My techie son recently bought me a subscription to ChatGPT-4, the latest version of the AI tool that is causing so much furor. For the last month or so, I have actually been using it to help me with my sermons!
(Insert your joke here…)
Actually, it isn’t as awful as it sounds. I manuscript my messages – something I started doing during the COVID shut down when we were recording our Sunday services. I wish I’d done it all my life. I don’t read the messages when I preach them, but I study, then write a draft, then edit it a couple of times. Then I know it’s ready to go.
Manuscripting has several benefits, but for me, controlling my time in pulpit is among the most important. A double-spaced six-page message (12-point font, Times New Roman) takes me in the neighborhood of 30 minutes. If I go to 7 pages, then I’m in the 35 to 37-minute range, unless I chase a rabbit. Manuscripting forces me to make tough choices in advance about what I’m going to leave out.
I also have a tendency to stammer if I am speaking extemporaneously (uh, ah, um), and if my message is manuscripted, I do that less.
How am I using ChatGPT? No, I do not ask OpenAI to write my messages!
AFTER I finish my manuscript, I run it through AI, asking it to correct the grammar, syntax, and style. I save both messages and compare them. OpenAI often makes some good suggestions on wording and I’ve used quite a few. It also tends to trim my wording down if I’ve used 20 words to say what I could have said in 12. I then go paragraph by paragraph through the two manuscripts and use what I want from Chat to improve it. I can’t afford an editor, but I’m using OpenAI to do that work.
Does anyone think that is cheating?
I am also using ChatGPT to translate one of my books into French so I can take it to Senegal on my next trip. If I am doing a training session, I intend to use it to translate materials. I’ve got to make sure it’s a good translation. Since I don’t speak French I can’t check it.
My son also says you can have some fun with Chat by asking it to change your writing into other styles. “Convert my sermon to the style of Charles Haddon Spurgeon” (or Joel Osteen, or whoever). Check below for examples. I thought I might try that for fun. I just finished a novel and I’m going to tell OpenAI to rewrite it in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien!
I believe it would be wholly unethical for me to get AI to write my sermons, but it could be done. I asked ChatGPT to write a “1000-word, strongly worded sermon on Romans 8:28.” Here is what it produced.
My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
I come to you today with a message of strength and conviction, rooted in the words of Romans 8:28. This verse is a powerful reminder of the unwavering sovereignty of our God, and the unwavering commitment He has to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Let us not be deceived or misled, my friends. The world we live in is fraught with pain, suffering, and sin. We see it all around us, and we feel it deeply within us. The trials we face may be physical, emotional, or spiritual, but they all have one thing in common: they can shake our faith and cause us to question the goodness of God.
But hear me now, brothers and sisters. We must not allow our circumstances to dictate our faith. We must not allow the pain of this world to overwhelm the truth of God’s word. We must cling to the promise of Romans 8:28 with all of our might, for it is a promise that cannot be broken.
Let us examine this verse more closely. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The first thing we must acknowledge is the assurance that this verse provides. It does not say “we hope” or “we think” or “we believe.” No, it says “we know.” We can have absolute confidence in the truth of this promise, for it is rooted in the unchanging character of God Himself.
Next, we must consider what it means for God to work for our good. It does not mean that everything that happens to us will be pleasant or easy. It does not mean that we will never experience pain or loss. It does mean, however, that God is always at work in our lives, using every circumstance for our ultimate benefit.
This is not a superficial or flimsy promise, my friends. It is not something we can only claim when things are going well. No, it is a promise that holds true even in the darkest of times. When we are faced with the worst that this world has to offer, we can still cling to the hope that God is with us and that He is working for our good.
But we must also understand that this promise is not for everyone. It is specifically for “those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” This is not a blanket promise that applies to all people, regardless of their relationship with God. No, it is a promise for those who have chosen to love Him and follow Him with their whole hearts.
So, let us examine our own hearts today. Are we truly lovers of God? Do we seek His will above our own? Do we trust in His goodness even when things seem to be falling apart? If the answer is no, then we cannot claim the promise of Romans 8:28.
