Monday, August 20, 2012

Sermon on John 6:51-60, for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, "Words of Eternal Life"

Sermon Outline:
1.      Couple of place in NT talk about giving milk and not solid food: 1 Cor. 3, Paul addresses them as infants in Christ, “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.” Again in Hebrews 5 he chides them that they ought to have become mature in their faith and understanding by now, but instead needed to relearn the basics, and needed milk, and not solid food, for the one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness—but solid food is for the mature. Today: solid food, a challenging passage, but words that are spirit and they are life. Truly as Peter said, Jesus has the words of eternal life.
2.      Already now you recognize that the food I’m talking about eating is spiritual, not physical. Teaching, truth, God’s Word. And the “eating” you will be doing is spiritual also—the understanding of your faith as it grasps Christ and consumes the Bread of Life, the digestion of careful thinking and consideration of God’s Word.
3.      So also Jesus calls us to wisdom and understanding, to believe challenging things, to eat the solid food that He gives. That can be a bittersweet departure. Simplicity of youth and how we saw the world, or we wishfully think that “ignorance is bliss.” But we’re not called to idolize childhood or to stick to childish ways. Rather, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Co 13:11). He’s saying that there was a time when that was expected of you, but now as a man, give up those childish ways. Maturity
4.      Jesus began to teach in John 6 that “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” People began to argue and question “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” and turned away. Troubling. He drove the point home more deeply, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” At this point they were really astonished, even many of His disciples said, “This is hard saying, who can listen to it?” Maybe hinting, “Could you give us something easier?” Afterward many left Jesus. Large crowd at first, people following after feeding of 5,000. Dwindled, gone, Jesus asks 12 will they leave too? He knew that this would offend and turn many away, but couldn’t change them, because these words were Spirit and Life. The only life to be had was life through Him and from the Father. To take these words away from them would be to take away His Spirit and Life for them.
5.      So what did His words mean? How do we eat Jesus, the Living Bread from heaven? Is He talking about the Lord’s Supper, not yet established? What does it mean: flesh is true food and blood is true drink, whoever eats and drinks has eternal life? Sounds grotesque, even like cannibalism. Some hearers obviously took His words crudely and so they left Him. Too much for a single sermon. Solid food is more than sound-bites and catchphrases. Deeper thinking, digestion, and study required. Deeper study of God’s Word. Bible class is a good starting place, wherever you are, whether still feeding on milk, or desiring more solid food.
6.      Key point—what the eating does: gives eternal life, and without this eating you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on His flesh and blood has eternal life. From these points, we should see that He’s not talking first of all about the eating of the Lord’s Supper right here, which does not automatically give eternal life to whoever eats it. If it were describing first and foremost the Lord’s Supper, we might mistakenly think that anyone, believer or unbeliever, would have eternal life simply by the oral eating of the Supper, regardless of faith. Or that without it, you couldn’t have eternal life. But Jesus clearly teaches even in this same chapter that it is by believing in Him that we have eternal life (v.29, 40). So the indispensible eating that gives eternal life, and without which we have no life, is clearly the spiritual eating of faith—the hearing, believing, and taking to ourselves the Word of God where Jesus and all His benefits come to us (FC VII.61-63). Taking to ourselves, being fed and nourished on what Jesus has done in His body for us—His flesh and blood dying on the cross for us, granting us His forgiveness, righteousness and eternal life.
7.      In the Lord’s Supper, both kinds of eating take place. The spiritual eating of faith has to come before one can orally eat the Lord’s Supper for their blessing. Then we receive Jesus’ body and blood in hand and mouth in a mysterious yet bodily presence. The blessing comes to us when we’ve first received Him by faith.
8.      Many left Jesus at His hard teachings. They turned back, rejected Him, or were scandalized. In so doing, they also turned away from life. Jesus asked the 12 if they were going to do the same, and leave Him. Peter spoke those faith-filled words (now in our Alleluia verse) “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter got what Jesus was saying—that there’s no other way to God and to life, apart from Jesus. Whoever wants to be saved must come to Jesus alone. And it costs us nothing. But it cost God so much (Luther). It cost His only beloved Son. It cost Jesus His innocent suffering and death. For this costly price, this costly sacrifice, it is unthinkable for Jesus to soften or lessen His words that “The bread I will give for the life of the world is my flesh”—because His words are spirit and they are life. His flesh and blood are our food, our drink, and our eternal life. Apart from Him we are without the life of God. In Him we have all the fullness and riches of His kingdom and promises.
9.      Luther described this as the “great true exchange…. He remains in us and we in Him. We become one loaf with Him. He, with all of His wealth, becomes mine. I, with all my sins and trouble, become His body. Then He remains in me. So I must have everything that He is and has, eternal life, righteousness, wisdom, strength, might and altogether every favor of which there is no end or counting. It is too much to grasp or measure, but it is my own. Therefore faith brings with it victory over the world, death, sins, devil and every misfortune. These Words contain such a wonder that no human heart can grasp or receive all of it. I, on the other hand, dwell in Him. So as a result, when I am fragile, as I stumble, snort, and fail, it cannot hurt me. For I am [carried] with my sins and weakness by and in eternal righteousness and strength.” (Luther, 46). Carried by Christ’s eternal righteousness and strength, surrendering our weakness and sin to Him, we praise Him who has the words of eternal life. Alleluia!

Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at:
Listen to audio at:

  1. What do various New Testament passages mean by contrasting milk and solid food? 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2-3. Why are we to grow in maturity, and not remain in childish ways? 1 Cor 13:11

  1. Why is Jesus’ teaching in John 6 an example of “solid food?” How did many of His followers react to this teaching? See John 6:52, 60-61, 66-67. What are the confusing or seemingly offensive points about it?

  1. How does Jesus here, (cf. Proverbs 9:4-6) talk about another kind of “eating” than with our mouth? What is the kind of food that is meant in both passages? Why did Jesus not give them something “easier to swallow?” John 6:63; 68.

  1. What are the two types of eating that take place when we receive the Lord’s Supper? Why is the spiritual eating of faith, taught in John 6, the essential precursor to the right reception of the Lord’s Supper? When is eating without faith be harmful? 1 Corinthians 11:27-32; Matt. 5:23-24

  1. Why is it necessary to have Christ’s flesh and blood as our spiritual food and drink? What role does His flesh and blood play in our salvation? John 19:18, 34; 1:29. Why must we look nowhere else for eternal life?

Monday, August 13, 2012

“Your Songs and Prayers Against the Darkness Hurling…”

(Newsletter article)
The vivid words and images leapt off the pages and captured my imagination as the triumphant rhythms of the hymn pulsed with joy. Christ Jesus battling against the forces of darkness and evil. We see a rejected man hanging on the cross, lingering near death, arms pinned down in apparent defeat. But saints and angels saw Jesus delivering a deathblow to “send the pow’rs of evil reeling.” Satan and the forces of evil knocked completely off-balance; reeling, tumbling back in shock and surprise as Jesus’ death on the cross sealed victory for Him, and defeat for sin, death, and the power of the devil. We’re invited to see and believe this victory.

Jesus delivers to us the fruits of this awesome victory, bringing us “freedom, light and life and healing. All men and women who by guilt are driven, now are forgiven.” You have been driven by guilt. Driven to fear, driven to the vain attempt to please God by your good works, driven to hide, excuse, or explain away your guilt, in an effort to be relieved of it. Yet here stands Jesus Christ, forgiving your guilt. Declaring that it is no longer your burden to bear. Casting aside your vain attempts to please God by your works, and announcing to you that He has fully pleased and satisfied God with His perfect life, death, and resurrection. Announcing that His perfect life counts in your stead, so that you are forgiven of all wrong, and still more God counts all the good He has done to your credit! Guilt-driven to the cross, Christ scoops up your guilt and bears it on His strong shoulders—yours no longer. Freedom, light, and life and healing are now yours.

You have been drafted into His service. The spiritual battle continues. “Come, celebrate your banners high unfurling…” Marching in step with our conquering Lord Jesus, His love stretched above us as a glorious banner. “…Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling…” We march forward with our Lord Jesus, against the encroaching darkness, casting songs and prayers out like bolts of lightning and joy that shatter the darkness. Light and freedom has entered our darkness through Jesus Christ, and we cast His light into the darkness, scattering the gloom, awakening hope in the lives of others who are surrounded by the darkness. “…To all the world go out and tell the story, of Jesus’ glory.” Songs and prayers and the Word of God—spiritual weapons dreaded by the evil one—tormenting to him who wants to spread despair and hopelessness. He’s fearful that we would call on the name of the Mighty God who delivers us from the evil one, and guards us from temptation. Satan is fearful when you sing and pray to Jesus, because he knows he cannot stand against the Lord Christ. Satan trembles when the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection is proclaimed. Arm yourself with weapons of the Spirit to stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6). Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and pray at all times in the Spirit.

As I finished singing the words of the hymn, joy and gladness washed over me for what Jesus has done for us. And I recalled the words of C.S. Lewis, closely paralleling the words of the hymn. In his book The Screwtape Letters, a fiction about how demons might practice their art of temptation, he describes how the tempters can make use of the fact that their subject has become a Christian and joined a church. They must exploit the fact that the human cannot see what they can. To the man worshipping in the church, the tempter must direct his attention to the outward appearances—the man from the local grocery store with his “oily expression” handing him the old hymnal with things in it they don’t understand, and in very small print. The neighbors around him he’s managed to avoid through the week. Their squeaky or monotone voices as they sing, their strange clothes or appearance. The dilapidated condition of the church. The tempter wants his “patient” to see all these things so that he will gradually begin to think that “their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.”

All the while, what the tempters see in the spiritual realm, is quite terrifying to them. They see the Church “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners.” We see a motley group of people singing half out of tune; an inexperienced preacher relating ancient Bible texts, some distracted, some sleepy; we see the empty chairs and wonder why we’re here. But the true nature of the Christian church is quite invisible to our physical eyes. We don’t see what the devil and all his powers tremble at.

But we confess this article of faith, “I believe in the one Holy Christian and apostolic Church.” We confess that despite our senses, despite the distractions that the evil one would turn our attention to, that Christ’s Church is the greatly feared enemy of the forces of evil. The Christian Church stretches through all time, and every “soldier in the Lord’s army” that dies in battle, is not one more victim eliminated from the army, but now stands on the other side of eternity—alive and well in the victory of the Lord! That no Christian who dies in the Lord departs from His church, but rather stands in triumph in heaven. That Christian songs and prayers ripple through the darkness, causing damage to the cause of evil in ways that we cannot see. That the word of Christ proclaimed causes all the forces of evil to quake and tremble. Keep this awareness before you as you sing and pray, and always remember the power of Jesus to whom we sing and pray, and who sent those “pow’rs of evil reeling!”
The hymn that prompted these reflections is “Rise, Shine, You People”, especially verses 2-3. It can be found in the Lutheran Service Book, 825. Read the hymn and Ephesians 6 together and consider anew the power of God’s Word, prayer, and the weapons of the Spirit, as you are encouraged to join in worship and stand under Christ’s banner of victory. 

Sermon on Ephesians 4:17-5:2, for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, "Put on the New Self!"

Sermon Outline:
1.      A contrast between the old way of life (futility, darkened, ignorance, hardness of heart) and the new life that Christ has given. Put off the old self, put on the new self! Two-fold nature as a Christian—internal battle, old patterns and ways—new patterns and ways.
2.      Calls us to be renewed in the Spirit of our mind, put on the new self. Surrender ways of thinking that run contrary to God’s Word. Challenge worldly thinking, and renew your thinking in the Spirit.
3.      God’s design for life will run against the grain of so much of what surrounds us and fills our thinking, but it’s more than worth the “trade-in” to swap out our way of thinking for the renewing way of thinking in the Spirit. God’s Word is more precious than gold, and He won’t lead us astray. No arbitrary, meaningless, or useless commands—but for our best. Contrast turning your mind ON and using it well, with thoughtlessly giving into our compulsive desires and cravings. It takes no thought at all to fall into old ways of sinning and land in troubling consequences. But we’re called to life by the Spirit, and wise thinking. Engaged mind and conscience, thinking about right and wrong, acting honorably and with integrity. To acknowledge the wrong, repent, and be forgiven.
4.      Describes old way of life: giving into sensuality—callous and hard-hearted. A dull and calloused heart doesn’t think or feel, but is insensitive. Like a calloused foot doesn’t feel the sharpness of rocks like a tender foot would. Calloused heart feels no shame, no twinge of guilt or remorse when it’s been hardened by repeated sinning. Giving into sensuality vs. resisting our desires. Why? Kill-joys? Against pleasure and enjoyment of life? No. Seek what is good and pure in the time and way God has given it. Putting our desires in check is not just about saying ‘no’ to everything, but saying ‘no’ now so that we can say ‘yes’ to something better, later. Ex. reserving sexuality for the marriage bed. Ex. teaching our children they can’t have every toy or thing now, but understand the meaning of work and earning. Ex. Olympic athletes giving up things now so that they can win the medal or compete in their events. Straining and depriving the body now for great achievement. Ex. not drinking at high school parties, where people are underage and irresponsible, but being able to enjoy drinking in moderation as a responsible adult. Ex. not buying something on credit, instead of saving and buying debt-free later. Other things, like illegal drugs, should always be resisted at any age, because they’re harmful and sinful.
5.      What’s it like living with the old self still attached, but having the new self, alive and seeking to live after God? Pr. Cwirla compares it to running new software on old hardware.[1] Doesn’t go smoothly! The system hangs up and crashes often because of the incompatibility of flesh and spirit, old man and new man. Repentance is like our “reboot” where we shut down the hardware, and start it up again with the new software, and let it resume normal functioning.
6.      How do our hearts get hardened and calloused? Repeated sinning, ignoring conscience. Desensitizing. Movies, news, even personal experience can desensitize us to violence, illicit behaviors, filthy language—so that the worldly ways don’t faze us. Comfortable with those old shoes. What’s the solution? How do we deal with the fact that our sinful nature crowds into all our thinking and behavior—how we speak to one another: Paul describes one example of an escalating series of behaviors: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (yelling), slander and malice. Sin crowds into our relationships, our work and integrity, temptation to steal, be lazy or dishonest. Solution is not to “rehabilitate” the old self, or straighten out its behaviors through enforced discipline, but the death of the old self. Spiritual putting to death of the old sin nature by repentance. Christ takes your sinfulness to the cross, and dies your death for you. Strip off the old self like dirty clothing, and take on the new self that God has created in His image for you in Christ.
7.      A lot of Christians worry about their progress, measuring their improvement, “examining their fruit” (or worse—others), questioning whether they are “Christian enough.” Dangerous place of relying on our works for salvation, or thinking they’re the basis for our approval—instead of Jesus Christ alone being the basis for our approval in God’s eyes. We all live with and wrestle with this duty to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” Or to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” And it can be incredibly deflating when we look at our record of failures. We might feel as though we’ll never “be on track to be a Christian.” But this is a mistaken way of thinking. You’ll never live this life completely free of the dragging influence of your old sin nature. It will dog your steps until you die! But by constantly throwing it off, and returning to the Lord in humility and repentance, we can clothe ourselves again with the new man. Take on the new mind of the Spirit again, and strive for the good.
8.      Return to the Lord for forgiveness, past failures and sins are not counted against you. Rather you walk in the love that God showed you in Christ Jesus. You are filled with His love to overflowing, so that it spills over in your interactions with others. The Good News is that Jesus didn’t just die to give you forgiveness, and the rest is all up to you. Not just a good start on the path, but you carry through to the finish. But “you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
9.      We’re forgiven and justified (declared innocent by God) 100% by grace, God’s gift to us in Jesus. That’s already done and completed in Jesus’ death on the cross for us. But this verse says Jesus is also our “sanctification.” That means the ongoing-work-in-progress-daily-renewal in the Holy Spirit, where God is accomplishing His holiness in our lives. This is partial and incomplete in this life—gets finished only at our resurrection (as Cwirla says, when we get our “new hardware” that the new self is meant to run on). Christ does not leave that up to us, but is our sanctification, our holiness also. He applies and supplies His grace to us, constantly renewing us in the forgiveness of sins.
10.  In Christ we are given the new life, and what does life look like now? Tennis analogy. Playing with a racquet that can teach me the skills of a pro. The more I use it, the more I take on his abilities. Similar to how taking on the new self in Christ begins to transform us after His image. Grow in His love, shaped by obedience and desire to do His will. Still a struggle, old self and new self won’t walk peaceably together. Painful to put off the old self, but striving to practice what is good, virtuous, and pure. Repent, turn away from those sinful desires to weaken and slow the old nature. Forgiveness, Christian love and fellowship, growth in God’s Word and the Spirit, feeding on the Lord’s body and blood, all enliven and strengthen the new self, so that it becomes dominant in our life.
11.  Rejoice as God’s new life for you takes hold and works through all your work, speech, and actions. Return to Him with your sins, and look to Christ joyfully and confidently in the knowledge of your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at:
Listen to audio at:

