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Sermon Ideas For Sermon Briefs: Romans 10:8b-13 Part 3

In an age of acute anxiety, doubt about God’s power and doubt about the uniqueness of the power of Christ, texts such as Romans 10:8b-13 call out in a distinct way to be proclaimed by the preacher. Many Christians have become so used to saying “Jesus is Lord” that we have forgotten that this statement is bold and emboldening. The great preachers can help us to know how to preach this text and its profound, controversial simplicity in a way that will reteach the people the Good News.
E. Stanley Jones, in his sermon entitled, Christ is the Answer, focuses on the phrase “Jesus is Lord,” found in Romans 10:9. He considers how life-changing that statement is. This idea that Jesus is Lord must have usurped the way people in the first century thought. Further, when people believed in this concept, their lives improved significantly. Jesus changed everything. Jones declares that, when Jesus came to Earth, there was no light on Earth except occasional flickering torches of truth, and when Jesus left, there was no darkness, except for that which was self-imposed. When we believe in this truth, in the efficacy of the advent, death, and resurrection of Jesus, changes happen. Jones goes on to list many alternative objects of belief, pointing out how self-serving they are. To say “Jesus is Lord,” however, actually gives us a clearer sense of ourselves. Drawing from psychology, Jones speaks of the great human need to belong. When we belong to Jesus, we actually belong more to ourselves, because belonging to Jesus gives us the correct understanding of ourselves and our purpose.
Jones continues to explore the implications of the statement “Jesus is Lord,” his sermon reminiscent of a gem being turned to reveal its facets. He speaks of Jesus being the great revelation of God’s character. If God is not like Jesus in character, then he (Jones) is not interested in God. The term “Christlike” is the highest term, and, when applied to God, it heightens the idea of God. Shifting a bit, Jones speaks of how far-reaching Christ’s lordship is. Jesus is the Lord of the future and the Lord of the present, the Lord Who is the source of hope. Jones gives thanks for the Good News that Jesus is not a dead leader of Christianity but the living leader. He concludes by calling the hearer to commit her life to Jesus. He exhorts her to say “Jesus is Lord” and believe it.
Frederick Neumann, in his sermon, The Saving Name, devotes his attention to Romans 10:13; “For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Like Jones’ sermon, Neumann’s is a reflection on what it means to trust in Christ. He begins by noting that, in Romans 10:13, Paul is quoting Joel 2, in which there is an apocalyptic statement about the violence of the last days and a promise of salvation in those days for those who call upon the name of the Lord. Clearly Paul sees this prophecy fulfilled in Christ. Jesus Christ is God, and he is to be worshipped with heart and mouth. Indeed, the faith of the heart and the words of the mouth are not separate but intimately connected actions.
Neumann shifts to questioning assumptions. First, he asks, “Why do we call upon his name in worship?” He answers that we do so to be saved from ourselves and the hostile powers to which our sinful selves are subjected. Saying “salvation” presupposes sin. Everyone is under the power of sin and so is in need of salvation. The second assumption Neumann challenges is found in the question, “Who is the Lord to whom we cry?” He preaches that God is not an aloof, disinterested deity but instead has been made known to us. Third, Neumann asks, “Whom did [God] raise?” and he responds by pointing out that God is both raiser and raised.
Neumann concludes by underscoring the need for the Christian to seek salvation from God. He stresses that the substance of Christian worship is a cry for salvation as well as the grateful, joyous acknowledgment of being granted salvation in Jesus Christ. Moreover, the plea for salvation is not limited to the initial conversion, because Christians are to be engaged in their own conversion throughout their lives. We continue to sin, continue to err, continue to fail, so we must continue to repent and re-convert. Central to these re-conversions is giving back to God the love that God has given the Christian. Neumann ends by declaring that gathering at the table for Holy Communion is an act in which Christians receive God’s love and give of themselves to God.
The ideas in these sermons may be elementary, but such sermons are important for us preachers to proclaim. Every pastor knows that most people in the congregation have, at best, a cursory understanding of the basics of the faith. In an age when many people speak the name of Jesus but few do so with reverence or even an academic understanding of that name’s power, sermons that aid the hearer in comprehending even the most elementary truths are mandatory.
Dave von Schlichten