Preaching on Spiritual Growth

Today I got a chance to speak preach at my church about Spiritual growth and the Christian walk. It was fun to use the exegesis that I had been doing in Galatians as the basis for my sermon. The topic was supposed to be about the virtue of diligence and the vice of laziness, but I decided to change things up a bit based on prayerfully thinking about my audience and their struggles. I ended up talking about the virtue of diligence and the vice of busyness.

Basically, my point was that the virtue of diligence had a double edged vice: laziness on one side and busyness on the other. I think a lot of the time we focus on establishing our own work ethic in order that we might be seen in light of what we are capable of and what we can achieve through our effort. In most places hard work is rewarded and diligence leads to honor and respect. The last thing a lot of us need to hear is a sermon on not being lazy. For the culture embedded in the people of my church this topic would not cause a person to be convicted but rather give them a cause to cheer themselves on and pat themselves on the back for their own efforts of diligence. Since I only preach every once and a while I felt that I needed to broach a topic that was uncomfortable but at the same time beneficial for the audiences faith.

I mainly focused on the dangers of approaching ones faith without the understanding that something that seems like a virtuous act of diligence can quickly become the vice of busyness. This can happen if the act doesn’t find it’s starting point from the sphere of our justification in Christ and it’s power from the indwelling Holy Spirit. For my text I used Paul’s critic of the Galatians in Gal. 3. and his example of how the circumcision part was abusing Torah for the purpose of acting pious and exclusive.

Here is my outline and a few notes on the Greek text. (the indentions don’t show up well in WordPress)

3.1 Ὦ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται,
τίς ὑμᾶς ⸀ἐβάσκανεν,
οἷς κατʼ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ⸀προεγράφη [publicly portrayed] ἐσταυρωμένος;

2 τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν [μανθάνω learn] ἀφʼ ὑμῶν,

τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε
ἐξ ἔργων νόμου

ἐξ ἀκοῆς [ἀκοή hearing; ear] πίστεως;

3 οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε;
ἐναρξάμενοι [ἐνάρχομαι begin] πνεύματι
σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε [from επιτέλεω rom. 10:4?? τέλος];

4 τοσαῦτα [so many/great] ἐπάθετε [πάσχω to experience; suffer] εἰκῇ [without cause];
(εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ.)
so many things suffered without cause/in vain if indeed/at least it was without cause/ in vain

5 ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν [ἐπιχορηγέω give; supply] ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα
καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν
ἐξ ἔργων νόμου

ἐξ ἀκοῆς [ἀκοή hearing; ear] πίστεως;

[ακοης has the connotation of the spoken word working it’s way into something, prophetic connotations 1 Th. 2:13, Hb. 4:2, rom. 10:16, John 12:38, Is. 53:1]

6 καθὼς
Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ,
καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην.

It was a fun sermon to deliver. I used a hula hoop covered with yellow duct tape to illustrated the sphere of justification that Christians are supposed to be operating from. I made it a point to step in and of the hula hoop as I talked about the the difference between working to please God in our own strength and coming to God with an openness to be used by him.

I ended the sermon by offering a few points for true spiritual growth:
-Recognize your Position and Source
-Stop trying to grow!
-Pray for Openness to God’s power to eradicate your fleshly attachments and refine your desires/priorities.
-Understand that growth is not about you but about the Church!
-Listen to God speaking and follow His leading
-through his word
-through others in the church

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: