The sermons of the apostles centered upon the Resurrection of Christ. This event was the single greatest historical event of human history and they witnessed with their own eyes. What effects did they see the resurrection of Christ to accomplish?
- They saw the resurrection of Christ as a the evidence of Christ’s Messiahship “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)
- They saw the resurrection of Christ as the provision for the remission of sins. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38)
- They saw the resurrection of Christ as the guarantee of the indwelling Holy Spirit. “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he had shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)
- They saw the resurrection of Christ as the source of power to reverse the effects of darkness brokenness and sin. “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong whom ye see and know. yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:16) “Be it known unto you all and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” (Acts 4:10).
- They saw the resurrection of Christ as the motivation for bold testimony to Christ in the face of persecution. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20)
- They saw the resurrection of Christ as the first fruit of our own bodily resurrection. “But now Christ is risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
The Dodgers are perhaps my second or third favorite major league basball team. I especially enjoyed watching them in the 1980s. (Maybe more because they beat Reggie Jackson and the Yankees when my KC Royals didn’t)
Two of the greatest Dodger personalities of all time were Vin Sculley and Tommy Lasorda. Sculley was the Shakespeare of Baseball commentary calling Dodger games for over 50 years. Lasorda, a hall of fame coach with multiple World Series wins. How do these two men relate to my blog today on preaching? Keep these two men in mind as I explain.
As a preacher I want to be open to discovery and improvement. Honestly if I don’t occasionally experience some improvement in my preaching my ministry becomes stale.
Today as I was studying for my Sunday morning message, I realized a weakness I have in sermon formatting and composition. I shy away from offending my hearers by presenting truth in a sterile format. I use the third person instead of the first or second person. This permits the listener to remain on the outside as an observer rather than forcing them to step inside the message as a participant.
It’s the difference between a Sculley and a Lasorda. Sculley sits in the booth and talks to the fans about the game, the players, the strategies, the rules, etc. He may be considered an expert but he is distant and removed from the game. He works to be objective and report on the game as a third person. Sculley uses words like “they and he.” “He was behind the pitch.” “They need to play harder.” The Sculley, as good as he is, is still outside the game.
But Lasorda was in the game. He cared more about the outcome of the game than Sculley. His job security and future negotiating leverage was at stake. So he addressed players directly. He used “you” more than the Scully did. “Here’s what YOU need to do.” Here’s how YOU can inprove.” Lasorda got personal. And sometimes offended players.
And that’s why I avoid the Lasorda approach and favor the Sculley approach. I want to explain truth without becoming offensive. But I’m learning that this approach creates fans who know the game, can discuss strategies, and watch victories; it does not develop players who are playing the game, living out the life, experiencing victory.
So in order to become more effective in my preaching, and develop players instead of just fans, I will need to change my pronouns, get more personal and think more like Tommy Lasorda.
1. The danger of an evil heart-“take heed….”this is spoken to Jewish believers
A. It is entity possible for us to allow evil back into our hearts.
B. We are advised to take heed son this does not happen
2. The description of an evil heart-it need not be shocking sin just “unbelief…”
A. Unbelief and disobedience are linked
B. Unbelief and pride are linked
C. Unbelief and defeat are linked.
3. The direction of an evil heart-“departing from the living God.”
A. Unbelief leads away from God
B. Unbelief leads us toward ourselves.
4 . The deception of an evil heart-“hardens the heart”
A. Evil hearts despise truth
B. Evil hearts resist truth
C. Evil hearts replace truth
A1. If the Word is not challenging you, convicting you, changing you, you’re not growing.