Sermon Starters

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Christian Ministry Professionals

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

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

From Rev. Kelly Bedard

Faith Revisited 
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

(The outline is inspired by an article by Douglas John Hall entitled Faith: Response in Relationship)

A. Faith is not:

    1. "I believe that...": mere doctrinal formulations

    2. But "I believe in...": personal dimension, feeling, experience

B. Faith is:

    1. Trust: involving renewed and perpetual "decision" and risk(s)

    2. Response: vacillating from doubt to understanding, blindness to sight

(Note under B.1. that "decision" is only and always Spirit-empowered)


1. hupostasis (verse 1): confidence, confident, person, substance; a setting or placing under; thing put under, substructure, foundation; that which has foundation, is firm; that which has actual existence;
a substance, real being; the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing; the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution; confidence, firm trust, assurance

2. elegchos (verse 1): reproof, evidence; a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested; conviction

3. Consider any deep relationship in which you find yourself--with your spouse, your lover, your close friends, your parents or your children. In such relationships there is mutuality. You trust and are trusted by the other. But this trust is continually put to the test. You can't be sure! That's very fortunate; people who are absolutely sure of their partners, relatives or friends become presumptuous. They take the relationship for granted. But it is the element of risk that keeps the relationships alive. The decision to trust the other has to be made again and again--and for that reason the relationship does not grow cold. (Hall)

4. Doubt, as the constant reminder of the risk in faith, plays a vital role in the life of faith. The Bible is wonderfully honest about the doubting of the faithful. Sometimes people speak admiringly of the patience and faith of Job. But in fact most of the book of Job is about Job's struggle with God. He comes to doubt God radically. He feels he has been betrayed. So does Jesus--if we listen attentively to his "cry of dereliction" from the cross. Faith in God is not an easy thing. Who could take it seriously if it were? (Hall)

5. Faith is not blind. It cannot comprehend everything. But it wants to know. (Hall)

6. Genuine faith is always humble, and the understanding that belongs to the life of faith (theology!) must be modest understanding, because it is only "on the way" to the living Truth; it has not "arrived." But faith also contains a lively hope, for despite its own limitations it already anticipates the completion of itself in "sight." For the present, "we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

From Rev. Wayne Dobratz 

The Hall Of Fame Of Faith
Hebrews 11:1-3;8-16

Introduction: The Baseball Hall of Fame held its induction ceremony a few weeks ago. One inductee had to decide which team he would represent when inducted.  Another was elected by the Veterans Committee and was so moved that he couldn’t finished his speech.

The Bible tells us that only those who trust in Jesus are eligible for Faith’s Hall of Fame.  Today’s Old Testament Reading and Epistle  use a veteran believer, Abraham, the  “Father of all Believers” as the example to follow.


I. Believing without seeing is how the ancient believers were commended by God and inducted into the Hall of Fame.
 A. As regarding the Creation of the World–v. 3, See also John 20:29
 B. As Abraham went to Canaan without knowing his destination–vv.8-9.
 C. As Abraham trusted God to give him an heir–v.11

II.  Characteristics of those enshrined in Faith’s Hall of Fame
 A. They lived by faith, trusting in the promises even though they did not live to see them fulfilled-v. 13, 2 Cor 4:18ff.
 B. They lived not for this life (“aliens and strangers on earth”), but for the next–vv. 13-16, Phil. 1:23.
 C. They thought of Heaven as a better country–v. 16

III. They will live in God’s Heavenly City–v.16b
 A. See Heb. 13:14
 B. Rev. 21:1-7; 10ff.

Winston Churchill planned his own funeral. There were stately hymns in St. Paul’s Cathedral and an impressive liturgy. But at the end of the service, Churchill had something different planned. When they said the Benediction, a bugler high up on one side of  the Dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral played
 “Taps”, the universal signal that the day is over. There was a long pause. Then a bugler on the other side played “Reveille”, the military wake-up call. 

It was Churchill’s way of saying that, while we say “Good Night” here, it’s “Good Morning” up there. Now why could he do that? Because he believed in Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” 

Billy Graham said: “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s going to turn out alright.” 

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM