Fellow pastors and teachers and leaders: I know the frenzy of Saturday night when you’re scrambling to get your sermon just right.
After you got your three points, consulted all the commentaries and fit in your illustrations, here are a few checks to consider that have helped immensely.
1. Is God big?
People can tell if your God is small. If you quickly browse through your sermon, either He’s big or you are. Either He is in total control, the supreme authority and highest glory—or something else is.
In my first year, I made the mistake of referencing myself too much while skimming the surface of God’s nature. I randomly plugged Him in to “baptize” the sermon.
But people want to know that God is sovereign, powerful, wise and loving. They want to climb the mountain of Isaiah 40 with you. God is the point of your sermon.
2. Is Jesus sufficient?
Psychology is great, but not the answer. Stories will help, but are not sufficient. Doctrine is essential, but not enough.
Jesus alone is the King of the Universe, the sustainer of galaxies and orbits and atoms, the fulfiller of biblical prophecy—but he’s also close to the heart of struggling believers, the single moms, the suicidal teenagers, the confused college student, the rebellious pagan.
Your Jesus must have his feet to the earth. He is a person and not a concept. He must be for us, and more importantly, glorious in himself.
3. Is the cross visible?
If there is no Gospel, you’re not preaching a Christian sermon. Period.
There is Good News, which is the truth, or Good Advice, which is moralism. We do need Advice, but it must be built on the foundation of the News. Don’t be afraid to say words like sin, salvation, wrath, repentance, crucifixion, resurrection and rapture.