Preachers must employ specific applications of the truth

  • "We are to make specific applications of the truth." — Albert Martin
  • Jesus applied spiritual truth specifically to individuals, such as the woman at the well ("Go, call your husband," John 4:16) (20:15)
  • After Paul listed out specific works of the flesh, he noted, "…and things like these" (Galatians 5:21)
  • Preachers have an obligation to name the specific issues in any given generation and culture which fall under the category of the works of the flesh
  • Preachers who fail to do this are unwilling to follow the mind of God
  • "The doctrine generally proposed, is occupied, as it were, in a distant object, and can never reach the soul itself; but its specific application comes in a manner into the very interior of the mind, and touches and penetrates it." — John Davenant, on Colossians 1:21

  • "Preaching, in order to be effective, must be reduced from vague generalities, to a tangible, individual character—coming home to every man's business, and even to his bosom. He goes on in a slumbering routine of customary attendance. Nothing but the preacher's blow—the hand not lifted toward him, but actually reaching him—will rouse him to consideration. … The general sermons, that are preached to everybody, in fact are preached to nobody. They will therefore suit the congregation of the last century, or in a foreign land, as well as the people before our eyes. … We must therefore preach to our people, as well as before them." — Charles Bridges

"Frankly, I have very little patience with some of my brethren who say, 'I don't name the issues; I just set out the principles and I trust the Holy Spirit to apply.' What a pious way to cover up an unwillingness to follow out the mind of God! … Never forget, when Paul finished his list of the works of the flesh, he said, 'There's some I have not mentioned.' And in any given generation and culture pattern, there are issues that are clearly coming under that category of the works of the flesh which we have an obligation to name, in the application of other biblical principles!" — Albert Martin (23:05)

People need help in applying the truth to themselves

  • "We must, by God's enablement and by grasping some of these principles, seek to make people apply the truth to themselves. … Men are going to run from truth—which is unpalatable to human nature—and under God we must seek to press them to apply that truth to their own conscience." — Albert Martin
  • "We must interest people in the truth by calling upon them to observe, by asking them questions to answer silently in their own mind, by every prudent incitement to follow us closely." — Charles Bridges (25:33)
  • "We must not expect our hearers to apply to themselves such unpalatable truths. So unnatural is this habit of personal application that most will fit the doctrine to anyone but themselves." — Charles Bridges
  • "Such [generic] discourses have commonly little effect on the people's minds. But if anything moves them, it is particular application as to such things, in which their consciences are concerned." — Bishop Stillingfleet

Preachers need to assume different classes of people (discriminate) in their hearing (27:20)

"Whenever I stand to preach, I always assume that if it's a group of any size whatsoever, that I have at least three or four different classes of people there." — Albert Martin
  • Various classes of people:
    • Those who have never heard the gospel with any clarity
    • Those who are awakened, who have begun to search the Scriptures
    • Potential false converts—those who think they are saved but have no evidence of salvation
    • Spiritual babes who hang upon every word and to whom the Lord Jesus is a precious, burning reality
    • Mature saints who have known what it is to go through the fire of affliction
    • etc.
  • The pastor is bound by duty to give a due portion for each class of person in season
  • This task, therefore, is not for the indolent!
"I think it is an insult to God, where He has given us within His Word the prescription for each of those classes to simply give out one dose and say, 'Take what you need!'" — Albert Martin

Excessive alliteration is to be avoided (47:54)

  • Many pastors are in bondage to artificial outlines and patterns of preaching due to this constant obsession with alliteration
  • Excessive alliteration in sermon titles, points, and sub-points puts people to sleep
  • It distracts people so that instead of thinking about the truth in the sermon, they are thinking how the next point will begin with the letter "P" (or whatever letter is being alliterated)
  • The Bible was not written or organized in this way, so it is an artificial imposition on the text
"Do not get in bondage to artificial outlines and patterns of preaching. Some of these men can't even greet you without alliteration—you ever meet those kind of people? … They probably proposed with three P's or something else when they proposed to their wife!" — Albert Martin


  • Wives of preachers should help their husbands by evaluating their teaching and offering constructive criticism (51:00)
    • Husbands—are you even willing to allow your wives to do this?