Preach the Word – January/February 2012

Volume 15, Number 3

Key Issue #8: Preaching Sanctification Flowing From and Empowered by the Gospel

Recognizing what makes Lutherans unique in a Christ-centered approach to preaching sanctification.

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As a companion to the January/February 2012 issue of Preach the Word, we offer these resources for further study by individuals, study groups, or circuits:

Journal Articles

Read these journal articles for refreshing ideas on preaching sanctification.

**We would like to thank the editors of the Concordia Journal for allowing us to post these two articles. We ask that readers refrain from making multiple copies without written permission.

Some Examples of Sermons that Encourage Sanctification

Preaching sanctification is a difficult art to master because it requires a delicate balance between law and gospel. Without the empowering freedom of forgiveness promised in the gospel the law easily ends up dominating and burdening consciences, but if our sanctification preaching lacks clear direction from God’s Word our listeners are left adrift, wondering, “How can I serve God?” Here, the Lutheran middle-way that avoids both extremes is best.

This month Proclaim Grace! offers four noteworthy examples of WELS pastors, who have incorporated many of the principles discussed in the January/February issue of Preach the Word into their preaching and agreed to let us post samples of their work. Each sermon includes an audio file, a copy of the sermon manuscript, and a manuscript that highlights how each sermon encourages sanctified living along with some ideas for possible improvements.

Sermon by Pastor John Gensmer
Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, Columbia, TN
Text: Matthew 25:14-30
Pentecost 24 – 10/23/11

Pastor Kurt Ebert
Calvary Lutheran Church, Thiensville, WI
Text: Matthew 5:43-48
Thanksgiving – 11/24/11

Pastor Joel Seifert
Shining Mountains Lutheran Church, Bozeman, MT
Text: Matthew 5:13-20
Epiphany 5 – 2/6/2011

Pastor Michael J Seifert
Living Hope Lutheran Church, Midlothian, VA
Text: James 2:1-13
Pentecost 15 – 9/3/2010

Preaching Sanctification Flowing from and Empowered by the Gospel Proclaim Grace! Key Issue #8

As Lutherans we are not ashamed to admit that the doctrine of objective justification stands at the heart of our teaching and preaching, but this by no means implies that we should champion justification at the expense of sanctification, or that we somehow lack the credentials to preach sanctification effectively. In fact just the opposite is true. Because of our focus on justification we can preach sanctification the only way the Holy Spirit knows how: by empowering believers with the gospel and encouraging them to follow the clear direction of his Word.

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The Blessings of Proclaiming Christ’s Active Obedience

The first part of sanctification is motivation. As Lutheran preachers we have a uniquely Scriptural perspective on the active obedience of Christ—Christ’s obedience becomes ours—a truth that is rarely pondered or proclaimed by other Christian denominations! Because Jesus has kept God’s law perfectly and because that righteousness has become ours through faith, we are now freed to serve God in love, gratitude, and joy.

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Open Eyes to the Divine Glory of Being God’s Masks

The wonderful thing about the doctrine of vocations is that it reminds God’s people that their sanctified living is not some separate compartment of their lives, nor is it some “exceptional” service rendered to God or his church. Instead, having been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and set free to serve God, believers have the privilege of praising and thanking him in their daily acts of service to their neighbor—whether big or small.

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Driving Safely Down “Sanctification Avenue”

Preaching sanctification always involves a careful balance between law and gospel. This balance is needed because we are simul justus et peccator. If this dual nature of the Christian is overlooked, our preaching will go in one of two equally-dangerous extremes: legalism or antinomianism. This article provides some diagnostics to help our sermon keep the Lutheran middle way.

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