Sermon Notes: The Nature of Man (Anthropology)

Last night I had the honor of preaching/teaching at a youth gathering here near the Twin cities. The group is progressing through a study of systematic theology and I had the opportunity to teach on the nature of man (otherwise known as theological anthropology). I summarized anthropology in this way:

Purpose: We were created in the image of God – as humble dust and eternal spirit – to see God face-to-face.

In the message I traced out the nature of the dust (our bodies) and our need for resurrection. Then on to the image of God in the soul and how God restores this image through conversion, sanctification and glorification. The punch-line is this: God restores our image perfectly (in glorification) so we can once again see God’s glory face-to-face as Adam once did when God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.

Download …

1. The full lesson notes (PDF)
2. The lesson handout (PDF)

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Note to preachers: My biggest preaching challenges come in the context of preaching through systematic theology. In comparison to straight expositional preaching, I seem to amass a greater amount of content as various themes and threads are brought to light from Scripture (handouts like the ones above have become a critical part of preaching systematic theology).

As the systematic themes develop they begin to broaden and so the challenge in systematics is not stepping on the toes of other categories (at least not stepping too far on their toes). A study of the resurrection of the body really belongs in eschatology. The depravity of the soul belongs in harmartiology. The restoration process of the marred image of God believers go through belongs to soteriology and sanctification. But somehow anthropology really reaches out into all these categories.

It seems the demands of doctrinal content, limiting the category, focusing on the Cross, illustrating straight doctrine and keeping it all on a level accessible to a younger audience is a real trick. I seem to over-compensate the increased logos with increased pathos. It’s a fun challenge, but a challenge it remains.

Question for the preachers: Have you preached through systematic theology or a reformed catechism? What did you notice about the difference? Any help would be appreciated! – Tony

2 thoughts on “Sermon Notes: The Nature of Man (Anthropology)

  1. Hi, Tony. That’s a great question about preaching through a systematic theology. I’m currently plowing through Reymond’s and swoon a little when considering preaching on it. The challenge would be to keep my congregation from fleeing. My Elder mentioned that when the adult Sunday School went through the Westminster Confession the ranks thinned and the subject was abandoned.

    I would like to tackle this challenge eventually, and am confident the congregation (and myself) would benefit from so thorough a study. I admire you for giving it a go, especially to a young audience.

    As for a catechism, I’m glad you mentioned that. They sadly seem to have fallen from fashion (like tract evangelism). I would like to go through Spurgeon’s with a new believer’s group or youth. I remember getting a copy from Chapel Library and appreciating the depth but also the accessibility.

    Looking forward to hearing the MP3 when you get ‘er up. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry, brother.

    –Gary in Omaha

  2. Gary, thanks for the comment! I can attest to the idea that systematic theology can easily thin out crowds which is why its quite daunting. I wonder if preaching through one main text per subject would be possible? And then application is the next struggle in preaching systematically. Let me know how you prepare the messages and go about preaching through it. I would be very interested! Thanks, Tony

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