A few weeks ago I ended a several month-long sermon series on the commands of Christ. The study was encouraging and challenging for me and I hope it provided similar feelings for the church. My approach to preaching the Gospel may be different from others. Each week as I study and prepare my sermon I simply studied a command of Christ and how I can apply it in my life. Then my sermons are simply me preaching to myself and those listening are basically hearing the crazy preacher-man talk to himself. It’s what I love about preaching and teaching. I learn so much more by preparing sermons and classes than listening to them.
It is one of the reasons why, week in and week out, I encourage personal Bible study in my sermons and classes. The things preached from the pulpit, no matter who is preaching, are to encourage personal study. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” Paul is encouraging the church there to study over the things they had been taught. It is not a good practice to hear something said, taught or preached and just believe it 100%. Look at our upcoming election next week. Things that are said by any candidate, media outlet or pundit should be looked at and tested. That’s why there are “fact checkers.” The beauty of God’s Word is that it is its own best fact checker! I strive to present the Word of God in a manner that is understandable and applicable, while maintaining a basis in scripture and not opinions. And when we take the time to study on the words presented in class or from the pulpit we may find errors in teaching. That’s when Christ’s command in Matthew 18:15-20 to go to your brother and address it with gentleness and humility.
A prime example… A few weeks ago I misspoke concerning the relationship of Satan and hell. I wrongly said that Satan was the “governor” or overseer of hell, but that’s not true at all. Apparently, I allowed my years of cartoon-watching overshadow my Bible knowledge. To clear it up, Revelation 20:9b-10 says:
“And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
It’s clear from scripture that Satan does not oversee hell, but he’s actually punished there along with those who do not believe and obey the Gospel. A brother in the body came to me and brought this to my attention in a humble and gentle manner, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. Without his personal study after the lesson, this error would have gone unnoticed. And our understanding of hell and its purpose would have continued to be tainted by Elmer Fudd or Daffy Duck.
So too with the lessons presented in the sermon series on the commands of Christ, I pray that it can be an encouragement to further your Biblical knowledge through personal study. All teaching we hear in church should encourage us to do this, but the commands of Christ are especially important. In Jesus’ “Great Commission” he plainly states that keeping His commands is an essential part of being a disciple (Mt. 28:19-20). How can we make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded, if we’re not setting that example for them to follow?
These sermons will all be available online in the near future. You can email them to people, download them to listen on the go or simply use them to encourage your studies. Please don’t let the 1-2 hours you may or may not spend in church each week be the only time you study your Bible. For how will you ever be able to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15)?
As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.