Summary: A biographical message seeks to explore the character, reputation, background, contributions, relationships, temperament, and spiritual life of person in the scriptures.
IV. Biographical Exposition
DEFINITION - A biographical message seeks to explore the character, reputation, background, contributions, relationships, temperament, and spiritual life of person in the scriptures.
Examples of Biographical Sermon Titles (From Sermons For the Nigerian Pastor)
1). Gideon - How Can the Presence of God Transform a Yielded Person Into Christ’s Likeness? (Jud,6:1-24)
2). Gideon - How Can Someone Experience So Many Triumphs Yet End His Life in Defeat? (Jud.8:22-35)
3). Jephthah - How To Avoid Spiritual Ignorance? (Jud.11:29-40)
4). Samson - How To Avoid Wasting Your Resources (Jud. 14:1-20)
5). Samson - How Not To Avoid Temptations (Jud.16:1-22)
6). Samson - How Can God Restore Us to Usefulness? (Jud.16:21-31)
7). Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar - How To Be a Person God Uses (Jud.3:7-31)
1. Select a Person of Relevant to Your Audiences’ Needs - Select someone or some aspect of a person’s life that is small enough for you to do an adequate study on. The person you speak on should be someone who your audience can identify with. Try to show how the person struggled with similar temptations faced by your congregation.
2. Make a list of the references on the person. Try to use a good concordance for this reference search. Search extra-Biblical sources to supplement your study. Many books have been written describing both the fictional and factual aspects of men and women in the Bible.
3. Ask yourself the following questions about the person:
A. Reputation or Credibility
a). What was the person’s reputation b). Who wrote about the person? Why? c). What did people say about the person? d). What did his friends/enemies say about the person? e). What did the person’s family think or say about the person? f). What did God say about the person g). Why do you think God allowed this person to be mentioned in the scriptures? h). What valuable contribution did this person make? (Warren, p. 235, 1981)
For example, Jacob had a reputation as a deceiver. In fact his name means trickster, heel catcher or supplanter. With his craftiness, Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him the covenant blessing. Jacob developed a reputation quite the opposite of his brother Esau who was a hunter. Instead, Jacob was a quiet, meditative, settled, and well integrated man, who lived in tents. Jacob was always the favorite of his mother, Rebekah.
B. Personal Strengths & Weaknesses
a). What kind of character did this person have? b). What were his aims and motives? c). What was he like at home? d). How did he respond to adversity? e). How did he handle criticism? f). How did he respond to success? g). Did he get discouraged easily? h). How did he respond to the trivial and mundane things of life? i). How quickly did he praise God for the hardships and victories in his life? j). How quickly did he obey God? k). How quickly did he submit to God’s authority figures? l). What was he like when he was alone with God? m). Did he give God the praise and glory for his accomplishments? n). Was this man faithful in the little things? o). How did he treat his wife and children? p). Why did he succeed? q). What were his strengths and weaknesses? For a brief example, Jacob was a man who was willing to try all means to wrestle the blessing away from Isaac and his brother Esau. Even though God had already promised that the older would serve the younger (Gen 25:23), Jacob wanted to trust in his own insights rather than relying on God. Jacob used shrewd foresight to take advantage of Esau at a time of weakness. In Gen. 25:33 we see how Jacob traded a bowl of soup for his brother’s birthright. Jacob lived up to his reputation and name. He deceitfully juggled the truth to gain the right of precedence which his order of birth did not give. But Jacob sowed seeds of family hostility that would plague him for years to come.
Jacob was also guilty of using crass lies and shocking blasphemy, (v.20 ``Because the Lord your God granted me success.’’) to deceive his father into giving him the patriarchal blessing. Jacob was so heartless that he was even willing to cheat his father by taking advantage of Isaac’s blindness. Jacob not only sought the blessing illegally, but believed that it had some magical power to accomplish whatever he pronounced with its blessing. He lived a life of trying to rely on his own insights.
C. HISTORY & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
a). What kind of background did he have? b). What can you learn about the man’s family and ancestry? c). What does his name mean? d). Why was the man given that name and did he live up to the expectations of his name? e). What was his home life like? f). How did his parents treat him? g). Did his parents influence him for good or evil? In what ways? h). What were the characteristics of his parents? What were their occupations? i). Was there anything special about this man’s birth? Death? j). What was the condition of his country - economically, politically, socially, culturally, or spiritually at the time of his life? k). What kind of training did this man have? Did he have any schooling? What kind? l). How long did he live? M). What did he accomplish with his life? For example, Jacob joined with his conniving mother to gain the covenant blessing. However, when the facts were revealed, Jacob was sent away to his relatives in Haran. While on his way, the wearied, guilty, and sinful fugitive met with God. In a vision God revealed Himself to Jacob. God confirmed His blessings from Gen. 12:7; 13:14- 17;26:3-5. (Protection, provision, land, purpose, prosperity, multiplication, and blessings) on Jacob and his offspring. (Warren, p. 236, 1981)