- Exposition of the text
- Finding the doctrine in the text
- Application of the text to the hearers.
The conclusion of a sermon is not tacking the gospel on at the end. Rather the whole sermon should be working towards the conclusion. Read a passage of Scripture and find the meaning of the text. Next you examine it for the doctrine it is teaching us. Expound the text, get the meaning you are going to preach, have one doctrine that comes from the text, and seek to apply it. That is how you get your proposition.
Think of the proposition as being able to tell someone what your sermon was about in a text message. If it takes you 7 text messages to explain what your sermon was about, you probably didn't have a clear proposition. Work on that, think about the one thing you sermon is about. This is why some topical sermons are hard to follow. For example, they take a topic on marriage. Then there are three points about marriage from three different passages of Scripture. Each point is true and each of the points are all about marriage, but they are not related to each other in a logical flow of thought. Point one doesn't logically flow to point two and points one and two do not build to get us to point number three.
Here is an example of what NOT to do. I happened to be looking through some of my old notes recently and saw a sermon I entitled "We Must Preach Jesus" from Acts 4:14-23. The proposition was that the people of God can do nothing else but preach Jesus because we have no other message. My points were:
- Foolish Judgment
- Fiery Zeal
- Fundamental Report
In summary, your message needs to have one main proposition and that one point needs to be derived from the passage you are preaching. The proposition is what you want people to do or believe based upon the exposition of God's Word. Each of your points need to advance your proposition. If you point doesn't advance the proposition, then you need to reconsider the proposition or reconsider your point. We might think of the sermon as a table, the proposition as the table top and each of your points being the legs.
Just an aside. I have found the easiest way to do this is when I go from point one to point two, write a one sentence summary of point one, restate my proposition, and then a one sentence summary of how that leads us to point two. Writing those three sentences can be difficult, but it will be a world of help to at least clarify your thought. There are tons of ways to do this. In Romans 9, Paul teaches a line of thought and then anticipates an objection to his first point, asks the question, and that leads him to his next thought. By preaching the whole chapter, you could use Paul's questions as your transition statements and the next line of thought as your points.