Sermon Starters

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Christian Ministry Professionals

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

Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

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Option #1: "The Boast Dies Here"
Romans 3:19-28
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

I. The Law convicts all of sin; no one is righteous before God

    A. As in 1 Sam. 2:3

    B. As in Job 40:4ff

    C. As in Job 42:1-6

II. God's remedy for our hopeless state

    A. Righteousness in Christ

        1. See Ps. 48:10, 97:2 145:7, Jer. 23:6
        2. It is IN CHRIST; see Rom. 6:23, 8:1, 1 Cor. 1:2 & 4, 27-31, 15:22; 2 Cor. 2:14

    B. A righteousness apart from Law

        1. The Law condemns; see Rom. 7:9
        2. Jesus was condemned by the Law and its teachers (Matt. 18:20); see also Rom. 10:4

    C. A righteousness that is by faith; see Rom. 1:17, 3:28, 4:13-16, 5:2, 9:30-33; Gal. 2:16 & 20, 3:8-14

    D. It comes through the Sacrifice of Atonement; see Rom. 3:25-28, 1 John 2:2 & 4:10

    E. It satisfies His justice; see Rom. 1:18ff., 2:2ff.,

    F. Our Savior will be our Judge; see Matt 25:32, John 5:22

III. The right kind of boasting (cf 1 Cor. 1:27-31)

    A. In God's act of justification; see Lk. 1:47, Ps. 34:2

    B. In God's gift of forgiveness by grace through faith; see 1 Cor 1:31, Ps. 51:12ff

"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement" (Rom. 3:25)

Martin Luther writes: "Why does Christ suffer? He is a fine, good, faithful Tree, and has not deserved so stern a sentence; but He suffers it for our sake. He is carrying out His office as Priest. He intends not only to pray for sinners but also to sacrifice His body and life on the altar of the
cross so that God will be appeased through this sacrifice and poor sinners will be freed from the wrath of God and be heirs of eternal life. That is why it hurts the Lord to see us weep at the sight of His suffering. He wants us to be glad, praise God, thank His grace, extol, glorify, and confess Him;
for through this journey (to the cross) we come into the possession of the grace of God. By it we have been freed from sins and death and have become God's dear children." (From a sermon on Lk. 23:26-31)

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Option #2: "Real Reformation"
John 8:31-36
Rev. Kelly Bedard

A. Doctrinal Policing (Orthodoxy)

    1. Salvation based on lineage or heritage or religious denomination or affiliation

    2. Trust in the teachings of the Church; truth = right doctrine

    3. Devotion to God as slave labor: something we're compelled by fear to do

B.  Doctrinal Pardoning (Orthopraxy)

    1. Salvation based only on an adoptive relationship with God through Christ and the Spirit

    2. Trust in the Church's Teacher (Jesus); truth = a person (Jesus)

    3. Devotion to God as a labor of love: a consequent response to His love in Christ


1. In what sense did the Jewish leaders trust Jesus? It is perhaps better to translate this "believe" than "trust." They had believed his messianic claims (8:25) which he had spoken to them from the beginning. But they had insisted on believing Jesus to be the type of Messiah they had anticipated--chiefly political. This is suggested by their refusal to admit that anyone had ever enslaved them (8:33) in spite of the Roman occupation (not to mention the Babylonian captivity). (Hall Harris)

2. In the context of John's Gospel (particularly in light of the Prologue) this [the truth] must refer to truth about the person and work of Jesus. It is saving truth. As L. Morris says, "It is the truth which saves [people] from the darkness of sin, not that which saves them from the darkness of error (though there is a sense in which [people] in Christ are delivered from gross error)." (Harris)

3. "Everyone who practices (present participle) sin is a slave of sin." Here repeated, continuous action is in view. The one whose lifestyle is characterized by repeated, continuous sin is a slave to sin. That one is not free; sin has enslaved him. To break free from this bondage requires outside (divine) intervention. Although the statement is true at the general level (the person who continually practices a lifestyle of sin is enslaved to sin), the particular sin of the Jewish authorities, repeatedly emphasized in the Fourth Gospel, is the sin of unbelief. The present tense in this instance looks at the continuing refusal on the part of the Jewish leaders to acknowledge who Jesus is, in spite of mounting evidence. (Harris)

4. ...there is no lasting relationship with Jesus' word. That is the root of the problem. That is why their faith has died or become flawed. That is why the offspring of Abraham seek to kill Jesus. (Brian Stoffregen)

5. If we are ever to enter fully into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, we are going to have to spend more time thinking about freedom than we do. The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. She has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes that she had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch. She has been so afraid we will loose sight of the laws of our nature, that she made us care more about how we look than about who we are; made us act more like the subjects of a police state than fellow citizens of the saints.  

6. could be argued that if one is no longer learning from the teacher or the teacher's words, they are no longer being disciples. (Stoffregen)

7. ...discipleship is the only true path to freedom, to being all that you were meant to be. (Ray Stedman)

8. eleutheroo (verse 32): make free, deliver; to set at liberty: from the dominion of sin

9. douleuo (verse 33): serve, be in bondage, do service; metaphorically, to obey, submit to; of those who become slaves to some base power, to yield to, give one's self up to

10. Perhaps the greatest form of bondage is either not realizing or denying that you're in bondage ("We've never been slaves of anyone...")!

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