Bible Question:

Can you assist me in finding sermon preparation tools (books, illustrations, guidelines, etc)? Also, in your answer to the question about the saved seeing their loved ones who are not saved, once we all die, are you saying that the memory of them will be erased?

Bible Answer:

Teaching or preaching the Word of God is a serious responsibility. An anointed preacher or teacher is not necessarily one who is dynamic, funny, or a great personality. God’s teacher or preacher is one who will declare the truth of scripture and not his own opinion. God was upset with those in the Old Testament who claimed to speak for God and did not. They may have thought they were prophets of God, but they were not. They spoke lies and not the truth. One who speaks for God must with all his/her heart seek to speak what God has said – what the Bible means. We do not have the freedom to invent truth, to give our opinion, or ignore something because we do not like the message. A true teacher or preacher speaks what God has spoken. This is the first place to start. Our emphasis must be on truth, and not style or seeking to please those who hear us.

I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds . . . The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. . . . Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.'” “Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, “and related them, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them . . . ” (NASB) Jeremiah 23:21-22, 28, 30-32

I would encourage you to read a Q&A which I prepared earlier on principles for sermon preparation .

Sermon Preparation

For sermon preparation I use a number of tools. When I come to a passage such as a New Testament passage, I first start with prayer along with a Greek-English Interlinear or Greek New Testament Bible. I read the passage and look up any Greek words that I do not know. I also check out the Greek tense to make sure that I understand the full meaning of the passage. Usually, there is some word or phrase that needs further study before I can really understand what the Holy Spirit was saying. Next, I read background materials to help me understand the passage more. For example, when I studied the Sermon on the Mount, I read books written by Jewish rabbis on the Mishnah and I also read the Mishnah. I like to check others’ quotes and comments. Sometimes they are wrong or have misquoted something. Once I think I understand the basic meaning of the passage, I like to see what others think the passage means. At this point, I want to read commentaries that have been written recently (1900-2000 A.D.), older commentaries (1000-1900 A.D.) and ancient commentaries (200-1000 A.D.). Culture changes our view and our opinion of what we read. It is interesting and sometimes convicting to see an ancient scholar provide a thought that we just miss. Then I pray and struggle with what God is saying. I pray more until the Holy Spirit helps me understand. Then I ask what is the message? What is the application? How can I organize the message in logical flow? What illustrations can I use that support the message of the passage? Then I put it together and pray. I hope that helps. Here is a list of several books in each category.

Sermon Preparation
Language ToolsInterlinear NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, A. Marshall. Zondervan.To see the relationship between the Greek and the English words in the Bible
New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Colin Brown. Zondervan. 3 vols.To understand the meaning of Greek words
The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew and English, J. P. Green, Hendrickson Publishing.To see the relationship between the Hebrew and the English words in the Bible
New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology, Van Germeren. Zondervan. 5 vols.To understand the meaning of Hebrew words
BackgroundJerusalem in the Time of Jesus, Joachim Jeremias. Fortress Press.Background materials change with the book of the Bible you are studying. This is a helpful book in general.
The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah. Alfred Edersheim. Eerdmanns,The Almighty, All-SufficientBackground materials change with the book of the Bible you are studying. This is a helpful book in general.
New Testament Times, Maria C. Tenny. Henridksen Publishers.Background materials change with the book of the Bible you are studying. This is a helpful book in general.
Old Testament Times, R. K. Harrison. Henridksen Publishers.Background materials change with the book of the Bible you are studying. This is a helpful book in general.
The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. ZondervanThis is an encyclopedia set of five volumes.
CommentariesThe Expositors Bible Commentary. Frank E. Gaebelein. ZondervanPerhaps the best overall set of commentaries for help with understanding difficult passages, printed in 1979 A.D.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary. Matthew Henry. HendricksonThis set of commentaries is good for application but does not always explain the passage very well. It was originally printed in 1714 AD.
Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament. Marvin Vincent. MacDonald Publishing Co.This set of commentaries is great for understanding the meaning of Greek words and was originally printed in 1886 AD.
New International Greek Testament Commentary. Eerdmans.This is a set of commentaries provides very detailed explanations of the Greek words. It is being printed volume by volume since 1992 A.D.
Expository Preaching. John MacArthur. WORD PublishingThis is the best guide for preparing to teach or preach. When combined with Haddon W. Robinson’s book (see below) you have a power house of help.
Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Bernard Ramm. Baker PublishingGood book to read completely.
Biblical Preaching, Biblical Sermons, and Illustrations for Biblical Preaching. Haddon W. Robinson. Baker PublishingThese three books along with Expository Preaching by John MacArthur are a must.
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations. Paul Lee Tan. Bible CommunicationsThis great book for illustrations along with Haddon Robinson’s book.

Remembering Our Loved Ones

We do not know if we will remember our loved ones. Scripture does not give us enough information to answer that question. We know that there will be no suffering in heaven – no sadness, pain, or sorrow (Rev. 21:3-4). Can we remember our loved ones who went to hell and not be sorrowful?


Each of us, whether we are a preacher or teacher, must be careful to say what God has said. When we correctly say what He has said, we are speaking truth. Otherwise, we are speaking lies.

Suggested Links:

What guidelines should be followed in leading a Bible study?