By Johnie Edwards
Some are critical of those who preach short sermons! I for one, do not believe that a gospel preacher should be limited to the length of his sermon. This article takes a look at the length of a sermon.
The Length of the New Testament
The New Testament I am using in the writing of this article has 248 pages. Not all that long, right? Ever thought about all the things the Lord said in 248 pages? His birth, earth-life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension are all recorded in a short essay. Of course there are other things Jesus did which are not written. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). The book of John that I read, has 23 pages, enough evidence to cause all to believe that Jesus is divine.
Paul penned, “How that revelation he made known unto me the mystery: (as I wrote afore in few words” (Eph. 3:3). They mystery referred to here is the uncovering or revealing of the gospel of Christ, that men might read and understand. Paul said what he did in few words! I know of nothing that God wanted us to know that Paul left out, do you? Because a man speaks few words does not mean that he is not bold. Paul said he was “bold” (2 Cor. 11:21). Just because a man speaks few words does not mean that he does not condemn sin. Read what Paul said of sin in Galatians 5:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10.
Bible Sermons Were Short
All agree that Acts 2:22-36 contains the first gospel sermon as recorded on Pentecost. That sermon contains the facts, commands and promises of the gospel. This gospel sermon saves, Paul said (1 Cor. 15:1-2). Some say, “Well, Peter exhorted with many other words.” True, but this was after the sermon was preached (Acts 2:40). Folks don’t listen very long; that’s just the way it is! One reason some sermons get so long is that the preacher repeats everything two, three or maybe four times. Or, a lot of the preaching time is used to talk about unrelated sermon matters. In our preacher training program, we call that “chasing rabbits.” Many preachers lose their audience way before they get finished, in that the points of the sermon are not parallel and have nothing to do with the sermon topic at hand.
The preaching of a short sermon does not mean that the preacher is not interested in the disobedient and that he does not preach on needed issues facing the Lord’s people. If a man can preach a sermon in a brief time, due to study and good organization, he should not be faulted for such.