Saturday, November 3, 2018

2018.11.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:24-27

Questions for Littles: Who commanded the earth to bring forth the living creature? What three classes of kinds did He command it to bring forth? According to what did He command it to bring forth? According to what did God make the beast of the earth (v25)? According to what did God make the cattle? According to what did God make everything that creeps? What did God see? Then what did God say in v26? Whom did He say should produce the man? In what? According to what? What would the man have over the other creatures? What does God repeat twice in v27? What does God specifically mention about man at the end of v27?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we read about God creating living beings who reside upon the earth. He names three classes of them: cattle, creeping things, and beasts. More importantly, He mentions that within those three classes, what He specifically creates is each kind.

This is just the latest in a series of clear incompatibilities between how God actually created according to Scripture, and the imaginary human theory of evolution. So-called “theistic evolutionists” would have us believe that we can hold onto Genesis 1:24-27 with one hand, while with the other hand we hold onto the idea that one kind came from another kind.

This simply isn’t possible. Just as God commanded that each plant kind would produce only the seed for its kind, so now He simultaneously creates all of the different land animal kinds. The kinds that we have are not the result of one different kind descending from another. They all existed already on day six.

Thus, evolutionary theory is exactly opposite Scripture, with the Bible agreeing with what we have observed: animals only ever produce their own kind, and never ever (not even once) a different or new kind.

Of course, where things will get interesting is when we get to the creation of mankind. Rather than being created according to the “man” kind, man is repeatedly described as being created in God’s image.

This is the most important disagreement with evolution. Man is not a kind of animal at all. Created in the image of God, He is completely unique among the creatures.

This, of course, is a foreshadowing, because there is an even greater way that man is unique among the creatures. One day, the Creator Himself will become a man. What a precious thing is a human being in the eyes of the Living God!
What people are you most tempted to value less than you should?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH8B “Lord, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Friday, November 2, 2018

2018.11.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 5:24-30

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking in this passage? Whose word does the person He is talking about hear? In whom does that person believe? What does that person have? What shall they not come into? From what have they passed? Into what have they passed? What does Jesus say is coming in v25? What does Jesus say now is? What kind of people will hear the voice of the Son of God? What will happen to those who hear? Who has life in Himself in v26? To whom has He granted to have life in Himself? What else has He given Him authority to do (v27)? Why? What does He tell them not to do in v28? Why not? Whom does v28 now say will hear His voice? What will they all do (v29)? To what kind of resurrection will those who have done good come? To what kind of resurrection will those who have done evil come? What can Jesus do of Himself (v30)? How does He determine what to judge? What is righteous in v30? Whose will does Jesus not seek? Whose will does Jesus seek?
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus teaches us about spiritual death and bodily death.

First, Jesus teaches us about Spiritual death: the state of unbelief. The one who believes has everlasting life because he has already passed from death into life. A believer is someone who is already spiritually alive.

Well, how did the believer come alive spiritually? v25 tells us the answer: the dead hear Christ’s voice, and those who hear His voice live. Are you looking for spiritual life? Come prayerfully under the preaching of Scripture, where Hebrews (and other passages) tells us that Jesus addresses us with His Word. Ask that you would hear Him. Those who hear Him will live!

But we also learn about bodily death: that it is temporary. There is a bodily resurrection coming, also at the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what comes of us in that bodily resurrection depends upon whether or not we have been made spiritually alive.

We cannot earn the resurrection of life. That comes only by the grace of Jesus. But that grace does make us spiritually alive to do good. So, it is no surprise that it is those who have done good who receive a resurrection of life.

But woe unto him who is never made spiritually alive. Such a person is spiritually dead throughout his life on earth, and can only have been said to have done evil. Therefore, our passage warns that this person will most certainly come out of his grave—unto a resurrection of condemnation.

