How to deliver the message


Instead of saying, “God forgives you”, Isaiah wrote,

(Isa 1:18 NIV)  “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

God, instead of just saying He loves Israel, told this to Hosea..

(Hosea 11:1-4 NIV)  “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. {2} But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. {3} It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. {4} I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.

Use illustrations

Mark 4:2 He taught them many things by parables……

The Lord used parables extensively in His teachings. Things that the people in those days would understand – sheep, seeds, wine – to illustrate His points. We can learn from His example.

Fictional story

Here is an example of how Josh McDowell used an illustrate to explain simply and powerfully why Jesus had to come down and die on our behalf.

There was a story about a young woman who was caught for speeding. She was brought to court where the judge pronounced a fine of $100. After that, the judge did a surprising thing. He got down from his chair and walked down to the cashier and pay the fine. You see, the judge was the girl’s father. But being a judge, he has to be just and pronounce the sentence. But because he loves his daughter, he is willing to take the punishment himself.

Because God is just, He has to deal with sins accordingly. No judge in a court of law would close one eye to sin and let the offender get off free. Similarly with God, because He is just, He has to punish us for our sins. But because God also loves us, He cannot bear to see us suffer for our sins. That is why He sent His Son Jesus to suffer the penalty of sin on our behalf. Christ’s death is therefore a substitutionary death.

True stories

Paul was very good in sharing his experiences with his audience. He did not just dwell on theories; he shared his life as well.

(2 Cor 11:23-28 NIV)  Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. {24} Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. {25} Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, {26} I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. {27} I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. {28} Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

Generic experiences


Use quotations

Use interesting facts


Draw the relevance

We can teach about a Bible character or a Bible truth but unless the audience sees that this is relevant to them, they will think the message is suitable for someone else. You need to draw the relevance.

Elijah was a mighty man of God. He could stop the skies for three years. Most people would not even imagine that they can pray that kind of powerful prayer. But they are wrong.

(James 5:16-18 NIV)  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. {17} Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. {18} Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Show the audience that Elijah was no Superman. He was a man just like us (verse 17) and we too can have that kind of powerful prayers if we apply the same principles (i.e. righteous living, verse 16)

Arouse curiosity

Do you know who the greatest evangelist in the Bible is?

Do you know the only book in the Bible that the name of God is not mentioned even once?

When the audience’s curiosity is aroused, they continue to pay attention to satisfy their curiosity.

Touch the heart

In addition to touching the head with a curiosity statement, you should also touch the hearts of the audience and exploit the strength of their emotions.

Stories or principles that stir up emotions are not easily forgotten. It is easier to forget facts than emotions.

Share background information that is not evident in the surface text

Cultural background of the text

Word imagery

Underlying meaning of original language

Apparent contradictions

Does this verse seem to contract another verse or principle of the Bible?

E.g. How does the principle of the sovereignty of God contradict the teaching that man has free will to choose?

Does this principle seem to contradict the character of God or the reality we see in the present world?

These things, if introduced sparingly, get the listeners to engage their mind and stay attentive.

Relate teaching to current events

Structure of the lesson/sermon

Tell them what you are going to say

After stirring up interest, tell the audience what you are going to tell them. This allows them to set up a “bookshelf” in their mind. Everything you say later can be filed neatly into this “bookshelf” so that everything makes sense and form a coherent whole.

Say it

Introduce each point vividly so that the audience knows you have already moved to a new point.

Use repetition to make the audience remember your previous points.

Tie the points together so that the audience knows how one is related to another.

Tell them what you have said

Summarize the main points of your message

If possible, introduce a heuristic (short-cut) to help them to remember what you have taught.

Altar call – exhort people to do whatever the message would tell them to do.