A welcome breath of cool, fresh air has come from our pulpits in recent years, thanks to the inductive method of preaching. Advocates of this approach, such as Fred Craddock, have stressed the need to involve the congregation in the preaching event by taking them on the sermon journey and allowing them to arrive at the desired conclusion with the preacher.
The traditional method of deductive preaching gives the thesis (we might call it the conclusion) first and attempts to prove it, explain it, or encourage it, usually in three points. There are times when the authoritative deductive approach is preferred, but the gentle style of induction must not be ignored and dismissed as unbiblical preaching.
Whereas deductive preaching begins with a thesis and builds on it — is analytical, logical and intellectual (appeals to the mind) in nature — inductive preaching gives clues, stories, illustrations. It is reflective, literary, and pricks the heart as it flows toward the desired thesis. It allows the listener to participate in the sermon.
Much preaching today is still deductive, and the inductive method has not been well received by some. But a study of the teaching and preaching of Jesus (the master of induction) and the sermons in Acts reveal induction, not deduction, as the method used to proclaim the Good News. Certainly that is the approach Peter took on the Day of Pentecost when he preached.
But I have wondered …. What if Peter had studied deductive preaching? And what if he had delivered that deductive sermon as casually as some of us do? It might have sounded like ….
“Good morning! No, that is not good enough. I can’t hear you. GOOD MORNING!! That’s better. It is certainly great to see all of you gathered here this morning. What a fine crowd. We have some Parthians, Medes, Elamites and God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. Welcome.
“I have two announcements before the sermon. First, we are not drunk as some of you suppose. Come on! It is only nine in the morning. Second, this is fulfillment of prophecy. The Holy Spirit of God is doing this and it is all because of one man, Jesus of Nazareth. He is what I wish to speak to you about today. Amen? Amen! God has made this Jesus both Lord and Christ.
“Now, there are three reasons why we know that God has indeed made him Lord and Christ. Reason number one: God’s providence. Reason number two: God’s power. And reason number three: God’s promise.
“Let us consider reason number one, God’s providence. God was truly at work in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs. Many of you saw them. We did!
“We are witnesses of the many miracles He performed. We saw Him feed thousands with just a little food. We saw Him still a stormy sea. We saw Him heal the sick and lame, and cast out evil spirits. Bartimaeus is not blind anymore. Lazarus is not dead anymore. Jesus is Lord and Christ because of God’s providence in His life and ministry.
“Now, that brings us to reason number two: God’s power. As some of you probably have heard, this Jesus was put to death by the hands of sinful men. They beat Him and nailed Him to a cross. I refer you to Death and Burial in Roman Occupied Palestine for a fine study on crosses, pages 189-225. Then they took the body and placed it in a tomb that belonged to someone else — see same source for a study on tombs. But He would not stay there long. His enemies, for fear that we would steal the body, persuaded Pilate to place soldiers at the tomb. They even sealed it. On the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead. What power! We are witnesses of this. Yes, beloved, Jesus is Lord and Christ because of God’s power.
“Now, not only is Jesus Lord and Christ because of God’s providence and power, but, finally, reason number three, God’s promise. Fellow Jews, you believe the Holy Writings, don’t you? You know the authority of the prophets! God promised all you have seen and heard today.
“In conclusion, I repeat: God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. He has given us three reasons to believe that: God’s providence, God’s power, and God’s promise. Now, repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God shall call. Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.
“So come on down. Do not worry about what your friends think or say. Come on, as we stand and as we sing …”
Deductive preaching has its place and is needed, but who can listen to Peter’s sermon (or Paul’s in Acts 17:22-31) and not be moved, not only by the truth and power of the message but by the beauty and simplicity of the method? Aren’t you glad Peter preached inductively?

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