Ok, sermon organization. Which is better than blog organization, because you can always sort and go back and forth through a blog. When you're preaching, you have to go through it once, get it right, and trust it to stick.
So, how to organize? Well, typically, I preach through things verse by verse. So, there's a natural organization there. If it's a single verse, I might go phrase by phrase. This week, I'm seeing the text support a recurrent theme. As such, I'll make an outline based on that theme, with the points I intend to make.
Note that while some preachers start with the points they want to make, and then find the verses to support them, that's not what we're doing here. What I'm looking at is how the text supports certain points, and building the sermon around them.
What are the points? I'm seeing a recurrent theme of "names" in this passage. Well, mostly. There's a minor problem. I mainly use the NASB, which uses 'name' in Rev. 3:1 and Rev. 3:5 but uses 'people' in Rev. 3:4 where there is a footnote showing that 'people' is literally 'names.' ESV uses 'reputation' Rev. 3:1 ESV and uses 'names' and 'name' in the other two verses. So, my English work leads me to think that John wove the term 'name' through the passage, which means the Lord used it 3 times in His message to Sardis. Which would make it important.
But, what about the disparity between what I think and what NASB, NLT, and ESV show? That's why preachers should be doing their best to learn Greek and Hebrew. Greek I'm ok with, if I've got time to be slow. Hebrew, not so much. Looking at the old Greek NT from OBU days, I see that 'onoma' 'onomata' and 'onoma' are the 3 words in question. I'm fairly certain 'onoma(t)' is a 3rd declension noun, which loses the (t) when there's no ending, and the (a) after the (t) shows plurality. So, 'onama' is the singular, 'onamata' is the plural, and it's the same word. Good, so far I'm apparently right.
Why are the words different in the English? Remember, languages aren't codes, you have to match ranges of meaning. In the culture that Greek served as a language, 'onoma(t)' was more than just your legal designator. It was what you were called, but also was your reputation. Just like we say things today like 'Make a name for yourself,' and we don't mean for you to change your driver's license. So, to try and make clear what the apparent intention is, reputation is used to translate 'onoma(t)' from time to time. NASB's use of 'people' conforms to the use of 'onomata' to designate a group, albeit a specific group, not a generic group. 'Onomata' can be used of a group that is of a known (to the speaker/writer) size and make-up, as the speaker/writer has a list of members. For example, the band Third Day is 'onomata' because there are specific people that are that group. Third Day fans, however, is an undefiniable group. A group you should join.
Back to the sermon: here's the points I'm seeing:
Point 1: A worthless name: Rev. 3:1 The people have a worthless name (reputation) for being alive. It's worthless because it's not true. They're dead. There are many people that you look at and think they are living a wonderful life. And in fact, they aren't. Dead inside, their name is false.
Point 2: A worthy name: Rev. 3:4 There are some in the church whose names are worthy. These are the ones who are striving to follow Christ. They will walk with Him.
Point 3: A written name: Rev. 3:5 Those who follow Christ will have their names found written in the Book of Life. These names will also be confessed, admitted to, in the presence of God. Matthew 10:32 is on point, as is Luke 12:8 so the surrounding passages about obedience to the commands of the Lord.
What is your name? Do you have a worthless name, a worthy name? A worthy name that endures is a written name. I think that perhaps we see that some live godly lives, and their name becomes permanent with their commitment to Christ.
Ok, there's the basic outline of this sermon. I'll take that outline, and preach from it. The printout I'll use will have those 3 points, any specific illustrations that I intend to use.
Last thing to look at:
Difficulties in the text.
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