Targets are the minds and souls of our hearers. We are to aim a killing blow to unbelief. We aim at the conscience with the law and the gospel.
1st John 2:12-14
12 I am writing to you, little children,because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.13 I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning.I am writing to you, young men,because you have overcome the evil one.I write to you, children,because you know the Father.14 I write to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning.I write to you, young men,because you are strong,and the word of God abides in you,and you have overcome the evil one.
I. Preaching Must Be Applicatory- It is riveting truth that matches the text. Power and not just mere form. Good preaching is incomplete without application. We preach to people. Preaching to people is the MAIN thing about preaching.
II. Preaching Must Be Discriminatory- We must distinguish that there are both believers and unbelievers in the midst of the congregation. Good preaching will open the doors of the Kingdom to believers but shuts the door to unbelievers.
A. A line of demarcation
B. This line is a marking between wheat and tares, (we must recognize there are counterfeit Christians). People must be able to examine their heart through the Scriptures.
C. Regard different individuality amongst Christians. (babes and adults, little children, young men, old men).
III. The Pew Cannot Control the Pulpit. (not the other way around) We all need the same gospel. Just bring it! [It is important to remember to shoot the arrow and not the audience].
IV. Types of People Who You Will Preach To
A. Growing Believers- How do we preach to different maturity levels?
1. little children- those not yet deeply engaged in spiritual warfare. They need to hear clear teaching. Need to learn to walk by faith consistently.
2. Young men- those more acquainted with Scriptures. They labor in prayer, but lack maturity. They think very highly of their own spiritual insights. They must be stripped of "self." Humble them to live more fully in Christ.
3. Fathers in the Faith (Acts 21) The word dwells richly in them. But they loose excitement. They have a tendency to grow stagnant.
We need all three of these diverse elements in the body. Every group has strengths and weaknesses. All of this group are believers.
B. Backsliders- Abusers of the gospel. Must be preached against. The congregation must be told what backsliding is. These people lack a love for the gospel, preaching and others.
C. Those locked in spiritual bondage- these are those who are locked in spiritual bondage. Preach the gospel fully and freely, proclaiming the richness. They must be told, if they cannot proclaim God as their father, go to God and proclaim your fatherless condition. Teach people to call on God as father. Make use of Christ to know the father.
D. Unsaved- Stir them up to holy jealously. Make them feel empty apart from Christ. Encourage them to flee to Christ. Tell them there is no where to go for joy other than Christ. Aim this kind of preaching to the condition of the heart. Show them who they are. Warn them against self-deceit, [they may think they are on their way to heaven]. Something is a wrong with a person who can go a week without reading the Bible and not be bothered by that. But we must not preach easy-believism, but don't swing the pendulum towards the gnostic thought of a "super-christian" who has a secret knowledge.
E. Indifferent Unbelievers- Strong sermons about fleeing from the wrath to come. People will warn you about being a hell and damnation preacher. Don't fear! Jesus was that kind of preacher. Of course you might not preach this way every Sunday, but with enough frequency the indifferent unbeliever will be convicted. Preach emptiness apart from Christ. Proclaim the immensity and infinity of the love of Christ. Preach strongly as a dying man to dying men. Warn him while you can!
What about those who are hopeless? Those who think they've sinned too much? Tell them God is in the business of saving and choosing the worst of the lot, the small rather than the large. There are no hopeless cases with God. If God saved Adam, who plunged the who human race into sin, he can save you! He give his best, (his only Son), for the worse, (a sinner like you)!
Errors to avoid:
1. There are more targets than those mentioned.
2. It is hard to determine who is in what category, (the important thing is to recognize all these targets are there in someway shape or form and preach to that end). There are all kinds of hearers. But never, NEVER address people from the pulpit who need to be addressed privately.