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Topical - Amazing Grace ::

LUKE TATTERSALL preaches on the doctine of God’s grace …
Source: Perspective Vo11 No1-4 © Perspective 2004

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Doctrinal Preaching

I have been involved in preaching full-time for more that 15 years now. During that time I would say that I have been committed to systematic expository preaching. I am convinced that we need to let God’s word set the agenda in our churches. It is no good jumping from topic to topic simply because an issue takes my fancy this week. We need to be committed to hearing what God has to say. And I believe the best way to do that is by preaching through books of the Bible.

But having said that I am increasingly becoming convinced of the importance and place of doctrinal preaching. Let me define what I mean. There are some doctrines that span across the bible – doctrines like Grace, the Church, the work of the Holy Spirit, Heaven & Hell, etc. In order to understand what the Bible says about those things we need to do more than look at one passage. I think there is a place for preaching on those doctrines – drawing together what the Bible says in relation to those subjects.

I am sure that most of my preaching will continue to be systematic expository preaching. But I am planning to do a 3 or 4 week series each year on a doctrine like those mentioned above.

What’s So Amazing about Grace?

I was recently asked to do some talks at a conference on Grace. I was asked to do 3 talks and I was told that mine would be the topical/doctrinal talks. The other speaker was doing 3 talks from Genesis.

I wanted to try to focus on one passage for each of the talks and it seemed to me that the parables have a lot to say about grace. They were going to be a good starting point to highlight one facet of grace in each talk. But I was also aware that there were other issues relating to grace that I wanted to cover. I decided to go with the following:

Talk 1 – Amazed by Grace
Main Passage – Workers in the Vineyard (Matt 20)
Other Ideas – Understanding Grace means understanding us (Eph 2:1-10). The Lost Doctrine of Grace – what happens when Christians loose grace? Legalism, pride or ungodliness.
Conclusion – be amazed by grace … and continue to be amazed by it.

Talk 2 – Scandalized by Grace
Main Passage – Lost Things (Luke 15)
Other ideas – What is it we don’t like about grace? Foreign to us, takes it out of our hands and it lets rotten people into the kingdom.
Conclusion – If you understand grace you will see people the way God does and you will be committed to preaching the Gospel.

Talk 3 – Motivated by Grace
Main Passage – Unforgiving Servant (Matt 18)
Other Ideas – Getting it ½ right about grace (“saved by grace but then it is my effort” or “saved by grace so it doesn’t matter how I live.
Conclusion – Our lives should be lived in response to God’s grace – not out of debt, obligation, pride or fear. We should be living in gratitude for what God has done.

Surprise Find

When preaching on the parables it is always crucial to look at the setting for the parable. But I have to confess I was a little surprised when I looked at the setting for the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matt 20).

The episode immediately before the parable is Jesus with the rich young ruler. He begins by asking Jesus “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” (Matt 19:16). Jesus concludes that episode by saying that salvation is not possible for man – it is only possible for God (Matt 19:26).

But then Peter asks this question: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” After Jesus has just said “It is not about what you do” Peter says “But haven’t we done enough?” Very merit-based thinking from Peter. The parable is in response to Peter’s question.

Useful Resources

I looked at a number of books in preparing these talks (some more thoroughly than others):

Transforming Grace (Bridges) – I think this is still the only book I would confidently recommend. Read it some time ago and skimmed through it again for these talks.

What’s So Amazing About Grace (Yancey) – lots of nice stories – but in the end I think Phil’s assessment is right: it is not really about grace. It is more about tolerance. I found it a bit frustrating.

Future Grace (Piper) – This book made me a bit angry. He wants to say that the Bible NEVER tries to motivate us by God’s past grace or by gratitude to God. He wants to offer the crazy idea that we are only ever motivated by God’s future grace – our hope for heaven.

Parables of Judgement & Parables of Grace (Capon) – certainly don’t agree with a lot of what he says – but he has a profound understanding of the idea of grace. Some of his insights are helpful and thought provoking.

Talk 1 – Amazed by Grace

1.0 – Grace – What Is It?

2.0 – The First Step in Understanding Grace

3.0 – A Parable of Grace

3.1 – The Setting

3.2 – The Parable

4.0 – The Lost Doctrine of Grace

4.1 – Legalism
4.2 – Spiritual Pride
4.3 – Ungodly Freedom

5.0 – Be Amazed … Be Very Amazed

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

Talk 2 – Scandalized by Grace

1.0 – How BIG is Your Grace?
I told 3 stories of dreadful people who had become Christians:

1.1 – Wesley Allen Dodd

1.2 – Karla Faye Tucker

1.3 – Kaing Khek Ieu (Duch)

2.0 – The Lost Things

2.1 – The Setting

2.2 – The Parables

2.3 – The Older Brother

What Is It We Don’t Like bout Grace?

1. It is Foreign to Us

2. It Takes It Our Of Our Hands

3. It’s Just Too … Indiscriminate

If You Understand Grace Then
You Will See People the way God Sees Them

You Will be Committed to Preaching the Gospel

2.0 – Getting it ½ Right About Grace

*2.1 – Saved by Grace, But*…

3.0 – How Not to Respond to Grace
3.1 – The Setting

3.2 – The Parable

4.0 – Responding to Grace

5.0 – Grace

5.1. Make Sure you live a life that is Motivated by God’s Grace

5.2. Make Sure you Work at Understanding God’s Grace

Luke Tattersall is the minister of Parramatta City Presbyterian Church, Sydney

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This is the heart of Perspective. These sermon series outlines have been used in real, live churches and preached to real, live congregations.

While it is important to do the hard work yourself when preparing to preach, it’s a great thing to be able to learn from other people’s experience and effort, so use these outline freely, but wisely.