Sermon Illustrations

One of my favorite stories is about a young seminary student who was terrified of speaking in front of others. He waited until his last semester to taking his preaching class, knowing that he would have to get up and present a sermon. His professor tried to reassure him that God would give him the strength but the student was truly shaken by the prospect of standing before his classmates.

The class all had to prepare their sermons on the urgency of evangelism. The sermons had to be in manuscript form, and the young student had the best material of his entire class. He had done great textual research on his passage, including historical context, and cultural implications of the verses to those who first received them. He had put together a very concise outline that clearly explained the text, and had found wonderful contemporary illustrations to help make application of the biblical truth. His professor was very impressed with all the work, and was sure that the student would have no problem presenting the sermon to the class.

When the day came for the student to preach his sermon he stood and nervously said, “The Urgency of Evangelism,” and then read his text. He then looked down at his notes, looked out at the class and stuttered, “Do, do, do, you know what I am going to say?” The class all shook their heads “no” to which the student preacher said, “Neither do I, lets pray!” After which he went and sat down.

His professor was very disappointed, he told him to come to his office immediately after class to discuss the matter. The professor pointed out the student that he had done all the hard work, that all he needed to do was share out loud what he had discovered. He asked the student, “Do you understand?” The student nodded “Yes” and was told to be prepared to preach the next day.

The next day came and just as before the young student nervously said, “The Urgency of Evangelism,” and then read his text, then after looking down at his notes stuttered, “Do, do, do, you know what I am going to say?” The class all chuckled a little and nodded “Yes” after which the preacher said, “Then there is nothing else for me to say, lets pray!”

The professor was livid. He met with the student again and told him that if he didn’t get up and preach his sermon tomorrow that he was going to fail the class. The professor reminded the student of the topic of the sermon—“The Urgency of Evangelism” and that he expected to hear about that topic tomorrow in class! The student nodded “OK” and left.

The next day as the student stepped before the class there was a sense of anticipation. As before, he nervously said, “The Urgency of Evangelism,” and then read his text. He looked down at his notes and then looked up at the class and said, “Do you know what I am going to say?” This time the class was divided with some nodding their heads “Yes” and others shaking their heads “No.” The student then with all the boldness he could muster stated: “Then let those who know, tell those who do not! Let us pray!”

As the student sat down the professor looked down at his grade book and under the assignment “The Urgency of Evangelism” he marked an “A.” In the margin he made a note for himself: “The urgency of evangelism is for those who know to tell those who do not!”

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