What Do You Do to the Bible to Create a Sermon? (part 4) Fill in the Gaps


Each week we perform some operations on our preaching portion to create sermons. We…

  • explain various terms and concepts
  • announce the shape our worship takes (what that Scripture is intending to do to the Church)
  • show the flow of thought or logical connection between the thought blocks


The fourth operation we perform on the Bible to create a sermon is filling in important gaps. The meaning of some preaching portions are like a puzzle that is missing one piece. Expository preachers fill in that missing piece.

In Luke 16:19-31 Luke records Jesus’ teaching on the rich man and Lazarus. In Jesus’ story, the poor man dies and is “carried by the angels to Abraham’s side” (v. 22a). The rich man, however, dies and lands “in Hades, being in torment…” (v. 22b-23a).

Jesus doesn’t give any explicit explanation of why each man goes to his eternal destiny. But, we have to. We have to fill in this theological gap in the preaching portion. We explain (you can see the overlap in these operations) that the poor man is not saved because he is financially destitute. Likewise, the rich man is not condemned by God because of his wealth. There were wealthy characters in the Bible that did not end up like this rich man (folks like Job).

So why is the rich man condemned and the poor man saved? The rich man didn’t love God or neighbor (cf. v. 20 and the address of the poor man: “And at his gate was laid a poor man…”). And the poor man? He must have also been poor in spirit. His humble financial situation must have been matched by a humility in his heart that recognized his need of God’s mercy. That gap must be filled in in order for this preaching portion to be understood and acted upon. Everyone must know what it is about the rich man to be avoided and what it is about the poor man to be emulated.

Before Sunday see if your preaching portion is missing a vital piece of theology and if your sermon devotes minutes to supplying that missing piece.

Preach well for the sake of God’s reputation.


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