Saturday, October 20, 2018

2018.10.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:14-19

Questions for Littles: Who commanded lights to exist in the firmament (v14)? What were the lights to divide? What else would these lights mark off? What did God command that they would give onto the earth (v15)? How many great lights did God make (v16)? Which would rule the day? Which would rule the night? What did He make “also”? Where did God set them (v17)? To do what? What did they rule over (v18)? And what did they divide? And what did God see? Then what happened (v19)? And then what? And what did this conclude?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we’ll be hearing about God’s creation of the sun, moon, and stars.

Of course, He doesn’t even mention the sun or moon by name, and the creation of untold trillions (or more) of stars is mentioned almost as an afterthought. These things were all worshiped as gods by the cultures that surrounded the Israelites. But here, they are just little lights embedded in the floor under God’s throne.

There’s not even a competition between man’s idol-impostors and the one, true God. Those creatures which man worshiped for their necessary usefulness are actually provisions from God.

In God’s providence we depend (humanly speaking) upon light. And we very much need to be able to mark time to remember things. And the cycle of the seasons is physically and mentally essential for us. The cycle of years does the same for us on a long-term basis.

So, from the Lord’s own account of day four, we learn that what others worship as gods, the Lord created to be our servants—generous provisions from a loving Creator. But there’s this language of ruling over the day and ruling over the night. Notice that these lights do NOT rule over man. Man does not yet exist, and when he does, God will command him to take dominion over all of the living creatures.

Rather, the lights that govern day and night demonstrate that God builds order into His creation and establishes governors to maintain that order. Within God’s created order, ruling is a matter of service.
What are some different kinds of rulers? How do they serve those they rule?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH8B “Lord, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Friday, October 19, 2018

2018.10.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 5:1-15

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus go during the feast in v1? What gate was the pool beside (v2)? What was the pool called? How many porches did it have? What kind of people lay in these porches (v3)? What were they waiting for? What does v4 say they were waiting for an angel to do to the water? And then what would happen to the first person who entered? How long had the man in v5 had his infirmity? Who saw him lying there in v6? What did Jesus ask the man? What does the man answer in v7? What does the man apparently not believe that Jesus can do? What does Jesus command the man to do in v8? How long did it take for the man to be healed (v9)? What day of the week was it? What do the Jews tell the man that he shouldn’t be doing (v10)? But whom does the man say told him to take up his bed and walk (v11)? What did they want to know (v12)? Why didn’t the man know (v13)? Who found the man in v14? What did Jesus tell the man to stop doing? What did Jesus say would happen if he didn’t? What did the man depart and do in v15?
In the Gospel reading this week, we have an account of absolute mercy.

We are so foolish. Jesus reminds us in v14 what the real evil is (not weakness but wickedness) and what the real danger is (not that we might become ill, but that we might burn in Hell).

But here’s a great multitude, hoping for magic at a place called “House of Mercy” (Bethesda).
God Himself, now man, walks among them—come to suffer Hell on the cross for our sin. And when He asks a man if he wants to be healed, the man answers that he doesn’t have anyone to shove him into the pool fast enough.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t wait for the man to recognize who He is or ask Him to help. Jesus just heals him. Pure, simple, sovereign grace.

Sadly, the foolishness continues. Even after Jesus heals the man, the man quickly turns upon Him. Jesus warns him to repent of his sin, and rather than trusting in Jesus, the man turns around and commits the greatest possible sin: betraying Christ.

Dear believer, have you made a habit of displaying your foolishness? Even after Christ has revealed Himself to you? Even after He has healed you? Here is a glorious truth: Christ’s grace is relentless. It will keep pursuing you.
How did you last royally mess up with Christ? What is He still doing anyway?
Suggested songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH32B “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

2018.10.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 11:1-16

Questions for Littles: What does Paul say, in reference to chs 7-10, and also now for 11 (v1)? For what does the apostle praise them in v2? Who is the head of every man (v3)? Who is the head of woman? Who is the head of Christ? Whom does a man dishonor if he prays or prophesies with his head covered (v4)? Whom does a woman dishonor if she prays or prophesies with her head uncovered (v5)? What would this be “one and the same” as? What is shameful (v6)? What should be done for her, if she finds herself in this shameful situation? But what must a man not do (v7)? Why? Whose glory should be displayed in worship, and whose glory should not? Who is from whom, according to v8? Who was created for whom, according to v9? What kind of symbol must be on a woman’s head (v10)? Because of whom? Who is not independent of whom (v11)? In whom is this true? From whom is woman (v12)? Through whom does a man now come? From whom are all things? What does the apostle ask in v13? What answer does he expect? What does the apostle ask in v14? What answer does he expect? What does nature itself teach us? What is a glory to a woman, according to v15? For what was her hair given to her? Who else is to observe this custom (v16)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we have a passage about glory and honor. Worship is all about the glory of God, and He has established a particular order for displaying that glory, which He spells out in v3.

He has also, generally, providentially provided women with a display of their particular place in that order: longer hair. But there is also an accommodation for a woman who is providentially unable to grow that hair. She is not robbed of her symbol of authority. She may wear a head covering.

Do the roles of men and women make women less valuable? Absolutely not! The Lord has made both of them essential and valuable in both nature (v12) and the church (v11).

The real question here is whether we are going to accept God’s order, and whether we are glad to display God’s glory. As always, if we come up with our own order, or attempt to display our own glory, we will dishonor our head, and bring shame to ourselves.

When we gather as a church, let us seek to do things God’s way, since we are there for God’s glory!
What are some worship differences between God’s way and man’s way? 
Suggested songs: ARP179 “The Church’s Doxology” or TPH564 “Now Blessed Be Jehovah God”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

2018.10.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 5:1-12

Questions for Littles: What did the kings of the Amorites and the kings of the lowland Canaanites hear that Yahweh had done (v1)? For whom? What happened to their hearts as a result? What did they not have in them any longer? What did Yahweh tell Israel to do “at that time” (v2)? What did Joshua do (v3)? What did that place end up being called? What happened to the war-aged males who came out of Egypt (v4)? Who had been circumcised (v5)? Who had not been? How long had Israel walked in the wilderness (v6)? What had happened during that time? Why? But what does Joshua do with their sons (v7)? What did they do when they had finished circumcising all the people (v8)? For how long? What did God declare that He had done (v9)? What did they call the place? What did Israel do there (v10)? From what did they eat the day after the Passover (v11)? What kind of food was there? What ceased the day after they had eaten (v12)? What did they have instead?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we are astonished by grace.

It’s not really proper to say that those who were circumcised were orphans. The Lord had exercised great grace toward them by prolonging the lives of their parents. Though they deserved immediate execution, the Lord allowed them to fall slowly in the wilderness.

However, they were something worse than orphans. They were spiritual orphans. The Lord famously pronounces judgment upon them as having rebellious hearts (Ps 95) and hard hearts (Heb 3-4). And that hardness of heart is seen in more than just their one-time buying into the report of the spies. Their whole lives long, they had not circumcised their children.

They had not submitted themselves as belonging to the Lord. They had not submitted their children as belonging to the Lord. They had not obeyed God’s covenant command for God’s covenant sign. The Lord had almost killed Moses for disobeying this command (cf. Ex 4:21-26)! They had not recognized the sin of their hearts, and that they needed God to cut away their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh and remove from them their guilt by the shedding of blood.

Now, here is something sobering. How would we look by the same measure? Especially when so much of the church commits the error of viewing baptism as a testimony that we make about God and how we have believed in Him, rather than a testimony that God makes about us and how He has saved us.

But aren’t those of us who understand the sign better even more culpable? Are we living as those whom God has set aside as holy unto Himself? Are we treating His covenant children in our homes as His own—spending all day, every day, training them up in trusting and loving and obeying and serving their Lord? Is it possible that there is so little thought of Him and His Word that our children are spiritual orphans of physically living parents?

But here’s the sweetness of our passage: the Lord is gathering these spiritual orphans to Himself. He has melted the hearts of their enemies, whereas their earthly parents’ hearts had melted before their enemies. And now He gathers them to Himself and circumcises them, whereas their earthly parents had neglected to do so. Finally, He feeds them something much greater than manna. Manna was a stop-gap measure until they ate the blessed fruit of kept promises in the promised land!

Whether for ourselves or for our children: the solution to our unfaithfulness is our faithful God!
How does your life show submission to God’s signs? What is your hope—your faithfulness or His?
Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Audio Recording of Study Class on Principles for Correct Bible Study (Hermeneutics)

Usually, the study hour doesn't make for riveting listening. On October 7, however, we were studying one of the most important subjects for Christians (and one upon which there is so little clear teaching): how to study the Bible.

In God's good providence, that morning's sermon turned out to be a good case study for applying the three main considerations for good Bible interpretation:
(1) The immediate literary context: how does this passage fit into this book of the Bible? What type of literature is this? What do the words mean, in context, and how do the verb tenses inform us of what is being communicated here, particularly, and also within the overall teaching of this Bible book? etc.
(2) The original historical context: how was the Lord interacting with His people who first received this book? Do we know who the human author was, and who the first human audience was? If so, what do we know about their circumstances, as they received this part of the Bible? What was God teaching them about Himself and doing in their lives? What was He teaching them about themselves and what He wanted them to do? Since God never changes, what considerations about their particular place in the history of redemption inform us of what we can take away from this passage about the answers to those questions about them that might apply in our own lives?
(3) The theology of this passage in the context of the Bible as a whole (a.k.a. "The analogy of faith"): Since Scripture is the only authoritative interpreter of Scripture... what other passages treat the same subjects as this one? How do they help us understand this passage better? How does this passage help us understand those passages better?

If we have a healthy ministry of preaching and teaching, the elders (and especially the teaching elders) will be modeling correct handling of the Word of God for us, and we will be increasing our skill in applying these principles/considerations to our own Bible study. How blessed will be the children who grow up in a home where dad is leading them through the Scriptures, read and understood in this biblical fashion!

That's the basic content of the class, but you may also find it helpful to listen to audio of the class teaching and interaction:


Once you are thinking about these three things, here is the sermon that immediately followed the class. See if you can identify how each one of the three types of considerations helped us understand something about the meaning of the text and its application to our lives:

2018.10.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 6:1-7

Questions for Littles: In what year did Isaiah see this (v1)? Whom did he see? Where? What filled the temple? Who stood above the throne (v2)? How many wings did each have? What did each do with those wings? What did they cry to one another (v3)? By what were the door posts shaken (v4)? With what was the temple filled? What did Isaiah say about himself (v5)? What were his lips like? What had his eyes done? What did one of the seraphim do in v6? What did he have to use to take the coal from the altar? To what did he touch it (v7)? What did he say had been done when the coal touched Isaiah’s lips?   
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Isaiah 6:1-7. This is a familiar passage about the great glory of God. Uzziah had been king for more than fifty years, but he was not the great king. The Lord is not only high, but higher than high: high and lifted up. So great is His glory, that the temple is not even standing-room-only. It is no-room-for-anyone-to-stand. You mayn’t step upon the King’s robe, and the train of His robe fills the temple!

The attendants of this King are “burning ones” (what “seraphim” literally means)—these are literally creatures of flame. Still, they are dwarfed and awed by the Holy-Holy-Holy One. They mayn’t stand, so they hover. They mayn’t look, so they cover their faces. Their feet are unworthy to be seen.

They cry to one another with such force that this heavenly temple of this glorious vision is shaken by their voices. This is no earthly shack, but still the praise of God makes it tremble as in an earthquake. Such is the crying out about the holiness of God that it causes a heaven-quake!!

It’s no wonder, then that Isaiah was concerned about how he had used his lips up to this point. As he hears the flame creatures, he realizes the one great purpose for which lips exist, and he realizes further that his own use of his lips has fallen so far short of this purpose that his very existence is self-destructive. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God… but all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God… so, woe is me, for I am undone!”

It is a conclusion that we must all reach now, from God’s Word, by God’s Spirit, lest we arrive at the throne ourselves on that Great Day, and hear that judgment pronounced by Him who sits upon it! Of course, the glory of the holiness that is on display is matched by an equally glorious display of mercy. A hovering seraph, who has been waiting for the King to will him into motion, flies into action. He takes a coal so hot that a flame-being must use tongs to handle it, and touches it to Isaiah’s lips.

That might sound like a recipe for lip-annihilation, but that is not the result. Rather, it is lip-atonement. The reason is truly astonishing: He who sits upon the throne was the sacrifice upon whom the fire of the wrath of the altar of God had been spent.

There is a very important passage in John 12, where v40 quotes v10 of this chapter, and then says about Jesus in v41, “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” Who is the Him? Yahweh of hosts (Isaiah 6:3). Here’s yet another declaration by Scripture that Jesus is Jehovah, the Christ is Yahweh Himself!

And He is Yahweh upon whom was poured all of God’s hatred and holy wrath against sin, for everyone who believes in Him. Oh, dear reader, I certainly hope that is you. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and You shall be saved!
Have you believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the true and Living God who gave Himself for you? 
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed”

Monday, October 15, 2018

2018.10.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:9-13

Questions for Littles: Who told the waters under the heavens to be gathered together into one place (v9)? What would appear when they did? Who called to the dry land with its new name (v10)? What did He call it? Who called to the gathering together of the waters with their new name? What did He call it? What did God see about the earth and the seas? What command does God give about the earth in v11? What did God command that the herb/plant would yield/produce? What kind of seed would it produce? What did God command that the fruit tree would yield? What would be in the fruit? What kind of fruit and seed would a fruit tree produce? What did the earth bring forth in v12? How much time passes between v11 and v12? What did God see about the three types of things that the earth brought forth? Then what two things happened (v13)? And what did this conclude?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned that God puts His creation in a position to thrive as well as giving it the power to thrive.

We know that this doesn’t mean that the creatures are left to themselves and their own power. Scripture tells us that God upholds all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

So, why does God create means for His creatures to thrive? Why not just make things happen immediately and miraculously?

Our God reveals Himself as One who delights in creating means to an end, and then blessing those means to that end. He has appointed means, and He honors them.

What are God’s means for your physical health? We trust in God for physical health—yes, by praying for it, but also by eating well and exercising and sleeping properly, etc.

What are God’s means for your spiritual growth? We trust in God for spiritual health—yes, by praying for it, but also by reading His Word daily, and praying according to His Word, and by keeping the Lord’s Day with its public and private exercises of worship.

God appoints means, and He honors them. What are His means for saving and growing your children? What are His means for growing His church?
Why isn’t it “trusting” God to “let go and let God”? What IS trusting in God?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd”