“Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you. (Ps. 45:5). There is little doubt that Psalm 45:5 speaks of Jesus Christ, His enemies, and the weapons of His warfare. Hebrews 1:8 quotes the very next verse, Psalm 45:6, with reference to Christ. “Of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.’”
In this present day, the enemies of King Jesus are all those who stand opposed to Him and to His gospel. At the same time, His chief weapon is the gospel wielded by His servants, faithful preachers, and evangelists. As instruments of grace, these servants aim His gospel arrows at the hearts of men and women, young people and children. The heart is the center and core of the whole inner person, the mind and emotions and will. Change occurs with the penetrations of gospel arrows. In the end, it is Jesus Christ who launches these arrows and brings about this change of heart.
The comparison of gospel messages to arrows has a point. Pun intended. A gospel message meant to stick in the heart is not like a basket full of fruit tossed out to the congregation for the people to grab what they need. A gospel message meant to stick in the heart is not like clumps of clay thrown at a wall to see what will stick. A gospel message meant to stick in the heart is a gospel arrow designed for this purpose.
Fashioning these gospel arrows involves the KISS method, “Keep It Simple Stupid.” As the Heath brothers observe, “What we mean by simple is finding the core idea” (Made to Stick, 27). For biblical evangelists and preachers, this means finding the main idea of a biblical text. David Helm, chairman of the Simeon Trust, “which promotes practical instruction in preaching,” observes, “Biblical expositors don’t step into the pulpit to preach without first being able to articulate the theme of their text in one coherent sentence. The theme is the big idea or the dominant issue of the text” (Expositional Preaching, Back Cover and 99). Helm goes on to say, “A second practical step a biblical expositor can use to aid clarity is to state in a single sentence the biblical author’s aim for his audience from the text” (Ibid.).
A couple of my favorite quotes on preaching come from W.G.T. Shedd (1820-1894). A sermon, he says, “should be a discourse that exhibits singleness of aim, and converging progress towards an outward practical end” (Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, 146). How should a gospel message be constructed? A gospel message must be constructed as a gospel arrow. The preacher or evangelist “must aim to pervade it with but one leading idea, to employ but one doctrine, and to make it teach but one lesson” (ibid., 147).
Sitting at the table at a fund-raising banquet, a young couple thanked me for my preaching. “Our kids,” they said, “are able to tell us what the morning sermon was about when you preach.” They heard and retained the sermon’s main point. Sermons should be gospel arrows. A lady in a congregation I served told my wife, “I always have a point to ponder and apply during the week after Denny’s sermons.” Sermons should be gospel arrows.