Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Fifth Sunday Of Easter

Option A: From  Kelly Bedard 

Being in Love & Behaving in Love
1 John 3:18-24

A sermon re: the above might follow Christ's two-fold command in verse 23:

1. To believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ; and
2. To love one another;
and might be embellished by/with the following notes--an expository sermon of sorts:

a. "Name" (of His Son) refers to authority and character, the whole person, all that Jesus is and does

b. The love referred to is "agape" love, possible only " the Spirit He gave us" (verse 24)

1. Our assured consciousness is not our own subjective mood-making but God's own work
2. As opposed to the spirit of the antichrist (4:1ff.)

c. Love is not simply a matter of profession

d. Trembling anxiety vs. calm confidence

e. "Truth" (verses 18 & 19): complete and utter honesty

f. The text illustrates a concern for the spirit (e.g., as in The Sermon on the Mount and The Beatitudes), not just the letter, of the Law

g. "Faith-and-love"

1. So intimately connected that they are seen as one
2. Mutually indwelling

h. Reciprocal responsibility: God is not indifferent to the way we live

Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

Option B:

God, The Gardener
John 15:1-8

1) He’s looking for fruit

A. As in the Old Testament Parable in Is. 5:1-7

B. As in Lk. 13:6ff.

2) He cuts off branches that don’t produce

A. Such branches waste the tree sap and moisture, as the unfruitful fig tree did in Lk. 13:7

B. Such is the danger of those who are tied up only with the matters of this life--Matt. 13:22

3) He prunes those that do to increase production

A. As in Malachi 3:3

B. As in Hebrews 9:14

C. As in Proverbs 3:11-12

4) The destiny of those who are cut off

A. John 15:6 "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

B. As in Matt. 3:10

5) Be something the Gardener can boast about!

A. We are fruitful only because of the care and keeping of the Creator. Is. 5:1-4a

B. The Savior intercedes for the unfruitful plant. He lavishes love upon it and nurtures it, with:

1. blood--as in John 6:53-56

2. sweat--also in Lk. 22:44--his effort, as depicted in Lk. 13:8-9

3. tears--over Jerusalem--Matt. 23:37

C. as in our redemption--Heb. 5:7-9

D. We are to bring glory to God by our faithfulness and fruitfulness--as here in John 15:8 and in Matt. 5:16 and Eph. 2:10

Matthew Henry writes:

Jesus Christ is the Vine, the true Vine. The union of the human and Divine natures, and the fullness of the Spirit that is in him, resemble the root of the vine made fruitful by the moisture from a rich soil. Believers are branches of this Vine. The root is unseen, and our life is hid with Christ; the root bears the tree, diffuses sap to it, and in Christ are all supports and supplies. The branches of the vine are many, yet, meeting in the root, are all but one vine; thus all true Christians, though in place and opinion distant from each other, meet in Christ.

The Father is the Gardener. Never was any Gardener so wise, so watchful, about his vineyard, as God is about his church, which therefore must prosper. We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian life.

We are to honor God, and do good; this is bearing fruit. The unfruitful are taken away. And even fruitful branches need pruning; for the best have notions, passions, and moods that need to be taken away. The more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good, the more our Lord is glorified. It is the great concern of all Christ’s disciples, constantly to keep up dependence upon Christ, and communion with him.

Christians find by experience that any interruption in the exercise of their faith causes holy thoughts to decline, their sinful nature to revive, and their comforts to disappear. Those who abide not in Christ, though they may flourish for awhile in outward profession come to nothing in the end. The fire is the fittest place for withered branches; they are good for nothing else. 

Let us seek to live more simply on the fullness of Christ, and to grow more fruitful in every good word and work, so that our joy in Him and in his salvation may be full.

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

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