Three (of 3) comprising _HOW TO WORK FOR CHRIST:_

A Compendium of Effective Methods


By R. A. Torrey


Etext, last modified June 16, 2001, edited by

Clyde C. Price, Jr.

{CLYDE.PRICE@CDLF.ORG} for the Christian

Digital Library Foundation

from a printed book (used by CCP as a

textbook at the Atlanta School of

Biblical Studies) published by....


Fleming H. Revell Company

{no date, but first published shortly after 1900}

Printed in the United States of America


{��� Etext editor's comment

on Book Three of R.A.Torrey's _How To Work For

Christ_: "Preaching and Teaching the Word of God"


Torrey himself says that this is not a textbook on

homiletics, and it is not. BUT it is a wealth of

practical suggestions and resources which are

either immediately useable or easily adaptable for

contemporary use.


Most of my "comments" in the first two volumes

also apply to this one. I assume that the three

sections will be distributed both together and

separately. This volume required enough

typographical corrections to mention it

(especially with Bible references). I also made

some punctuation changes. Spelling in the whole

book is slightly updated (Americanized), but not



A disadvantage of this work is that it is OLD: The

cultural context and resources cited are a century

out of date.


An ADVANTAGE of this work is that it is OLD: It

contains much genuine wisdom which grows out of

real-world experience of ministering the Word of

God in (by our standards) a non-technological

society, and giving a variety of ways, methods and

strategies for feeding God's children their

Father's bread. The "quaintness" adds an

interesting flavor, and the aspects that are

culturally-specific are much easier to spot than

in a "contemporary" book.


When Torrey cites other authors/ workers

concerning how they did something, he repeatedly

exhorts the reader not to _copy_ the source (too

much), but to see how they did what they were

doing, and then figure out how to accomplish the

same thing. In 2001, our rapidly expanding

technological resources (tools, toys) make many

innovations possible which were not a century ago

(such as the easy sharing of this work and other

Christian resources in digital form). Torrey

exhorts us NOT to copy any example slavishly, but

to look for principles more than techniques. He

also offers us his sermon notes as EXAMPLES on how

to prepare sermons, and exhorts readers NOT to

take these unchanged or undigested and simply use

them without personal adaptation. In retyping this

material, I found many places where I wanted to

quibble, or would have done it differently. That's

GOOD. That's the way Torrey WANTED us to handle

this material. I fully intend to _adapt_ much of

this treasure for my own public use, but not until

after I have digested it and made it my own.


If you use this volume as a primary textbook in

homiletics, you'll flunk, but it makes a wonderful

resource for people who are actually preaching and

teaching the Word of God, and would be a valuable

ancillary resource in a class where Torrey's

specific content could be discussed, evaluated,



An old edition of Broadus' _On the Preparation and

Delivery of Sermons_ is on CDLF's "to-do shelf",

although this work is longer and harder to read

than many 21st century students would appreciate.

Worldwide, culture is changing (cultureS ARE

changing), and the world is becoming much smaller.

I urge those who would communicate the eternal

truths of God's Word to study the principles,

techniques and tools of COMMUNICATION,

particularly "expository speaking" (look up the

term), "persuasive speaking", and principles of

logic and debate.


I will echo and underline Torrey's advice to gain

experience ministering to children. I have heard

several enthusiastic young men exclaim, "God

called me to PREACH! He didn't call me to

_teach_KIDS_!" (as if "teaching kids" were some

sort of second- or third- class occupation for

"losers"). From the beginnings of the Church,

those who would be servants of the Word have been

employed as catechists and teachers of children.

If you dislike children, then you really dislike

PEOPLE, and you probably shouldn't try to be a

minister. If you learn how to communicate with

children effectively, you can communicate with

ANYBODY. Seminary graduates --appropriately--

learn "theological jargon" and complex concepts in

their studies, but to communicate the truths of

the Scripture to ordinary people requires effort

and study and practice. It is NOT "effective

ministry" to inflict your theological jargon on

your local church hearers. --It takes some people

several years to "get over" their seminary

studies, even if they went to a GOOD seminary.--

Ministry to children, and to adults with limited

education and/or language skills (in the language

in which you are ministering) is very valuable

PRACTICE in communicating.


Some of the methods detailed in this work have

fallen into disuse, and some have changed names. I

personally believe that ALL the methods described

by Torrey could be used profitably if used wisely

and well.


During the 20th century, there has grown a

tremendous wealth of Bible study resources in

English (and other major languages) which would be

profitable to consult and employ (as well as many

which are not profitable). MOST of what Torrey

details can be used in circumstances where there

are fewer "other" resources, perhaps including

other-language situations into which resources

have not been translated.


AN APPEAL: If you and/or your co-workers are

capable of translating _How To Work For Christ_

into another language, perhaps "adapting" it

somewhat for your target audience and documenting

such adaptations, PLEASE prayerfully consider

DOING SO. (And please inform us at CDLF of your

project.) The original work and this etext are in

the public domain, so there will be no fees

charged you from us, and you can --and should--

claim a translator's copyright on your work. We

simply want to KNOW about the availability of

books we like in other languages.


Strangely, during the 20th century we have also

witnessed an increase IN THE CHURCH of BIBLICAL

ILLITERACY: Professing Christians have not read

the Bible for themselves and are unfamiliar with

its contents. Remedying this will require not only

encouragement from the pulpit, but personal

encouragement. I know a Methodist pastor who

encouraged his congregation to read through the

Bible every year, using a public domain Bible

reading calendar which he had reprinted (and the

text of which is available on the CDLF website).

After a decade, he had FULLY HALF the

congregation, including youth, actually reading

through the Bible every year. I know of another

church which downloaded the etext of this schedule

from the CDLF site, and each month published the

OT & NT readings in their multi-paged church

bulletin, encouraging everybody to READ THE BIBLE

TOGETHER AS A CHURCH. This one thing could be more

important than many other means of "spoon feeding"

spiritual babies: Believers MUST learn to feed



Since Torrey published HTWFC, the number of

English Bible translations has multiplied

confusingly. He often notes differences between

the Authorized ("King James") Version, "AV", and

the (English) Revised Version of 1885, "RV". The

American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV) was a

further revision of the RV, all of these being

very literal. In English in the early 21st

century, our bookshelf of available versions gives

much more opportunity for comparison. Comparison

of a "standard" or more literal (more "formal

equivalence") version with a less literal (more

"dynamic equivalence") version can be very

profitable. Most people, including some ministers,

NEED an explanation of the varied approaches to

Bible translation and the uses and limits of

various types of translations. A personal word to

workers: If you have opportunity to study Biblical

Greek and Hebrew, DO IT. The Bible was not written

in English, and the Body of Christ needs to be

peppered with folks who have access to the _real_



This book is NOT "inspired", but it IS "inspiring"

and challenging. Take this material from Torrey in

the spirit in which Paul wrote, "...but I give you

my opinion, and it is that of a man who, through

the Lord's mercy, is deserving of your

confidence." (1_Corinthians 7:25 Montgomery).

Torrey was a man whose mind was saturated with the

Scriptures and who had spent his life applying

God's Word in practical pointed ways to his

hearers, and in bringing MANY people to personal

faith in Christ. His words are WORTHY of study!

All of HTWFC should be handled and used

_thoughtfully_, with continual review of our own

"cultural context" and that of our "target

audience" and --most importantly-- of the

Scriptures themselves. Perhaps if this THOUGHTFUL

use is emphasized strongly enough, this great old

book would not need to be "updated" at all.


God bless you richly as you seek to know Christ

and to make Him known as the Way, the Truth and

the Life.


--Clyde Price

June 2001

Alpharetta, Georgia, USA




of How To Work For Christ by R.A.Torrey


CDLF Etext edition edited into digital media by

Clyde C. Price, Jr. {clyde.price@cdlf.org}

{ccpcdlf@netscape.net} from the undated Revell



���� Contents:




Chapter������������������������� Page

1. How to Prepare a Sermon321

2. Preparation and Delivery of bible


3. Illustrations and Their Use337

4. Teaching the Bible344

5. Textual Sermons in Outline356

6. Topical Sermons in Outline454

7. Expository Sermons and Bible Readings

in Outline486












There is no intention in this chapter of

presenting an elaborate treatise on homiletics. It

simply aims to give practical suggestions for the

preparation of sermons that will win souls for

Christ and edify believers.




A great many neglect to do that, and when they get

through preaching they do not know what they have

been talking about, neither does the audience.

Never get up to speak without having something

definite in your mind to speak about. There may be

exceptions to that rule. There are times when one

is called on suddenly to speak, and one has a

right then to look to God for subject matter and

manner of address. There are other times when one

has made full preparation, but it becomes evident

when he is about to speak that he must take up

some other line of truth. In such a case also, one

must depend upon God. But under ordinary

circumstances, one should either have something

definite in his mind that he is to speak about, or

else keep silent. It is true God has said in His

Word, "Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it"

(Psalm 81:10), but this promise, as the context

clearly shows, has nothing whatever to do with our

opening our mouth in speaking. Most people who

take this promise as applying to their preaching,

and who make their boast that they never prepare

beforehand what they are going to say, when they

open their mouths have them filled with anything

but the wisdom of God. Christ did say to His

disciples, "Take no thought how or what ye shall

speak; for it shall be give you in that same hour

what ye shall speak. For it{322}is not ye that

speak, but the Spirit of your Father which

speaketh in you" (Matthew 10:19-20); but this

promise did not have to do with preaching, but

with witnessing for Christ in circumstances of

emergency and peril. In all cases of similar

emergency, we have a right to rest in the same

promise, and we have a right also to take the

spirit of it as applying to our preaching. But if

one has an opportunity to prepare for the services

before him, and neglects that opportunity, God

will not set a premium upon his laziness and

neglect, by giving him a sermon in his time of



How shall we select our text or subject?


1. ASK GOD FOR IT. The best texts and topics are

those which a man gets on his knees. No one should

ever prepare a sermon without first going alone

with God, and there definitely seeking His wisdom

in the choice of a text or topic.


2. KEEP A TEXT BOOK. I do not mean the kind that

you buy, but the kind that you make for yourself.

Have a small book that you can carry in your vest

pocket, and as subjects or texts occur to you in

your regular study of the Word, or in hearing

others preach, or in conversation with people, jot

them down in your book. Oftentimes texts will come

to you when you are traveling somewhere or going

about your regular work. If so, put them down at

once. It is said that Ralph Waldo Emerson would

sometimes be heard at night stumbling around his

room in the dark. When his wife would ask him what

he was doing he would reply that he had a thought

and he wanted to pin it. Oftentimes when you are

reading a book, a text will come to you that is

not mentioned in the book at all. Indeed, one of

the best ways to get to thinking is to take up

some book that stimulates thought. It will set

your own mental machinery in operation. Not that

you are going to speak on anything in that

particular book, but it sets you to thinking, and

your thought goes out along the line on which you

are going to speak. Very often while listening to

a sermon, texts or subjects or sermon points will

come to your mind. I do not mean that you will

take the points of the preacher, though you may

sometimes do that if you will thoroughly digest

them and make them your own, but something that he

says will awaken a train of thought in your own

mind. I{323}rarely hear a man preach but his

sermon suggests many sermons to me.


Put but one text or subject on a page of your text

book. Then when points or outlines come to you jot

them down under the proper text or subject. In

this way you will be accumulating material for

future use. After a while texts and topics and

outlines will multiply so rapidly that you will

never be able to catch up with them, and will

never be at a loss for something to preach about.


3. EXPOUND A BOOK IN ORDER. Take a book of the

Bible and expound it. You should be very careful

about this however, or you will be insufferably

dry. One of the best preachers in an eastern State

undertook to expound one of the long books of the

Bible. He made it so dry that some of his

congregation said they were going to stay away

from church until he got through that book, they

were thoroughly tired of it. Study the masters in

this line of work, men like Alexander Maclaren,

William H. Taylor, and Horatius Bonar. F.B.Meyer's

expositions on Abraham, Jacob, Elijah, Moses, etc.

are very suggestive.




George Muller's plan, and he is a safe man to

follow. He was wonderfully used of God. When the

time drew near to preach a sermon, he would take

up the Bible and open it to the place where he was

reading at that time, first going down upon his

knees and asking God to give him a text, and then

he would read on and on until he came to the

desired text.




I do not say make your points, -- find them, find

them in your text, or if you are preaching on a

topic, find them in the various texts in the Bible

that bear upon that topic. It is desirable often

to preach on a topic instead of on a single text.

Never write a sermon and then hunt up a text for

it. That is one of the most wretched and

outrageous things that a man who believes that the

Bible is the Word of God can do. It is simply

using the Word of God as a label or endorsement

for your idea. We are ambassadors for Christ,

{324}with a message. Our message is in the Word

of God, and we have no right to prepare our own

message, and then go to the Word of God merely to

get a label for it.


How shall we find our points?



one by one the points contained in the text.

Suppose for example your text is Acts 13:38-39:


"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren,

that through this man is preached unto you the

forgiveness of sin, And by him all that believe

are justified from all things, from which ye could

not be justified by the law of Moses."


By an analysis of the text, you will find the

following points taught in it:


(1) Forgiveness is preached unto us.


(2) This may be KNOWN (not merely surmised, or

guessed, or hoped, or believed).


(3) It is known by the resurrection of Christ

(this comes out in the "therefore" and the

context). Forgiveness is not a mere hope, but a

certainty resting upon a solid and

uncontrovertible fact. The one who here speaks had

seen the risen Christ.


(4) This forgiveness is through Jesus Christ. In

developing this point, the question will arise and

should be answered, How is forgiveness through

Jesus Christ?


(5) Every one who believeth is forgiven. Under

this point there will be four special points:


(a) He IS forgiven (not SHALL be).


(b) EVERY ONE that believeth is forgiven (RV).


(c) He is forgiven ALL things.


(d) The meaning of justified.



suppose you take Matthew 11:28 as a text:


"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy

laden, and I will give you rest."{325}


You might ask questions on that text as follows:


(1) Who are invited?


(2) What is the invitation?


(3) What will be the result of accepting the



(4) What will be the result of rejecting the



One of the easiest and simplest ways of preaching

is to take a text and ask questions about it that

you know will be in the minds of your hearers, and

then answer these questions. If you are preaching

upon a subject, you can ask and answer questions

regarding the subject. Suppose, for example, that

you are to preach upon the subject of the new

birth; you could ask the following questions and

give Bible answers to them, and thus prepare an

excellent sermon:


(1) What is to be born again?


(2) Is the new birth necessary?


(3) Why is it necessary?


(4) What are the results of being born again?


(5) How can one be born again?


If you answer the questions that suggest

themselves to your own mind, you will probably

answer the questions that suggest themselves to

the minds of others. Imagine your congregation to

be a lot of interrogation points. Take up their

questions and answer them, and you will interest






these texts over, they will naturally fall under

different subdivisions. These subdivisions will be

your principal points. For example, suppose you

are going to preach on "Prayer." Some of the

passages on prayer will come under the head of

"The Power of Prayer"; that can be your first main

point. Others will come under the head of "How to

Pray"; that will be your second main point, with

doubtless many subordinate points. Other passages

will come under the head of "Hindrances to

Prayer," and this will make your third main point.





After finding your points, the next thing is to

select them. You will seldom be able to take up

all the points that you find in a text, or upon a

topic, unless you preach much longer than the

average congregation will stand. Few ministers can

wisely preach longer than thirty or forty minutes.

