Your text should always form a complete statement of truth. Some preachers merely take a phrase from a verse and use it, regardless of context. This is dishonest! It is called “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Cor 4:2). This must be avoided at all costs. It will lead to a dishonest and unbiblical treatment of your subject. In consequence, you will be misled and will mislead your hearers.
c. Reasonably Brief.
A textual sermon should be founded on a reasonable, brief statement of Scripture.
Although brief, your text should also be comprehensive. It should be a brief but adequate summary of what you wish to share.
When you read your text to the congregation, they should then gain a reasonable idea of the area of truth you are going to present. You should then seek to remain within the boundaries of what your text announces.
C. YOUR APPROACH TO THE TEXT
1. Thoroughly Digest Its Words
Read the text over many times. Ponder it in your heart. Meditate on it. Memorize it. Speak it out to yourself. Become thoroughly familiar with it.
2. Determine Its Language
Is it to be taken literally, or is it intended to be figurative? Does the writer mean what he says in a literal sense, or are his words to be taken as a figure of speech?
- Analyze Its Message
It will help you greatly to dissect the verse. Separate it into three or four main parts. Discover exactly how much this verse contains and what it has to teach.
- Investigate The Words
Try to discover what the words were originally meant to convey.
If you are fortunate enough to have a Greek or Hebrew lexicon, look up the word in the original language of Hebrew or Greek. Is there some special significance attached to it? Did the writer have a special reason for using THAT word? This study will help you understand any special application the writer may have wished to convey.
- Discover Its Development
What line of truth was the writer seeking to develop? What was he ultimately trying to convey? How does he accomplish this?
Try to follow his lead and develop it in a similar fashion.
- Consider Its Context
a. Biblical Context. What do the preceding and following verses say? Consider the verse in relation to the whole chapter from which it comes. Consider it in the light of the whole Gospel or Epistle in which you find it.
Make sure your understanding of it is faithful to the overall truth conveyed in the book. To do this, you must study the basic theme and premise of the book.
b. Cultural Context. Did the culture of that time influence what was written? Would the people to whom the words were originally written gain a different view of what was said than we would in our situation? If so, what would be the equivalent significance now?