The last couple of weeks, we've been going through a series in the Books of Acts and looking at this very important question: What is the church? We've been looking at each passage in which the word "church" actually occurs, and then deciphering what the word is referring to and what it means. Again and again, we've seen the same thing: the church in Acts is not referring to a building; it's not referring to an event or gathering on Sunday; it's not referring to a hierarchy or structure of leadership or committees or panels or pastors. It's always referring to a community, to a people.
We're going to continue to look at the Book of Acts today in chapter 12 to get a further glimpse into what the church really is. But rather than jumping right into Acts 12, I want to take you on an excursion to Ephesians for a minute. There's no doubt that of all the books of the Bible, Acts shows us what the church is better than any other. But the Book of Ephesians does the best job of actually telling us what the church is. I want to look specifically at one idea in Ephesians chapter 3, and then we'll go back to Acts chapter 12 and see how that idea plays out in this story about the church in Jerusalem.
In Ephesians chapters 1, 2 and 3, Paul keeps introducing this idea of the mystery of God. This mystery is that God has had a secret plan for all of history that he has kept hidden. No one has really understood or seen it, but now it has been revealed in Christ. In Ephesians, Paul begins to unpack this mystery to us. There are at least two parts to this mystery. The first part is that God has chosen in Christ, through his death and resurrection, to reconcile us to himself. Paul unpacks this in the first part of Ephesians 2 where he explains that we were enemies of God, but now we've been reconciled to him; we've been saved by grace, through faith, not of our own works, but by God, so that no one can boast—all of this so that we can be united with God. That's the first part of God's mystery—the unbelievable plan that God has revealed in Christ.
The second part of the mystery is in the latter half of chapter 2, where Paul explains that through the Cross God has done something else which no one would have thought possible: he has made a new humanity. He specifically refers to the fact that through the Cross God has torn down the wall of hostility that existed between the Jews—God's chosen people—and the Gentiles—those whom the Jews literally referred to as dogs. God has torn down the animosity between these two people groups and made them into one new man, reconciling them both to God.
So the two parts of the mystery are that we have been individually reconciled to God, and that through the Cross God has overcome the divisions in our world and created a new community—a new humanity that together is reconciled to God.
God's wisdom displayed to the rulers and powers
Then we get to chapter 3 where Paul says some pretty crazy things. Look at verse 8: "To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." Paul is saying that God has had this hidden plan for all of eternity, but that that plan has now been revealed, the mystery now uncovered in Christ, which is that God wants to reconcile us to himself through the death and resurrection of Christ, and he wants to create for himself a new humanity—a new people that transcend all the divisions and evils of this world—and that new community is called the church. And God has taken this new community, this church, and he has put it on display. He has shown a spotlight on it. For whom has he put it on display? For the rulers and powers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
You've got to understand something about how Paul views the universe: in Paul's cosmology and in the way he sees things, there are forces unseen in the world. He calls them powers and authorities—he uses this language repeatedly in his letters. These are the forces that are aligned against God and his purposes—the forces which are behind all that is broken and wrong in the world. Hatred, racism, division, anger, strife, war, disease, and death itself are all being worked by these powers and authorities in the heavenly realm. Paul is saying that God has chosen to reveal his countercultural and counter-intuitive wisdom through the church, and he puts a spotlight on the church and calls to the heavenly powers saying: "Here you will see my wisdom which has defeated yours." We are the manifold wisdom of God on display for the powers and authorities. Though they rule now, their reign will be short. And the end for them is sure because of the Cross of Christ. That wisdom is revealed in the church.
Let me put it to you a different way. In the Old Testament book of Job, that poetic story begins with the scene of a courtroom in heaven where God has convened all the heavenly hosts. The Accuser comes into this courtroom after having walked the length and breadth of the earth and finding nothing good there. He reports this to the courtroom, and God says, "Yes, but have you considered my servant Job." God puts the spotlight on Job because in the midst of a world that seems completely corrupted, Job is a righteous man. He represents God's wisdom. God actually draws the attention of the evil powers in the universe to Job as an example of goodness and righteousness. And that's essentially what Paul says here in Ephesians 3. The powers and rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms look at this world and say, "Oh, what a mess." And God says essentially, "Yes, but have you considered my church? Because there you will see a wisdom not of the world. You will see a wisdom that says that people are made alive and reconciled through the death of the Messiah on a cross. There you will see a wisdom that says all the divisions in this world, all the hatred and animosity that exists between different peoples, have been overcome because they are a new humanity."
The reason I begin with this idea in Ephesians 3 is because so often we look at the church from merely a human perspective. What Paul does here is raise us up and help us see the church from a much, much higher altitude, and it changes our perspective. For example, why do we gather here on Sunday mornings? Why have Christians always gathered for two thousand years on Sunday mornings? Most of us would probably answer that question from a very human point of view. When you woke up this morning and it was cold and dark and you didn't want to get out of bed, the thought probably crossed your mind, Why am I going to church? Wouldn't I rather just stay put? So why do we gather? From a human point of view, you might say, "Well, we gather to learn, we hear God's Word, we grow in our faith"; or "We gather to encourage one another, to help each other, to support one another." From a human point of view you might say, "We gather to serve each other on Sunday mornings and care for one another." Or maybe in our more clear moments we think, "Well, we gather to sing praises to God and honor our Creator."
All of those things are true, and all of those things are good and right. But when you view the church from Paul's higher point of view in Ephesians 3, something completely different comes to light. The reason we gather on Sunday mornings is because when we gather together across socioeconomic barriers, across racial barriers, across age barriers, when we gather as one community in Christ at the foot of the cross, when we proclaim his Good News, when we pass the peace of Christ, when we make confession and forgiveness to one another, when we gather at the table and pass the bread and the cup, what we are declaring is the manifold wisdom of God to the powers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
When Paul says, "When you gather at the table you declare the death of our Lord until he comes again," to whom are we declaring that? To one another? We already know that. We are declaring it again to the powers and authorities in this world and saying to them, "Your reign is over. Christ has died and he has risen again." That is why we gather. We don't just gather for my benefit or your benefit or one another's benefit; rather, we gather to declare to this universe that a new reality has broken in. The mystery is unveiled; the power of God is manifest in his church. That is why we gather.
It's important we start here, because when we jump back to Acts chapter 12, we see the manifold wisdom of God on display in his church, and to understand that story we've got to have a bigger vision of what we're involved in here. This is not just a community group. This is a cosmic community in which the wisdom of God is revealed on every possible plane.
God's wisdom displayed through prayer
In the story that we're going to look at in Acts 12, the wisdom of God in his church is revealed in at least two ways. The first is this: In the church, God's wisdom is shown, and our understanding of power is turned upside down.
Let's begin reading in verse 1: "About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword. And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also."
Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, begins his account with Herod, this evil king. Herod was a manipulative scoundrel, to put it nicely. He connived his way into this role as king by sucking up to the authorities in Rome, and just look how he used his power: he killed James—one of the leaders of the church—with the sword; he arrested Peter; he used the courts, the jails, the soldiers. That's how he used his power. His motivation for his behavior is made clear in this passage: "When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also." Verse 4 goes on to explain that Herod was going to wait to put Peter on trial until the Passover, when Jerusalem would be filled with all kinds of folks, to make a bigger spectacle of him in order to again win favor with the people. Herod is the consummate politician. Do you think he really cared about the church and what they believed? No way. He just saw the church as a useful tool with which to gain favor with people. He exploited the church. Herod beautifully epitomizes the wisdom of the world—the wisdom of the powers and authorities in the heavenly realm, wisdom that says that real power comes through aggression and strength and armies and status and kings and palaces and jails and courts and anger. But in the midst of this, the wisdom of God is displayed through the church.
Look in verse 5 at how the people of God respond to Herod's power: "So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church." Prayer. Think about this: the king and all of his power, all of his courts, all of his jails, all of his armies are aligned against you. He's killed your leader; he's gone after the next leader. All this aggression and power, everything the world can throw at you, is coming at you, and you decide you're going to pray. That's it? You're not going to protest, you're not going to run away, you're not going to get your swords and go after them; you're just going to pray? Really? Does that make a lot of sense by the world's wisdom?
One of the most dominant themes in Luke's writing, both in the Gospel of Luke and in Acts and, I would argue, throughout all of Scripture, is that God wants to reveal how silly the wisdom of the world is by using the foolish things of the world to disarm the things that look powerful. Think about Zechariah. In that prophetic book we're told that these things that are being predicted will be accomplished "not by strength, nor by power, but by my Spirit, declares the Lord." Look at Jeremiah who says, "Don't let the wise man boast in his wisdom, and let not the rich man boast in his riches, and let not the strong man boast in his strength, but let the man who boasts boast in this: that he understands and knows me, the Lord." Riches, strength, power—those things don't matter. What matters is God and his wisdom.
So consider the scene in Jerusalem: God has gathered all the heavenly hosts, they're looking at what's going on. Herod has his armies and his swords and his jails and his power and authority and he's coming hard against the church. And the powers and authorities in the heavenly realm go, "Wow, look at all that!" But God says, "Yeah, but consider my church. Because that's where you are going to see my wisdom." And do the powers see when they look upon the church? Not kings, but fishermen and widows. A ragtag group of the left behind and the forgotten gathered together in a little house. And what are they doing? They are praying. Is that really God's wisdom? Prayer? Yes. Because God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. And he has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the strong. And he has chosen the things that are low to make a mockery of the things that we think of as high.
Why do we pray? Some people think that the reason we pray as Christians is because we're trying to manipulate and control God to do what we want him to do—that prayer is sort of the Christian version of magical incantations. If we just pray enough, if we just pray the right words, God is obligated to do what we want him to do. That is not prayer. That is called divination, and that's not something we practice in the church. God is under no obligation to do what we ask or tell him to do. Believe it or not, he is a little more complicated than we are.
Some people think the reason we pray is because the outcomes when we pray are always better than when we don't pray. But is that really true? At the beginning of the story, James is imprisoned by Herod. Don't you think the church was praying for him? And he gets killed. Peter gets out of this one pretty well, but he ends up in Rome later on where he is crucified upside down. Do you think the church wasn't praying for him then? No, we don't pray because it always works out "better" if we do.
A lot of people think, especially in this day and age, that the reason we pray is to fuel the power of positive thinking. I'm referring to the self-actualization garbage that's all over our culture—Oprah, for example, and all she espouses. Do you view prayers as the Christian form of positive thinking? No, we don't pray because when we think positive thoughts we attract positive outcomes.
The reason we pray—through there are many—is because when we pray as the people of God, we are displaying the manifold wisdom of God to the powers and authorities in the heavenly realm. What we are declaring when we are on our knees is that we will not put our hope and trust in the things of this world. We will not put our trust and hope in our wealth, in our strength, in our wisdom, in our kings, in our politicians, in anything we possess, but we are putting our trust in God alone. And when the heavenly powers see that kind of foolish wisdom, they tremble because they do not comprehend it. When we are on our knees in prayer, we are revealing the counter-intuitive wisdom of the kingdom of God—the wisdom that says that power is not found in aggression or anger or war or swords or kings, but power is found in weakness. It was weakness that overcame the world to the Cross, and it is the weakness of the church in prayer that will make a mockery of the strength of the powers of this world.