To a person just beginning to preach, twenty

minutes is often long enough and sometimes too

long. At a cottage meeting fifteen minutes is

certainly long enough, and usually too long. The

more you study a subject the more points you will

get, and it is a great temptation to give the

people all these points. They have all been

helpful to you, and you wish to give them all out

to them, but you must bear in mind that the great

majority of your congregation will not be so

interested in truth as you are. You must

strenuously resist the temptation to tell people

everything you know. You will have other

opportunities to give the rest of the points if

you give well the few that you now select; but if

you attempt to tell all that you know in a single

sermon, you will never have another chance. In

selecting your points, the question is not which

points are the best in the abstract, but which are

best to give to your particular congregation, at

this particular time. In preaching on a given text

it will be wise to use certain points at one time

and certain other points at another time. The

question is, which are the points that will do the

most good and be the most helpful to your





There is a great deal in the arrangement of your

points. There are many preachers who have good

points in their sermons, but they do not make them

in a good order. They begin where they ought to

end, and end where they ought to begin. What may

be the right order at one time may not be the

right way at another time. There are, however, a

few suggestions that may prove helpful:



first that come first in thought. There are many

exceptions to this rule. If our purpose{327}in

preaching is not to preach a good sermon but to

win souls, a point will oftentimes be more

startling and produce more effect out of its

logical order than in it.




are weaker than others, it is best to lead along

up to a climax. If a point is really weak, it is

best to leave it out altogether.




may not in itself be the strongest point, but it

is the one that leads to action; therefore put it

last in order that it may not be forgotten before

the congregation are called upon to take the

action that you have in mind.


4. _Give your points in such a way that the first

leads naturally to the second, and the second to

the third, and the third to the fourth, etc._

This is of great importance in speaking without

notes. It is quite possible to so construct a

sermon that when one has once gotten well under

way everything that follows comes so naturally out

of what precedes it that one may deliver the whole

sermon without any conscious effort of memory.

When you have selected your points and written

them down, look at them attentively and see which

point would naturally come first, and then ask

yourself which one of the remaining points this

would naturally suggest. When you have chosen the

two, in the same way select the third, and so on.




One of the most important parts of the sermon is

the introduction. The two most important parts are

the introduction and conclusion. The middle is of

course important; do not understand me that you

should have a strong introduction and conclusion

and disregard all that lies between, but it is of

the very first importance that you begin well and

end well. In the introduction you get the

attention of the people; in the conclusion you get

the decisive results; so you should be especially

careful about these. You must{328}catch the

attention of people first of all. This you should

do by your first few sentences, by the very first

sentence you utter if possible. How shall we do

this? Sometimes by a graphic description of the

circumstances of the text. Mr. Moody was

peculiarly gifted along this line. He would take a

Bible story and make it live right before you.

Sometimes it is well to introduce a sermon by

speaking of some interesting thing which you have

just heard or seen -- some incident that you have

read in the paper, some notable picture that you

have seen in a gallery, some recent discovery of

science. In one sermon that I often preach, and

that has been used of God to the conversion of

many, I usually begin by referring to a remarkable

picture I once saw in Europe. I start out by

saying, "I once saw a picture that made an

impression upon my mind that I have never

forgotten." Of course everybody wants to know

about that picture. I do not care anything about

the picture; I only use it to secure the attention

of people and thus lead directly up to the

subject. If you have several good stories in your

sermon, it is wise to tell one of the very best at

the start. Sometimes a terse and striking

statement of the truth which you are going to

preach will startle people and awaken their

attention at the very outset. Sometimes it is well

to jump right into the heart of your text or

subject, making some crisp and striking

statements, thus causing everybody to prick up his

ears and think, "Well, I wonder what is coming





Illustrate every point in the sermon. It will

clinch the matter, and fasten it in a person's

mind. Think up good illustrations, but do not

over-illustrate. One striking and impressive

illustration will fasten the point. More will be

said about illustrations in a future chapter.




How shall we conclude a sermon? The way to