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Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

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


Eighth Sunday After Pentecost 

 

Option A: From Rev. Kelly Bedard

"Good Riddance!"
Ephesians 1:3-14

A. Blessings from the Father (vv. 3-4)

    1. Heavenly (of the divine realm, non-carnal and supernatural) and ultimate

    2. Holy ("an awful thing," sacred) and blameless (without blemish, blameless ["un-blameable"] predestination (determined beforehand) [see note #3 below]

B. Blessings from the Son (vv. 5-13a)

    1. Adoption (v. 5): equal discipleship status

    2. Redemption (v. 7): ransom in full, riddance, salvation; a releasing effected by payment of ransom

C. Blessings from the Spirit (vv. 13b-14)

    1. A seal (v. 13b): see note #4 below

    2. A deposit (v. 14): an earnest; money which in purchases is given as a pledge or down payment that the full amount will subsequently be paid

Notes:

1. This text is all one sentence in Greek and is often called a "doxology" (a glory-ology!) because it recites what God has done and is an expression of worship to honor Him. (Concordia Self-Study Bible)

2. A possible translation of "blessed" in verse 3 is "adorable."

3. Jewish people used the word "blessed" to express both God's kindness to us and our thanks and praise to Him. (Ibid)

4. Holiness (verse 4) is the result, not the basis, of God's choosing us--imparted personal sanctification. (Ibid)

5. "Seal" (v. 13b): a) to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal; b) for security: from Satan; c) since things sealed up are concealed (as the contents of a letter), to hide, keep in silence, keep secret; d) in order to mark a person or a thing; e) to set a mark upon by the impress of a seal or
a stamp; f) angels are said to be sealed by God; g) in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing; h) to confirm, authenticate, place beyond doubt; i) of a written document; j) to prove one's testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be.

6. "The sealing seems to imply a full impression of the image of God on their souls, a full assurance of receiving all the promises, whether relating to time or eternity." (Wesley's Notes)

7. The party's over and the bills have come due. "But there is hope for your future," says the Lord. (Homiletics Online)

8. Nietzsche spoke for many outside the Church today when he said, "You must look more redeemed if I am to believe in your Redeemer." (William Willimon)

 

Option Two: Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

"The Benefits Of Being A Christian"
Ephesians 1:3-14

I. Adoption as children of the Heavenly Father--Text vv. 3-5

A. It is by grace
  1. As shown in Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son--Lk. 15:11
  2. This grace leads to eternal life, as it is written in Rom. 8:23

B. It comes through the Word
  1. As in Baptism--Eph. 5:26, Titus 3:4-6
  2. As in the Lord's Supper--Matt. 26:27-28

II. Being redeemed--bought back from the power of sin, death and Satan--Text: v. 7

A. It took the blood of God's own Son as the purchase price
  1. As it is written in 1 Peter 1:18-19
  2. As in Gal. 3:13-14

B. It will bring the new heaven and the new earth when Jesus returns
  1. As it is written in 2 Peter 3:13
  2. As it is written in Rev. 21:1ff.

III. Having the Spirit as a deposit--Text: vv. 13-14

A. He included you in Christ, giving you hope in Him
  1. As it is written in Rom. 15:4
  2. As it is written in Lk. 10:21-24 and John 14:26-27

B. His presence gives the guarantee of eternal life
  1. As in Matt. 28:19-20
   2. As in Acts 2:33-40

Notes:

Oswald Chambers writes on Eph 1:7: "In Him (Christ) we have the forgiveness of sins."  Beware of the pleasant view of the fatherhood of God: God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That thought, based solely on emotion, cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament. The only basis on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ. To base our forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy.

The only ground on which God can forgive our sin and reinstate us to His favor is through the Cross of Christ. There is no other way! Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony at Calvary. We should never take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our
sanctification in simple faith, and then forget the enormous cost to God that made all of this ours.

Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive-He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God's forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm. 

Sanctification is simply the wonderful expression or evidence of the forgiveness of sins in a human life. But the thing that awakens the deepest fountain of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven his sin. 

Paul never got away from this. Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, compelled by the love of God for you.

Option Three: "Ways You Can Witness" Series, Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

"Ways You Can Witness: 'Lightly'"
Mark 6:7-13

I How can you witness better?

II Jesus' prescription for witnessing:

First, trust His encouragement (v. 7): Jesus taught the disciples. The disciples responded by going out. They did this because trusted Him to lead them in whatever circumstances they found.

Second, expect to find Satan (v. 7): Jesus told the disciples to expect
"evil spirits." We, too, can expect Satanic resistance to the Gospel. After
all, the Gospel is what Satan fears most.

Third, stick to bare essentials (v. 8): The disciples were commanded to take nothing extra. Too much "clutter" can weigh us down and interfere with our witness.

Fourth, trust God to provide (v. 9-10): You don't need "spares"...coats,
tunics, lodging, etc. God provides for His witnesses even as He provides for the sparrow.

Fifth, develop relationships with those who are hospitable (v. 10): Stay in their house. Learn about them, empathize and share the Good News right in their own home.

Sixth, let God make His Word work (v. 10): If your witness is rejected,
don't take it personally. Dust of your sandals and rejoice that God's Word does as He desires and does not return void.

III Jesus' Real Lesson:

A. Witnessing is not only something we DO, it's what we ARE.

B. The hardest thing about witnessing is not merely to change what we do (or don't do!). It's to let God change who we are!

C. This hard work of intense soul-searching an allowing the Gospel to change our lives continuously is what makes the six steps above "light." Indeed, anyone who is in Christ is a "new creation"...fit to witness and proclaim His love.

D. Application comments...

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

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM