Every good message includes 4 essential tools for Sermon Development. We look at Explanation and using Logos 10 to find out what a passage or topic means so we can explain it to our audience.

Every sermon should include four essential tools of Sermon Development. We looked at these in the last post here on this site as we study how to develop a sermon. Now, let’s look at how to use Logos Bible Software to explain a text. We’ll look at illustration, proof, and application in three other parts of this series on how to develop a sermon outline that we can transform into a great message.

If you read our previous post that defined each of the four essential aspects of Sermon Development, you know that one helps achieve the other three. An influential preacher uses many illustrations to explain his sermon’s ideas. Illustrations show what we mean so the hearer can understand the passage.

Jesus Used Illustrations to Explain His Teaching

Read scripture, and you’ll see Jesus used illustrations called Natural Analogies in his parables. He explained the concept of faith using the example of the Temple Mount and mustard seeds, two things his listeners would know about. You either have faith, or you don’t.

20- So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21- However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Matthew 17:20-21, NKJV

Jesus explained the concept of faith using the Natural Analogy of a mustard seed. We might want to make this point in a sermon on this passage.

Today, we talk about degrees of faith, from weak to strong. However, Jesus taught that faith is binary. You either have it or you don’t. You believe, or you don’t. A mustard seed is the smallest seed that people commonly saw in Jesus’ day. He might have even had one to show the audience.

A Modern Example of an Illustration Used to Explain Faith in Sermon Development

Since people today don’t often plant mustard seeds, we might use a different Natural Analogy that we commonly experience, like a slight switch.

faith is like a binary switch not a dimmer switch
Faith is like a binary on/off switch, not a dimmer.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov

The average homeowner controls her overhead lights with a binary light switch with only off and on positions. It’s unlike a dimmer switch, which turns a light on in degrees of light. You can slide the switch up to ten percent for a romantic evening, halfway for average use, or 100 percent when you’re looking for a lost earring.

Jesus didn’t have two kinds of light switches. He didn’t have any light switches. Instead, he used a mustard seed. You either have faith, or you don’t. You can’t get less than that tiny seed’s worth of faith. If you have it, then you can do something extreme, like commanding the Temple Mount to hurl itself into the nearby Dead Sea. That would seem insane to those listening to him and modern audiences if the temple still existed. But he said, if you have as much as a mustard seed of faith, you could command such a thing, and the Temple Mount would obey. This assumes you’re acting in God’s will; He’d need to want the temple mount thrown into the sea by an ordinary person’s command.

By Novalis at en.wikipedia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The mustard seed illustration explained Jesus’ teaching about the binary nature of faith. He used a real-world or natural analogy to accomplish this.

Exegetical Guide in Logos Bible Software for Sermon Development

When I first discovered Logos in version 3 almost 20 years ago, the Guides sold me on the value of the software. Enter your passage, and Logos finds all the tools or books in your library that refer to a passage or topic. You can do this with the Exegetical Guide and discover many language study tools to help you understand the passage. Then, you’re ready to explain these Biblical ideas to your audience.

To open the Exegetical Guide, use either the right-click menu or the Guides button on the toolbar when selecting your passage. See the screenshot below.

Open the Exegetical Guide by clicking the Guides button and choose Exegetical Guide.

You’ll see a list of the different sections in the Exegetical Guide. These include tools for language study.

The WORD BY WORD Section of the Exegetical Outline

I focus on using the WORD BY WORD section. It shows your passage in both Greek or Hebrew on the left and English on the right (see below). Click a word to jump to that word’s entry in the section. Each word’s section shows the Greek or Hebrew lemma, an icon that, when clicked, will pronounce the word, a transliteration, and a simple translation.

The second line shows the parsing info. On the third line, you get the Sense info, a kind of translation that shows how the text uses the word in context. After the Sense, you get a list of your lexicons, which displays a short translation. Click on any of the blue links to get more information.

Hover over a blue hyperlink in the WORD BY WORD section of the Exegetical Guide. It shows a popup of the abbreviated info the link will show you when you click it.

For example, in our passage on Matthew 17:20-21, we see the word for seed in the WORD BY WORD section. You can click the blue link to open NTGED if you own it and read more about the word translated seed in The New Testament Greek English Dictionary from Gilbrant, Thoralf. 1991. The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary comes as part of The Complete Biblical Library. There you find under “New Testament Usage” the following:

In all of its New Testament occurrences kokkos is used figuratively. Even with faith the size of a small mustard seed, one can live a miraculous life.

