Ministry tools

SERMON TOPIC: Ministry tools

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 26 April 2015


Sermon synopsis: We are going to look at the process of preparing ministry. We will cover:
- how to decide what to speak on,
- the different types of sermons,
- how to prepare,
- how to structure the message in order to get the maximum impact,
- what tools are available to assist.
- Download notes (332 KB, 1093 downloads)

- Download audio (17.47 MB, 1256 downloads)
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We are going to look at the process of preparing ministry.

We will cover:

how to decide what to speak on,

the different types of sermons,

how to prepare,

how to structure the message in order to get the maximum impact,

what tools are available to assist.


Q: What is the purpose of ministry?

To correct, rebuke, encourage and ensure that people are taught sound doctrine. (Are we doing this?)

2 Tim 4:2-4 (NIV) Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

1 Tim 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.


Equip God’s people for works of service, build them up, and make mature disciples. (Are we doing this?)

Eph 4:11-16 (NIV) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.


Babies cannot handle spiritual solid food – they cannot chew it and will choke on it. Because they were “spiritual babies”, Paul said the Corinthians could only handle spiritual milk and not solid food.

1 Cor 3:2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

But Paul says that to the spiritually mature, they “speak a message of wisdom”:

1 Cor 2:6-7 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.


As in the natural, we cherish and accommodate babies and take appropriate care for them. The only problem is when an infant remains an infant for an extended period. Hence the rebuke of the author of Hebrews to his audience for still being spiritual infants, requiring “milk, not solid food”.

Heb 5:11-14 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


Immediately afterwards he then says that he is now leaving the elementary ‘foundation’ teachings, and moving on to more mature teachings. (Note what is classified as ‘milk’).

Heb 6:1-3 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

While some are content to stay spiritual infants, remaining only with foundation doctrines, the writer to the Hebrews instructs them to start growing up.


So should we be giving milk or solid food to the people?

We need to realise that we have people at varying levels of spiritual maturity in the congregation, so we need to accommodate for both.

If we give only ‘milk’ or elementary teaching the spiritual adults will remain hungry.

If we give only ‘meat’ the spiritual babies will choke.

So at times give milk, at other times give meat. Or try give a bit of both.


Do all have a verbal ministry?


1 Cor 12:27-31 (NIV) Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.


James gives a strong caution to those who teach, that it is not something to be done lightly.

James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

The judgement is stricter, because a teacher has the potential to either do great good or great damage to those who depend on them for instruction.


Those who do have a verbal ministry, as with any natural gift, need to develop it in order to use it more effectively.

2 Tim 2:15 (KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Tim 4:13-15 (NIV) Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

Paul speaks of Timothy studying, being devoted and diligent – and others seeing progress – i.e. he would get better at it.


Don’t be deterred when you get criticism. It may be disheartening when you’ve spent a lot of time in preparation and then you get negative feedback when you minister.

But differentiate between the types of criticism you get.

You’ll get criticism from some people because that’s all they can do – they have a ministry or “gift of criticism”. Their advice is not constructive and the intent is to tear down, not build up. IGNORE THEM in the same way that Jesus ignored the Pharisees’ condemnation of his ministry.

Others will give constructive criticism. They will normally point out what was good with your ministry, but highlight an area where you could improve. LISTEN TO THEM especially if they are spiritually mature people.






Organisation (Structure)





Interpretation (Hermeneutics)

Plant seeds in your mind. A preacher must develop a ‘garden’ in his mind where sermons grow on a regular basis.

Quiet time – ideas for sermons will surface.

Notes – write notes to jot down sermon thoughts as they arise throughout the day. Record them immediately wherever they come to mind, because you will usually forget them later.

Reading – read good books or articles as often as possible. Ideas for sermons will usually accompany good reading material.

Listen to and watch good ministry.


The following may be occasions for special sermons:

Special calendar occasions: Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day etc.

Missions or evangelism month.

Special external circumstances which are in the public mind.

Special needs discerned by the preacher or others.

Truths which have specially inspired the preacher.

Response to series of similar questions that people may be asking the preacher at the time.

At times you may simply be requested to speak on a specific topic, by whoever requested you to speak.


You may consider varies types of ministry:

Character study

Find all mention of the character – see how we can apply their strengths or learn from their mistakes.

Book study

Background of book, who wrote it, where was it written from, why was it written? How does it apply to us today?

Exegetical (Verse by verse through books of the Bible)

Original languages, context of verses. How can we apply the passage to our lives?


Topical study or word study

List all occurrences of the word in scripture.

Structure them systematically to make a case for what the Bible teaches us about that topic.


How is the type fulfilled?

What can we learn from it?


Make sure you prepare properly so that you don’t waffle or ramble or leave people wondering what you were talking about.

If you are still new to ministry:

Take at least a week to prepare

Practice delivering your sermon before a group of close family or friends at least once. This helps to ascertain length or review flow of thought. It will also help you to build confidence and get constructive criticism.

Get feedback from people you trust and use it to improve your sermon preparation and delivery.

Listen to the audio recording to see how you sound.


Meditate on the text - Whenever possible, plan out sermons weeks or months in advance. This gives the benefit of ‘subconscious incubation’.

Concentrated ‘incubation’ should begin a few days before preaching. It should involve reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading the text, outline or complete notes.

Write Down Your Sermon

Don’t take too long to get to this stage! Get something on paper or the PC, don't endlessly doodle on vague notes.

Writing obliges you to think straight.


Pray for God to illuminate the text, especially its application.

All the time you study cry humbly to God for illumination by the Spirit of truth. Like Moses, “I pray you, show me your glory” (Exod 33:18), and Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:9).

John 16:12-14 (NIV) “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”


Ask questions of the text. What does it mean?

What did it mean when first spoken or written? E.g. Hebrews, 1 Peter. What did the author intend to affirm or condemn or promise or command?

What is its contemporary message? How does it speak to us today?

The text’s meaning is of purely academic interest unless you go on to discern its message and significance for today. But you cannot discover it's contemporary message without first wrestling with its original meaning.


Use the Bible as your primary source.

You are not called to preach on your own ideas, but are charged to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Clarence Edward McCartney: “Put all the Bible you can into it.”

Context - study the passage and its context to make sure you are being true to the text. E.g. some have preached sermons on tithing and giving using Luke 6:38 without checking the context:

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”


Be sure you understand what the passage means. Do your own interpretive work.

Don't use commentaries or consult with other preachers until you have listed specific questions which you have been unable to answer, or until you have completed your interpretive work.

If not you may be overly influenced away from what the Lord might be laying on your heart.


Always give your sermon a TITLE and mention it in your introduction. Don’t expect the congregation to guess what you’re talking about.

Have a MAIN POINT or dominant thought. When preparing, identify the dominant thought. When speaking state what the main point is. Again don’t expect the congregation to guess the point.

Your sermon should convey only one major message. The congregation will forget details of the message, but they should remember the dominant thought, because all of the details of your sermon should be directed to help your people grasp that message and feel its power.

You should be able to express the dominant thought in one short, clear, vivid sentence.


Arrange your material to serve the dominant thought.

Chisel and shape your material.

Ruthlessly discard all material which is irrelevant to the dominant thought.

Group material in logical themes. Review your sermon to ascertain flow of thought i.e. see that it flows logically to make your point.

Proof read your notes. Do a spell check. Try keep your notes grammatically correct.

While the goal is not a literary masterpiece, organization and refining your ministry enables you to make the maximum impact.


Outline - Either create an outline or have the entire sermon printed.

A good outline helps develop the flow of the sermon and keeps you on track. Without it, you may ramble, repeat yourself, and chase rabbits.


Introduction - where you state the topic or main thought

Body - where you give supporting points and application.

Conclusion - where you reiterate the main thought and primary application


Have an introduction

John Stott: A good introduction serves two purposes. First, it arouses interest, stimulates curiosity, and whets the appetite for more. Secondly, it genuinely introduces the theme by leading the hearers into it.

Add your introduction later - It's better to start with the body so that we don’t twist our text to fit our introduction.

Don’t make the intro too long or too short. “Men have a natural aversion to abruptness, and delight in a somewhat gradual approach. A building is rarely pleasing in appearance without a porch or some sort of inviting entrance.”


Main body


If you are doing a topical study consider giving a dictionary definition of the topic upfront. E.g. My topic today is ‘Temptation. The Oxford Dictionary defines temptation as follows…”

Have points that support your dominant thought.

Some say you should only have 3 points (as that’s all people will remember – unless you have printed notes)

Make your last point the most important one – as that’s the one they’re most likely to remember.


Have a conclusion

Your introduction and conclusion are vital – carefully write out both. Your introduction can cause you to capture or lose your audience before you ever get to the meat of the sermon. Your conclusion should end the sermon and offer the right challenge to your audience.

Conclusions are more difficult. Avoid endlessly circling and never landing. Avoid ending too abruptly.

A true conclusion goes beyond recapitulation to personal application. (Not that all application should wait till the end--the text needs to be applied as we go along.)


Nevertheless, it is a mistake to disclose too soon the conclusion to which we are going to come. If we do, we lose people's sense of expectation. It is better to keep something up our sleeve. Then we can leave to the end that persuading which, by the Holy Spirit's power, will prevail on people to take action.

Call the congregation to act! Our expectation as the sermon comes to an end, is not merely that people will understand or remember or enjoy our teaching, but that they will do something about it. If there is no summons, there is no sermon!


Application - As you think about preaching a particular sermon, ask yourself, “How does this relate to the people in the pew? What are you asking them to do in response to the sermon?” Application is critical to effective preaching.

The precise application of your sermon depends on the character of the text. The dominant thought points us to how people should act in response. Does the text call to repentance or stimulate faith? Does it evoke worship, demand obedience, summon to witness, or challenge to service? The text itself determines the particular response we desire.

Meditate at length as to how the message you are delivering applies to your people, to the culture, to you, etc.


Now we’ll look at Presentation or Delivery.

Avoid just reading your notes. People will lose concentration if you just read a speech.

Try make eye contact with the congregation as often as possible. This will help you to stop just reading your notes, instead of using them as a reference or as a cue.

An added benefit is that you can make eye contact and read your audience at the same time to check if they’re still with you.

Just make sure you don’t keep staring at the same people all the time, because you’ll make them very, very uncomfortable – or think that you’re directing your comments at them only.


Speak slowly - Think before you speak.

Consciously avoid using ‘um’ or repeatedly saying the same phrase again and again. (This is where listening to your sermon afterwards helps).

You don’t need to shout to show “the anointing”. It may be fashionable in some circles but do you really think Jesus screamed, “Blessed are the meek”. Today we do have the benefit of amplifiers and PA systems. If you do raise your voice use it for emphasis, not at a constant full-out volume.

On the other hand don’t whisper. Stand close to the microphone. Use your normal voice. Also, practice speaking in/ with a microphone if you’re inexperienced.


Try speak clearly and don’t mumble. Make sure you articulate well, without it becoming too obvious. Your audience doesn’t need to hear you pronounce every single letter, but they should be able to understand the words without having to try too hard.

Finish your sentences on normal volume. If you have the tendency to go ‘soft’ at the end of a sentence, practice not doing this until you get it right.

Don’t talk too fast, because you’ll lose clarity. Some people tend to speed up when they’re enthusiastic about something.

Keep your language simple - adjust it to the audience.


Try speak around 45 minutes, at least 30 minutes and maximum 60 minutes for one session.

Split the sermon if it’s too long. Otherwise you’ll either end up rushing through it or speaking too long.

If you’re going to speak so long that people die in the meeting (like Eutychus did), make sure you can raise them from the dead (like Paul did).


Be passionate about what you are saying. An attractive delivery has a lot to do with making a connection with your audience. Obviously content is very important in making that connection, but in your delivery a big part is the tone that you use when you preach. Your real feelings about your topic and your audience will shine through in your tone. True passion shines through in such a strong way, that it can help open hearts for what God wants to say though you.

Rhetorical devices are a means to deliver your content as effectively and persuasively as possible.

One example is periodically asking rhetorical questions (‘What does Jesus mean here?’).

Another example is ALLITERATION.


Possibly use an acronym (First letter of main points spell a word) or alliteration (all first letters of points start with the same letter) to help people remember your main points.

E.g. of an acronym in a sermon on “The Attributes of a CHRISTIAN”.

Commitment, Romans 6:16 Humble, Romans 12:3 Reverence, Isa 45:9 Inspiring Spiritual, Col. 3:1-3 Team Oriented, Ps 50:20 Informative, Eph 4:11 Accepting New Creature, 2 Co. 5:17


It may surprise some that the Bible does have some good illustrations of this e.g. acrostic psalms like Psalm 119 and Lamentations.

Same Beginning (Prefix)

Sometimes one can keep the sermon points alliterated by prefixing nonalliterated words. “Un” works especially well here, such as unwanted, unable, unfaithful.

Same Ending (Suffix)

If you cannot begin the points the same, try ending the points the same way. E.g. Words like information, obligation, regulation, compensation, adoration.


Same Beginning (Letter)

An alliterated outline from John 3:16 illustrates this practice.

Passion of God’s love: “so”

Perimeter of God’s love: “the world”

Proof of God’s love: “He gave”

Price of God’s love: “gave His only begotten Son”

Prerequisite for God’s love: “believeth”

Protection by God’s love: “shall not perish”

Provision of God’s love: “have everlasting life”


Same Ending (Subject)

If you cannot alliterate the first word of a point, keep the last word the same. This will give the alliterative effect. A Genesis 15:1 outline illustrates this practice.

Word of God: “Word of the LORD came to Abraham”

Comfort of God: “Fear not”

Shield of God: “I am thy shield”

Reward of God: “I am…thy…great reward”

Same Sound (Assonance)

This is alliteration by sound. Rhyming produces a valid alliterative effect.


Q: What tools can I use for this?

A thesaurus. Word and Powerpoint have one built in. Or simply Google it.

A dictionary might also give you some ideas based on the definition of the word.


Remember the power of imagination - Illustrate!

Imagination: the power of the mind by which it conceives of invisible things, and is able to present them as though they were visible to others. (Beecher)

Remember that humans have trouble grasping abstract concepts - we need them converted into pictures and examples. Think of illustrations as windows that let in light on our subject and help people to more clearly see and appreciate it.

Exert your greatest effort for illustrations that reinforce and serve the dominant thought.


Use illustrations – e.g. like Jesus’ use of parables or D.L. Moody’s use of anecdotes.

Use illustrations from the real world.

However, when using a current illustration, never embarrass someone or break a trust.

Employ a wide variety: figures of speech, images, retelling biblical stories in contemporary language, inventing fresh parables, retelling true historical and/ or biographical events, etc. Keep a file of these, especially if they do not come easily to you.

Avoid applying them inappropriately or overusing them.

E.g. of some illustrations: " ">


Try use humour at times to make a point. Those who believe this is irreverent haven’t understood Jesus’ use of humour.

Matt 7:9-10 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?”

Matt 6:2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men.”

Matt 6:16 “When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.”

Luke 19:24 “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”


Jerome Bruner of New York University has described studies that show that people only remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but about 80% of what they see and do. Applications like PowerPoint enable users to take nonvisual content and present it in a visual form that makes it more engaging.

In the example above, the colour red is used to highlight the most significant point in the written material, adding another visual dimension to the presentation.


Use pictures or diagrams. Check out the copyright status if they are to go on website – or if the source needs to be credited e.g.

"http:// resources/ illustrations/ sweet-publishing">http:// resources/ illustrations/ sweet-publishing

If possible, especially if it’s a study, use notes in either Word or Powerpoint. Resist the temptation to simply read every slide when using Powerpoint.

If needs be, use other multimedia like video, song or demonstration in conjunction with your sermon.


Hermeneutics is defined in one dictionary as “the art of finding the meaning of an author’s words and phrases, and of explaining it to others.” When applied to Scripture, accurate hermeneutics would require the scholar to:

Always look at the context of the passage and the theme of the book. Many heretical doctrines violate this rule by taking single verses ‘out of context’.

Don’t formulate doctrine on single verses. Confirm an interpretation with 2 or 3 similar passages (i.e. 2 or 3 witnesses).

Look up the actual meaning of each word (especially keywords) in the original languages.

Note the verb tenses, the cases, and other grammatical determinants.


Check out cross-references to see how the keywords are used in other contexts.

Authorial intent - no reader has the right to impose his own ideas on the text. The true meaning is what the author himself intended. Determine what the original readers understood it to mean.

Learn the cultural setting of the passage.

Literal interpretation - the meaning of a passage is the sense evident to any reader who allows the words their ordinary meanings and who expects the grammar and syntax to shape and combine these meanings in a normal fashion.

If the literal sense - makes sense, seek no other sense.


Don’t spiritualize or allegorize a passage in an attempt to solve some theological difficulty it presents you. If the Bible and your doctrine clash, change your doctrine, not the meaning of the text.

Amillennialists use this technique of allegorisation to overcome ‘problems’ in Revelation 20. They spiritualize the ‘first resurrection’ and equate it with being ‘born again’. They then relocate the Millennium’s earthly rule to heaven and make the ‘1000 years’ a synonym for ‘a very long time’.


It’s untrue that the literal meaning of the text will always be the only meaning. There may be a secondary meaning (especially with types in the OT and antitypes in the NT). At times a passage may have a deeper application, however:

The literal sense remains valid and the primary sense.

The secondary sense cannot contradict the primary sense (e.g. as with Amillennialists Rev 20 attempt).

When looking at types and antitypes this is clearly a form of figurative interpretation. But we are not suggesting that the type is the primary meaning of the passage. Instead we take a person or passage that we accept as literal and see how they/ it prefigure something or someone in the New Covenant.


A figure of speech is an expression implying an idea other than what is actually stated. The Bible does at times use figures of speech, as do all forms of writing. Examples of figurative language are:

Symbolism - Clear examples of symbolism are the mysterious women in Revelation 12 and 17.

Metaphors - A metaphor speaks of an equivalence when there is no more than a resemblance e.g. in Psalm 18:2 no less than 5 metaphors occur in a single verse. God is not literally a fortress, rock, horn, shield or stronghold; He merely, in some ways, resembles them.

Parables – a parable uses a natural truth (that we can relate to) to teach a spiritual truth.


If figurative language is used, then:

Interpret Scripture with other Scripture.

Be consistent in the interpretation.




Conserve your efforts. Sermon preparation is hard work. It consumes a large portion of a preacher's time. We are not good stewards if we do not conserve the efforts of our study and preparation.

Sermon notes - Even if you do not manuscript your sermons, prepare a thorough outline with adequate notes so you can recall the heart of the sermon later. Your own sermon notes will be excellent study material for future sermons on the same or similar texts or subjects. Sometimes going back to an old sermon can be like running into an old friend.

Sermon log - It is good to keep a log of when and where you preached each sermon. A sermon file (e.g. in Excel) is very helpful. You will want to cross-reference them under headings: date, venue, topic.


Conserve your efforts by using electronic tools. Use online Bibles, commentaries, lexicons and dictionaries.

‘Cut and paste’ from these resources into your ministry notes rather than retyping the information. It also makes the work more accurate, besides speeding up the preparation process.

Use the tools in Powerpoint and Word to do a spelling and grammar check.


Use different translations or paraphrases when studying and preaching e.g. passage/ ?search=John+3:16

A paraphrase is a translation of a translation usually in very simple language, so they are great when speaking to children or an audience where English is not the first language.

If you are doing a study, it’s better to use a translation i.e. translated from the original languages to English.


Preach using a Bible that has modern English. Younger people or people who know English as a second language are unlikely to understand archaic words.

1 Cor 14:9-11 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.


Use a Bible translation that your audience understands. If you have to keep explaining what you’ve just read, that is a problem.

Ken Taylor recalled: “The major family event each evening was the family devotion time after dinner when we read from the Bible or a Bible storybook and had prayer all around.” But Ken had a hard time finding books about the entire Bible written at a level his children could grasp. One evening at family devotions, after Ken explained a verse from the KJV, one of his daughters, then about 8 years old, said, “But Daddy, if that’s what it means, why doesn’t it say so?” So Ken started writing stories for his children and asking questions to gauge their comprehension. Ultimately he produced the Living Bible to make the scripture more understandable for children.


What criteria do you use when choosing a translation of the Bible?

Accuracy (for study)

Literal translations are better

Use original languages (Hebrew & Greek) or use a Hebrew or Greek lexicon

Cross reference more than one translation

Easy to understand

Paraphrases or Dynamic Equivalents are better here.


English Bibles are translated using to one of 3 methods: 1



Literal word-for-word translation



Thought-for-thought translation based on context



A combination of the above methods

1 NOTE: There is disagreement over these definitions and in some cases about which Bible falls into each category.




Grd *


New International Readers Version




International Children’s Bible




Bible in Basic English




The Message




New Living Translation




Good News Translation




World English Bible




New International Version







Grd *


Holman Christian Standard Bible




New King James Version




English Standard Version




Amplified Bible




New American Standard Bible




King James Version



17th C

Young’s Literal translation



19th C

* Grd - Estimated minimum reading grade ability of readers ** Brackets sometimes make for fragmented reading *** Plus additional amplification of word meanings.