A few weeks ago I was in Cape Town, South Africa, for a gathering of world Christian leaders from 200 countries. One of the speakers was the Anglican archbishop of Jos, Nigeria. His name is Benjamin Kwashi, and he shared a story that was horrific and inspiring in the same time. Jos, this city in Nigeria, has been rocked by sectarian violence for years now, primarily between Christians and Muslims. There have been endless cycles of violence and vengeance and hundreds of people killed. In March of 2009, a gang of people broke into the bishop's house to kill him. He wasn't home, but his wife was. They did unspeakable things to her, and they beat her and left her for dead. He found her, and she was still alive, but she spent most of the following year in recovery. She is still partially blind from what happened to her. A year to the day after this gang beat her, in March of 2010, they came back. They broke into his home again, and this time they did find Benjamin, the bishop. They dragged him out of his house, and they were about to kill him. They had machetes and clubs. Benjamin asked for just a moment to pray before they began. So he knelt there on the dirt and began to pray. A moment later he felt someone holding his hand. He looked up and it was his wife. I still can't believe courage of that woman. She could have run, but instead she broke through this line of the same people who had attacked her a year ago and knelt with her husband to pray with him, knowing that her life was over as well. And then a moment later, he felt someone holding his other hand. He looked, and it was his teenage son. Benjamin begged his son to leave so that he wouldn't be killed as well. And his son said, "Father, they've all left. They're all gone." Why did they leave? The bishop said he has no idea. And he knows they'll be back. I'd like to believe that the reason they left is because when this bishop and his wife were kneeling in the dirt in prayer, the manifold wisdom of God was put on display before the powers and authorities in the heavenly realm. There was wisdom and power there that these people could not comprehend, and they shuddered and they became afraid and they fled.
The reason we pray is not because the outcome is always good, and the reason we pray is not to manipulate or strong-arm God into doing our will. The reason we pray is because it reveals the countercultural, counter-worldly wisdom of God, and it displays that wisdom before the powers and authorities in the heavenly realm, and it declares that their way will not have the victory. And even if we die, the ways of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. That is why we pray.
But we face a problem. A survey was done a few years ago, asking churches in the United States to fill out what their top ten priorities are. When it was all accounted for, what they found is that only one in twenty five churches in the United States listed prayer among their top ten priorities. That's one in twenty five. How do you explain that? Could it be that we spend so much energy trying to copy the powers and authorities of our world that we've lost any strength to confront them? Prayer is how we display the wisdom of God.
Well, the church in Jerusalem did pray, and what happened was really amazing. Let's pick up the story in verse 6:
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains. The centurions before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him and a light shone in his cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands, and the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals," and he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting." When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. And they said to her, "You are out of your mind." But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, "It's his angel." But Peter continued knocking and when they opened they saw him and were amazed.
God's wisdom displayed through children
What I love about this story is that nobody believed that what they were praying for actually happened. Think about it. Obedience, or maybe it was desperation, led the church in Jerusalem to gather and pray for Peter's release—to earnestly pray for his release, the text says—and yet when Rhoda barges in and says, "Hey, Peter's at the front door!" they think she's crazy! Doesn't it strike you as odd that there's not a single adult in this story that believes God has done a miracle? Peter himself doesn't even believe what's happening to him. It says that he thinks this is all a dream. The angel is leading him out and he doesn't believe it until after the fact. Not a single adult in this story believes that God is doing something that they've asked him to do. Only Rhoda, the servant girl, believes that.
Now, what's going on? When you think about this story, why was this bit about Rhoda included? It probably would have been just as amazing and just as miraculous if Luke had totally ignored that little detail. So why does he include it? You've got to look at how he structured this narrative. This passage in Acts 12 begins with a discussion of Herod, this evil and corrupt king, and it concludes, as we'll see shortly, also with Herod. And right in the middle is this interesting little comedic relief about Rhoda. What's Luke doing? He's contrasting the way the world sees people versus the way God sees them. The world celebrates kings and palaces and power and authority and all that hoopla. And yet the hero in this story is not Peter, and the hero is certainly not Herod, and the hero is not the church in Jerusalem gathered to pray. The hero in this story is a little servant girl. She is the complete opposite of Herod.
Think about Herod: male, adult, king, rich, powerful. Who is Rhoda? Rhoda has three strikes against her. Number one, she is a girl. In the ancient world, women and girls had zero authority, no autonomy, no respect. Number two, she is a child. Children in the ancient world had no power, no authority, no rights, nothing. And strike three, she is a servant. She's not even from a rich family. She has no economic power or authority to her name. She is a girl; she is a child; she is a servant. She is the opposite of Herod. And yet she is celebrated in this text as an exemplar of faith. What is Luke saying to us? He is saying that in God's kingdom, in his church, through his wisdom, we see people differently. Man looks at the outside appearance, but God looks at the heart.
Consider how Herod's time on this earth ends, down in verse 21:
On the appointed day, Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, "The voice of a god, not of man!" Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied.
Luke could have put this much later in his account, but he puts it right here. He is reminding us that the world values a certain kind of people, but in God's kingdom an entirely different kind of people are celebrated—not the people we might expect from the world's point of view.
Remember when Jesus' disciples are arguing about who is the greatest, he grabs a child, puts that child in the middle of them, and says, "Unless you become like a child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God." What is it about children that exemplify God's kingdom and his wisdom? Think about it. Throughout the Bible, God uses children in contrast to the lack of faith of adults. Nobody was hearing God's voice, and it was a child in the temple named Samuel who heard God calling. All the mighty warriors of Israel tremble with fear before Goliath, and David, the little shepherd boy, goes, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine? What a great insult."And David goes out with God's power in mind and defeats Goliath. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is contrasted at the beginning of Luke's gospel with Zechariah, the high priest of Israel. Zechariah goes into the temple and he sees an angel that gives him a message saying, "Hey, Zechariah, your barren old wife, Elizabeth, is going to have a baby." And the high priest of Israel, the most authoritative religious leader in the land, doesn't believe it and is judged by God for his lack of faith. The same angel comes to Mary, a young teenage girl, gives her a very similar message, the miraculous message that she is going to have a child, though she is a virgin, and what does she do? She humbly believes and says, "I am the Lord's servant." Later on in the gospels the disciples are all freaking out because they have nothing to eat, even though they know Jesus can do anything, and they complain about it. It's a little boy who gives his lunch to Jesus, trusting that in Jesus' hands he won't go hungry. And Jesus feeds a multitude.
A church leader is in prison, the adults of the church gather dutifully to pray for his release, and when he stands there and knocks at the door, they don't believe it. But a little servant girl does. Why do children exemplify God's wisdom? In Acts 12 we get a clue. We adults have a very difficult time believing that God can do anything. We just don't see, it because the powers and authorities in this world have beaten the wonder and joy and miraculous nature of God's power out of us. We are enslaved to conventional thinking. Children haven't had it beaten out of them yet. They still see a cosmos of wonder and possibility, and one in which their God can do anything. This is why Jesus puts a child in the midst of his arrogant disciples and says, "You need to humble yourself and think more like this." Children have a sacred spot in the kingdom of God and in his church because they represent the manifold wisdom of God, which is the complete opposite of the wisdom of the world. Do we believe that? Does our practice reinforce that?
A couple of months ago, my wife and I were traveling together and we met the most remarkable person. His name is Bob. Bob shared with us a story about his family and his children. He has three children, and back on 9/11, that terrible day, his kids were around 8, 11 and 12 or 13, right around that age range. They were old enough, certainly, to understand what was happening and what they were seeing on the TV. And Bob overheard them talking with one another just about our world and what was going on. So he went over to his kids, and he asked them an interesting question. He said, "What would you guys do if you could talk to the leaders of our world right now? What would you ask them?" His youngest child said, "I would ask them if they want to come to our house for a sleepover." The next oldest said, "I would ask them where they find hope." And then his oldest child said, "I'd ask them that if they can't come to our house for a sleepover, would they let us come to their place and ask them where they find hope." Now, you and I hear those responses and we think, Wow, that's really cute, or That's very naïve, very childish. That's not what Bob heard. What he heard was wisdom not of this world—what he called a godly whimsy.
And so the next day Bob got on the Internet. He went to the CIA's website, and he downloaded the mailing address for every world leader—every dictator, every president, every monarch, every despot, everyone. And he wrote a letter on behalf of his children to every world leader, inviting them to his home in San Diego for a sleepover. And then he said, "If you aren't able to come, would you be willing to let us come to your home and interview you about where you find hope?" He sent out over 200 letters. And every day after school they would check the mailbox to see who had responded.
