Picture of Pastors Jim and Marie Watt
Pastors Jim and Marie Watt

Two Are Better Than One



Recently an old and good friend of mine from Eureka/Arcata, California – going back to the late ‘70’s – suggested that I revive my use of the above illustration, and share it with my readers. Can you remember the first speech or sermon you ever gave, and the travail of soul you went through that preceded it? I do. And not only the first one, but many subsequent ones.

What I am about to share with you is not original with me, but came in 1949 at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary of Chicago through Dr. Myron Perry, one of our 3 Homiletic Professors. Our institution was famous for excellent structure and presentation for expository preaching, or preaching through books of the Bible.

ONE. Here is Lecture 1 in September 1949 by Dr. Perry to a class of some 90-100 students. “My title for my lecture today,” he said, “is Scripto Pencil.” And here’s approximately how he presented it.” Scripto Pencil is a simple, effective and result-producing illustration for a speech or sermon.

One must have a THEME for every sermon. Ours today is “Pencil.” But it’s not enough to have a general theme: we need a SPECIFIC theme. We narrow our subject by qualifying it with SCRIPTO PENCIL. Next we need a PROPOSITION expressing PURPOSE, containing in it the Specific Theme! Here it is: “Every person ought to buy a Scripto Pencil.” But to progress, we need to restate the proposition with an interrogative: why, how, what, when, where, etc. We will choose the first one. ‘WHY should every person buy a Scripto Pencil?’

Now we get down to the meat of our presentation. We need a “key word” to develop our reasoning. ‘For the following 4 REASONS, every person ought to buy a Scripto Pencil.’

(An aside: I haven’t seen a Scripto Pencil in a store in years. But in 1949 one could buy a Scripto Pencil for 29 cents! It was a transparent plastic pencil with a long lead, and an eraser on the end.)

The REASONS to follow should be short, obvious, logical and be appealing. They can also be alliterative for those whose turn of mind goes that way.

Here’s our 4 points:

  1. TRANSPARENT – so you can see when running out of lead.

  2. LONG LEAD – It doesn’t require constant changing.

  3. ERASER. If you make a mistake, a solution is at hand.

  4. CHEAP – only 29 cents

Each of these points (plus an Introduction preceding the proposition) should have one good illustration.

The CONCLUSION is of utmost importance. The Proposition is repeated referring to the above 4 reasons, and asking for action, decision or a verdict. ‘For the above 4 good reasons, everybody ought to buy a Scripto Pencil.’

Now let’s look at an application in the field of an Expository Sermon. Consider:

TWO. ROMANS 4:16-22.Theme: ‘Faith;’ Specific Theme: ‘Abraham’s Faith;’ Proposition: ‘Everyone should ensure that he follows the faith path of Abraham.’ Interrogative: ‘What?’ ‘What is the nature of the faith of Abraham that we ought to emulate?’ Key Word: TRUTHS. The following truths clearly reveal the faith of Abraham that we ought to emulate’

I. FAITH’S BASIS, Romans 4:16-17. God gave Abraham a basis for his faith in certain revealed statements by His Spirit.

II. FAITH’S BATTLE. Romans 4:18. What God revealed to Abraham was impossible in the natural, for both he and Sarah were past the age of child-bearing – hence a battle and conflict.

III. FAITH’S METHOD. Romans 4:19-21.

  1. Abraham didn’t allow his faith to weaken.

  2. Abraham never WAVERED in believing God’s promise

  3. Abraham’s GREW STRONGER in the process

  4. Abraham was ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that God could do anything He promised

IV. FAITH’S RESULT. Romans 4:22.God on the basis of Abraham’s faith – declared him RIGHTEOUS.

CONCLUSION: Because of the above 4 remarkable truths, every believer ought to ensure that he is walking after the example of Abraham in faith. Are you now? Will you?

(Pastor W. J. Ern Baxter preached expositorially through the entire Bible. The above is one of his outlines that he presented in his church in Vancouver, BC, when preaching through Romans, his favorite book.)


Marie and I had a friend in 1948 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan by the name of Ted. He was Canada’s Number One Electro-Lux Vacuum Cleaner Salesman, month after month. He racked up monthly sales that put him regularly above every other salesman throughout the entire Dominion of Canada. What was his secret? Somewhat very similar to Scripto Pencil.

