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Is There Any Hope When God's People Fail?

God's people fall into heinous sin, even against each other, but God's grace is sufficient to restore us.

From the editor

As a part of our Getting the Gospel Right theme in the Skills section, we are currently featuring an article by Steven Mathewson, entitled Preaching the Gospel in Judges. This sermon is a working example of the hermeneutical-homiletical principles Steve addresses in that article. Along with the sermon manuscript, Steve offers a helpful preface and a postscript filled with insights into what he loved about the sermon and what he would do differently if given the chance.

Preface

The following sermon manuscript will provide an example of how to preach the gospel from a narrative in the Book of Judges. As much as possible, I have tried to maintain an oral style. I want the manuscript to sound like a transcript, even though I prepared this manuscript prior to preaching the sermon. At the end of the manuscript you will find a manuscript commentary that resembles a director's commentary on a movie and explains what I was trying to do and how I was trying to do it.

Introduction

When you and I fail to walk with God, we walk at the edge of an abyss—a deep, dark pit. That's where God's people found themselves at the end of the Book of Judges. In a dark hole. Their situation is grim and hopeless. It feels like the time when my son and I were stuck in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney World for about 20 minutes—the same eerie skeletal figures and shrieks and screams. I couldn't wait to get out! So why not just skip the end of Judges and go on to something more upbeat? Here's the deal: I don't want you to miss the end, because God has something powerful to say to our church through the final story. I'll warn you, the final story gets very dark, but there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

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Steve Mathewson is senior pastor of CrossLife Evangelical Free Church in Libertyville, lllinois. He is also director of the doctor of ministry program at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

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Sermon Outline:

Introduction

When you and I fail to walk with God, we walk at the edge of an abyss—a deep, dark pit.

I. A story of violent inhospitality

II. One injustice turns to devastating war.

III. The Israelites fall deeper into immorality.

IV. Judges forces us to examine our current condition.

V. Even when we fail, God's grace gives us a reason to hope.

Conclusion

We serve a God who takes messed-up people, dysfunctional churches, people who have gotten hopelessly tangled in the consequences of their sin, and in his grace he restores them.