Saturday, December 15, 2018

2018.12.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:1-7

Questions for Littles: Who was more cunning than any beast of the field (v1)? To whom did the serpent speak? Whose words did the serpent question? How did the serpent change God’s words (v1, cf. 2:16)? Who answered the serpent (v2)? How does she change God’s words (v3b, cf. 2:17a)? How does the serpent change God’s words in v4 (cf 2:17b)? What did the serpent say that God knew in v5? What three things did the woman see about the fruit in v6? What did she do about that for herself? Who was with her? What did she proceed to do with the fruit? What did he do with it? What happened to them in v7? What did they do about it?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we meet for the first time the enemy that is still around in Revelation 12—that old serpent, the dragon. Just as we see him doing later, in Revelation, so also we see him doing here: taking advantage of the weak and attacking where he can.

One of the great tragedies of this passage is when we get to v6 and discover that her husband is with her. Well, then, can we understand the apostle’s complaint in 1Timothy 2, when he says that the man was not deceived, but that the woman, having been deceived, fell into transgression.

It is not the woman’s behavior that we find so inexplicable, as the devil appears as an angel of light. Rather, we are horrified at the man who stands there, listening to the serpent purposefully misquote God, and to his wife make smaller errors with God’s Word… and the man does nothing about it!

In fact, once his wife is convinced that this is what the Lord really would have her do, and she eats of the forbidden fruit, he himself eats—not because he has been tricked into thinking it is good, but because he somehow believes that he can get away with it!

Though their physical eyes do not close in death, their spiritual death is expressed by open eyes. They know themselves to be sinners and immediately have suspicions from about one another from which each one wishes to hide. But even their effort at a remedy is a spectacular failure, as can be attested by those who have sewn leaves or are familiar with how long they last in that condition.

What a critical place marriage has had, from the very beginning, in the battle against sin and Satan! How very much evidence there is in our closest relationships—our marriages—of our crucial need of Jesus Christ! How useless are all of our own attempts to remedy the effects of sin without Him!
How is Jesus the remedy for sin? How can Christians live together by His power?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, December 14, 2018

2018.12.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:52-59

Questions for Littles: Who quarreled among themselves (v52)? About what? Who answered them (v53)? What did Jesus say we must do, or else we have no life in us? What does Jesus say that we have if we eat His flesh and drink His blood (54a)? What will Jesus do to us, if we eat His flesh and drink His blood (54b)? What does Jesus say is genuine food (55a)? What does Jesus say is genuine drink (55b)? How does Jesus describe eating His flesh and drinking His blood at the end of v56? Who is the source and purpose of Jesus’ human life and mission (57a)? What does v57 say about the person who feeds on Jesus? After having described feeding upon Him in these ways, what does Jesus say will happen to those who “eat this bread” (v58)? Who taught these things (59)? Where? 
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus resolves a quarrel for the Jews, and if we listen closely, He would resolve a Reformation quarrel for us too: “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

First in v53, Jesus presents us with a problem: we have no life in ourselves. How does He mean this? Physically? Of course not! There they are, living and breathing and arguing. Obviously, He’s talking about spiritual life. The eating and drinking that He’s talking about is one that resolves this problem.

Second in v54, Jesus directly connects “eating His flesh and drinking His blood” to v44, 47. If we look at those verses, “eating His flesh and drinking His blood” is the same as the Father dragging us to come to Christ (v44) and our believing in Christ (v47). Those who are brought to faith in this way are said to be “eating His flesh and drinking His blood.”

We understand this to be true about how we believe in Jesus to be joined to Him and declared righteous before God (justification). But Jesus is now emphasizing God’s sovereign gift of faith in Him as the key to His ongoing work in us for salvation (sanctification unto glorification).

When Jesus says that His body is “genuine food” and that His blood is “genuine drink,” He’s not saying that actual bread and wine are not actual food and drink. He’s saying that though in a spiritual sense, it is still in a very true and genuine way that His body and blood are food to us—that He Himself is food to us. And then He fleshes this true sense out in two ways:

First in v56, we abide in Him, and He abides in us. This happens with food and drink. Someone once asked me if I was nuts, to which I replied, “considering how many nuts I’ve eaten as I’ve grown, I’d have to say that to a significant extent, I am indeed nuts.” Of course, Jesus is “living” bread and wine. He does not become a part of our spirits in exactly the same way that molecules from bread and wine become part of our bodies. Rather…

Second in v57, we live on account of Him. He is the source, cause, and purpose of our lives.

As we move forward from when we first came to Christ, Jesus continues to be our everything, every day. And this is also how we turn our hearts to Him and feed upon Him at His table.
What does it look like to abide in Jesus and live because of Jesus on a daily basis? How do we look to Him in the same way while taking the Lord’s Supper?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH202 “Here, O My Lord, I See Thee”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2018.12.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:20-34

Questions for Littles: What has Christ done (v20a)? Who became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep? What came by a man (21a)? Whet else came by a man (21b)? What do all who are in Adam do (22a)? What happens to all who are in Christ (22b)? When is the resurrection of those who are Christ’s (v23)? What comes then (24)? To whom does Christ deliver the kingdom? What will Jesus do to all other authorities? What will be the last enemy to be destroyed (v26)? Who is putting all things under Jesus’s feet (v27)? Who, then, is not put under Jesus’s feet? To whom will Jesus be subject (v28)? By even what people was the resurrection of the dead believed (v29)? And what were the apostles willing to do because of the resurrection (v30)? What did Paul say that he did daily (v31)? What would he do, if the dead are not raised (v32)? What should we be careful not to do with others who think like this (v33)? Whom should we know and think about instead (v34)?
In this week’s epistle reading, Paul makes the final argument for the resurrection: this is how it must all end! God must win at the last (v28).

The problem is that the first Adam sinned, and in him all died. The fact that we received spiritual death from him is an indisputable fact. We try to hide from it, but every one of us who is honest with ourselves find that it is true that our hearts are deceitful above all things (unknowable) and desperately wicked (unfixable).

How does this go with the fact that God must win at the last? There is another Adam, the last Adam—Christ. Since by a man came death, by a man resurrection had to come.

But when? Well, there are more things wrong with the world than just that we are spiritually dead. This sin and death has infected all authority, so that all has to be brought back under Christ’s feet. And even then, there is one more enemy to be defeated: death itself.

Christ’s mission to save us isn’t about us. It’s about God. God is displaying both His love and His power, and at the last He shall reign!

So the resurrection is sure. The question for you and me is, what difference does it make? Well, if you’re into false religion, you baptize for the dead—and how sad would it be if believers were less confident in the resurrection than such cults (v29)?

But the apostle sets us the true example. Be willing to risk much for the Lord (v30). Stop living for this life, and live for eternity instead (v31). Do battle with all that opposes Christ (v32a). Watch out for living for the flesh (v32b). Refuse to have as your companions those who live for this life (v33). And have instead, as your constant companion the Lord Himself (v34).
Are you living like someone whose hope is to enjoy yourself as much as possible for as long as possible? Or like someone who knows that you will rise from the dead unto everlasting joy?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

2018.12.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 10:16-28

Questions for Littles: What had five Amorite kings done (v16)? Who was told about it (v17)? What did Joshua say to do in v18? What would sealing up the cave for later allow them to do to the rest of the Amorites (v19)? Why was Joshua so sure that this would work (end of v19)? What were the results (v20)? What did the people do when they were done pursuing Amorites (v21a)? Now what would no one else do (21b)? Now that this was done, what did Joshua say to do in v22? Which five kings were these (v23, cf. v3)? What did Joshua have the captains of Israel do in v24? What does Joshua tell them, while in this position (v25)? Whom does Joshua tell them will defeat their enemies? What does Joshua do with the five kings in v26-27? What was the last city in this area to be defeated (v28)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we learn about the Lord’s ongoing war against one of His people’s greatest enemies.

You see, we often think that our problem is in our circumstances or in external forces. It certainly looked that way for Israel. Kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, and Makkedah… and all their warriors who had fled into fortified cities.

