“But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.”
Obviously our sermons must be Christ-centered, Bible-based and must glorify God. But the Apostle Paul gives us insight in this single verse into 3 critical components of a well-balanced sermon. It is very easy to slight one of these areas — given the bent of our spiritual gift and personality type. But for a consistent, healthy diet believers are best nourished and matured when they receive a balance of all 3 of these elements.
1. Edification — for the building up (as opposed to the destruction or tearing down — 2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10) of the saints. This involves consistent, systematic teaching and instruction of a doctrinal nature. We are not just to hammer away on our soapboxes but are to teach the whole counsel of God. This is one of the primary purposes Paul cites for the role of gifted leaders in the church:
Ephesians 4:12 “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ“
2. Exhortation — emboldening for facing or carrying out a responsibility or task; using the Scriptures to provide strength and comfort so that believers can follow thru on their Christian responsibilities — this may involve conviction of where we need to change our conduct; this may spur us to courage in trusting God for what lies ahead
Hebrews 6:18 “in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.”
3. Consolation — as speaking to rouse up hope about what has happened comfort, encouragement; in distinction from encouragement which aims to arouse the will to action —
Only NT usage — we live in hope — closely tied to the Heb. 6:18 passage above; we must live in light of eternity — not weighed down by our present circumstances
As preachers, let us examine our messages to make sure that we are covering all three of these bases.