The sermon conclusion should be an actual conclusion. Do not start with a bang and end with a fizzle. Do not preach until you run out of time or material. Do not plan the sermon and just “let the Spirit lead you” at the end. The conclusion of the sermon should be strategically planned and skillfully executed. The pilot’s ability to take off and climb to a cruising altitude is all for nothing if he cannot land the plane. The conclusion of the sermon safely lands the plane. The purpose of the sermon should be clear in the preacher’s mind. The elements of the sermon should be united around the main idea of the text. And there should be a sense of movement toward a logical conclusion.
The conclusion of the sermon is not the introduction. This is not a time to introduce new material. The exposition of the text should be done in the body of the sermon. Do not use the end of the sermon to stick in everything you did not get to say yet. The conclusion is the time to review where you have been, not a last chance to get in a few more sermon nuggets. All that has been preached should be brought to bear on the hearer in the conclusion as a call to action. To hear the word without doing what it says is self-deception (James 1:22). The wise man builds his house on the rock by doing what the Lord commands (Matthew 7:24-27). The conclusion should issue the sermon’s final challenge to observe all that Christ commands (Matthew 28:20).
There are two groups in the audience who need this final challenge. As pastors-teachers, we regularly preach to professing believers. The pastor who is committed to expository preaching must think about the sermon in practical terms, not just exegetically, theologically, or homiletically. What we preach on Sunday should equip our people to follow Jesus where they live on Monday.
Yet we must not assume that professing believers are true Christians (Matthew 7:21-23). There will many in our pews who walk in a false presumption of salvation. This Sunday-morning mission field should burden us to conclude by calling unbelievers – be they professing Christians or conscious unbelievers – to repent of their sins and call on the Lord for salvation. Point the congregation to the Lord Jesus Christ in the conclusion. Finish strong by calling your hearers to trust and obey Christ. “Him we preach,” declares the Apostle Paul, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28).
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