Interlinear Bible (Jay P. Green’s)


New American Standard Bible


World English Bible


New King James Version


American Standard Version


King James Version


New International Version


Holman Christian Standard Bible


Douay-Rheims (Catholic)


English Standard Version



The test was based on 12 verses that are usually attacked on the grounds of the personal theologies of the translators. These 12 verses deal with the Trinity, repentance and baptismal regeneration.

SOURCE: " topics/ compare.htm"> topics/ compare.htm



New Living Translation


New Revised Standard Version


Bible in Basic English


Today's English Version (GNB)


The Message


Contemporary English Version


New World Translation 1


1 The test notes: Unless you are a cult researcher, you have no use for the New World Translation… Practically none of the essential truths of the Bible could ever be discovered from the New World Translation. Supposedly translated from the Westcott-Hort Greek Text, in reality none of the four “translators” actually knew Biblical Greek (this was proven in court some years ago). The NWT is actually a doctrinally modified paraphrase, probably of the American Standard Version.


Here is an example of an extreme paraphrase in the Message. It may be useful at times, but you can see why it’s not very valuable for doctrinal study.

Psalm 39 (The Message) 1-3 I'm determined to watch steps and tongue so they won't land me in trouble. I decided to hold my tongue as long as Wicked is in the room. "Mum's the word," I said, and kept quiet. But the longer I kept silence The worse it got— my insides got hotter and hotter. My thoughts boiled over; I spilled my guts. 4-6 "Tell me, what's going on, God? How long do I have to live? Give me the bad news! You've kept me on pretty short rations; my life is string too short to be saved. Oh! we're all puffs of air. Oh! we're all shadows in a campfire. Oh! we're just spit in the wind. We make our pile, and then we leave it.


Consult a lexicon for the original languages where necessary e.g. niv/ genesis/ 1.htm

When examining the meaning of a particular passage or a word in a passage, see how that same word (in the original language is used elsewhere in Scripture. What did it mean there.

Pronunciation of Hebrew and Greek e.g. lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?strongs=G5360

Use commentaries

It’s good to see what other preachers or Bible scholars have to say about a passage or topic. E.g. "http:// ">http:// (excellent on Premillennial prophecy, but a Calvinist site).


Consult church fathers at times.

I often look up what the Early Church Fathers believed on a topic when tracing the development of a doctrine through church history. E.g. on baptism " churchfathers.html"> churchfathers.html

OR " fathers"> fathers (Catholic site)

But with both commentators and the Church Fathers, sometimes they are very good on certain issues, but have strange or erroneous ideas on others. With time you’ll learn which ones are more trustworthy and in which areas. E.g. Augustine is excellent on the doctrine of grace, but on the other hand thought unbaptised babies go to hell.




Some cautionary tips about content.

Adjust your content to suit the spiritual maturity or language literacy of the congregation. Otherwise your message may go aver the head of the people.

Avoid using the pulpit as a platform for targeting specific people who have annoyed you. Rather let it be a message from God, than something to fuel a private vendetta.

Be cautious when quoting ‘facts’ and urban legends from emails.

Verify if “true illustrations” are indeed true and state the source (even as a footnote or in appendices).


When using material from websites:

When researching on the internet – check the source. Make sure it’s not a cult or heretical group – check out their statement of faith.

Avoid referencing, non-Trinitarian, Preterist, Amillennial or British Israelite sites.

At times you may want to avoid the opinions on Catholic, Calvinist (Reformed) or Sabbatarian (SDA) sites.

You should express caution referencing sites which promote prosperity and the health-wealth gospel, although fortunately their material is normally not free anyway and you’d have to pay to buy the DVD or book they’re selling.


When using quotes, check out the person who made it and see if you want to be using a quote by them. E.g. You might not want to be using a quote from the Dalai Lama or Sun Myung Moon in your Christian sermon. Paul did quote some pagan Greek philosophers in Athens, although it is considered by many as his least successful sermon.

When using Google to research a topic, often you get an encyclopaedia article (e.g. Wikipedia) high in the search results. Sometimes it may be very helpful. Often it contains a very liberal viewpoint especially when looking at dating or authorship of Bible books.




Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (


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