  1. Although the Ephesians that Paul wrote to were also Gentiles (non-Jews), in what sense were they now different, that Paul calls on them not to walk any longer as the Gentiles do? Eph. 4:17-21
  2. What is our natural state of being, or our old way of operating, apart from God? Eph. 2:1-3; 2:17-19; 4:17-19; 5:8. How does one become “callous” or “hard of heart”?  What is the impact of continual sinning and rejection of God on one’s conscience? Titus 1:15-16.
  3. How does one “put off [their] old self”? Col. 2:13; 3:3-10. What new life or new self does Christ give us? Describe the contrast between the sinful nature and the new spiritual nature. How are you  “renewed in the spirit of your minds” (4:23)? Romans 12:1-2; Col. 3:10
  4. How does this renewal of our minds, and the putting on of the new self  begin to change our behaviors in regards to speech, anger, work and integrity? What reality do we face with the continued “survival” of our old sinful self? Romans 7.
  5. What is the great comfort in knowing that Jesus’ gift and supply for us was not a “one-time deal” in securing our justification (God’s declaration that we are innocent by the forgiveness that is in Jesus), but that His grace applies (and supplies) our ongoing Christian life in sanctification (making us holy)? Romans 7:25-8:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30. Describe what it means to you that your salvation is by grace alone, from start to finish, and does not depend on your works, but on Jesus Christ. Give thanks!!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Sermon on Ephesians 4:1-16, for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, "The Body of Christ"

