In the previous two blogs, I demonstrated how a sermon can be organized topically or based upon a passage of Scripture. Now I will show you the third arrangement. A sermon can be based upon one verse.
The Bible is plentiful with golden verses which summarize the Gospel message. These verses contain the four main parts of the message: God, man, Christ, and response. Think of this arrangement as preaching a topical message with only one verse. The only difference is that the verse contains the four aspects of Gospel proclamation. I will give three examples of verses that I normally use in the Open-Air.
1. Acts 4:12
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
A. Why do we need salvation?
i. God is holy.
ii. Man is a sinner who is under God’s wrath.
iii. Without faith and repentance in Christ, a person will go to hell.
B. Can we be saved outside of Jesus Christ?
i. No! Jesus Christ’s atonement on the cross is the only way to be saved.
ii. Allah, Vishnu, Humanism, and Mary the mother of Jesus will not save you.
iii. Are you trusting in Christ for salvation? He is the only way!
Point A explains the first phrase, “And there is salvation in no one else.” By defining salvation, the preacher must talk about God’s holiness and man’s rebellion. This is why we need to be saved. Then, you can move to the solution which is faith and repentance in Jesus Christ. In point B, the preacher emphasizes the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. He expounds on the rest of the verse, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” By talking about false religions, it gives the contrast to the truth. This is important considering our audience. In our post-modern culture, many people reject absolute truth claims. We must call sinners to the absolute truth that Jesus is the only name that can save us.
2. 1 Timothy 2:5
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,”
A. How many gods are there?
i. God is one.
ii. Polytheistic religions are wrong. (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Mormonism)
B. What is a mediator?
i. A mediator is a person who brings reconciliation between two parties.
C. Why do we need a mediator?
i. Man has sinned against God.
ii. Man is an enemy against God.
iii. Man punishment is Hell.
D. How is Christ the mediator?
i. He is the God-Man.
ii. He died on the cross as a substitute for sinners which appeased God’s Wrath.
iii. You must repent and believe in Jesus to be reconciled to God.
E. Can anyone else be a mediator?
i. No! There is only one.
ii. Mary the mother of Jesus, saints, Muhammad, Buddha, and dead parents cannot mediate for you.
In point A, the preacher will explain that God is one. This is based upon “For there is one God…” In point B, the preacher moves to the next section and defines a mediator. In point C, the preacher must explain why a mediator is necessary. At this point, the preacher can preach the doctrine of man’s sin and the consequences. In point D, Christ is exalted as the perfect mediator since He is God and man. Finally, point E gives the negative. Since Christ is the only mediator, you cannot turn to anyone else.
3. John 3:36
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
A. How can you have eternal life?
i. Man must trust in the crucified risen Son.
ii. Explain believe: mental ascent, agreement, and trust.
iii. Explain eternal life.
B. What happens if a person does not believe?
i. The person has disobeyed the Son’s command.
ii. The law breaker will not have eternal life.
iii. God’s wrath will remain on him. He will go to Hell.
iv. Believe and Jesus Christ to be saved. Are you believing in Him or rejecting Him?
John 3:36 explains the dark and white contrast between believing in Jesus and rejecting Him. In point A, the preacher explains the way of salvation. The glorious Gospel is proclaimed that trusting in Christ’s work on the cross will give you eternal life. In point B, the preacher lovingly warns of the consequences of disobedience. There is no neutral ground. A person cannot be like Switzerland and ride the fence. Christ commands to believe. By not believing, you have disobeyed. This text highlights the preacher’s responsibility to proclaim the doctrine of Hell. It is real and sinners go there. End the message by pleading with sinners to trust in Christ to be saved from God’s wrath.
What are the advantages of preaching one verse?
This is my preferred method to preaching for three reasons. First, it keeps the preacher on message. By expounding on a small portion of Scripture, the preacher will be more likely to stay away from rabbit trails or secondary issues. Second, the verse gives you the outline to preach. The preacher only needs to take one phrase at a time and explain it. This gives him direction and momentum to the sermon. Third, it will improve your delivery. Since you are concentrating on one verse, you will not have your eyes in your Bible or notes as much. Memorize the verse and preach with the Bible at your side. This will allow you to focus on eye contact and connecting with the hearers who come by. Then, you can preach with the passion and urgency that the text demands.
What is the disadvantage of preaching one verse?
The one mistake that a person can make is to take the verse out of context. Remember that God did not inspire the verse chapters and numbers. It is a sentence which can be only understood properly by understanding the flow of thought in the book. Be careful that you do not rip the verse out of context to make it say something that was not the original intent of the authors.
What is the best way to pick a verse?
As you read your Bibles daily, keep a notebook with you. Write down a verse that summarizes the Gospel and captures your heart. A preacher to whom the Holy Spirit has ministered will proclaim the Gospel differently than a preacher who has not had his heart warmed by the verse he is preaching. Brothers, preach the verses that pour gasoline on your evangelistic fires. Preach the verses that makes you want to jump from your knees during your devotion time to find someone to tell of Jesus’ love for sinners. Preach the verses that preach to you!
Pastor Brandon was born and raised near Springfield, IL. He graduated from Illinois College in 2007 with a B.A. in History, from Moody Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity, and a PhD in Historical Theology in 2021 from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. He is also an ACBC certified Biblical counselor. He is married to Karise with whom they raise Ian, Elizabeth, and Patrick. He is interested in history, especially Charles Spurgeon, and has a heart for street preaching and evangelism.