These are my raw sermon notes for my Sermon Sunday Morning 25th May 2014 at Nowra City Church. I post them here principally so the congregation have access to my notes while I am preaching them, but whether you are from Nowra City Church or not – I hope they bless you.
Primum non nocere – Latin
The title of my sermon is Do no Harm
Talk about Romans – We started it at the beginning of June Last year.
Praying through our next series – Possibly the Book of Matthew.
Talk about my study of Job and the paper I am writing at the moment on how we are to respond as Christians to the Terminally ill. – My thoughts about this contributed to the direction of my sermon here today.
Summary of the book of Romans
“This Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”1
“It is the most remarkable production of the most remarkable man. It is his heart. It contains his theology, theoretical and practical, for which he lived and died. It gives the clearest and fullest exposition of the doctrines of sin and grace and the best possible solution of the universal dominion of sin and death in the universal redemption by the second Adam.”2
The Book of Romans is one of the most profound books in existence; it is certainly one of the most valued parts of the Holy Scriptures.
It has been appropriately termed the Cathedral of the Christian faith.
The Structure of the Book of Romans
· The book falls neatly into an introduction (1:1-17),
· A doctrinal section on justification (1:18—5:11),
Particularly Romans 5
Doctrine of Representation
· A doctrinal section on sanctification (5:12—8:39),
Particularly Romans 6 – Doctrine of Identification
· A section on Israel (9:1—11:36),
A restatement of the Promises of the Covenant
· A practical application section (12:1—15:13);
Particularly Romans 12
· A conclusion (15:14—16:27).
The Theme of the Book of Romans
The theme of the book centres on the Gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16,17).
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”[b]
So I wanted to finish up Romans this morning
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,”[a] “You shall not covet,”[b] and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way
15 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”[a] 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
These scriptures are about how we treat each other
Talk about last week’s Imagine – If we are truly passionate about reaching the Shoalhaven – you want to know where Ground Zero is for Revival – Here in this room
How we treat people is a good start
What we say to people – particularly those who are going through a hard time or those people who aren’t ok – is everything.
If we are going to be a church where it’s ok to not be ok – then we have to be very careful about what we say to those who are not ok.
Love does no harm
Talk about the Doctor’s Hippocratic Oath of when they become a Doctor – one of the things that vow is to Do No Harm
As a Christian – its a biblical imperative that we Do no harm
Lets have a look at how Christian’s go in this area
Go through the Powerpoints.
Play the Clip from Kay Warren
Love does no harm
The three thematics that run through Job
1) Retributional Theology
2) Suffering is Divine Chastening – Job, God is going to teach you something important through this
3) Suffering is only temporary – Job you have lost perspective – in the end – everything will be ok.
A. Suffering is Divine Retribution: “Job, you must have done something wrong…”
4:7-8: you reap what you sow
“Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?
As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same….”
8:3-4: your children sinned
“Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?
If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the power of their transgression.”
11:2-12: you may think you are righteous, but God’s judgments are above ours
“…Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.”
22:5-11: you are obviously a great sinner!
“Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities.
For you have exacted pledges from your family for no reason, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry.
The powerful possess the land, and the favored live in it.
You have sent widows away empty-handed, and the arms of the orphans you have crushed.
Therefore snares are around you, and sudden terror overwhelms you….” (cf. 31:16-23)
B. Suffering is Divine Chastening: “Job, God is going to teach you something important from this…”
5:17-18: discipline is painful, but ultimately beneficial
“How happy is the one whom God reproves; therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands heal.”
C. Suffering is Only Temporary: “Job, you’ve lost perspective—in the end, everything’s going to be all right…”
8:8-10: Tradition offers the long view; in our short experience, we lose perspective.
“For inquire now of bygone generations, and consider what their ancestors have found;
for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing, for our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?”
8:11-19: “Tough times never last, but tough people do!”
The text here is extremely difficult, but there is general agreement that Bildad offers a parable about plants that shows how ephemeral the wicked are; in some readings, this type of the wicked is followed by another of the righteous. Here are two recent translations reflecting the two different understandings, followed by an eloquent paraphrase from older scholarship taking the latter, “two plant” view:
“[Bildad] contrasts the life-history of two plants: One, a swamp rush, grows luxuriant in the mire and pools by the riverside; but with the advance of the season the water dries up and this erstwhile flourishing plant fails and ‘first of all verdure it withers’ (8:12). But, on the other hand, the desert herb grows in blighting heat and aridity, and still worse is a prey to camels’ teeth. It is eaten away so completely that not a trace is apparent. Yet from its root it grows again and from the ground it sprouts afresh (v.19). The first, he tells us, is the type of the wicked; the second, of the righteous. And disaster has overtaken both alike. The difference is in the sequel.” [W.A. Irwin, “An Examination of the Progress of Thought in the Dialogues of Job,” Journal of Religion 13 (1933): 152-3]
8:20-22: For the righteous, suffering is only temporary; “time heals all things.”
“See, God will not reject a blameless person, nor take the hand of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”
5:2: “Don’t envy the prosperity of the wicked—it’s short-lived.”
“Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.”
What did God think?
7 And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”
What did Job think?
Job speaks of his friends in Job 6:14-17, 21
14“One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you have accused me without the slightest fear of the Almighty. 15My brother, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring 16when it is swollen with ice and melting snow. 17But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears. The brook vanishes in the heat.
21You, too, have proved to be of no help
“How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with words?
Talk through some points of my paper – How we better care for those diagnosed with a Terminal Disease
This is a page out of my paper (unproofed at this stage)
So we have established that Job’s friends have not provided support for Job and in fact they offended God by saying things to Job on His behalf that were just plain wrong. God judges these three man and calls them to repent and bring sacrifices (Job 42:7-8). So how can we apply the negative lessons of Job’s friends to how we treat the suffering – particularly the terminally ill. Let’s talk about death and dying.
Death is both inevitable and irreversible. Over the last century the decline in mortality has been significant but has had some interesting cultural ramifications. “Most deaths now occur not among the young as they did at the turn of the 20th century where the life expectancy was not much above 30, but among the old. In the United States, people aged 85 and over account for only 1% of the total population but for 17% of all deaths. Advances in medical science and technology have all but eliminated the acute diseases that once were the major causes of death. This has created a radical change in the demographic characteristics of those who are dying. At the turn of this century fifty-three percent of those who died in this country were under the age of fifteen. This major shift as to who is dying as well as the West’s preoccupation with “perpetual youth, beauty, sexuality, and strength has typically disguised, avoided, denied, and embellished death” resulting in alienation of the dying”. The article goes on to say the isolation has been encouraged by a change in societal institutions, most prevalent of which is the change in family structure, away from the traditional almost tribal nuclear family to a more disconnected Modern Family. Within the extended family, the processes of the life cycle were an accepted and natural part of daily life, with birth and death on a continuum in nature. Ill persons were cared for in their homes by their families, and the burials of those who died were attended by all members of the family. This is simply not the case these days.
When we consider the terminally ill, “technology has influenced care for the terminally ill even more dramatically by creating a population of people who experience their dying over an extended period of time. One article I read coined the phrase that there are many people who are currently “ living dying”. Now technically we are all living dying but the phrase applied to the terminally ill has a particular poignancy. So the demographic shift of who is dying, mixed with the obsession of youth and beauty in our culture and the change in the modern family, married with death being delayed by medicine, all leads to the terminally ill experiencing social death before biological death. This conclusion is reinforced by the research reported on in Coping with Loneliness Among the Terminally ill concluding that “the terminally ill are particularly prone to loneliness”. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a highly acclaimed book titled On Death and Dying back in 1969 where she identified the 5 stages of grief that a person journeys through once they have been diagnosed with a terminal disease. This has both been positive and negative “ Our present state of care for the dying is one in which a unique and personal human experience has been transformed into a series of psychological stages to be monitored and facilitated by specialists in the techniques of doing so has dehumanised the care process”
Practical Takeaways from this sermon
1) Understand the power of your presence
so they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. –Job 2:13
Romans 12:15 – weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh
I am so sorry you are going through a difficult time
Habel suggests that the flinging of dust in the air recalls the actions of Moses of throwing dust into the air to produce the boils that afflicted the Egyptians (Exodus 9:10); “thus the friends perform a rite which symbolically calls forth the same sickness on themselves as an act of total empathy. They are one with the dust of death and one with Job in his disease” (Habel 1985:97).
The practice of visiting the sick is an ancient one that goes back to biblical
days, when Abraham was visited in his tent by three angels while recuperating
from his self-circumcision (Genesis 18:1) P1
4) Touch – Hugs
5) Resist the urge to diagnose the cause
6) Resist the urge to try and fix it.
7) Resist the urge to tell your story.
8) Listen to their story – and thats it.
9) Offer Practical Help
Hope this helps you – Do no harm to those who are travelling through tough times.