Other sermon/teaching series
: [1Corinthians] [Biblical Shepherding] [Hebrews (2017-18)] [Hopewell 101] [The Lord's Day] [Lord's Supper Table Lessions] [Family Worship Teaching Times]

Monday, August 20, 2018

2018.08.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 7:13-23, 16:18-28

Questions for Littles: What do the scribes and Pharisees ask about in vv1-2? What question does Jesus ask back in v3? What had God commanded, according to v4a? What had God threatened, according to v4b? But what did the scribes and Pharisees say to people (v5)? What did their saying end up doing to God’s commandment (v6)? What does Jesus call them in v7? Who had prophesied about them? With what did Isaiah say they draw near (v8)? But where was their heart? What did Isaiah say about their worship (v9)? Why was their worship empty and pointless—who/what was coming up with their way of worshiping God? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned two of the most important reasons for being Reformed: to be free from the commandments of men, and to serve the Lord sincerely and truly.

The scribes were the Bible scholars of the church, and the Pharisees were the local religious leaders of the church. As far as their understanding of what the Scriptures taught, Jesus said that they actually understood the Bible rightly (cf. Mt 23:1-3), but where they fell into serious error was in coming up with their own things to add to Scripture (Mt 23:4), which resulted in focusing on the outside instead of the heart (Mt 23:5-7). The only solution is to cut all man-made teaching and authority out of the church (Mt 23:8-12).

That’s exactly the issue in our passage in Matthew 15. It’s not like their ideas sound bad on the face of things: make sure to wash your hands before you eat, and devote a certain portion of your wealth to the service of God that you refuse to use for anything else.

But the folly of adding their own ideas alongside God’s Word can be seen in the results. When our ideas are treated in the same way as God’s Word, our ideas are being given too much weight. So it’s not surprising that when push comes to shove, God’s Word then ends up being given too little weight.

Focusing too much upon hands that are soiled with dirt ends up in their neglecting the more important problem of hearts that are soiled with sin. Focusing too much upon guarding funds for serving the church ends up in their neglecting the more important duty of taking care of their parents.

There is something even worse than messing up our theology or messing up our obedience: messing up our relationship with God.

When we go away from God’s law to our own definition of what love is, God says about us, “Your heart is far from Me.” My heart far from God?! What could be worth falling into such a condition?!

When, in addition to what God has commanded for worship, we add what feels worshipful to us, God says about us, “in vain they worship Me.” If God says our worship is worthless, how can it even matter if we or anyone else likes it?

Ultimately, this is the entire point of being Reformed: Scripture alone defines our doctrine; Scripture alone defines love and obedience to God; Scripture alone defines how to worship God. Why? Because we want to draw near to Him with the whole heart, and we want to render unto Him worship that He values.

Adding any ideas of men, however well-meaning or good-looking to us, just isn’t worth the cost!
What negative criticism have you heard of being “Reformed”? How would you answer that now?
Suggested Songs: ARP119B “How Can a Young Man Cleanse His Way?” or TPH119B “How Shall the Young…?”

Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018.08.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 13:5-7

Questions for Littles: For what two reasons must we be subject (v5)? What do we also do because of this (v6)? Why do we pay taxes (6b)? What are four different kinds of things that we might owe to an authority (v7)? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard about two reasons that we are to obey the governing authorities: wrath and conscience.

The “wrath” reason is more immediate. We usually think of it in terms of “the wrath to come,” but in v5 it is connected to the ability to wield the sword from v4. There are things that the government commands that it really has no right to command—things that don’t help us love God or neighbor, and may actually be hindrances to loving God or neighbor.

Yet, the government still has that sword—that ability to punish—as God has ordained for it to have. There is a wisdom calculation that we must make: is it worth it to disobey on this point, in order to be able to love God and neighbor more conveniently?

But then there is the other reason: conscience. We covered that in Monday’s devotional on vv1-4, but it bears repeating that every lawful command must be obeyed, because government is instituted by God.

That brings us to the subject of taxes. The government at the time that Paul wrote this letter had done things like crucify Christians, cover them in tar, and light them on fire as torches. But, as long as it was also actually punishing evildoers, taxes were due to it as a matter of conscience.

However, there was another reason to pay. Tax collectors and soldiers were in cahoots with one another to get more money out of people than they were supposed to collect. There’s a choice there: is it worth it to suffer the wrath of the soldiers to stiff the tax collector on the overcharge?

At the end of the day, every authority over us is due one kind of thing or another—even if that thing is just respect or honor. And we must give them what is due for both reasons: punishment from men and conscience before God!
What do you owe to the various authorities in your life? Do you pay it?
Suggested Songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”