What is the purpose of a Sermon? Part 2

What is the Purpose of a Sermon part 2

Reviews of related posts from other people on this topic. See “What is the purpose of a Sermon“. The author presents several points of view about what is a “good sermon”. I believe the group is Catholic or Anglican by the way, so they are going to be different from our view as Baptist. Not that the criteria of this piece is from a man’s perspective. What do we care if men think a sermon is good or not? Shouldn’t we care more what God thinks about our sermons? I will comment on this as first, second etc. The first comment basically says that the sermon is boring. A boring sermon comes from a preacher that is boring and has selected a boring topic (boring to him). The second comment basically see sermon as an informational instrument. Although God would present sermons as teaching us, this should not be elevated above the spiritual change element which is the most important. The third comment reflects spiritual growth which is part of or the same thing as moral change. The fourth comment comes from a man who is looking for a sermonette. Hors d’oeuvres and snacks are fine, but not a substitute for a real meal. A 10 minute sermon isn’t a sermon, but a Bible reading at best, a farse at worse. The fifth comment reflects preaching typical among Baptist churches. Note that the commentators object to a “prepared speech” is justified in that he dislikes a sermon that focuses more on talking at people than to people. It is good to use a loud voice on occasion, and to have a three point outline, and to use illustrations and alliteration. But when these things are the best things in a sermon, it is very poor at best. These should be vehicles to getting the message across, and they should not be the primary emphasis, but rather the message. See also What is the Purpose of a Sermon? The central purpose of a sermon HAS TO DO with the utility of Scripture to affect us spiritual in all ways and forms (2Tim 3:16). This is true, but it is not the purpose of a sermon, but rather a foundational premise. THE PURPOSE OF A SERMON

“to explain and apply Scripture. It’s purpose is to bring the Word of God to the congregation; to faithfully explain what it says, and make clear its meaning. This is preaching God’s Word.”

The Purpose of a sermon? by Bryan Marvel He lists some points which he sees as a sermons purpose. My generalized comments at the end. Beauty – “Beauty is a powerful.  It has the power to mesmerize, captivate and change us.  Therefore, the sermon should be a beautiful word portrait that reveals the nature and character of God and his Kingdom as seen in Jesus Christ.” I believe that his observation, or this quality is talking about what is a good sermon, not why a sermon should be. He points out that sermons should have a moral impact on the life of the listener (good point by the way). We who preach sermons are in the business of morally changing people through our sermons. That must be vitally important and come through on many levels each and every Sunday. Application and change via God’s Word explained is what it is all about!!!!  Story. I don’t really follow him here, but his point is that other people’s “stories” or lives present a moral pull towards them, and a sermon should pull us to God’s morality. Worship. I think that the heart of worship is to morally be transformed into the character of the God we worship. In our case, it is to morally be like Jesus. Sermons are vehicles to effect this. If a sermon does not change a person (for example, only informing or teaching them) then the sermon hasn’t fulfilled its purpose.The Theology of Sermon Design” by Dennis M. Cahill.

 Sermon form, then, is not just a matter of what works. Closely related to the issue of theology is the question of just what a sermon is to do. There is an interrelationship between theology proper, one’s theology of preaching and sermon form… what a sermon is to accomplish, affects the forms we choose to use. Purpose in preaching cannot help but be related to the structure of our sermons. When the purpose is informational, certain forms will be used; when the purpose is to create an impression or cause something to happen in the life of the listener, then other forms may be chosen. In traditional homiletics, the purpose of a sermon was to bring an idea or concept across the homiletical bridge, which connected the text with the listener. But more recently the emphasis has been on the sermon as an event or experience. It is more a feeling, an emotion or an event that is to be brought across the bridge. The focus is more on what should happen in the sermon rather than on informational content… The sermon, then, is often seen primarily as an event… The sermon is not static but dynamic; something should happen during the preaching time. We are to preach the text, not just about the text. 

Although Cahill’s post is complicated and difficult to understand, he speaks of a shift between the thought that a sermon’s purpose is to communicate, to a new purpose that a sermon is to cause an event. Emotionalism has a part in this, but is not the central focus really. The central focus is moral change. I would disagree with Cahill in that he says that formerly, the majority of preachers preached a sermon to inform. In years past, sermons were meant to cause remorse over sin and moral change. I cannot accept that this hasn’t happened until today. It’s just not so. The Purpose of a Sermon by Robert Spencer.

…sermons ought to be primarily about the business of revealing the heart of God. In other words, after we hear a good sermon, some aspect of the character of God and of His plan for me and for all creation is made more clear, more vivid to my imagination, better understood intellectually and, yes, more deeply-felt in my heart than before. In other words, a sermon should help us to ‘know God.'”

Spencer guts the good out of his above comment by saying that exhortative sermons leave him feeling bad. On a related note, See MacArthur’s excellent post – Biblically-Anemic Preaching: The Devastating Consequences of a Watered-Down Message. Topics: 1. It usurps the authority of God over the soul. 2. It removes the lordship of Christ from His church. 3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. 4. It demonstrates appalling pride and a lack of submission. 5. It severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture. 6. It clouds the true depth and transcendence of our message and therefore cripples both corporate and personal worship. 7. It prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ. 8. It depreciates by example the spiritual duty and priority of personal Bible study. 9. It prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time. 10. It breeds a congregation that is as weak and indifferent to the glory of God as their pastor is. 11. It robs people of their only true source of help. 12. It encourages people to become indifferent to the Word of God and divine authority. 13. It lies to people about what they really need. 14. It strips the pulpit of power. 15. It puts the responsibility on the preacher to change people with his cleverness.