Solomon says, “A wise teacher’s words spur students to action and emphasize important truths.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11 Living Bible)
This describes the preaching task. Our job isn’t merely to give people something to think about, our job is spur them into action. Our job is to tell them on Sunday morning how they can put God’s word into practice on Monday.
In this sense, every sermon could be a how-to sermon — how to take “this important truth” and put it into action in your daily life. If we’re not challenging people to do something, we’re subtly encouraging them to be mere hearers of the word who delude themselves. [James 1:22] The difference between a sermon and a class lecture is in the application of spiritual truth.
Every doctrine, no matter how deep or academic, has a practical application. The question we must ask is, “What does this truth mean to the listener? How does it affect one’s daily life, one’s decisions, one’s attitude towards problems, one’s ambitions, hopes and dreams? How does one live life according to this truth?”
In class, we only needed to be able to define a doctrine or a theological concept to pass the test.
In the pulpit, our challenge is to apply it — to spur our people to action, so that their lives can be transformed by the truth of God’s Word.