The beginning of a sermon

A couple years ago Pastor Kyle McDannel led a discussion about what we go through to make a sermon.  I shared with the group that the first thing I do is I read and outline the passage.  Just the act of outlining what the passage says helps us be clear what is being communicated.  It also lets us see if we have taken too large or too small of a passage to really understand in a sitting.

This is my initial outline of this weekends passage.  I would encourage you to read the passage and try this yourself.



Grace Turning Legalism on its Head

The Gospel says you have nothing good in you, and you are in need of a savior.  That simply is not compatible with legalism.  

  • The sad part is most of us try and make the two match up all the time.  
    Today we see how God took Legalism and turned it on its head.  (Acts 16:1-5)
    In this we see that Grace is greater than Legalism.  But How did Paul do it?  How did Paul overcome the Legalistic spirit of the day?   (How will we overcome legalism today.)
    To overcome legalism, Paul:  
    Made Disciples.  (vv.1-2)

    • Timothy was actually already a disciple of Christ.  
      • First things first, Paul made new friends.  
      • He accepted Timothy despite his different background.
      • He made a priority of developing the new leader.
    • We are always looking to reproduce.
      • Paul sought out a leader to take with him. – Timothy- 
      • Timothy would go on to pastor the church in Ephesus.
    • So here is the question for you.
      • What do you do for the kingdom of God?
      • Are you good at it?
      • Are you teaching someone else to do it?
    • We are always looking to reproduce.  The more of us who can do what we do, the better.

    (Paul shows us that) Motive Matters.  (v.3)

    • Why this outward obedience to the law when they had just gone through such an ordeal about the law and grace?
      • Because they knew their audience.
        • The Jews would not have given Timothy a hearing if he had not been circumcised.  
      • As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22….
        • Our lesson is that we do what is needed to share the life and death message of the gospel.
    • This is not a matter of legalism, but a matter of the heart.
      • Timothy was circumcised to reach the Jews, not to earn his salvation nor to attain a better possession with God.
    • Your Motive Matters but motive does not excuse sin.
      • Motive does determine if you are seeking your kingdom of Gods’.  
      • In 1 Samuel 16:7 we are reminded that The Lord judges not the outward appearance, but the heart.  
      • What is in your heart?  What motivates you to do what you do?  What drives you?
        • Is it a love for God, or for your own recognition?
        • Most of us will answer that question correctly on the surface, but it takes an amazingly honest heart to look at your own life and admit the amount of time you spend seeking your own glory.  
    • It is a matter of true humility and amazement that the God of all creation loves you.  
      • None of us deserve His mercy or salvation.  But by His grace, he gives it anyway.
      • Motive matters, and God judges the Heart.
      • Timothy was circumcised as a grown man, in order to take the message of salvation by faith in Christ alone to others.  
      • That was a selfless act, a gracious act.
        • Do you act in His Grace?

    (delivers a) Powerful Message.  (vv.4-5)

    • We need to recognize that our actions can add to or take away from the obstacles that people have to the faith.
      • Paul and Timothy worked to remove obstacles.  Not add to them.
      • That is important to Jesus.  
        • Look how he reprimanded the Pharisees in Matthew 23:2-4
      • We are to help people follow Jesus, not make it harder.
    • The message of Grace makes the church stronger.
      • The church is stronger with Grace as its motivating factor than with Legalism as its motivating factor.
      • Each of us have a natural tendency to be legalistic.  We want to draw lines that are not real in grace or in our culture.  
      • We have a list of expectations.  Not a written list, but its that unwritten list of expectations. (note, this will hurt.  But we need to see our legalistic tendencies.  If you hear one that you relate with, understand, you may have a biblical point with your point of view.  But we are not called to enforce these things on one another. Rather we are called to love people and call them to Christ regardless.)
        • We can be legalistic about our clothes, about our music, about who teaches when, about our views on divorce and things outside the church involving alcohol, tattoos, and even things like our work load and work place.  
        • These things have the potential to be hurtful to God, but we serve a God who is gracious and forgiving and we need to reflect that grace in our own lives. 
    • The church grows when we practice grace.
      • This is not a call to a life with no principles, But a call to a life with a single principle.
        • Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
      • When Grace gets inside you, it finds it’s way into all you say and do.  
      • When Jesus is in your life, He is your Joy.
  • Bible Translation Chart

    We live in a time, just like hundreds of years prior, where Bible translation is a sensitive issue.  I encourage you to consider the page below for info on current Bible translations.

    – update 8-21-13 –

    Consider these words from Spurgeon (largely considered the last of the puritan preachers.) spoke Sept. 27 1857 and think about how long we have been arguing over whether or not it is good to update translations of the Bible.

    The gospel! oh, that must not be preached to the poor! “The Bible,” says the Church of Rome, “must not be read by the vulgar crowd! How can they understand it? It is a thing too sacred for the common people to see! No, wrap up the brazen serpent; wrap it up in a cloth, do not let it be exhibited.” “No,” say our Protestant ministers, many of them, “the Bible must he given, but we must never alter the translation of it!” There are some passages in the present translation that are so dark, that no man can understand them without an explanation. “But no,” say the divines of this age, “we will not have the Bible translated properly, the people must always put up with a faulty translation. The brazen serpent must be wrapped up, because it would a little unsettle matters, if we were to have a new translation!” “No,” say others, “we will have a new translation, if need be; but there are some parts of the truth that ought not to be preached!”

    These arguments may always be with us.  But I urge you not to fall subject to them.


    Sunday Morning, August 4th, Grace in Acts 15

    Acts 15:1-12.

    The dangers of adding to grace. vv.1-5

    • Why did Paul believe that this was worthy of such conflict?
      • Because He recognized that if the people succeeded in requiring all followers of Christ to observe the Law, that Christ essentially freed his followers from nothing in this world.
      • Because He recognized that if these people succeeded in requiring all followers of Christ to observe the Law, then they would begin relying on their own works to please God rather than relying on the completed work of Jesus Christ.
      • Because the work is finished. Their is no more to add to it.  When Jesus on the cross, cried out just before His death, “It is finished.” That is just what he meant.
      • Because Paul knew that allowing a requirement of observing the OT Law to stand would burden the people and damage understanding of the Glory of God in the eyes of the people.
    • So what is the warning here for us?
      • Never try and add to what is necessary for a person to come follow Christ.
      • This does not mean easy believism, because a life truly spent following Christ will not be easy.
      • It does mean to be on guard against the temptation to add to the requirements of the faith because you will find yourself working against the glory of God.


    Living with a full view of Grace. vv.6-12

    • The question they are faced with here is, are they to seek God by their own efforts and works or by that of Christ. (v.10)
      • God knows the heart. (v.8)  He knows our thoughts and desires and our very nature – who we are deep down. He knows that at some point we will choose to live for ourselves rather than God.  We will at some point choose to be self centered rather than God centered.
      • If we are going to point to the Law, as these men would have us do, then choosing that self centered life, even for a ver short time is a violation of the First Command. (You shall have no other Gods before me.).  That is true because is you are living for you, you are your own god.
      • But we are made clean, or righteous, before God by faith alone. (v.9)  (examples: John 3:16, Romans 3:28, Romans 10:9, Galatians 2:16)
    • Faith comes from God. Because He is a gracious God. (v.11)
      • You are saved by His grace. It is completely sufficient to pay for all you have done and all you will do.  Grace, Faith, and works come together most clearly in this way… see Ephesians 2:8-10.  1st comes Grace, then Faith, then Works.  Our flawed human logic often tries to reverse the order, as though we work to gain faith and with that faith we receive the grace of God.  But this is not what God says.  Focus on the order of Eph. 2:8-10.