1. Purpose

__2. Who,What,Where, When,Why,How

__3. Brainstorming

__4. Research

__5. Text gathering

__6. Categorizing

__7. Outlining

__8. Definitions-Restatements

__9. Comparisons-Contrasts-Synonyms

__10. Facts-Statistics

___11. Explanations

__12. Examples

__13. Illustrations

__14. Quotes

__15. Application

__16. 14 word summary

__1. Purpose

__2. Who,What,Where, When, Why How

__3. Brainstorming

__4. Research

__5. Text gathering

__6. Categorizing

__7. Outlining

Point 1 –

1. State

2. Educate

3. Illustrate

Point 2 –

1. State

2. Educate

3. Illustrate

Point 3 –

1. State

2. Educate

3. Illustrate

__8. Definitions-Restatements

__9. Comparisons-Contrasts-Synonyms

__10. Facts-Statistics

__11. Explanations

__12. Examples

__13. Illustrations

__14. Quotes

__15. Application

__16. 14 Word Summary

I’ve got it taking up so much vertical room so you can copy it and paste it right into the Sermon Editor. Once you’re done filing it out, then copying and pasting the results into the sermon body, you DELETE the text. This keeps you from skewing the results in your sermon time (which now has increased by one minute).

The list repeats, because the first 16 is a checklist, the other 16 is actual areas where you enter information.

Notice the 14 word summary is already done in previous posts. That’s right at the end of your sermon. And it should segue into the “And if you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, there’s no better time than right now….” ending of the service and “Just as I am” for the next 62 minutes of standing and vainly waiting for someone to come forward.

When you read something from a commentary you think is good to express in the sermon, that goes in the Research section. So, you’d paste in… “The scribes and Pharisees are not ill-naturedly seeking to entangle Jesus. They are genuinely bewildered; and in a very short time they are going to be genuinely outraged and shocked; for the basic importance of this passage is that it is not so much a clash between Jesus and the Pharisees in a personal way; it is something far more—it is the collision of two views of religion and two views of the demands of God.

William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 128.”

Paste that into your sermon file, and let’s get ready to do more research tomorrow.