Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
One of the important aspects of preaching is illustrating. Illustrations illustrate and support the biblical truth. It is a way to apply the teaching of Scripture in a way that is illustrative so that it serves as an aid for application in the lives of the hearers. In some ways it serves as real-life experiential clothing worn on propositional truth. The illustration provides a mental picture of the propositional truth lived, which the Holy Spirit uses to affect the heart.
This also is why it is important that one use fitting and appropriate illustrations so that they serve the text of Scripture and not supplant or replace the truth of Scripture. It is the word of God that is living and active (Heb. 4:12) not the sermon illustration, even though the latter does serve a ministerial role in the preaching of the living Word.
With this in mind, what are some reasons for sermon illustrations? Daniel Akin observes that “good illustrations serve several important purposes . . . [which] fall into both theological and practical categories.” Furthermore, he connects illustrations with “sermon introductions and conclusions . . . [with] illustrations . . . often the key to the effectiveness of both.”
Akin gives “12 Reasons for Using Sermon Illustrations” I include only his list (taken from his book Engaging Exposition). Please make sure you read his explanations for each reason.
Akin concludes: “Illustrations bring clarity to biblical truth and reveal how God’s Word works and has worked in the lives of others. They help us turn the ear into an eye so that our listeners see biblical truth more clearly. Illustrations make abstract truths concrete.”
Here are a few questions for thought: