The best preachers in the Church’s history are known for many things. An ancient church father named John was given the epithet “Chrysostom,” (which translates as “Golden-mouthed”) for his eloquent preaching. Nineteenth-century British preacher Charles Spurgeon was known for his booming voice and clear teaching. Another famous preacher from the 19th century, and the namesake of Chicago’s historic Moody Bible Institute, was D. L. Moody.
You could identify Dwight Moody by his large stature, booming voice, and evangelistic focus. Moody excelled at illustrating the truths of the Bible with relatable illustrations from everyday life.
Moody masterfully utilized stories and illustrations to illuminate the Bible’s rich lessons. This made his preaching all the more effective. Below are five well-known Dwight L. Moody sermon illustrations, quoted from Moody.
Calling Out to God
During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. (Exodus 2:23-25 NIV)
My little boy has three calls. He opens the study door and calls, “Papa.” I pay no attention to him because I know it is merely to attract notice. Again he comes throwing the study door open, and running in, he calls, “Papa, look here, I have something to show you.” I know by his call that he is really in earnest, and I turn to share in his joy.
He has still another call. When he is in the garden he may meet with an accident, and in a quick and distressed voice he calls, “Papa.” I know by that call that my child is in trouble, and I am out of the house in an instant and by my boy’s side, doing what I can to help him.
In like manner, God deals with us. We sometimes call to him, scarcely meaning anything by our call, and never looking for or expecting a reply. Then, again, we wish to call the Lord’s attention to some unexpected joy or pleasure which we have received. He listens to us because he delights to share in all that concerns us.
But, dear friends, how quickly the Lord will come to the call of one in distress! He knows all the different calls of his children, and especially those in trouble, for he has promised, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee.”
What Is Repentance?
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
(Isaiah 1:16-17 NIV)
Suppose I go down to Boston tonight, and I go to Union station and say to a man I see there, “Can you tell me, is this train going to Boston?” and the man says “Yes.” I go and get on board the train, and the superintendent comes along and says, “Where are you going?” I say, “I am going to Boston,” and he says, “Well, you are in the wrong train, that train is going to Albany.”
“But I am quite sure I am right; I asked a railroad man here, and he told me this was the train.”
And the superintendent says, “Moody, I know all about these trains; I have lived here forty years, and see these trains go up and down here every day.” And at last, he convinces me that I am on the wrong train.
That is conviction, not conversion.
But if I don’t remain on that train, but just get into the other train, that is repentance. Just to change trains—that is repentance.
Free Gift of God to Poor Sinners (John 3)
Suppose I was going over London Bridge and saw a poor miserable beggar, bare-footed, coatless, hatless, with no rags hardly to cover his nakedness, and right behind him, only a few yards, there was the Prince of Wales with a bag of gold, and the poor beggar was running away from him as if he was running away from a demon, and the Prince of Wales was hallooing after him, “Oh, beggar, here is a bag of gold!”
Why, we should say the beggar had gone mad, to be running away from the Prince of Wales with the bag of gold.
Sinner, that is your condition. The Prince of Heaven wants to give you eternal life, and you are running away from him. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 ESV).
The Personal Benefits of Relationship with Christ
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:20-21 NIV)
The great trouble is that people take everything in general, and do not take it to themselves. Suppose a man should say to me: “Moody, there was a man in Europe who died last week, and left five million dollars to a certain individual.” “Well,” I say, “I don’t doubt that; it’s rather a common thing to happen,” and I don’t think anything more about it.
But suppose he says: “But he left the money to you.” Then I pay attention; I say: “To me?” “Yes, he left it to you.” I become suddenly interested. I want to know all about it.
So we are apt to think Christ died for sinners; he died for everybody, and for nobody in particular. But when the truth comes to me that eternal life is mine, and all the glories of heaven are mine, I begin to be interested.
The Exceeding Riches of Grace in Christ Jesus
…So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7 NIV)
There is a story of Mithridates, a celebrated king in Asia, which illustrates this part of our subject very well. This king became interested in an old musician who had taken part in the music performed at a feast in the royal palace.
On awaking one morning, this old man saw the tables in his house covered with vessels of silver and gold; a number of servants were standing by, who offered him rich garments to put on, and told him there was a horse standing at the door for his use, whenever he might wish to ride. The old man thought it was only a dream he was having. But the servants said it was no dream at all. It was a reality. “What is the meaning of it?” asked the astonished old man.
“It means this,” said the servant, “the king has determined to make you a rich man at once. And these things that you see are only a small part of what he has given you. So please use them as your own.” At last, he believed what they told him. Then he put on the purple robe, and mounted the horse; and as he rode along, he kept saying to himself, “All these are mine! All these are mine!”