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Sermon #PP12

Illustrations, Eloquence, and Humor in Preaching

A Lecture on Sermon Illustrations, Eloquence, and Humor in the Pulpit



Sermon Description

The preacher must freely preach the word of God in a way that is natural, yet prepared. In this sermon titled “Illustrations, Eloquence, and Humour,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses the preacher’s need for freedom in the pulpit. On one hand, some preachers are bound to a manuscript and never make eye contact with his people. On the other, the preacher is unprepared and forgets what he intended to say. He argues for a well-prepared outline. Additionally, as the man prepares his sermon, he must consider the use of illustrations. Many preachers focus heavily on stories as their sermon becomes nothing more than an exegesis of their own illustrations. The illustration in a sermon must never be an end to itself. They must be used carefully and minimally, only to illustrate the truth of Scripture. Dr. Lloyd-Jones continues his lecture with thoughts on eloquence and humor. While the apostle Paul was eloquent, eloquence was never his goal. We should be wary of preachers who are more concerned with how something is said rather than what is said. The same applies to humor. A humorous individual will certainly, and naturally, use humor in the pulpit. But this should never become the goal in preaching.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. Opening prayer. Asking for God's guidance and blessing.
  2. Transitioning from discussing the dangers of written sermons to extemporary preaching. Extemporary preaching has less dangers but still requires adequate preparation. The main danger is inadequate preparation leading to an empty sermon.
  3. To prepare an extemporary sermon, work out main points into subpoints and write them down. This provides more freedom than a fully written sermon while still being prepared. Some preachers write out the introduction and conclusion but preach the main body extemporaneously.
  4. Reading or memorizing a sermon is not ideal. It limits contact with the congregation and freedom of the Spirit. Extemporary preaching with good preparation is ideal. It provides maximum freedom and contact.
  5. Learning to preach extemporaneously takes practice and time. Do not be discouraged if it does not come naturally at first. Experiment with different methods to find what works for you.
  6. The use of illustrations and stories should be sparse and careful. They should illustrate the truth, not draw attention to themselves. Collecting illustrations as an end in itself is wrong. The truth should be preeminent.
  7. Be careful with facts and do not spiritualize illustrations. Use illustrations to illustrate spiritual principles, not as spiritual truths themselves.
  8. Imagination in preaching can be helpful to create interest but should not run away from the truth. Do not let imagination or eloquence become the focus rather than the message.
  9. Eloquence should never be contrived but should flow naturally from the grandeur of the truth. Do not aim to be eloquent but allow it to happen when gripped by the truth.
  10. Humor should only be used sparingly and naturally. It should not detract from the seriousness of the message or the preacher's concern for souls.
  11. The length of a sermon depends on the preacher, subject matter, and congregation. There are no strict rules but sermons should not be too short or too long. Short sermons may not convey enough truth and long sermons may lose the congregation. Let the truth determine the length.

Sermons: Preaching and Preachers

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.