The Preacher and his Study Books is an article on how to choose good books for your sermon preparation. A preacher’s sermons and classes are only as good as his resource materials.
For some of you, you have gone through a seminary somewhere, and they undoubtedly touched on “the ministry and his library”. But most probably they didn’t go into much depth. Only a minister that preaches 2 to 4 sermons a week is really going to know what I am talking about here.
But the most important thing in developing sermons on a continuing basis is very simply having a good message each and every time. Sometimes we fall on our faces. I personally have worked on a “really good message” some 30 or 40 hours. But by Saturday morning I just put it away for some other time to develop more or just get lost in my archives. What sometimes “SEEMS” like a good message just isn’t and you have to give it up and do something else.
Concentrate on ONLY GOOD BOOKS
This is easier said that done. Concentrating on good books first presumes that there are good books out there to be had. That is not so easy to accept always. (Either they don’t exist, or I cannot find them, or I cannot recognize them when I see one.)
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But today with the advent of computers, libraries available on line, and the Internet, the problem is not getting information but knowing what is good from what is junk or mediocre. Even in mediocre material you can get some stuff that is useful.
So how do you recognize a good book? First of all, you need to know your own doctrine. Two preachers can look at the same book, and to one it is trash not worth the paper it is printed on, and to the other preacher it is gold. So the key factor here is what kind of preacher you are personally, and whether the book appeals to your kind of preaching and thinking.
Taking Sermons wholesale from a Book
What we have to exclude here is absolutely is the reliance on books to make sermons instead of books to give you ideas and support information for a sermon you are making.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter. Every single preacher is a messenger from God to give a message, God’s message, to a group of people. This is very critical to understand. The message is not made up by the preacher but received by the preacher. The basis of the message is also critical. It is for a particular group of people, and even the same sermon you gave to your church 5 years ago may not be appropriate today for them.
The Preacher and his study books should be compatible, your books helping you with ideas and with supporting information. But take what you find and make it yours by changing, adding, subtracting as you see fit. Don’t just copy somebody else’s sermon.
Know your congregation
People change. The people in your church leave and more come in. Maybe the new group needs to hear an old message, or the same people need to hear an old message again. We can never get enough sermons on salvation. Over the 40+ years I have been preaching, it amazes me how people put their minds on pause during the sermon, and they just don’t “digest” what I am saying. This happens more in salvation sermons and sermons on repentance than anything else.
Know what you are looking for
So as a preacher you are totally wrong if you want to go to a book and wholesale lift a sermon from it. It doesn’t work. I am not Calvinist ( nor Armenian) but it amazes me how Calvinists read Charles Haddon Spurgeon sermons and say how wonderful he is. Some say he is the prince of preachers. I just don’t see it at all. The problem is that I grew up in an environment of expository preaching, and my value system as far as sermons and books is that I want to see reasoned preaching coming with a lot of Scripture references and citations as well as reasoned explanations of the same.
Jack Hyles is another but I find little exposition in his sermons and a lot of emotion.
If you turn to commentaries, you can see this a lot better. Some commentaries are more devotional (raises the emotions) and others more technical. As a rule, Calvinists are more technical (but not always right in their positions) and Methodists-Armenians are more emotional.
I consider THE RIGHT WAY to make a sermon is to build the sermon from Scripture texts exposited, and then insert emotional exhortations that drive the point of those texts home in application. — David Cox
So as a general rule, when I look at books, I want to know some things. These key elements make me want to use the book or skip it. First of all, what is the doctrinal position of the author. Although this is important in understanding the work, it is not always an absolute up or down decision maker for using the book or not.
My view of Anglicanism is that it is “warmed over Catholicism”. Although they broke from the Catholic church, they still have the priests, worship Mary and the saints, have mass, etc. So basically an Anglican book is not on my desired list. Yet everybody that writes a book can be suspect. I am a Fundamentalist Baptist, yet I have read and hear sermons from some people in the same camp that I consider poorer than some Anglican commentaries. They (these my “brethren”) are hopeless lost in some fraction of Baptists, calling themselves Fundamentals, yet they do not know or follow either of those positions (classic Baptist Distinctive, nor Fundamentalist practices).
Do I accept Anglicans and their doctrine and practices? Absolutely no. I do not. I would try to witness to an Anglican, not fellowship with him. But some of their insights are very good looking at what they are saying. Somewhere back in all of them, there appears to be some that have or had very deep perceptions of the Bible that are good fodder for mediation. With Roman Catholics, I don’t see that at all. I have really never read a Catholic work that I found anything really good in it. Maybe some treatise on the Trinity would be good, but frankly, I have never read one and to my knowledge I don’t have a book like that.
So be careful with what books you gather. The rule is that if you purchase your books to study the Bible with, your funds are limited. Get only really good books. If you download them free, be careful that you do not lose really good books because you have tens of thousands of works. It is hard to find them again when you need them.
Where do your sermons come from?
As a preacher of more than 40 years, and much of that time I have prepared and given anywhere from 3 to 5 sermons in a typical week, I have to say that the true source of your sermons needs to be very clear. First of all, they do not really come from you, but from your “conversation” with God. We walk with God every day like Adam and Eve did in the garden. That is where the message has to come from, your life with God.
It is valid for a preacher to preach on a topic that maybe he is having personal problems with. I see nothing to say that is wrong. But more than anything, it is what God tells you day by day that is right or even what God points out as “wrong”. Everything you experience, meditate on that. Is it biblical? If not, where would the Bible speak to that?
Examples of Good Messages
For example, you see homosexuals and transgenders speaking blasphemy. Meditate on it. Where are they wrong? If you do so, you will go back to Genesis, that God didn’t create man that way. God’s creation of the genders, male and female, is a statement by God that these people are corrupting. That is the message. Beyond their own personal identification with God as a man or a woman, they are destroying the home, the family. Those concepts are what makes our churches what they are. The Preacher and his Study Books
A man has a duty to be manly. He must be assertive even though that is not popular. Satan has won the day on that battle. Women have to be supportive, a perfect helpmate, and Satan is winning the day on that one also. But as a Christian, we must discern what is not biblical and hang tough on what is biblical. As forceful as Satan is in destroying biblical men and women, we need to affirm what God says, and live it in our own lives.
These messages are ones that our people need to hear today. While I ten towards biblical exposition, that “biblical exposition” has killed so many churches as to make one cry. The biblical exposition is so we understand the commandment of God. 9 of 10 Fundamental Baptist preachers today are great expositors that never make a single application from all their expositions. It is like having the sharpest sword on the battlefield, only to never use it. What irony!
Help with theWord
You can download the program from www.theword.net and go through like you are going to install it, but choose the option to install to a USB instead of your hard drive, and then make a folder on your hard and install it there. This special installation of theWord will not appear in you popup start menu, but you can open a file explorer and make a desktop shortcut to it.
In this installation of theWord, put just you choice books in it. Use one installation of theWord to see all the junk you download, and what is really good, put it in this choice setup. The Preacher and his Study Books
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The Preacher and his Study Books