His first thought came more as a question than an attempt to write a sermon, “Why was this passage in the Bible?”
Adrian Rogers loved to quiz me about the latest methods for sermon preparation. Through the years we talked about computers, software programs, etc. and he would laughingly say that they weren’t quite ready to replace his Bible, legal pad, and pen. I don’t pretend to know Adrian’s stated methods for sermon development but I did form an observational opinion through talking with him on the subject.
Dr. Rogers combined an insatiable curiosity with a vivid imagination. He was great at preaching the narrative sections of Scripture (the stories) because he could place himself in the historical setting. He had an ability to “walk in the shoes” of the ancient people of the Bible. This approach only works if you have so saturated your mind and heart with Scripture that you don’t drift into speculation and daydreaming (i.e. just saying weird stuff). To me, this anecdote illustrates something of Adrian’s creative process for sermon writing.
I heard this story from a family member
While reading 2 Kings 13:20-21 Adrian questioned the Holy Spirit’s purpose of including a story in the Bible about a miracle and a dead prophet. Was this the final chapter of the ministry of the prophet Elisha or was it a picture of the spiritual life of the nation Israel? When Adrian thought he had the answer a sermon was born entitled, The Man of God.
Dr. Rogers wrote the sermon and, when invited to preach at the Pastor’s Conference at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, shared the message that the Lord had placed upon his heart.
2 Kings 13:20-21
And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
This insight, to Adrian, made the Scripture passage crystal clear. A message of hope in a time of trouble. A message to encourage the hearts of the God’s discouraged children and the reason the Holy Spirit inspired this passage: The man of God was dead but the God of that man was alive.
When Adrian Rogers preached this message at the Pastor’s Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention he knew that his audience had come from across the country, and in a few instances around the world. But there was something that he didn’t know. Among the listeners were representatives of a local church in need of a pastor. They came from a church where “The Prince of Preachers,” Robert G. Lee of Payday Someday fame, had once stood behind the pulpit. Now after the retirement of Ramsey Pollard, Bellevue Baptist Church needed a new pastor. Lee and Pollard no longer stood behind the pulpit but God was not dead. For the pulpit committee of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, hearing Adrian Rogers preach encouraged them that God was not dead and that there was a prophet in the land. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The man of God was dead, but the God of that man was alive.