But if the answer is yes, then we have every reason to rejoice and give thanks. For we know that God is at work in our lives, shaping us into the people He has called us to be. We know that every trial we face is an opportunity for growth and refinement. We know that even in the darkest of times, God is still on the throne and His purposes will not be thwarted.
My friends, let us hold fast to the promise of Romans 8:28. Let us not be swayed by the winds of adversity or the lies of the enemy. Let us love God with all our hearts, and trust in His unchanging character and unfailing love. For in Him, we have everything we need to overcome the trials of this world and emerge victorious on the other side. Amen.
I don’t think it’s actually 1000 words – Chat likes brevity! Honestly, though, it’s not a bad start on a message, is it?
As students are cheating the system using this tool to write academic papers, pastors could abuse this to do their sermon work for them. However, I have found OpenAI useful as an editing tool. There are certainly ethical issues, but I find it helpful to use it as I have.
What say you?
Just for fun…I asked it to rewrite the message in Spurgeon’s style. Here’s the result.
Beloved brethren in Christ,
As I stand before you today, my heart swells with passion and conviction as I contemplate the promise of Romans 8:28. Oh, what a glorious truth it is, my dear friends, that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose!
Do not be deceived, dear ones. This promise is not a mere platitude to be tossed about lightly. It is a rock-solid foundation upon which we can stand, even in the midst of life’s fiercest storms. The world is filled with sorrow and pain, and we are not immune to its effects. But take heart, for our God is sovereign and His purposes cannot be thwarted!
Let us examine this promise more closely. It is not a promise for the faint of heart, my brethren. It is a promise for those who have given their lives completely to the Lord and seek His will in all things. It is for those who have tasted the goodness of the Lord and know that He is faithful to His promises.
In all things, dear ones, in ALL things, God works for our good. This does not mean that everything that happens to us is good in itself. No, far from it. But it does mean that our God is able to take even the darkest moments of our lives and turn them into something beautiful and redemptive.
Do not be tempted to believe that this promise applies to all people, regardless of their relationship with God. No, my friends, it is specifically for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Are you among those blessed few, dear brethren? Have you given your life to the Lord and trusted in His goodness and faithfulness?
If the answer is yes, then take heart! No matter what may come your way, you can rest assured that God is at work in your life, shaping you into the image of His Son. Every trial you face is an opportunity for growth and refinement. Every setback is a chance for God to show His power and faithfulness.
Oh, my dear brethren, let us not be content with a shallow or superficial faith. Let us press on to know the Lord more deeply and to love Him more fully. Let us trust in His promises and rest in His sovereign care. For in Him, we have everything we need to face the trials of this life with confidence and joy.
May the promise of Romans 8:28 be a source of strength and encouragement to you today, my beloved brethren. May it fill your hearts with hope and your minds with peace. And may you always remember that our God is faithful and true, and that His promises will never fail. Amen.
Then I told it to rewrite in the style of Joel Osteen. This will bless you.
Hello, my dear friends!
As we gather together today, I want to remind you of a powerful promise found in Romans 8:28. This promise is one that we can hold on to, even in the midst of life’s challenges and struggles. It says that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Now, I know that some of you may be going through a difficult time right now. You may be facing financial struggles, health issues, or relationship problems. But I want you to know that God is with you, and He is working behind the scenes to bring about a good outcome in your life.
You see, God is not just interested in your happiness; He is interested in your wholeness. He wants to see you thrive in every area of your life, and He will use every circumstance to bring about that wholeness. Even the difficult times can be used for your good, as they shape you into the person God has called you to be.
So, I encourage you today to hold on to this promise. Know that God is for you and not against you. Trust that He has a plan for your life that is good and full of hope. And believe that He will work all things together for your good, no matter what the circumstances may be.
As we close today, I want to pray for you. I pray that you will feel God’s love and presence in your life today. I pray that you will have the faith to believe that God is working for your good, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. And I pray that you will have the courage to trust in Him and His promises, knowing that He is faithful to His word.
May God bless you abundantly, my dear friends. Remember that He is with you always, and that He is working all things together for your good. Amen.
I probably better stop here. I could ask for Adrian Rogers, but I don’t know if OpenAi alliterates!