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(A 384 page hardback book with 33 chapters)

is not that difficult nor is it all that complicated. Now, that is not what
many preachers would have you believe. They think that if they can take you
around the block enough and point out enough scriptures, they can
impress you with a truth. However, truth was not
given to us to impress us. It was given to us to leave an
impression on our lives.
you went to your doctor to be treated and your doctor decided to peruse the
medical books with you attempting to impress upon you the
truth of what he studied that week, you might be inclined to find
another doctor. Yet, this is exactly what many preachers
attempt to do when they preach. They seem to feel they are giving a lecture on
theology rather than a prescription for living the
Christian life.
Hyles was often criticized for being a practitioner rather than a lecturer, yet
when people heard him preach they were moved to change something. Every sermon
was an attempt to make a difference in some area of their lives. Call it
topical or call it Biblical, I don’t care. What I do know is that I never heard
him preach without being moved to do something.
Dr. Hyles preached he did something very few men do, and if they do it they do
not fully understand why they do it. They may merely be doing it because they
saw Dr. Hyles do it, which is not altogether a bad
reason. I have heard him say literally thousands of times, “Put your
, put your Bibles under your seats, and look
right up here at me while I’m preaching.” If he
was preaching
with me he would add, “Now when Dr. Gray is
preaching I recommend you take notes, but while
you have a good looking man up here you need to look at him.” It never failed
to make people laugh and relax.
First Baptist Church the people were trained to not take notes while he
preached. At HylesAnderson College he did not have the
students take notes on his sermons. No matter where he was, he was
adamant that people listen to him preach rather than take notes. I cringed when
I saw someone writing while he was preaching. I knew if he saw them he would
ask them to stop.
I explain the why of this, I want to
comment that having heard thousands of sermons by many wonderful men over the
years of my ministry, I remember with greater clarity more sermons preached by
Dr. Hyles than all the others combined. I have
heard many masterpieces of oratory in my years, but the
sermons I remember most were the ones he preached. He always impacted me. Now,
why did Dr. Hyles want everyone to put
their pens away
while he was preaching?
1. He was not lecturing. Dr. Hyles was a wonderful teacher,
but he was not a lecturer and did not strive to be. He was a preacher and he
believed there was a grand difference between preaching and lecturing. On Wednesday
nights he might have used more of a teaching
type of lesson where people could take notes, but on
Sundays and in conferences he was a preacher.
He was not invited week after week to
come to a church and lecture. Could he have done so? Yes. Dr. Hyles had one of
the most brilliant minds of any man I know. I have had discussions with him
where I thought that he could have been the “most influential”
. His mind was very organized and calculated. However,
that was not what God called him to do. God called
him to preach and that is what he focused on.
2. He was not an expositor. He did not criticize men who were,
but he admitted that he was not. He often said he considered himself more of a
general practitioner. I NEVER heard a person ask Dr. Hyles
about a passage of Scripture that he could not explain it and illuminate it. He
was a brilliant Bible student, but that was not what he felt would allow him to
influence the most people for God. He was not going to change what he believed
God called him to do just because people were critical of topical preaching. He
was in the business of changing lives, not
imparting information.
3. Dr. Hyles had
one end in mind for every sermon. His goal was not to see how much information he could
impart during his time in front of the audience. He was not there to get across
a volume of information. He was there to get across a single truth. I
remember sitting next to him while a good man was preaching one
Tuesday morning in a conference. When he was finished, Dr. Hyles
leaned over and said, “That was three of the best sermons I ever heard.”
He wasn’t being critical of the man. He
loved him and he truly was impressed with all the thoughts he gave, but that
was not Dr. Hyles’ purpose with his own sermons.
That preacher had left all of us with much to think about and ponder,
but that was not what Dr. Hyles sought to do when he preached. He wanted people
to leave the service not with a smorgasbord of thoughts or ideas,
but with a single thought, which
brought about the right
4. Dr. Hyles knew
he had just a short
time to accomplish what he came to the pulpit to accomplish. When he stood to preach he was the
most time conscious man I ever knew. He confined himself into a self-imposed
time schedule. From the moment he stood to preach he was watching the goal line,
and he knew how much time he had to accomplish what he felt God wanted him to
was like a basketball player who was bringing the ball down the court.
He knew the goal was to score a basket in an allotted amount of time. He had
his eyes on the basket. He had his eyes on the play clock,
and he had his eyes on the play he was about to run. From the moment the basketball
comes back in bounds, the players
are aware of those three things. Dr. Hyles was aware of them as well. He knew
that his goal was to run a certain play and to accomplish a certain goal,
in a certain amount of time. Less than that meant he had failed to do what he
was there to do.
5. He never
tired of the beauty of a single thought. A basketball team has a basic play they run over and over
again. The purpose of that play is not so that people will leave
the arena
and say, “Wasn’t that a great play they ran
tonight? The
purpose of the play is to score a basket. If a team ever becomes
tired of that they would lose every game. Dr. Hyles never got tired of scoring
baskets. In every sermon he knew that he had to score a basket or accomplish
one purpose. The sermon was merely the play he ran to accomplish that purpose.
6. Dr. Hyles
knew that the beauty of Jesus’ teaching was the way Jesus could
make a single truth come alive. That was what he chose to do. Jesus was not walking around
trying to impress people with His knowledge of Scripture. In fact,
the Bible never said He came to explain the law but rather to fulfill it. Jesus
taught very little of the Bible from the standpoint of teaching types and meanings,
