Before it is all said and done. Before you close the Bible on Sunday. Before your last point has ended. Before you call for a response. Before the musicians come back on stage. Before you have finished preparing. Before you send the slides to tech guys. Before you drive to the campus on Sunday morning. Before you walk up the steps to the stage – please make sure your sermon is a Christian sermon.
Ask yourself this difficult question: “If a Jew were sitting in the pews would he/she agree with everything I have said today?”
You see, the Bible is a Jewish book written primarily by Jewish authors. But Jews do not believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah (except for “Jews for Jesus” of course). It is possible to preach a passage from the Bible – especially from the OT – and have a Jew agree with everything you have said. But that wouldn’t be a Christian sermon. It might be a good, biblical sermon. But it wouldn’t be Christian. In fact, I would argue that you CANNOT preach a good, biblical sermon unless it is a Christian sermon (see Luke 24:27 & John 5:39).
Before you are finished preparing, preacher, you MUST ask yourself “How does Jesus make what I am saying possible?” Or, “How does Jesus redeem this?” Or, “How does this text prepare us for Jesus?” Or, “How does ‘Christ in me’ transform what I am calling the congregation to do?” Or, “How is it that Jesus is the hero of this story?” Or, “How does this point to the reality that I am included in the grand story of God?”
If your sermon doesn’t help your people understand how Jesus revolutionizes what is going on in the text, you haven’t finished preparing OR preaching. Not only is it not faithful to the Scriptures; but you won’t be bringing freedom to your people. Insight, perhaps. Information, sure. Intrigue, maybe. But not freedom. Only Jesus can do that. And He’s the point of it all.