Sermon Starters

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

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost/
Festival Of The Reformation
Series C

Option #1: "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Romans 3:19-28
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

1) The Law can’t help you--vv19-20; Rom 4:13, 9:30-31; Gal 2:15-16, 3:10

2) Your only hope is the righteousness of Another--vv21-26; Acts 13:39; Gal 2:19-20, 5:4; Titus 3:5-7

3) No boasting allowed!: Rom 3:19; Lk 18:9-14; 1 Cor 1:29-31, 4:7

NOTE: This theme ties in with the Gospel for Reformation, John 8:31-36

A possible sermon introduction could use the haunting question that Luther had to answer within: "Are you alone wise?" We, like Luther, are "wise" to salvation only through faith in Christ, despairing of our own righteousness and clinging to Him.

MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8

Even under the Old Covenant, good works based on God’s own standards were worthless as far as salvation was concerned. Paul says, "David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works" (Rom. 4:6) and then proceeds to quote from Psalm 32:1-2.

God holds before men the standards of His righteousness in order to demonstrate the impossibility of keeping them by human effort. Because of that inability, "the Law brings about wrath" (Rom. 4:15), God’s judgment on man’s sin. "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse… Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, 'The righteous man shall live by faith'" (Gal 3:10-11). "By grace you have been saved," Paul told the Ephesians; "and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works" (Eph 2:8-9). Countless other New Testament passages (see, e.g., Phil 3:9; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5) repeat the basic gospel truth that rightness with God can never be achieved by human effort.

Whether the law of God is the Mosaic law of the Jews or the law written in the hearts and consciences of all men, including Gentiles (Rom 2:11-15), obedience to it can never be perfect and therefore can never save. That is a devastating truth to everyone who seeks to please God on his own terms and in his own power--which is why the gospel is so offensive to the natural man. (Rom 3:22-24) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, {23} for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, {24} and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

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The Message For Children

Objects: a chain and a cross

I don’t know if you’ve ever gone traveling out West in the Rocky Mountains. I’ve driven on some roads where there are no guard rails and the trip to the bottom is a long way down. Suppose that someone rear-ends the car you’re riding in and you go over the edge. There’s a small ledge about five feet down and you’ve been saved from going to the bottom. But you still need help. Someone throws you a chain and starts pulling you up. But ONE LINK of the chain breaks and now you’re falling 5,000 feet to the floor of the valley.

The Bible tells us that we all FELL INTO SIN. We can’t help ourselves, anymore than you and your family could FLY and get back on the main road. We simply cannot help ourselves.

We need someone to help us. We need someone to pull us up out of trouble. That’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus REACHES DOWN and pulls us up. But before he could reach down to help us, he had to BE LIFTED UP on the cross. He died for our sins there.

So try to remember two things:

1) We FELL DOWN and can’t lift ourselves up.

2) Jesus is the only One who can LIFT US UP out of the trouble our sin got us into. His cross LIFTS US UP. So when Jesus reaches down to you, take hold of his cross so that he may LIFT YOU UP.

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Option #2: "A Reformation Wedding"
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: knowing the Word of the Lord is not as important as knowing the Lord of the Word; doing the will of the Lord is not as important as the will of the Lord being done for us!
The Problem: the enslaving character of even our best religious intentions/institutions
The Promise: God continues to initiate and nurture love through Christ's death on our behalf and the Spirit's Resurrection power for faith and life
(The above is inspired by and adapted from a homiletical help by Douglas Groll)  
1."I will be their God." (Jeremiah 31:33) Christian! here is all thou canst require. To make thee happy thou wantest something that shall satisfy thee; and is not this enough? If thou canst pour this promise into thy cup, wilt thou not say, with David, "My cup runneth over; I have more than heart can wish"? When this is fulfilled, "I am thy God," art thou not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but He who filleth all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can measure? But the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask thee if thou art not complete when God is thine? Dost thou want anything but God? Is not His all-sufficiency enough to satisfy thee if all else should fail? But thou wantest more than quiet satisfaction; thou desirest rapturous delight. Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this thy portion, for God is the Maker of Heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments, or drawn from living strings, can yield such melody as this sweet promise, "I will be their God." Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe thy spirit in it; swim an age, and thou shalt find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and thou shalt find no bottom. "I will be their God." If this do not make thine eyes sparkle, and thy heart beat high with bliss, then assuredly thy soul is not in a healthy state. But thou wantest more than present delights--thou cravest something concerning which thou mayest exercise hope; and what more canst thou hope for than the fulfillment of this great promise, "I will be their God"? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with His love. Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to thy privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy. (Charles Spurgeon)
2. Old Covenant: 1) Included all Israelites, believers and unbelievers; 2) Its laws regulated the entire religious, political, social, and home life of every citizen. New Covenant: 1) Written in hearts, "their inward parts"; 2) Membership consists exclusively of such as have the Law of God within themselves, written there by the Lord Himself. "The New Covenant has a sacrifice which alone can procure what the ever-repeated sacrifices of the Old Covenant typified and foreshadowed, the perfect sacrifice of the Woman's Seed, the Suffering Servant, the Righteous Branch, the Lord Our Righteousness." (Theodore Laetsch)
3. "...there could be no obedience and no recognition of Yahweh's sovereignty as long as the covenant was externalized. It needed to touch the life deeply and inwardly in mind and will." (J.A. Thompson)
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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:34 PM