For the 19th Sunday after Pentecost in Series C readings, the passages are Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:1-14 and Luke 17:1-10. For the sermon the entire first chapter of Second Timothy is chosen.
There are only 2 religions in the world: Christianity and everything else! And everything else reflects a “living under the Law” perspective in that what you do, say or think makes the difference as to whether you go to heaven or hell. In contrast, the Christian faith is unique in that it’s foundation is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This means that salvation is not by works but by grace through faith in the promises connected to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And these promises are unconditional.
It is true that there are many individual passages which reveal the true nature of the Christian faith. But it is rare when in one chapter there are found 12 specific instances of unique Christian thought. The first chapter of Second Timothy is one such passage. What follows is a listing of the 12 unique statements of the Christian faith that can be individually expanded in a sermon or as a total package during a Bible study.
1) by the will of God; 2) the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus; 3) Grace; 4) Mercy; 5) Peace; 6) the genuine faith that is in you; 7) the gift of God which is in you; 8) not according to our works; 9) who has abolished death; 10) through the gospel; 11) to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day and 12) keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Now it is clear that there are certain concepts listed that are used by other religions such as grace, mercy and peace. For example, ”grace” is regarded as some kind of power source with which we humans cooperate in order to be saved. But God’s view of “grace” points to His gracious attitude toward sinners in giving to us what we do not deserve. Therefore, all other religions do not define or use these concepts according to the Will of God. Instead, they have a human dimension in them and do not realize the gracious and Christ-centered facet of each of these phrases. Each of the 12 are truly a fine example of the distinctions between Law and Gospel.