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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

2019.10.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:1-7

Questions from the Scripture: What have Paul and his companions received for their ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1)? What do they not lose? What does he call the things that they have renounced in 2 Corinthians 4:2? In what do they refuse to walk? How do they refuse to handle the word of God? Instead, what do they do with the truth? To what aspect, then, of every man, do they commend themselves? In whose sight? What may happen to their gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3a)? But to whom would it be veiled (verse 3b)? What does 2 Corinthians 4:4 call the devil? What has he done to those who are perishing? What do they not do? What does this veil keep them from seeing? Who is Christ, according to verse 4? What, then, do Paul and his companions not preach (2 Corinthians 4:5)? What do they preach? How do they consider themselves? Who does the work (2 Corinthians 4:6)? What else has He done about 4000 years prior? In whom else has He already done this spiritual counterpart to that work? Where does He shine? What light does He give? In whose face is the knowledge of this glory received? By what kind of vessel is this treasure conveyed (2 Corinthians 4:7)? What does this show?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from 2 Corinthians 4:1-7. Here, the apostle explains why his ministry is not generally impressive to all. One might have (wrongly) expected that the ministry of an apostle would be impressive to anyone.

Paul’s ultimate response is that God alone is the impressiveness of the work, and those who are not impressed with Him are not going to find anything else to be impressed with in his ministry (2 Corinthians 4:7). This doesn’t bother him, because his ministry is not his idea or his pride. It as an assignment of God by the mercy of God. It may seem to be going poorly, but if it is of God, then there is no reason to lose heart!

Ironically, the apostle refers to superficially impressive ministry as “the hidden things of shame.” There is a way of handling the Word of God that looks impressive on the outside, but what you cannot see is that it is man-derived and man-dependent. But the apostles are not concerned with commending themselves to men’s admiration. They are concerned with commending themselves to men’s consciences. Oh, that we would learn to see our life as an assignment from God and deal earnestly with others as those who will have to stand before Him!! How this might help us to stop living for their applause!

Will such a ministry have a hundred percent conversion rate? No and yes. In one sense, no. There are those who are perishing. And if the Lord has not atoned for them, and is not going to regenerate them, then what exactly are we supposed to be able to do about that? It is not just that they are unable to see God’s glory. It is also that they are not permitted. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that God has set things up this way because He refuses to shine the light of the gospel upon them.

But in another sense, yes. Such a ministry will have a hundred percent conversion rate. For, the Lord is all powerful. He spoke light itself into existence. And He can speak spiritual light into existence in the hearts. And He does, because in the case of His elect, He is determined to give them the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ!
What kind of ministry should we look for in the church? Whom should we be looking to make it effective? With whom should we aim at being impressed? What aims and approaches are incompatible with this?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, At Your Word”

Monday, October 21, 2019

2019.10.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:30-38

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Lot go, and with whom in Genesis 19:30? Whom have we recently heard about drinking so much wine that he lost his awareness, and great sin was committed by his children (cf. Genesis 9:20-28)? To whom does that happen now (Genesis 19:31-36)? What results from this in Genesis 19:37-38?
Lot is a cautionary tale who presents us with a dilemma—earthly blessings are real blessings, and so ought to be enjoyed, and are yet dangerous to our souls!  How should we go about enjoying them, without falling into worldliness or abusing them?  Psalm 1:1-2 gives us a good start.  We are careful not to let the world tell us about how to enjoy things; we delight first in God’s law, and meditate on it day and night.

And there is a very helpful passage in 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, that basically tells us that in light of the soon-coming eternity, we should hold the duties and pleasures and pains of this life with a very loose grip.  Do every task with your eye on eternity.  Enjoy every pleasure with your eye on eternity.  Mourn every grief with your eye on eternity.  Go ahead and enjoy your wife, and mourn, and rejoice, and buy, and sell—but give them the weight in your heart that they comparatively have to eternity… so in your heart, as you do them, it is as if you are not doing them at all!

Lot, who lived by sight, is an intentional foil for Abraham in this section.  God means for us to see in them two opposite ways of living.  Abraham, though not perfect, is living by faith—we see this in his better moments at the end of chapter 14 and beginning of 16… trusting in God as his hope, finding in God his delight.

Lot is just the opposite.  By failing to live as a true pilgrim in this world, by failing to hope in God alone and treasure God far above all earthly things, Lot has never found the 1 Corinthians 7 balance of having wives as if you have none, and mourning as if you aren’t mourning, and rejoicing as if you’re not rejoicing, and buying goods as if you’re not really possessing them, and dealing with the world as if you have no dealings with it.

We find Lot in Genesis 19:30, not living in and interacting with Zoar, while his heart is in heaven.  Rather, his prior worldliness has left him completely confused.  Lot’s not afraid of worldliness, like he should be; now, he’s afraid of the world itself.  His worldliness wasn’t just unbelievably foolish; its effects were irretrievably harmful.
Where have you been similar to Lot? How has Christ been different? How does that relate to you being right with God? How does it relate to your growth in godliness?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

2019.10.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:30-38

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Lot go, and with whom in Genesis 19:30? Whom have we recently heard about drinking so much wine that he lost his awareness, and great sin was committed by his children (cf. Genesis 9:20-28)? To whom does that happen now (Genesis 19:31-36)? What results from this in Genesis 19:37-38
What a disaster! We are reminded once again that the wickedness and guilt for which the entire world will be condemned is yet alive and dangerous within the hearts and lives of believers.

For the second time in the book of Genesis, God has saved someone from a great judgment. For the second time, that person whom the Lord has saved allows himself to get drunk with wine—a great sin, in that God has given us to be ruled by knowledge of Him, and to be reasonable creatures, but drunkenness takes away this faculty and leaves us to our passions and impulses. Lot, of whom Scripture tells us that his soul was tormented by the sin of Sodom every day, is brought into that very sin through drunkenness!

Of course, he has set himself up for such sin. He valued earthly wealth over being joined with Abram. And then he moved further and further into the city. We do not know anything of a wife before he comes to Sodom, so it is quite possible that he has taken a wife from Sodom—especially since she looks back after they had returned to safety. He has brought his daughters up in Sodom, and then he has promised them in marriage to two men from Sodom.

Even if one can, perhaps, take such worldly-conditioned children out of the world to some extent, he cannot take the worldliness out of the children. This is one reason why God’s plan of gathering the redeemed into an accountable, worshiping, discipling community is so merciful and necessary!

But Lot cuts off himself and his family from such a community. He is rightly afraid to be surrounded by the people of Zoar, but when he goes up to the mountains and the cave, rather than returning to Abraham, he sets himself and his daughters up for this great wickedness. And it is a wickedness that will afflict the people of God for generations to come, as the Moabites and Ammonites come from it.

Yet, look at the marvelous mercy of God! Ruth the Moabitess will one day choose, by God’s grace, to leave her people and her gods to be joined to the Lord’s people and to the Lord Himself, the one true God. Indeed, she will become an ancestor of the One in whom we may be forgiven, the One to whom we may be conformed, the One who takes those whom He justifies and then sanctifies them, transforming them by the renewing of their minds.

This text may be a cautionary tale to all of us about the sin that still remains, but it is also pointing us to Him who removes all guilt at His cross, gathers us into the community of His saints, and proceeds to conform us to His own perfect Self through His Spirit’s use of His means. Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ!
How do you seek to be transformed by the renewing of your mind? What must you avoid?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, October 18, 2019

2019.10.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 19:31-37

Questions from the Scripture text: What day was it (John 19:31)? What special kind of Sabbath was the next day? Why weren’t Jesus’s legs broken (John 19:31-33)? What did they do to Him instead in John 19:34? What happens? Why did these things happen (John 19:36-37)? What is John’s purpose for testifying to these things (John 19:35)? 
The Lord wants you to believe in Jesus Christ. That is the great message of John 19:35. John will emphasize this point once again at the end of the next chapter (John 20:31). How does this faith come about? We can see it even in how Scripture tells us about the bodies’ being removed from the cross.

There are some who read this passage and get hung up upon what it might mean that blood and water both came out. Is it something medical—showing the asphyxiation by which Christ died? Is it something theological—a reference to the Supper and baptism, or the two kinds of birth that one must have to be saved?

Without other Scripture making something of the combination itself, we are left with John’s own emphasis in John 19:35. It is simply the kind of details that one would know if he were there—if he were standing with Mary, whom he had just been commanded to adopt as his mother, and watching as the soldiers came by to clean up before the special Sabbath of the Passover (the “high” day).

And what did John see? He saw two Scripture texts being fulfilled. Psalm 34:20 had prophesied, “not one of His bones shall be broken.” Psalm 22:16-17 had said, “they shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

Don’t you see, dear reader? This was a planned death. The crucifixion was intended by God and foretold by God so that we would do more than merely know that it happened—that, in fact, we would hope in what God planned to do here… that we would hope in Him who gave Himself as the substitute for those who deserved death and the wrath of God.

The Jews were ever so careful and desirous to participate in the Passover ritual. But Scripture here points us to Christ and says that it is Him in whom we should seek to have a part! Have you been careful to rest in Him and have a part in Him?
Why did God tell us about Christ’s death beforehand? Why did He tell us afterward?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH22A “My God, My God, O Why Have You”

Thursday, October 17, 2019

2019.10.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:13-14

Questions from the Scripture text: From what has Christ redeemed us (Galatians 3:13)? What did He become for us? How did God show that (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23)? Whose blessing came upon the Gentiles (Galatians 3:14)? In Whom? What/Whom did we receive? Through what?
In what ways are we not under the law, if we believe in Jesus Christ?

First, we are not under the curse of the law. As Galatians 3:10 reminded us, the law puts a curse upon everyone who does not personally, perfectly, perpetually obey it!

This is a great problem for us, because we have not done so. It is no problem for Christ, because He has done so.

Yet, one of the wonders of the gospel is that Christ has taken our problem and made it His problem. Galatians 3:13 tells us that Christ became a curse for us.

Scripture wanted us to see that this is what Christ was doing by the prophecy of Deuteronomy 21:23, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” This is why Jesus had to be crucified, not stoned or beheaded or die of tuberculosis. He wasn’t only being punished in our place; He was being displayed as having become a curse for us.

You, dear reader, must have this as all your hope as you think about the judgment of God. If Christ is not yours through faith, then your curse is still yours, and it will sink you lower than the grave!

A second way that believers are not under the law is that they are hoping for reward through faith in Christ, not through the merit of the law.

Galatians 3:14 tells us that it is “in Christ Jesus” that “the blessing of Abraham” comes upon the nations (the literal meaning of “Gentiles”).

Scripture often tells us that there is a reward for good works, but then it also often tells us that none of our works are good enough to deserve the reward. How can this be?

It is because Christ is the One who deserves the reward. And the Christ who deserves the reward is the One who gives us His Spirit. As the apostle has already reminded them, it is preposterous to imagine that the Spirit could ever be received by a wicked man as his due for his works under the law (cf. Galatians 3:2).  Now, Galatians 3:14 affirms that all of the blessings of the covenant (collectively called “the blessing of Abraham”) are in Christ Jesus, received through faith.

We are not under law, but under grace—the grace that gives us Christ’s righteousness counted for us and His removal of the curse from us, the grace that works out Christ’s righteousness in us to enable us to obey the law, the grace that gives us in Christ all covenant blessing.
What role does God’s law have in your life? What role must it not have in your life?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”