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How to preach a good sermon

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Part 13: Showing Christ as the answer

(Content of this section: Prayer, preparation and more prayer brings about a good sermon)


I usually pray and prepare the outline of my Sunday sermon the day before. I then sleep on it. I wake early on Sunday for prayer specifically about the morning's service and my sermon.

Almost invariably in that prayer time the Lord gives me a far better direction for my sermon than I had when I finished my preparation the day before. It seems in the busyness of preparing I miss the fulness of the message I was moved towards during the prayer beforehand. It is in prayer the next morning that the Lord speaks to my heart again and re-directs the sermon to bring out the fulness of the message He has for the congregation.

(Content of this section: Example of prayer after preparation giving the Lord space to put the sermon right)


On one particular occasion I had prepared my sermon with a passage in Nehemiah 7 at the heart of it. The theme of the sermon was in the area of faithfulness. In my preparation I put into the outline - as a lead on from Nehemiah 7 - a parable in the Gospels that had a very similar message. The next morning though, the moment I awoke, the Holy Spirit put the word "continuance" in my mind.

Now I had come across the word "continuance" during my preparation while looking up the Hebrew word translated in Nehemiah 7 as "faithful". Why was the Lord now bringing that to my remembrance?

Hearing it again I realised what a strong word 'continuance' was. I also, though, realised what a challenging concept it embodied. So I started praying, "Why have you brought this word back into my remembrance this morning, Lord?" Soon I was recognising that it wasn't just because it was a good word. It was also because the word reminded me that it was important not only to tell people what to do but also to give them the answer of to how to do it.

(Content of this section: A sermon needs to not only say what to do but also show Jesus as the answer on how to do it)


Every sermon needs to show Jesus as the answer. The passage in Nehemiah 7 had the needed message - for that time with my congregation - on faithfulness, showing the congregation what to do and proving a good reason why. What had to come next was pointing the congregation to Jesus as the answer for to how to do it. The Holy Spirit used the word "continuance" as the way of reminding me of this. The day before in my sermon outline preparation I'd missed this completely. Now I took out the parable - the one I mentioned above with a very similar message to the passage in Nehemiah 7 - from my sermon outline and instead put into that outline Jesus as the answer. Jesus is the answer to us being who we ought to be and doing what we ought to do.

All our sermons need to bring Jesus to the congregation as the answer. In this sermon I took the congregation to the New Testament and showed them the grace God gives us in Christ. Then I encouraged them that we can be people of continuance (faithfulness, fidelity) by being people living and responding to the grace that we find in Jesus. Jesus is the answer to us being faithful men and women.

(Content of this section: As a preacher point people to Jesus as the answer to their lives)


A good sermon shows Jesus as the answer. A good sermon addresses a condition needing turning around, a problem needing solving, a question requiring an answer. Once the sermon has highlighted or demonstrated the condition, the problem or the question then it needs to show Jesus as the answer. The problem might be sin, Jesus is the answer. He's the Redeemer. The question might be about living the Christian lifestyle in a pagan world, Jesus is the answer. He's the Great Shepherd. The condition might be failure, Jesus is the answer. He's the victory.

A sermon may well have an Old Testament passage at its heart but a good sermon will lead the congregation to find Jesus in the New Testament as the Answer. The prophets all pointed to the coming Messiah. Let's be preachers who point to the Messiah who has come. Jesus Christ is the answer to our lives.

(Content of this section: An example of the apostles presenting Jesus as the answer)


Peter and John found themselves in the midst of an assembly of the rulers, elders and scribes who posed them a question. Their answer pointed all to Jesus. Here was their answer,

"This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:11 - 12. - NKJV


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