Sermon Outlines

The Excellent Christian: Philippians 1:9-11


A. In 1982 a book appeared in the United States that revolutionized thinking about the way American corporations are run and the way business should be done in our country.  That one book sold more than 6,000,000 copies and spawned a new effort to make business more effective and productive.

B. The book was In Search of Excellence by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.

  1. The book studied many companies and identified ones that the authors judged to be most successful.
  2. They identified eight principles that characterized those companies.
  3. Peters said he had a passion to prove just how crucial people are to the success of a business enterprise.

C. Scripture has much to say about excellence in every part of life.

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Reborn for Unfeigned Love - 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

This outline continues a series preached in 2002. For my own edification (and hopefully yours), I’ve restudied the passage and made some improvements to the outline. This one is probably now a two-part sermon, maybe even three.


An old French proverb (14th century) says “love and a cough cannot be hid.” Certainly it’s true that ultimately, like a cough, you can’t really keep love a secret if it’s the real thing. Remember Jesus’ observation: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples …”

As Peter wrote to the suffering believers of his day, he reminded them of their foreignness in this world, their belovedness to God, their new birth, their responsibilities. He urged them to live with a healthy, sobering fear of the right things instead fearing suffering itself.

In the final verses of the portion we know as chapter 1, Peter calls believers—even suffering believers (maybe especially suffering believers)—to genuine Christian love. In the process, he reveals four truly great opportunities believers have in the area of love.

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Live in Fear - 1 Peter 1:17-21

This outline continues a series preached in 2002. For my own edification (and hopefully yours as well), I’ve restudied the passage and made some improvements to the outline.

Remember that Peter’s original audience was enduring suffering—persecution in particular. Of course, they would experience fear, just as we all do when facing times of trouble. So you would expect the apostle to offer a message of “fear not,” as God’s messengers so often did in Scripture. And in fact he does offer that message eventually (1 Pet. 3:6, 14). But first, rather than saying “fear not,” he says “live in fear.” Why? and what sort of fear does he have in mind?

In our fallenness we’re all only too willing to fear the wrong things and in the wrong way, and in troubled times, that tendency doesn’t go away. This is why God confronted His people through Isaiah with these words.

I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? 13 And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day Because of the fury of the oppressor, When he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? (NKJV, Isaiah 51:12–13)

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Different on Purpose

This outline continues a series preached in 2002. However, since my original outline for 1 Peter 1:13-16 is missing, the following is new.


What do you say to people who are suffering? More to the point for us, what do believers say to believers who are suffering?

It’s fascinating to me what Peter communicates to the suffering believers who were the original audience for the epistle we call 1 Peter. Though their suffering was apparently of the persecution variety, Peter puts his message in terms that speak to the heart-need of the Christian experiencing any kind of serious difficulty.

What the suffering saint needs to hear is what we find in this epistle—and what we find is a bit surprising. Peter reminds the believers of who they are in this world (displaced but God-beloved strangers) and who they are in Christ (reborn heirs of a salvation so great even angels wish they knew more about it).

But then Peter burdens these struggling recipients of grace with a solemn three-fold responsibility. He commends them to firmly embrace something, to reject something, and to pursue something. To look at it another way, the Scriptures here command us to think differently, desire differently, and do differently.

Note the word “therefore” at the beginning of 1:13. The responsibilities that follow are being revealed because of the privileges already revealed in the preceding verses.

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Precious Knowledge - 1 Peter 1:10-12

openbibleThis sermon outline continues a series preached in 2002.

Precious Knowledge


In 1928 Alexander Fleming was doing research in the area of bacteriology. He’d been growing a bacterium called staphylococcus in a culture dish and found it had been contaminated by a mold of some kind. Taking a closer look, he discovered that the mold was killing the bacteria and did this consistently. Howard Florey and Earnst Chain learned how to extract the substance and use it as medication. It was eventually used to fight staph infections, gangrene, scarlet fever, meningitis, and more. We know it as penicillin. It was a great discovery, priceless knowledge.

Nowadays we take that discovery for granted. We don’t remember what life was like before antibiotics. It’s human nature to lose sight of the context of things we benefit from and, as a result, fail to fully appreciate them.

As Christians we even manage to get used to the gospel—especially the gospel in its totality—God’s great redemptive, gospel plan. We weren’t around in the days before this plan was known, and we slip into taking it for granted. But in the days of the apostles, the gospel plan as a complete whole was a great new discovery of sorts. It came by revelation rather than research. That makes the knowledge even more precious.

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Keep Going - 1 Peter 1:5-9

This outline continues a series preached in 2002. For the curious, these outlines don’t look much like what I actually took to the pulpit. Those notes were color coded and heavily abbreviated, usually fitting on roughly one side of a single letter-sized sheet of paper. I often found that my desire to communicate with the people in the room made it difficult to actually read complex sentences. If I was going to speak extemporaneously, the notes had to be of the sort I could take in with quick glances. Of course, if you preach the text, you always have most of your structure and content right there.

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Born Again - 1 Peter 1:3-4

This outline continues a series I preached in 2002. Due to overly sketchy notes, historical material is drawn from sources I’m now unable to identify. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the KJV.

Born Again

I recall seeing a bumper sticker once that said “born OK the first time.” I was puzzled at first, then it clicked. The sticker was a response to all those “born again” bumper stickers that used to be so popular (1980s?). I chuckled, but then thought, “how tragically far from the truth.”

In these verses, Peter writes to remind us that though we were not born OK the first time, those who believe the gospel are born far more than “OK” the second time.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (KJV, 1 Peter 1:3–4)

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