The Heart of Christian Sermon

 

 

What does the Bible tells us about the Christian sermon?

 

The Christian sermon proclaims that life and salvation come from God alone and that Jesus Christ by his death promises salvation.  This is the Good News.  Consider:

 

Blessed be the Lord,

    who daily bears us up;

God is our salvation.

Our God is a God of salvation;

    and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death. (Ps 68.19-20, RSV)

 

For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5.9-11, NRSV)

 

To trust in this promise of God is to be saved.  Consider:

 

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2.1-10, NRSV)

 

God's Word alone creates faith.  Faith comes through hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Consider:

 

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. (Romans 10.17, RSV)

 

God promises that God's Word is active and effective. God's Word can be trusted. Consider:

 

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

   and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

   giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

   it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

   and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55.10-11, NRSV)

 

The primary and central content of the Christian sermon is Jesus Christ and him crucified. Consider:

 

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2.1-5, NRSV)

 

The Word that is proclaimed in the Christian sermon is the Word through whom the universe came to be and through whom God reconciles all things to God's self.  Consider:

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it...  And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1.1-5, 14)

 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1.15-20, NRSV)

 

The whole of Christian Scripture, Old and New Testaments, is the written Word of God that witnesses to the Living Word, Jesus Christ, and gives content and form to the proclaimed Word - the sermon.  Consider:

 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6.4-9, NRSV)

 

 "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf... If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?" (John 5.39, 46-47, NRSV)

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