Sermon Study Guide – St. Thomas’ Church, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador


(Date: 29 Jan 2012) “Puffy or Substantial Religion?” 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28


  1. Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.” St. Paul had a pretty good head on his shoulders. He had an excellent theological training and impeccable intellectual and religious credentials. Yet he warned that knowledge without love is only good for swelling our heads. Love builds up. If this is true then what good is knowledge at all for the Christian?



Leader’s Guide:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)


How does love transform us into Christ’s likeness? How does the Word that was made flesh affect our human natures?



  1. In the gospel story the people in the synagogue of Capernaum were amazed that jesus spoke with authority, and not like the regular religious leaders. What could the difference have been? How did they recognize the authority Jesus had? If religious leaders don’t speak with authority, what do they speak with? What authority do you have to say and think what you do?



Leader’s Guide:

Jesus taught as one having “authority”. It is the same word as the Greek word for “substance” which we have in the Nicene Creed. Jesus has the same authority, the same substance, as the Father. What is the substance of your faith? How authoritative is your witness to Christ? What does the Lord need to cast out of you so that you will be free, and in your ‘right mind’ to speak of the spiritual life with authority? What does a substantial Christian (one with substance to their faith) look and act and speak like?



For further reflection:


Our parish Annual Work Plan focuses on our experiences of God’s presence and reality. Not puffy but substantial change in people’s lives. Nobody gets better on our own. The possessed man had to be brought into contact with Jesus. We need to bring ourselves into contact with Jesus in the membership of the Body of Christ- not just in worship, but in our daily lives. Jesus didn’t just worship with His disciples. He walked and talked and discussed everything with them. They grew in His presence. We believe Jesus wants us all to grow in His presence too- one important way is with other Christians in small groups sharing our lives. That is why we have set up all the classes and courses and groups we have this year. We want to give everyone an opportunity to enter such a fellowship and experience His presence and goodness there. But it is up to you and me whether we want to take advantage of that or keep on going it alone.


For almost 500 years Anglican Communion services have begun with a simple prayer to prepare us to come into God’s presence and be changed by our meeting with Him in worship. It is called the Collect for Purity. Try praying it in the first person singular before you begin your prayer time with the Lord each day this week:


ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ my Lord. Amen.