Sermon Outline:
1.      Simplest definition of the church: “Lambs and believers who hear and follow the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd.” Paul mixes and blends metaphors of body and building to describe the church. Here focus on the body, its internal health and unity, its growth in love.
2.      Listen to the “body language:” “11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Analogy to human body—growing, maturing, childhood, adulthood, knowledge, equipped with joints, energized to work together under the direction of Christ our head—built up in love.
3.      unity makes the body work together smoothly—GE Olympic commercial of athletes training and competing--muscles hard at work, joints bending and flexing smoothly and powerfully. “The whole body is joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped.” For those who have had joint problems--a cartilage tear, a bone deficiency, arthritis, torn ligament or tendon, know how painful or even impossible it is to walk, run, or sometimes even rest with an afflicted joint. So it is also in the body of Christ. When we are not practicing the virtues of humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and are not eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace--then we make for aching joints and poor competition. The whole body suffers. The body struggles to run the race and live out its calling.
4.      As individuals, we have a worthy calling to our respective places in the body--our own duties that are given us, and not another. But we also participate in a greater purpose and calling that is fulfilled by the body as a whole, working together. A knee joint has the “calling” or purpose of bearing the body’s weight, and creating the powerful leverage to propel the body forward as all the parts--muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone—flex and work as a powerful hinge. But as you can see, even the knee is not independent of those things that surround it. It is the integration with bones above, below, in front; tendons, muscles, ligaments; nourished by blood (& vessels); responds internally to the mind, externally to the world through nerves.
5.      Traumas and injuries, but resiliency to recover and repair. Sometimes medical intervention is needed, and the skill of a surgeon or therapists are needed to repair damage beyond the body’s ability to heal itself. So also the church, as the body of Christ, is built up in love, is healed, repaired, and strengthened as Christ our head pours out His grace and forgiveness upon the members. He acts as the Great Physician of Body and Soul, mending broken and wounded joints, knitting them back together through love and forgiveness. Even joints damaged beyond our capacity for repair—Christ the master surgeon works reconciliation and forgiveness. We are fed and nourished by His blood in the Lord’s Supper, for the forgiveness of our sins. Word and Spirit give guidance from the head (Christ), speak the truth in love and act in the fruits of the Spirit to those around us.
6.      Christian church is not a work and creation of man, but a work and creation of God. It has its unity and integrity as a result of God’s grace and giving, not as a result of our efforts or achievements (pretty sorry as they are!). Paul says: “4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” One and not many God’s; one and not many faiths; one Lord, not many lords. Names Spirit, Son, and Father here, reminds of Athn. Creed: “There are not three Gods, but one God…and there are not three lords but one Lord.” God alone sees and knows all who are His own.
7.      God’s love guides and directs our internal interactions with each other, as well as our external relations to others and to the world outside the household of faith. Internal unity: Humility—to submit to each other in love—not lording it over each other. Gentleness: gladly serving and giving, rather than demanding from others. Patience and bearing with each other in love: not easily embittered by the faults of other Christians; bears with one another’s peculiarities and weaknesses—not insincerely, not with pride or a show of superiority that reminds the brother that we are “putting up with their faults” or that they are a burden to us. But out of genuine love and an eager seeking of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Takes effort, but humble effort, not self-serving, but serving the body. Free of self-righteousness. Alternately, health is threatened by “Pride, snobbishness, and opinionated selfishness” or being quick to criticize those we don’t like. All create division. (this section is paraphrased from Stoeckhart’s Ephesians commentary). Instead, let us eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
8.      Internal health also comes from a steady diet of the Pure Word of God. Not malnourished, not eating tainted food, but Christ feeds us His healthy Word (competition of false doctrine and human schemes with the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God). God gives apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to build up and encourage the body (Roschke call). “Until we attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” Kept in that faith and knowledge for the growth and health of the body.
9.      Christ’s body inside and out. God’s love also shapes all our external actions. Speak the truth in love. Healthy, working body accomplished much in love and service to the neighbor and greater community. Voice of the church is always to speak of Christ, because the body has no life apart from the head. We are nothing without Christ, our Head. We exist in Him. Christ is the giver of all gifts, the One who triumphed in His cross and empty grave over the spiritual powers of sin, death, and hell. Church’s voice goes out to all the earth with the free message of forgiveness of sins in Jesus; of His death on the cross for us; His life is our new life. Always remember and live by the knowledge that He is our Head, our life is in Him, and that we are His new creation. Only by His grace and supply do we continue on to grow and be built up in love. Only His forgiveness and Spirit restores the sick or injured body and members. Only with Him as head can we be united in the one faith in Him. Truly, in Him, the body of Christ “lives, moves, and has its being.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at:
Listen to audio at:

  1. Paul urges us in Ephesian 4:1 to “walk in a manner worthy of [your] calling.” What is your calling as a “saint” or “holy one” in the Lord? What is a “worthy manner of life?” Colossians 1:10; Philippians 1:27; 1 Peter 1:13-2:3; 4:12-19.
  2. What fruits of the Spirit or virtues does Paul name in Eph. 4:1-3 as essential to the life of a Christian as a member of a congregation? How do they serve the unity and building up of the body? What are the contrary works of the flesh that are destructive to the same? Gal. 5:19-26.
  3. In verses 4-6, what are the seven “ones” that describe the unity of Christ’s church? How is that unity founded and established by Christ Himself? John 17. How are spiritual gifts given in different measure to different Christians? Eph. 4:7; Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 12:12-31
  4. What “ascent” and “descent” did Christ Jesus undergo for us and our salvation, and what sort of victory and triumph did He display as He rose and ascended to God? Psalm 68:18; John 1:51; Rom. 10:6-8; Col. 2:15
  5. What special callings does Christ supply His church with, to equip the saints and build up the church? Eph. 4:11-13; Rom. 10:14-17
  6. How do Christians individually and also as group (in the body) go through stages of maturity and growth? What supplies our growth? Eph. 4:12-16; 1 Peter. 2:2-3; Heb. 5:11-14. What can threaten and unsettle those who are weak in the faith? Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:3-7; Matt. 24:22-27
  7. How does the human body physically depend on healthy nourishment and the smooth interaction of its parts? How is it harmed or affected by malnutrition or injury? How does it repair? How do these analogies apply to the healthy growth and functioning of the Christian Church? Why can’t the body survive without Christ, its head?