The excellent Issues, Etc* radio programme has this very handy diagnostic for reviewing sermons:
- How often is Jesus mentioned? Keep a simple running tally. It’s a problem if He is mentioned only a few times, or tucked in at the beginning or the end. If He is mentioned, even only once, go on to step 2.
- Is Jesus the subject of the verbs, the one doing the action? If He is, go on to step 3.
- What are the verbs? What is the preacher telling you what Jesus did, does, and will do for you? Is the Jesus that is presented one of pop therapeutic deism, who helps, inspires and gives examples? Or is He instead the Jesus of Scripture who lives, suffers, dies and rises again, all for you?
I find this to be a very helpful tool for evaluating the sermons that I hear week by week. Perhaps you will too.
* Disclaimer: the Issues, Etc programme has a Confessional Lutheran perspective. I am not a Confessional Lutheran and would differ from the show’s position on a number of important doctrinal points. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the hosts properly distinguish between Law and Gospel, and faithfully proclaim the true Gospel of Christ crucified for sinners and raised from the dead. I am therefore happy to commend the programme.