But the Scripture makes quick work of those external enemies and circumstances. Where we can see the text slow down for speeches or ceremonial acts, we have one reminder after another that “Yahweh your God has delivered them into your hand” (v19) … “thus Yahweh will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (v25) … and then the displaying of the five kings with the memorial/historical comment, “which remain until this very day” (v27).

What enemy is being attacked in these verses? The enemy of self-trust is attacked by a reminder that it is Yahweh who fights. The enemies of fear and doubt are attacked by a reminder that Yahweh will always win. This last reminder also attacks the enemy of temptation to rebel.

Self-trust. Fear. Doubt. Temptation to rebel. Do you know anyone else who battles such enemies? Let us do that battle by the same strategy that the Holy Spirit employs here—only let us do so with an even greater example!

Let us be constantly reminded that the Lord Jesus Himself has obeyed perfectly when we couldn’t have. Jesus has suffered the penalty of sin completely, which wouldn’t have ended for us through all eternity. Jesus has taken on Satan himself and crushed that devil’s head. How could we ever go back to hopeless trust in ourselves, when we have begun by trusting in our absolutely sure and perfect Savior?

The Lord Jesus will always win. He sits enthroned in glory, and His enemies are being made a footstool for His feet. Whenever we are tempted to indulge ourselves, or fear men, or choose the lazy way out, let us remember Him there on the throne—lest we make it seem like a small thing to resist His rule. By God’s grace, let us keep our eyes on Jesus!
What daily exercises help you keep remembering the truths of the gospel? What else can you be doing throughout the day? How does keeping the Lord’s Day help?
Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018.12.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 2:1-10

Questions for Littles: What did the Lord do to us (v1a)? Why did He need to do that (1b)? How did this death display itself (v2a)? In accordance with whom (2b)? Whose desires did we fulfill when we lived this way (3a)? What were we by nature (3b)? In what is God rich (4a)? What does God greatly have toward us (4b)? When did He perform the action in v5? What did He do to us in/with Christ? By what have we been saved? What two other things has He done to us in/with Christ (v6)? What ages are in view as the purpose of this saving (v7a)? What does He plan to do in those ages (7b)? Through what does grace save us (8a)? Where does it come from (8b)? What is salvation not of (9a)? Why not? What does v10a say that we are? In whom did God “create” us? For what? Which good works? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from 1Corinthians 15:42-58 and Ephesians 2:1-10. Since we’ll be coming back to the Corinthians passage soon in the epistle readings, today let’s consider Ephesians 2:1-10.

As we’re about to find out in Genesis 3, our fall in Adam was complete. We aren’t just injured or disabled in trespasses and sins. No—we come into being as children of wrath by nature. We sin by fulfilling our own desires. Because each of us starts out dead in trespasses and sin.

We don’t just need a little help or healing. We don’t just need resuscitation. We need resurrection.
What’s amazing is what God does for us in the way by which this resurrection comes: union with Jesus Christ. Because we are united to Him, we aren’t just resurrected; we’re also ascended and seated with Him in the heavenly places!

That means that everything that we do now on earth, we do as citizens of heaven. Every act of life, no matter how unimpressive to the world, is an act of loving service and obedience to the Christian—a good work that God, who has created me new in Christ Jesus, specially selected and appointed for me before the world began.

Why would God do this for wicked sinners such as we are? Because He is rich in mercy. Because He has great love toward us. Because what He does in us now—bringing us to faith and making us to walk in good works—is going to be the talk of the cosmos forever and ever, when He displays us as the living testimony to “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Oh, dear Christian, such a God is worthy of all praise! How will we bring praise to Him? First, by refusing to hold onto, for our salvation, anything at all that we do; but, holding only onto Christ and what He has done. Second, by walking in good works as citizens of heaven who yet live on earth—other worldly creatures who bring glory to our (re)Creator!
What are you holding onto for salvation? What good works are you walking in?
Suggested songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Monday, December 10, 2018

Are we training our children to be committed to Christ and His Church?

In the second point of yesterday's sermon, one of our implications was that if our children have never engaged in covenanted commitment before, it is naive at best and negligent at worst to hope that they will be able to be committed in their marriages.

We applied that to our lives by talking about the view of commitment that they get by watching mom and dad, and the training that they receive in their own commitment to Christ and commitment to His Church.

We had already made a similar application in the first point, about re-defining all other relationships in terms of our relationship to Christ, and we were about to make a similar application in the third point, about living our lives in unity of purpose and pleasure with Christ.

Yes, the sermon highlighted a very important process for forging a faithful marriage: Clean Break, Clinging Commitment, and Communion of Life. But, in the application, we kept coming back to this: if we haven't learned how to belong to Christ (and taught our children to do so), then we cannot expect to belong to one another well in our marriages (or our children in theirs).

As often happens, the Holy Spirit had others of His people thinking about the same thing at the same time. This morning, a friend referred me to this [short but excellent article] about a clip of a Q&A in which Pastor Carl Trueman is answering a question about why the churches are losing their children.

A couple of quotes to whet your appetite:
The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday.--Carl Trueman

Parents makes choices all the time for their families. As they decide on what takes priority in family, every choice is carefully observed and taken into the heart of their children. Yes, they are watching you, and they are learning from you. Maybe the reason why our children have no love for Christ is due to the fact that we as parents do not show any love or passion for Christ, evidenced by how we prioritize our time both on Sundays and during the week. --contendfortruth.com

2018.12.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 2:24-25

Questions for Littles: Whom must a man leave? To be joined to whom (v24)? What do they become? What does v25 say about their clothes? What does it say about their hearts?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned the three step process for getting a biblical marriage started, and the glorious result.

We know, of course, that v24 is talking to us about ourselves and not Adam and Eve. Adam had no father to leave! If we think about it a little further, we find that this process is especially for a father to teach his children. Why? Because up until someone follows this plan, he’s going to be under his father’s teaching!

So, what do fathers need to teach their sons and daughters to prepare to do?

Leave the family. If the sons are going to be good heads for their wives, they are going to need to be the heads of their own households. If the daughters are going to give themselves completely to their husbands, they need to be ready to sever ties with their former family.

That’s drastic! Exactly. Look at Psalm 45:10. Even better, look at Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”

Coming to Jesus changes every relationship so that it is like they are restarted from scratch as something completely new and different. Coming to Jesus changes our very selves so that we treat our former selves as entirely disposable!

Marriage is so life changing, according to Genesis 2:24, that it is the one human relationship that shares these characteristics in common with coming to Jesus Christ.

The next thing that our children should be learning is how to covenant. No earthly covenant is going to be more serious or more permanent than their marriage. But they have other relationships, other commitments, and most importantly their covenant church memberships. Long before they profess their faith, they are in covenant with God and need to be trained in fulfilling their responsibilities and enjoying their privileges according to a Christ’s-blood-bought-serious commitment. Genesis 2:24 says a man must be joined to his wife.

Finally, our children need to learn what it means to be one flesh. This is something they cannot learn by experience before their marriage, so they must take advantage of two great model relationships.

The first is dad and mom’s relationship. Dad and mom can’t be sinless again, so a 2:25 relationship is off the table. But, as we heard last week from Ephesians 5, the way forward is even more glorious than the way back. The way for mom and dad to be “naked and not ashamed” with one another is to be completely honest with one another and extend great grace to one another. Forgiveness must permeate their marriage, such that they are always for one another, always either on the same page or coming back to it. This is the first way the children witness “one flesh.”

The second great model they have for becoming “one flesh” with their future spouse is their own relationship with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Our children must learn to pursue what Christ pursues, approve what Christ approves, reject what Christ rejects, and enjoy what Christ enjoys! Their being one spirit with Him is forever and ever. And it is the best model they have for learning to be one flesh with their future spouses!
When is a good time for a young man to start working to be able to be independent? What are some ways that new brides might stay too much under their father and mother or not enough under their husbands? What are some ways that a husband and wife can work on having great fellowship? How does sin get in the way? How does the gospel fix this between us and God? How does the gospel fix this between us and each other?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH549 “O Gracious Lord”