Saturday, April 4, 2020

Audio of the entire worship time is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 28:16–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who go to Galilee (Matthew 28:16)? Which mountain do they go to? Whom do they see (Matthew 28:17)? What do they all do to Him? What do some of them do? Who came and spoke to them (Matthew 28:18)? How much authority has been given to Him? Which authority has been given to Him? What are they to make, therefore (Matthew 28:19)? By what two actions are disciples made (verse 19b, Matthew 28:20)? Into what single name are they baptized? What are they taught to do with Jesus’s commands? How many of them? Who is with them always, as they make disciples? Even until when?  
When Jesus’s disciples are brokenhearted at the Passover, the Lord Jesus instituted the Supper to direct their hearts and minds unto Him, to feed spiritually upon Him repeatedly for the rest of the age.

And now, when some of them are still doubting after having seen Him multiple times (as we learn from John 21), the Lord Jesus institutes baptism to affirm to them His authority and glory (Matthew 28:18), obligate them to His service (Matthew 28:19), and assure them of His presence and power  unto the end of the age. These are exactly the things to which every single one whom Jesus adds to His church needs to commit.

Baptisms were already initiations/identifications with set-apart groups. The same had been true of circumcision. Now, Jesus initiates baptism as the mark of the church of His disciples. And what does this mark teach us?

That all authority has been given to Him in heaven and earth. He is God from all eternity. But He became a Man, lived a perfectly obedient life, died an atoning death, and rose again from the dead. His saving work as the Christ is done. His time of humiliation is over. Even in His human nature, He is now exalted. Not only over the earth. But even over heaven! He is, in His divinity, “He who sits upon the throne.” But He is also, in His humanity, the risen and ascended and exalted “Lamb who sits upon the throne.” We must trust in Him and worship Him. Faith.

Christian baptism also teaches us that we are obligated to be disciples who make disciples. If our  risen Lord is in authority generally, how much more over His disciples specifically! And what does He want them (and us) to do? Well, there is a great and primary duty: make disciples. But, there is also something else that He wants disciples to do “observe all thing that Jesus has commanded.” If the church does not teach the whole counsel of God, it is guilty of the lives of its members (Acts 20:26–27). Not all may be teachers, but all must learn. We have a duty to study in order to believe all of Jesus’s doctrine and obey all of Jesus’s commands. Obedience.

And the last big thing that Christian baptism teaches is that this faith and obedience can come only through the grace of ongoing, continual delight in and dependence upon Jesus’s fellowship. “and lo, I am with you always.”
Who is “saying something” in baptism? What is He saying? How are you responding?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

Friday, April 3, 2020

Audio of the entire worship time is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 3:21–38

Questions from the Scripture text: Who else was baptized when all the people were baptized (Luke 3:21)? What did Jesus do, when He was baptized? And what opened? Who descended in Luke 3:22? In what kind of form? What came from heaven? What did the voice say? At what age does Luke 3:23 say that Jesus began His public ministry? Whose son was He considered to be? Through which of David’s sons did Jesus come (Luke 3:31)? To what man does this genealogy trace back (Luke 3:38a)? To whom does it ultimately trace back (verse 38b)? How does this connect to Luke 3:22
We were created to be in the image of God. Adam was, in that way, something of a “son” of God (cf. Luke 3:38).  But God already had a Son. An eternal Son. Whom He loves. With Whom He is the same in substance, and equal in power and glory, and of course with Whom He is eternally well-pleased.

Gloriously, at Jesus’s baptism, heaven opened (Luke 3:21). Heaven opened. And the Holy Spirit took a physical form and descended (Luke 3:22). And God spoke from heaven something marvelous. The man that was standing, head dripping, in the river with the baptizer is one of Them: Persons of the Godhead. He is the Second person of the Trinity.

So, what is He doing here, now, as true a Man as He has been God from all eternity? Why has He been born of a woman whose husband would cause Him to be considered the son of Joseph (and Zerubbabel of Luke 3:27, and David of Luke 3:31, and Judah of Luke 3:33, and the patriarchs of Luke 3:34)? What is He doing being baptized to identify with a people who need repentance when He is sinless? Why has God added to Him a dependent human nature in which He must pray (Luke 3:21) and is only thirty years old (Luke 3:23)? In which He is, for some purposes, considered as if He descended from Adam (Luke 3:38)?

He is representing us so that when we receive His baptism (the Spirit, who works faith in us, when the Lord pours Him out upon us), we will be identified with Him, and in Him, God will declare the same about us: that in Christ, believers are just as loved and pleasing to God!
What did Jesus’s baptism say about His identifying with believers? What does ours say about the benefits that believers receive in Him?  
Suggested songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH302 “A Shoot will Spring from Jesse’s Stump”

Thursday, April 2, 2020

2020.04.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 1:9–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What has God made known to us (Ephesians 1:9a)? According to what had He decided this? What had He done “in Himself”? When would He carry out His plan (Ephesians 1:10a)? What would He gather into one? In Whom would He gather all things? What things would be included in these “all things” (verse 10b)? 
We tend to focus upon ourselves when we think about God’s eternal purposes. And that is understandable, not because it is right, but because we are fleshly, and it is understandable that we would so sinfully think about things.

The Lord, however, thinks upon us with amazing love and goodness and generosity precisely by putting us in our proper place: under Christ and in Christ.

In the previous verses, we read that He bent “all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8) upon redeeming us by Christ’s blood (Ephesians 1:7). Now in this passage, we read the heart and goal of that wisdom and prudence: to gather all of creation (signified by the “bookends” of “heaven and earth,” Ephesians 1:10) together in one in Christ.

This was that “mystery of His will” to which Ephesians 1:9 refers. In the New Testament, the word “mystery” generally refers to something that God had not at first made known, but which He has now revealed in Christ and the gospel. And what has God now revealed: that Christ redeeming us (and all creation with us) has always been at the center of God purposes.

These, of course, are eternal purposes. He purposed this in Himself. And, this plan was “according to His good pleasure.” That is to say that in these purposes, God was not responding to hypothetical futures at all. He is pleased to glorify Himself. He is pleased to glorify Himself in His Son. He is pleased to glorify Himself in His Son by displaying Him as the Redeemer. And now, God has sent as a Redeemer that Son unto His glory! These riches that He has poured out in love to purchase us are all, entirely, only because it pleased Him!

This is the true and biblical way to think about election and predestination. And it is a source of great wonder and worship, and love back to God, and peace and security in His redemption. What a doctrine! What a Redeemer! What a God! Hallelujah!
How have you talked and thought about election and predestination? How should we all?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”