A sermon of nothing but illustrations and stories feels thin and will leave the hearer hungry. But a sermon without any illustrations will fall short of deep impact. A healthy sermon needs truth illustrated.
Bryan Chapell makes this point well in Using Illustrations to Preach with Power:
“The mind yearns for, and needs, the concrete to anchor the abstract…Illustrations are not supplemental to good exposition; they are a necessary form of exposition in which biblical truths are explained to the emotions and the will as well as to the intellect. Illustrations will not allow mere head knowledge. They exegete scripture in the terms of human experience to create a whole-person understanding of God’s Word. By framing biblical truths in the world in which we live and move and have our being, illustrations unite our personalities, our pasts, our present, our affections, our fears, our frustrations, our hopes, our hearts, our mind, and our souls in the understanding of that which is divine. They are integral to effective preaching, not merely because they may entertain or clarify, but because they expand and deepen the applications the mind and heart can make.”
Illustrations are therefore more than just “sermon breaks.” They are marks of true and deeper understanding.