His Theme was “Vacuum Cleaner.” His Specific Theme was
"Electro-Lux Vacuum Cleaner.” His proposition: “Every husband ought to buy his wife an Electro-Lux Vacuum Cleaner.” Why? For the following Reasons.

  1. It is the most efficient.

  2. It is lighter and won’t hurt her back.

  3. It has wonderful attachments.

  4. It is reasonably priced.

  5. It will enable the husband to show his love for his wife.

CONCLUSION: For the above 5 reasons every husband ought to buy his wife an Electro-Lux Vacuum Cleaner. Here’s the application form; why not fill it out right now and surprise your wife.

FOUR. CHARLES G. FINNEY as a Defense Attorney.Finney was taken on as a junior law partner when a young man. He read Blackstone’s Christian Law Books. When he defended a client and pled his case before a jury, here’s how he won over 80% of his cases.



Proposition: “You as a jury ought to present a NOT GUILTY VERDICT on behalf of my client.

Interrogative: Why?

Transition: “For the following Reasons you as a jury ought to present a NOT GUILTY VERDICT on behalf of my client.

Finney had memorized the reasons pertinent to his client, and presented them without notes while standing in front of the jury. He watched their eyes and body language carefully. If he sensed that even one jury member was not clear on his argument, he multiplied illustrations until all 12 jury members looked clear at that point before proceeding to the next.

CONCLUSION: He powerfully pled for a NOT GUILTY VERDICT, and normally won it from the jury

Then from his readings in Blackstone the believer, Finney came under conviction of sin. He was powerfully saved and almost immediately God baptized him powerfully in the Holy Spirit.

He immediately left the pursuit of law, and using his legal techniques, became one of the most powerful Evangelists in American history. Some have estimated that some 2 million souls were swept into the Kingdom of God through his powerful presentation under the direct leading of the Holy Spirit.

CONCLUSION: Is “Scripto Pencil” in itself sufficient to obtain results pleasing to God? NO, NO, NO! There MUST be an empowerment from on high such as Charles G. Finney experienced.

In 1949 Dr. J. Edwin Orr of Ireland came as a guest lecturer to Northern Baptist Theological Seminary of Chicago. Nothing happened, though he did his best. Then in 1950 a revival broke out in King’s Garden in Seattle. With almost lightning speed it swept across the country visiting Wheaton College, Illinois and Asbury Seminary of Kentucky among many other Evangelical Christian Colleges and Seminaries. At that time Northern Seminary was very dry, worldly, even sinful in spots and definitely not pleasing to God. Our President Dr. Charles W. Koller of Waco Texas was extremely exercised and concerned, and spent many nights in prayer and intercession for years for our 400 students.

Then Revival broke out in Wheaton College some 50 miles West of us, and the news of it made newspaper headlines. They showed marathon lines of students waiting in line till 2 AM to confess their sins over the PA system and ask for prayer. Two Wheaton Alumni at Northern went to investigate, with a rather supercilious attitude. But the Spirit of God grabbed them. At 2 AM they finally got to a microphone and confessed their sins and asked for prayer. The fellow arrived at our Chapel later that morning – unshaved and definitely grubby. He gave Dr. Koller a report. Dr. Koller asked him if he would be willing to share this testimony at Chapel. He did. The same Spirit that fell on Wheaton College fell on Northern Seminary. The line waiting to confess sins and faults lasted till 2 AM all week, and all classes were cancelled. That is definitely unusual for a Seminary!

We had 100 student ministers out of 400 students, and that Sunday they shared in 100 churches what was happening at their Seminary and at Wheaton College. The Spirit fell on their churches. Deacons were at the front of the church at the invitation making things right with God and with one another. Revival broke out. Within 2 months 1000 souls had come to God through student ministers.

So note: the students used carefully crafted sermons according to Scripto Pencil prior to the Campus Revival, with little or no results. Now with good techniques PLUS a Visitation from God by His Holy Spirit, phenomenal results took place. It lasted for 2 years. The prayers of Dr. Koller were abundantly answered.

So though this is a description how to craft a speech, sermon, salesman’s pitch or law brief – suffice it to say that all such are insufficient apart from the supernatural presence of the Presence of God. Personal, passionate devotion to Jesus will release that which will anoint good presentation and make the words wing-tipped. -- Jim Watt