Gilbrant, Thoralf. 1991. “Κόκκος.” In The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary. The Complete Biblical Library. WORDsearch.

The above might help you as you study and try to explain the idea of a mustard seed representing such an infinitesimal amount of faith to explain that you either have faith or don’t have faith. If you have it, you can move mountains, like the Temple Mount, which eventually happened in 70 AD after Jesus made the temple sacrifice moot.

If you don’t own the NTGED or the Complete Biblical Library, head over to Logos to get it (Affiliate Link).

Passage Guide in Logos Bible Software for Sermon Development

Like the Exegetical Guide, the Passage Guide starts by asking you to enter your passage. The Guide will then show you different kinds of content when compared to the Exegetical Guide. It focuses less on language study and more on references like Commentaries and other tools like Biblical People, Places, and Things or Sermons and Illustrations. Let’s take a look.

Open the Passage Guide using the right-click menu. Select your passage and right-click. Make sure to select the Reference on the left and click on Passage Guide on the right.

Follow the same procedure as opening the Exegetical Guide. Select the passage, right-click it, and choose the Reference on the left list of the popup and the Passage Guide on the right list. The Guide will open and search all of your books in the Passage Guide categories for the selected Reference.

Alternatively, open the Passage Guide from the Guides button on the toolbar of Logos 10 using the same steps above when opening the Exegetical Guide.

Using Search Results to Explain an Idea in Logos 10

Let’s use our Matthew 17:20 example from above. With the Passage Guide open as instructed in the previous section, begin opening tools by clicking on them in the Guide. I prioritized the New American Commentary so the Matthew volume sits atop the list of commentaries near the top of the Passage Guide.

Click the book to buy this wonderful commentary set from Logos.

When you read the section on verses 19-20 you’ll see the author of the commentary writes:

“Nothing will be impossible for you” must thus be interpreted as nothing Jesus has given you the authority to do, such as this exorcism.22 Obviously, many other things are impossible for believers—based on the limitations of their humanity and of God’s will. As v. 22 immediately makes plain, even Jesus’ own miracle-working abilities did not permit him to escape the cross despite repeated temptation to do precisely that.

Blomberg, Craig. 1992. Matthew. Vol. 22. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

This helps us explain that faith is not like a blank check. We can use the ideas presented in the commentaries and then give an illustration of a blank check to help our listeners understand that godly, Biblical faith is not an unlimited promise to let us do anything we please outside God’s plan.

Notice that we have our passage selected (1 above). We opened the Passage Guide, which searched for the selected Reference (2 above). Scroll down to Biblical Things, and you’ll see images of Mustard Seeds (3 above).

You’ll find other excellent lists of resources in the Passage Guide. Look at the Cross References section, which refers to Luke 17:6, the parable of the Mustard Seed, modified by Jesus to refer to the miraculous ability to transplant a mulberry tree. The Passage Guide also includes links to the Factbook. So you could head down to the Biblical Things section of our Passage Guide. There, you’ll find links to images from the Factbook.

You will also find these sections in other Guides like the Sermon Starter Guide and Topic Guide.

Power Lookup to Learn What a Passage Means for Explanation in Sermon Development

Users often forget the Power Lookup tool, but it works like a kind of Guide to search for content on a selected text or word. Right-click on the Passage and either choose the Selection or Reference on the left side of the popup. Scroll down to the Lookup section on the right side of the popup. You’ll find Power Lookup.

Right-click your passage and choose the Reference on the left of the popup menu. On the right, scroll down to Power Lookup. If you’re looking up a word, right-click it, choose Selection on the left, and scroll to Power Lookup. The Power Lookup window opens on the left side of your Logos 10 screen.

The Power Lookup window opens in a small section along the right side of the Logos screen. It includes links to and short previews of things like…

  • Footnotes
  • Bible passages
  • Commentaries
  • Language tools

The Power Lookup panel links to the Bible you have active and moves when you move to a new passage. This helps when studying longer passages.

Note that all links to Logos resources are Logos Affiliate Links. I will receive a small percentage of the price if you purchase them using my links.

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