and I
highly doubt that he ever referred to a commentary.
He was there to drive home truth. Jesus
taught simply and with focus, yet He knew more about the Bible than anyone who
has ever walked the earth. He is the Word. What did the disciples at Emmaus say
about his teaching? They said, “Did not our hearts burn?I
never heard Dr. Hyles preach, but what my heart burned.
7. He did not
want people to leave with an outline in hand but a goal line in mind. He did not believe the outline was the
end, but the means to the end, which was the goal line. Why should people write
down the means rather than focusing on the end?. This is
where he differed. He was not asking people to keep notes on the means to the
end. He did not want them to become enamored with the outline.
wanted them to see the goal line. Many a man preaches a memorable outline. Dr. Hyles sermon outlines
not impress
himself or even others in their simplicity.
There have been times when my outline distracted me. There was so much written
in the outline that I was focusing on, instead of focusing
the finish line. Dr. Hyles used an outline like the
lines on a track to keep him in the correct lane
to reach his goal. Many men chase rabbits, because
they have an impressive outline to nowhere.
8. The sermon
was not the purpose, but the tool. He called it a greasy wrench. One of
the things I so admired about Dr. Hyles was his ability to judge a sermon not
by the “response” but by the effect. Many sermons get a great response but have
little effect.
remember once many years ago preaching in a conference with Dr. Hyles. On the
program was a man who could take you for a fast and wild ride
through his preaching. We went to the mountaintop
and had a wonderful time. People were shouting
and having more fun than a thrilling amusement park ride. When it
was over and Dr. Hyles and I were walking to our hotel
, I said, “That was one of the greatest sermons ever,
wasn’t it?” Dr. Hyles quietly replied to this
still young preacher, “Yes, it was Brother Bob,
and what exactly did you take from it that will change something in your life?”
said good-bye and I was left to
what he was trying to teach me. In my room that afternoon,
I learned a lesson that was more valuable than anything I had heard
in that memorable “sermon.” I learned that the sermon is only as successful as
the effect it has on people’s lives. Many men can
tickle the ivories, yet not
accomplish a goal. Dr. Hyles was always purposed
in his preaching.
9. He
preached to keep people’s attention on the truth that he
was preaching.
He knew that often when he listened to preaching he would become distracted by
a thought and start to write down thoughts and ideas
rather than concentrating on the message. He did not want to cause this distraction
in his own preaching. He knew that if people heard a nugget they might
be distracted and focus on the nugget and miss the goal line.
men were more quotable than Dr. Hyles. His one line thoughts are used by people
everywhere, even some who did not follow his
ministry. He had artistic ability in preaching, but he did
not want someone noticing the stroke of his brush at the
expense of getting the focal point of his painting.
10. He did
not believe that the diligence of his study was evidenced by how much
information he had transcribed to notes, but by how
much of the truth had permeated his being. Many men get bogged down by their own preaching notes
rather than consumed by the truth and the people. His outline was a servant to
his purpose, rather than his master. He did not write down many thoughts in his
outline and kept it simple enough so as not to distract him. Was that
a sign of negligence in preparation? Not at all! It was a
sign of how much he had committed the sermon within, rather than on paper.
11. Keeping
attention was Dr. Hyles main purpose when he
preached. This is such an
important principle. He could not teach you if he could not reach you.
But first he knew he had to have God’s attention. Many preachers are focused
on a sermon for which they have so perfected it they do not even have their own
heart and mind. 
may be perfecting their style, he was
getting hold of God. Then he had to get his own attention. Then he
worked on getting and keeping the attention of the individual.
want to point out that I did not say anything about keeping the audience’s
attention. That was not how he preached. A good show can keep the attention of an audience
but it takes thorough thought and planning to keep the attention of the man who
worked all day and then rushed to hear him preach. He knew that if he could
keep that man’s focus on him as he preached, he could
give that man something that could help him in his Christian life. The HarlemGlobetrotters
can keep your attention, but they cannot change your mind.
12. The
invitation was the point of finality. This is so important. Many times when we see people taking
notes, they become distracted as to the reason they are there. Why are they
there? In Dr. Hylesmind they
were there to decide something. It may be to clear up
something or start something, but there was a reason. It was
the decision
he was after when he began his sermon. When he was
done there were no notes in their hands to put away, no pens to put away.
All that was in their mind was what they had just heard. He then challenged the audience
to make a decision. It was
not point one, two, three
, and now
left to the congregation.
No, it was usually just one basic decision from that one truth he had just
preached, from many different
I open my Bible I have very few notes from the sermons
I heard him preach over the years. When I open my heart it is
packed with God’s truths that he impressed upon me in his sermons,
one at a time. He would preach “Fresh Oil” for the hundredth time.
pen in my pocket and my Bible
under my seat, I would hear that Spirit-filled
man point me to the goal line of getting a fresh anointing of the
power of God. When the invitation came I would leave my seat…every
time…and make my way to the altar. With tears in my eyes I would ask God to anoint
me with fresh oil. Then I would go back to my seat, changed, once again.
I don’t have many notes in my Bible from his sermons, but I thank God that he
made me put my pen away so he could
point me to the goal line rather than attempt to impress me with
a many faceted
, intricate outline that
became just one of many outlines.

 Go to SOLVECHURCHPROBLEMS.COM and visit the STORE to order this and consider the other books I have written.  Also, you may download for free sermons.  Past issues of THE BAPTIST MAGAZINE are also available.

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