Here's the crazy part: 27 of them said yes. Not that they were going to come to San Diego for a sleepover, but that Bob's kids could come and visit and interview them. So Bob took his kids out of school and hit the road, and they visited 27 world leaders, and on video asked them about where they find hope. And at the end of each meeting, his children presented that world leader with a little box, a gift. In the box was a key to their house, and the kids told each leader that the invitation stands if they'd like to come for a sleepover. And listen to this: after a number of those leaders left their offices of power, for the last seven summers, they have been coming to Bob's summer home in Canada and meeting with him and his kids, where they are learning about their hope in Jesus Christ. All of this because Bob had the audacity to say yes to the wisdom of a child.
What would happen if when a child knocks and says, "Hey, I think Peter's at the door," we actually took a second and believed them? What would happen if as a community we encouraged those who actually think David can defeat Goliath? What if as a community, once in a while, we would put rationality and worldly wisdom aside and say, "Maybe, just maybe, we should do something foolish—something that makes no sense to the consultants and leaders and big wigs in our culture. What if we did something completely out of the blue? What if we had the audacity once in a while to have the faith and enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder of a child? What would happen?" We need to remember the second part of the mystery that Paul says is revealed in Christ—the second part that says God has created a new humanity, and he's torn down the dividing wall of hostility that has existed between various groups of people.
Elsewhere, Paul writes that we are no longer Jew or Greek; we are no longer slave or free; we are no longer even male and female. I would expand that and say we are not young or old; we are not adults or children; we are not important or unimportant; we are all one in Christ Jesus. All those categories and barriers mean nothing in the church. What matters is faith, working through love. And what this story in Acts reveals is that faith can come from anyone—not just an ordained leader, but even a servant girl who has the audacity to believe that God is actually capable of doing anything.
Now, what do I really want you to get from this message? Is it that we should devote ourselves more to prayer? Yes, of course. Is it that we should really honor the children in our midst more as examples of the kingdom of God and his wisdom—or really, honor all those who are marginalized by our culture? Yes, of course, I want those things to happen. But that's not the big thing I want you to remember. I don't want you walking away today thinking, Oh, we should do this, and we should do that. It's not about what we should do.
Before we can begin to see the wisdom of God and the power of prayer, before we can begin to honor those who are marginalized among us as important in the kingdom of God, we have to get this: We are not a building; we are not a staff; we are not a structure of organization. We are not an event on Sunday mornings; we are not a mission statement on a wall; we are not even just a community that gathers to help and encourage one another or bless our neighbors. We are first and foremost the church: the wisdom of God on display before the powers and authorities in the heavenly realms. That is who we are. We are not our own idea; we are God's idea, and we are in the spotlight before the powers and authorities in this world. And when we understand that that is the core of the church and that that is our core identity, then the prisons of Herod and the gates of hell and the powers and authorities in the heavenly places will not prevail against us. The church is the wisdom of God, and we are on display. That is who we are.
For Your Reflection
Personal growth: How has this sermon fed your own soul? ___________________________________________
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Exegesis and exposition: Highlight the paragraphs in this sermon that helped you better understand Scripture. How does the sermon model ways you could provide helpful biblical exposition for your hearers? ____________________________________________________________________________
Theological Ideas: What biblical principles in this sermon would you like to develop in a sermon? How would you adapt these ideas to reflect your own understanding of Scripture, the Christian life, and the unique message that God is putting on your heart? ____________________________________________________________________________
Outline: How would you improve on this outline by changing the wording, or by adding or subtracting points? _____________________________________________________________________
Application: What is the main application of this sermon? What is the main application of the message you sense God wants you to bring to your hearers? ____________________________________________________________________________
Illustrations: Which illustrations in this sermon would relate well with your hearers? Which cannot be used with your hearers, but they suggest illustrations that could work with your hearers? ____________________________________________________________________________
Credit: Do you plan to use the content of this sermon to a degree that obligates you to give credit? If so, when and how will you do it? ____________________________________________________
Skye Jethani is an author, speaker, consultant, and ordained minister. He also serves as the co-host of the popular Holy Post Podcast.