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It’is difficult sometimes to understand certain passages from Scripture. It becomes even harder when you have to communicate them so they can be understood. Of course, the Holy Spirit lights up and opens the heart of the listeners but I’m not desconsidering the preparation and the personal effort.
The sermon illustrations play a vital role in the communication and the reception of the truth. God told Noah to „build a window in the boat”. The sermon illustrations, in this respect, are „windows”, as Spurgeon mentioned. You might bring a lot of fog with plenty definitions and theological explanations but inserting a good illustration will bring clarity and practicability to your message. It will bring freshness and will make „the air to circulate in your exposure”.
On the other hand, you can inflict damage to your text with an awkward illustration. I remember the sermon evaluation tests at the seminary. You can hear many homiletic pearls if you have the patience to listen. And I have also used many, let’s say, strange illustrations. God have mercy. That’s why we were assessing the sermons after, to learn from our mistakes.
Such an illustration, from a sermon, got stuck in my mind.
Our colleague spoke from 1Cor. 3:12, 13, describing what means to build on gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw and that each man’s work will become evident, and the Lord’s day will show it.
But he wasn’t very inspired. He used the story of the three little pigs to support his message. And he was preaching with passion on „how the wolf arrived at the first house of straw and blew (and he blew too, as though he had been the wolf) and the house falls down. Got to the second one, made of wood (and again blows) and the house falls down. At the third one, made of stone, the wolf blows and keeps blowing … until he falls fainted because of so much air flow. That’s why we must be careful on what and how we build, because in the end, each man’s work will become evident. 🙂