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Sermon Starters

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


First Sunday After Pentecost/
Festival Of The Holy Trinity
Series C

Option One: “The Trinity"
Romans 5:1 et al.
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

Note: Today’s Sermon Starter is in the form of notes for an expository message on the Epistle of the day. 

(Rom 5:1) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, being justified by faith--as is evident from the context, Paul is speaking of "subjective justification," of those who have faith in the Savior and stand forgiven of sin. 

Barnes Notes on the New Testament: Have peace with God--true religion is often represented as peace with God; see Acts 10:36; Rom 8:6; 10:15; 14:17; Gal 5:22; see also Isa 32:17. This is called peace, because, (1) The sinner is represented as the enemy of God, Rom 8:7; Eph 2:16; James 4:4; John 15:18, 24; 17:14; Rom 1:30. (2) The state of a sinner’s mind is far from peace. He is often agitated, alarmed, trembling. He feels that he is alienated from God. The plan of salvation by Christ reveals God as willing to be reconciled. He is ready to pardon, and to be at peace (Rom 5:2) through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We have access-- Doddridge renders it, "by whom we have been introduced," etc. It means, "by whom we have the privilege of obtaining the favor of God which we enjoy when we are justified." The word rendered "access" occurs but in two other places in the New Testament, Eph 2:18; 3:12. By Jesus Christ the way is opened for us to obtain the favor of God. By faith--by means of faith, Rom 1:17. Into this grace--into this favor of reconciliation with God. (Rom 5:3) Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

But we glory--the word used here is the same that is in Rom 5:2, translated, "we rejoice," kauchometha. It should have been so rendered here. The meaning is that we rejoice not only in hope; not only in the direct results of justification...but we carry our joy and triumph even into the midst of trials. In accordance with this, our Savior directed his followers to rejoice in persecutions, Matt 5:11-12. Compare James 1:2, 12. In tribulations--in afflictions. The word used here refers to all kinds of trials which people are called to endure; though it is possible that Paul referred particularly to the various persecutions and trials which they were called to endure as Christians.

(Rom 5:4) perseverance, character; and character, hope. And patience, experience--patient endurance of trial produces experience. The word rendered "experience" (dokimen) means trial, testing, or that thorough examination by which we ascertain the quality or nature of a thing, as when we test a metal by fire, to ascertain that it is genuine. It also means approbations, or the result of such a trial; the being approved, and accepted as the effect of a trying process. The meaning is that long afflictions borne patiently show a Christian what he is; they test his religion, and prove that it is genuine. Afflictions are often sent for this purpose, and patience in the midst of them shows that the religion which can sustain them is from God. And experience, hope--the result of such long trial is to produce hope. They show that the Christian faith is genuine; that it is from God; and not only so, but they direct the mind onward to another world; and sustain the soul by the prospect of a glorious immortality there. The various steps and stages of the benefits of afflictions are thus beautifully delineated by the apostle in a manner which accords with the experience of all the children of God.

(Rom 5:5) And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the New Testament: this hope will not disappoint us, because it is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of love. It is the gracious work of the blessed Spirit to shed abroad the love of God in the hearts of all the saints. The love of God, that is, the sense of God’s love to us, drawing out love in us to him again. The ground of all our comfort and holiness, and perseverance in both, is laid in the shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts; it is this which constrains us, 2 Cor 5:14. Thus are we drawn and held by the bonds of love. Sense of God’s love to us will make us not ashamed, either of our hope in him or our sufferings for him.

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The Message For Children

Romans 5:3: ...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4) perseverance, character; and character, hope.

If you turn on the TV this time of the year, you will see all kinds of sports--basketball, hockey, baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer and others. There are even football games in indoor arenas such as the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

The regular season football players are busy too. Do you have any idea what they do this time of the year? "Pumping iron," they call it; they are weight lifting. Strength coaches help them to lift more and more and to have both the strength and the endurance they will need during the season. "Endurance" means that they will be strong for the whole game.

It hurts to get prepared for this, but it makes you stronger. Our lives are like this too. There are times when God lays heavy weights on us. He doesn’t do it to harm us; he does it to make us stronger; to get us prepared for things down the road when we will need to be strong and we will need to hang on for a long time.

Paul the Apostle says that we can REJOICE in our sufferings, because all kinds of good things come from them. It’s just like the football players who win because they got strong "pumping iron" in the summertime. We’re hoping for victory too, but it’s not just winning a game. It’s being a part of Jesus’ victory over death when he rose from the grave. It’s being part of Jesus’ Kingdom which is fighting God’s enemies until he takes us home to eternal life.

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Option #2: "Divine Majesty" or "Three Wise Guys"
Proverbs 8:22-31
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The following is inspired by and otherwise adapted from Francis Rossow

The Point: wisdom, more than a morally desirable virtue, is in actuality Christ Himself!

The Problem: futile attempts to reach God by virtue of so-called, self-directed and self-beneficial wisdom, truth, and living

The Promise: God the Father through God the Son gives us access to the throne (Rom 5:1-2) and all that is rightfully His alone and, through God the Holy Spirit, guides us in into all truth and tells us what is to come, even living in our very bodies (Rom 5:1-5) 

Notes:

1. chokmah {khok-maw'}, 8:1: wisdom; skill in war; wisdom in administration; shrewdness; prudence in religious affairs; ethical and religious wisdom. (Blue Letter Bible)

2. nacak {naw-sak'}, v23: niphal, anointed. (BLB)

3. sha`shua` {shah-shoo'-ah}, v30: noun masculine plural; intensive delight, enjoyment; object of delight. (BLB) So is "I was daily His delight" more exact than NIV's "I was filled with delight day after day..."?

4. Our text is full of surprises. At first it appears to be recommending a trait called wisdom, a virtue all of us admire and desire, but hardly worth the subject of a sermon that hopes to rise above moralism. Then we notice that throughout the text and in verses 1-8 of this chapter, the writer speaks of wisdom as if it were a person rather than an abstract trait. Is this just a rhetoical trick to make the material more readable? If so, we appreciate the writer's artistry. But then we turn to 1 Corinthians 1:24 and get the big surprise. There Paul calls Christ "the wisdom of God." It turns out that wisdom is a person, no less a person than the Second Person of the triune God!

The next surprise is the considerable participation of Wisdom (Christ) in the creation of our world, an activity we usually attribute primarily to God the Father. So active was Christ in creation that the text calls him "the craftsman at [God's] side" (v30). This description implies two truths: that Christ helped create the world ("craftsman") and that Christ is intimate with the Father ("at his side").

Verses 35-36 of this chapter provide us another surprise. Christ crafted more than our world--He crafted our salvation. "Whoever finds me finds life" (v35). This activity is spelled out in more detail in the Epistle (Rom 5:1-5) and Gospel (John 16:12-15, where our salvation is pictured also as a trinitarian activity. (Francis Rossow)

5. Opportunity for bonus Gospel: Christ, alias Wisdom, says in verses 24-25, "When there were no springs abounding with water...before the hills, I was given birth." Treated imaginatively, this statement can provide bonus Gospel for a sermon...

Exegetically, Christ is simply asserting His eternity. He existed before our world did. He was around long before springs of water and hills were created. True as far as the relationship between Christ and His creation is concerned. Yet, in another sense, it is not true. There was a spring of water in existence even before the world was created. Christ Himself was that spring. "Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14). "If [anyone] is thirsty, let them come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me...streams of living water will flow from with them" (John 7:37-38) There was a hill in existence even before the world was created. Christ Himself was that hill. The psalmist was aware of it, for he said, "I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord (Ps 121:2). Repeatedly, he called Jesus "the rock of my salvation."

The purpose of this suggestion is not to contradict the clear truth of our text. Rather, it is to call attention to an even greater truth: The springs of water and the hills in the world that Christ helped create were but a microcosm of the springs of water and hill that He Himself was for eternity. In that sense, those springs and hills were made in the image of God--like craftsman, like craft. (Rossow)

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