So, both salvation and condemnation announce to us that Jesus is the living God. Who can save but God alone? Who can judge and condemn but God alone? And it is God the Son who does both!
How are you making the most of your opportunities to hear the voice of Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP29 “You Sons of the Gods” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Thursday, November 1, 2018

2018.11.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 12

Questions for Littles: What is this passage “concerning” (v1)? What does the apostle want them not to be? What had they been (v2)? Regardless of how they were led, to what kind of idols had they been carried away? What had some who claimed to be speaking by the Spirit said about Jesus (v3)? What were others saying when they were taken over by the Holy Spirit? By what diverse things did this Spirit-speech come (v4)? What is another name for these gifts (v5)? What is another (v6)? But what is there only one of for this (v4)? And only one of (v5)? And only one of (v6)? For whom were these manifestations being given (v7)? What was one kind of word the Spirit gave (8a)? And another kind of word the Spirit gave (8b)? And what were different signs that the Spirit gave about these words (v9b, v10a, v10b, v10c, v10d, v10e)? And what was the Spirit, the Lord, the God who works all in all, working through these words that were being attested by these signs (v9a, 11)? How many bodies does Christ have (v12)? What do all members of the body have from the Spirit (v13)? What do all do into the Spirit? How many members does the body have (v14)? What should a member never say about itself (v15-19)? What should a member never say about another member (v20-21)? What should the members of the body be giving to one another according to vv22-24? What should the members of the body be giving to one another according to v25? What else should we be doing for one another (v26)? What activity (just as with vv4-11) has the central focus in the roles described in v28-31? What would the “best gifts” be, and who would have them? What kind of way is the next passage going to describe? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we begin hearing about spiritual life. Notice that I did not write spiritual “gifts.” That is because they, in fact, are not the focus here. v1 does not mention gifts, but simply spiritual (things/life).

They had had no spiritual life previously, because they followed idols that could not talk. True, demons sometimes talked (and still were—saying that Jesus was still accursed!). But there was no true revelation, and there was no spiritual life through it.

That was a stark contrast with real spirituality, in real Christianity, which was all through the Word. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word. Naturally, everyone wanted to be one through whom the Word came, or through whom the Word-authenticating signs came.

But that wasn’t a role that was for everyone. What were the roles for everyone? Faith—which came only by the work of God the Holy Spirit!... nothing to sniff at!! And recognizing oneself as part of the body. And recognizing others as part of the body. And honoring those in the body who seemed to be the least. And not having division among the body but caring for every single member. And suffering with one another. And rejoicing over one another’s honors.

These were the real evidences of Holy-Spirit-power!
What 1Cor 12 evidences of Holy Spirit power do you see? Can you be a part of?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

2018.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 6

Questions for Littles: What has been done to the city of Jericho, according to v1? What does Yahweh tell Joshua He has done with Jericho in v2? How many times are they to go around the city each day for six days (v3)? How many times will they go around the seventh day (v4)? What will the priests do with their ram’s horns on that day? What will all the people do at that point (v5)? And what will happen when the people shout? Which direction should each man go, when the wall falls down? What went behind the armed men and the priests as they marched around the city? What did the people not do at all during the march around the city on each of the first six days (v10)? Yet what did the priests do continually each of the six days (v13-14)? What did Joshua finally tell them to do in v16? What instruction do we find out about in v17? Why isn’t it likely that this was the first time that this instruction was given? What are they warned not to take at all in v18? What are they commanded to do with the items in v19? What are those items? Whose sparing is mentioned in v17, then again in vv22-23, and then again in v25? What curse is pronounced in v26? How does v27 summarize the point of this entire chapter?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find at the end that Joshua chapter 6 was evidence that the Lord was with Joshua. Well, if that’s the main point, then what is this chapter telling us about the Lord?

First, it’s telling us that the Lord is powerful. Jericho’s doing it right: the city is shut up securely. Israel’s doing it wrong: having daily parades. But it doesn’t matter—so great is the exceeding power of the Lord that His “giving Jericho into Israel’s hand” is the only thing that matters from a military strategy perspective.

Second, it’s telling us that the Lord is gracious and faithful. Yes, we can see this in the fact that these newly circumcised, Passover-celebrating, manna-no-longer-eating children of a faithless and wicked generation are here conquering a great city. But, we can see it most of all in whom the Lord saves right out of the wall. The whole wall falls down except, presumably, the section of it that is Rahab’s house. And whom is the Lord saving? A harlot. And according to what is He saving her? According to promise. The Lord is gracious and faithful.

Finally, this passage is telling us that the Lord is holy. He is holy, holy, holy. Sinners deserve ultimate destruction. Everything that belongs to them is defiled and deserves destruction. Even little children and livestock. We may have a hard time with this, but that is only because we do not properly value the holiness of the Lord. It just highlights His grace to Israel and Rahab for us to see what all of us sinners deserve. He is holy, and worship and treasure are to be set apart to Him!

Joshua’s fame spreads as someone who has Yahweh with him. And may the Lord ever spread the fame of His church in the same way—not that we are great and impressive, but that we are a people in whose life the Lord is shown to be powerful, gracious, faithful, and holy!
What was one time when you were overwhelmed by how holy the Lord is?
Suggested songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2018.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 28:18-20

Questions for Littles: Who came and spoke to them? How much authority has been given to Him? Which authority has been given to Him? What are they to make, therefore? By what two actions are disciples made? 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? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Matthew 28:18-20.

This is commonly called the great commission, but we can see from the beginning of the passage that it is Jesus’ great mission. It is, after all, what Jesus does with all of the authority in heaven and on earth.

What would you do with all of the authority in heaven and on earth? What Jesus does is sustain His disciples in making disciples. This is what disciples do: make disciples.

There are two things that Jesus commands here for making a disciple. The first is baptizing. Mark them as belonging to Him. Notice the singular name (not here plural, as three names, but singular as one tri-fold name): the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Triune God puts His name upon someone to make that person a disciple.

But they are made disciples not only by baptizing but by teaching. Again, let us notice something very subtle: it is not merely the commandments of Christ that are being taught here. This is not something that can be fulfilled in a classroom. Rather, it is the observation of the commands that is to be taught. This is not merely a way of thinking, but a way of life.

So—Jesus declares His authority, tells them what He wants them to do under that authority, and leaves them to get to it? No, no, no! Just as the commission is Jesus’s mission that He pursues by His authority, so also the success of the baptizing and teaching relies not upon themselves but upon Him.

This is one great reason why it’s so glorious when we see the fruit of one’s baptism and instruction—that he who receives the mark of Christ begins more and more to live His live according to the commands of Christ. It’s glorious because Jesus highlights this fruitfulness as indicative of the fact that He is STILL with His church.

Week by week, month by month, Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church!” A covenant child professes his faith, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” A father learns to lead his family, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” A woman overcomes her habitual gossip, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” An elderly widower serves others in peace and joy, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.”
Where are you currently growing? What is Jesus still with you to help you do?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

Monday, October 29, 2018

2018.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:20-23

Questions for Littles: What is God doing at the beginning of v20? What does He say? What does He command to fly above the earth? Did they exist yet? Before the face of what do they fly? From what did God create the great sea creatures (v21)? What else did He create from nothing? What did the waters do with them? According to what were they created? According to what were the winged birds created? What did God do them in v22? And what did He command them to do? Then what came (v23)? And then what came? And what did that conclude? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard about “the great sea creatures.”

The word translated “sea creature” is elsewhere translated “Leviathan.” Among Israel, and the nations that surrounded them, unbelievers commonly thought of the Leviathan as an almost-mythical beast that was a physical manifestation of an evil god.

In the book of Job, where Job feels that everything is against him, and (even though Job didn’t know it) it was in fact Satan who had attacked him, one of the things of which God reminds Job is that Leviathan is under His absolute control.

Here, the Lord does not merely mention a single leviathan, but He uses the plural, leviathans. This isn’t some being of greatness to rival God. It’s a creature that is to be fruitful and multiply like the other creatures. In fact, it’s not just leviathans, but great leviathans in v21.

God delights to make impressively large fearsome creatures. Not so that we will be so fearful of the creature that we treat it like some kind of great demon. But so that we will see the impressive creation and be all the more impressed with its sovereign, almighty Creator.

Yes, in comparative size and strength, we may be closer to the minnows than the great leviathans. But that’s just it, isn’t it: not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from our God. He commanded the minnows to be fruitful and multiply because He delights in them as His creatures.

How much more with you, dear Christian? Though you feel ever so small, He has revealed Himself here already as God of the small. And small though you be, He not only created You in His own image, but He has taken upon Himself your humanity to save you. He is Lord over the great for the sake of the small. He is working all things for your good!
What great problems have you feeling small? How does Genesis 1:21 help you?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”