Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Exploring Race and Finding Jesus (2020.06.20 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)


Hopewell Herald – June 20, 2020

Dear Congregation,

It’s amazing to think that the Eternal, Blessed, only True and Living God has made us in His image! Certainly, this is one of the truths that is most under attack in our day.

In our studies together, the Lord has woven together for us Genesis 28:10–22 (and God’s promise to be with believers) with Ephesians 2–3 (and God’s eternal plan to unite all believers as a dwelling place for Himself in Christ) and Revelation 21:1–8 (and God’s dwelling place being with man).

At the heart of each of these is Jesus Christ as our Immanuel, God-with-us.

The days of the fallen creation are numbered, because God’s “Plan-A” has always been to unite all things in Christ unto His glory in a New Heavens and New Earth.

Though we are one race in Adam, that race is now in rebellion against God and therefore hatred toward one another. But God has given Christ not only as our Immanuel, but also as the last Adam, in Whom there is a new, redeemed race.

Believers are reconciled to God and reconciled to one another. When we are commanded to love one another, we are not trying to produce something new, but rather embracing and living something that is already a reality in Christ, as we battle against and kill whom we were in Adam.

Tomorrow morning in the class (10 a.m.), we are beginning our mini-series on topics that arise out of current events. The first topic will be “race” and “racism,” which I hope will enable us to think and speak clearly at a time where the culture and much of the church either doesn’t know what to think or even is actively embracing utter nonsense.

More than that, I hope that we will see the great privilege that God has given us to be created in His image, and the even greater privilege of being redeemed and re-created into His image in Christ!

Looking forward to doing so with you,

Pastor

2020.06.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 28:10–22

Questions from the Scripture text: From where did Jacob go toward where (Genesis 28:10)? What time of day was it in Genesis 28:11? And what did he do? What did he see set on earth and reaching to heaven in Genesis 28:12? Who stood above Jacob in Genesis 28:13? How did He identify Himself? What did He promise to give to Jacob? What would God do to Jacob’s descendants (Genesis 28:14a)? What will God do through Jacob’s Descendant (verse 14b)? What personal promise does God make, in conjunction with these other promises (Genesis 28:15)? How long does God say that He will be with him? How long will this end up actually taking? What does Jacob say when he wakes up (Genesis 28:16)? What impact does this have upon him (Genesis 28:17)? What does he now do with his “pillow stone” (Genesis 28:18)? And what does he call the place (Genesis 28:19)? What does he vow to do (Genesis 28:21b)? Based upon the certainty that God will do what (Genesis 28:20-21)? What does he propose as the essential elements of his religion (Genesis 28:22)?
God mercifully goes with us through the paths of believers’ lives because He has determined from before time began that we would be His, and that He would be ours, in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Depending on where by Beersheba was his starting point, Jacob went approximately 60 miles to arrive at Bethel. Even with nothing but his staff (cf. Genesis 28:10), that’s a long way to go. No wonder he does ok with a stone for his pillow!

Here he is in extreme need, perhaps having gone that far that quickly because he is worried that Esau is following hot on his trail, but he soon realizes that there is a greater danger from someone that he can never outrun: God Himself.

So much unnecessary worrying is done, so much thoughtless and sinful living done, because we forget that we are always before God’s face.

It was silly of Jacob to think that the place itself was special. Although there would later be a school of prophets at Bethel, it would also be a place of much manmade religion, with one of Jeroboam’s calves being set up there. We have no indication from God that He accepted the stone in Genesis 28:22 as “His house.”

Surely, one of the great points that the Holy Spirit makes here is that we are always before the face of God. Indeed, notice that the first angels mentioned in Genesis 28:12 are the ones who are ascending, as if coming off of duty from tracking with Jacob all day long. There is an entire unseen world of God’s presence and power, of which we are ordinarily ignorant.

And Christ is right at the heart of it. In John 1:51, Jesus affirms to Philip that the glorious spiritual realm that he cannot see intersects with our everyday reality precisely in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know that the promises in Genesis 28:13-15 are promises that have their “yes” and “amen” in the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is in Jesus Christ that the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us—for, He will not have finished doing what He spoke to Jacob until all the ransomed host are perfectly happy and perfectly holy in a New Heavens and New Earth where righteousness dwell. And it is in the Lord Jesus that the Lord Jesus is with us not only in these massive, eternal ways but also in the every day things like bringing us back home after a long journey (verse 15), and giving us food and clothing (Genesis 28:20).

So, let us not make ignorant and man-devised vows like Jacob does. But rather, trusting that God is with us for eternal and earthly blessing in the Lord Jesus, let us worship and serve Him in the ways that He has commanded in the Lord Jesus!
In what situation in your life right now, do you most need to be remembering that you are before the face of God, and to be clinging to and serving God in our Lord Jesus Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP181 “God Our Only Good” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Friday, June 19, 2020

2020.06.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 6:12–19

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Jesus go in Luke 6:12? To do what? For how long? Whom did He call to Himself when day came (Luke 6:13)? How many did He choose from among them? What did He call them? What are the names of these apostles (Luke 6:14-16)? Whom does verse 16 last name? What did he become? Then what did Jesus do with these 12 (Luke 6:17)? Who else were with them (Luke 6:17-18)? And what happened to them? What was the whole multitude trying to do (Luke 6:19)? Why? 
Our Lord Jesus here shows Himself to be our Model, our Master, and our Means.

The Lord Jesus is our Model. Though He is God, with both a fully human nature and also a gully divine nature, He is not presumptuous or proud in His humanity.

Behold what He does, as He is about to begin His church in earnest, selecting from among His disciples those whom He will call to be the apostles that are the foundation (layers) of His church.

Surely He is God. Surely, His choice cannot ultimately fail. And yet, He glorifies His Father by embracing the weakness and submission of His humanity, staying up all night in prayer. Now, it is against all reason to say that here the Spirit lays down a rule that we must always spend all night in prayer. Or, perhaps, that we must ever do so—though, surely, the church would be in a healthier place if it had men and women who did sometimes do so!

But, the Lord is an example to us of submission to God and dependence upon God, that all we do would be done with prayer for it, and the greater the duty before us, the more we should give ourselves to prayer for it. The Lord Jesus is our Model.

The Lord Jesus also shows Himself here to be our Master. It is He who chooses one disciple for one role, and not another for another role. Some complain that Christ has chosen only men for the offices of the church. But He is the Master, let Him choose whom He will! Will we also complain on behalf of all the men who are not chosen for their roles? God forbid!

He also asserts Himself over us by the title that He gave to their office: “apostles.” Sent ones. Emissaries who are so bound to His charge that they may only speak and act as He has given them to do, and their speech and actions in their office are received as if Christ Himself has done it. The Lord Jesus is our Master.

Finally, the Lord Jesus shows Himself here to be our Means. There are all manner of people, from all manner of places, with all manner of needs. Regardless of the type of person, Christ’s power is their answer. Regardless of where they are from, Christ’s power is their answer. Regardless of the type of need, Christ’s power is their answer.

Christ Himself is the means by which Christians live the Christian life. It is the power that goes out from Him that the Spirit is applying, as He grows us (and uses us) by the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

If it seems “over spiritual” to us to spend much time in prayer, let us shut our mouths about it and look to Him instead. Christ is our Model.

If our role in the church or in our family in this season of our life seems either overwhelming or inglorious, let us shut our mouths about it and look to Him instead. Christ is our Master.

And if we are tempted to go our own way—underemphasizing consistency and sincerity in the means of grace or even acting as free agents from His church and His officers—then let us arrest ourselves and come back to that which He has appointed. Christ Himself is the only Means by which we can live the Christian life.
What is your calling right now in your home? What is your calling right now in the church? How is Christ your Model, Master, and Means in those callings?
Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH284 “Ye Servants of God”

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Living by God's Promises and Power instead of Our Plans and Pride (2020.06.17 Prayer Meeting Lesson in James 4:13–16)

The life of the ungodly is about the promises that he has made to himself and his plans to fulfill them. Prayer, however, is exactly the opposite. It lays hold of God's promises that He has made to us, and of His power and intent to fulfill them. It seeks not its own will, but "Thy will be done," and sees in itself not power but the need to receive every day and its bread as a gift from God.
The ministry of the gospel mystery was a GRACIOUS GIFT to Paul, in which he proclaimed the UNSEARCHABLE RICHES of Christ that come to us in the ETERNAL GOODNESS of God that aimed at the gospel from even before the creation.

2020.06.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 3:7–9

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had become a minister of the gospel (Ephesians 3:7)? According to what (cf. Ephesians 3:2)? By what? What does the apostle call himself in Ephesians 3:8? For what duty was this grace given him? How does he summarize the content of what he preaches among the nations? What stewardship (lit.) does this make all the elect to see (Ephesians 3:9)? Where was this mystery hidden, from when? Through Whom had God created all things in the first place? 
Ministry in the gospel is an assignment by grace to show bottomless depths of an eternal goodness.
First, ministry in the gospel is an assignment by grace. The apostle, who calls himself literally “the lesser least of all the saints,” says that he became a minister “according to the gift of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:7), when “grace was given” (Ephesians 3:8) him.

Believers often think that if they tell others about Jesus, it will fall flat because of how unimpressive they are in the history of their character and conduct so far. They are correct about themselves, but that is part of the point. Ministry, as with Christ’s own righteousness which is our only standing before God, is a gift of the grace of God.

Believers also often think that they are “not up to” showing Jesus to others. But even the apostle could only proclaim Christ to others “by the effective working of [God’s] power” (Ephesians 3:7). We are not all called to be ministers of the gospel in the official (office) sense, but surely it is true that in all of your living for Christ in whatever part you do have, your part also is only by the gracious and “effective working of His power.”

Second, ministry in the gospel is an assignment to show bottomless depths. One wonders if we sometimes tune the apostle, because he always seems to be engaging in hyperbole. Our fault in that is that this apostle, even by the Holy Spirit, finds it quite impossible to exaggerate the riches of Christ to us.

Other things that have been described to us in glowing terms have always fallen short and disappointed. But here, it is the terms that must fall short. The apostle summarizes his job as to “preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” It is something that we may dive into, and explore—one unfolding world of wonder after another—but never reach (or even see!) the bottom. On the receiving end of such a ministry, we repeatedly and continually find ourselves saying, “Amazing! Wonderful! Our God, and His gospel of His Son is still more glorious than I had ever imagined!”

Finally, ministry in the gospel proclaims an eternal goodness. As the apostle shows to all “the stewardship of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9), he traces back the chain of custody of this glorious news. Previously, he had said that “in other ages it was not made known to the sons of men” (Ephesians 3:5). Now, he goes back beyond “the beginning of the ages” and finds that this plan of salvation goes back into God Himself.

The picture is a glorious one, and we strain to consider it. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sharing divine delight in a plan to save unto the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit—which will come of necessity through one people, but will be out of generosity unto all the people.

And it was this eternal plan to glorify God by grace that initiated creation itself, in which God “created all things through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9). Everything that happens (including the full) from creation until now is so that redeemed sinners may see the glory of God in the unsearchable riches of the glory of Christ!

What gives meaning to our life, and significance to every role in which we find ourselves, is its participation in the plan and purpose of God in all of creation and history!
When do you ordinarily experience wonder at the riches of Christ? By what means has God appointed for you to experience that wonder, and to grow in your wonder at Christ? How will you be availing yourself of these opportunities to do so?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH377 “Join All the Glorious Names”

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

2020.06.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 10:17–27

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom did Samuel call the people in 1 Samuel 10:17? Where? Whose words was He delivering (1 Samuel 10:18)? What does He say that He has done? But what does He say that they have done (1 Samuel 10:19)? Despite what? By doing what? What does He now command them to do (end of verse 19)? Who had come near in 1 Samuel 10:20? Who was chosen? Who came near in 1 Samuel 10:21? What family was chosen? What man was chosen? What logistical problem did this present? Who solved this “game” of “hide and seek” in 1 Samuel 10:22? What did they observe about Saul, when they had retrieved him (1 Samuel 10:23)? What does Samuel ask the people in 1 Samuel 10:24? How do they respond? What does Samuel remind them in 1 Samuel 10:25 (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14–20)? Where did Samuel send the people? Where does Saul go (1 Samuel 10:26)? Who goes with him? Why? What does 1 Samuel 10:27 call the complainers? What is their complaint? What do they do/not do? How does Saul respond? 
The Lord’s people are a mess, but the Lord is gloriously merciful.

The passage reminds us that they have rejected their God in asking for this king (1 Samuel 10:19), but as the lot clearly falls down to Saul, everyone can see that God has picked for them just the “man” for the job (1 Samuel 10:24)? Israel’s a mess, but Yahweh is merciful.

They can’t even find the biggest guy in the land, but Yahweh Himself outs Saul from among the baggage (1 Samuel 10:21-22). Israel’s a mess, but Yahweh is merciful.

They can’t even agree (1 Samuel 10:27a) on this man, who’s the obvious (humanly speaking) choice (God’s, not theirs) for king. But in God’s providence, Saul isn’t just giant but also (for now) patient (verse 27b).  Israel’s a mess, but Yahweh is merciful.

Even though Saul doesn’t end up being what he ought to be, the Lord faithfully gives him His Word concerning kings (1 Samuel 10:25a, cf. Deuteronomy 17:14–20), and does use him to deliver His people (cf. chapter 11, 1 Samuel 10:11 Samuel 9:16). The Lord’s people are a mess, but the Lord Himself is gloriously merciful!

Now, we don’t aim to be a mess. The Lord is worthy of the best worship and service and obedience. But, we still are. Our life is not just a life of continually renewed faith, but also of continually renewed repentance. And through it all, the Lord always chooses what is best for us, always does by His strengthy what we can’t do in our utter weakness, always faithfully gives us the Word that we need to correct the sinners that we are.

So, let us keep turning to Him, because He is worthy. And He is able. And He is gloriously merciful!
In what situation are you most “a mess” right now? In what situations are the Lord’s people a mess right now? From this passage, what do you expect that the Lord is doing in all those situations?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

2020.06.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 7:9–15

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did the apostle see in Revelation 7:9? In what were they clothed? What were they crying out in Revelation 7:10? With what kind of voice? Who respond to this in Revelation 7:11? What do they do? What do they say in Revelation 7:12? Who asks John a question in Revelation 7:13? How does John answer in Revelation 7:14? Whom does the elder say they are? In what have they washed their robes? Where are they (Revelation 7:15)? What do they do? When? What does “He who sits on the throne” do? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin come from Revelation 7:9–15 in order that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power.

When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well about the glorious worship that He was bringing into effect, He affirmed that the Jews worshiped what they knew, “because salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Now, we see the innumerable multitude of those clothed in white (Revelation 7:9)—the kind of what that can only be bleached in by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:13-14), saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Our Lord Himself, and His blood, is that salvation that came from the Jews, and this is the worship to which the Old Testament shadows looked forward. The heavens are resounding with this—what is the innumerable multitude doing? Crying out with a loud voice! The scene here is deafening to mortal ears!! “SALVATION IS OF OUR GOD WHO SITS ON THE THRONE, AND OF THE LAMB!!”

In fact, this is so much the subject of heaven’s worship that ALL the angels and their elders (we can see by Revelation 7:13-14 that these are angel elders) fall on their faces in response to the salvation-praise of the redeemed!

And what has our salvation gained for us? The privilege of serving Him day and night in His glorious presence—AND the privilege of His making His dwelling place among them. When we sing, Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power, we will be sampling the eternally glorious privilege that awaits us!
What is the first and great service that Christ’s servants render unto Him?
Suggested songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH381 “Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power”

Monday, June 15, 2020

2020.06.14 Evening Sermon—Ephesians 3:1–6, "Writers, Receivers, Revealer, and Substance of the Mystery of the Gospel"

Paul is amazed at the grace that has made him a writer of the mystery of the gospel, and the Ephesians recipients of the mystery of the gospel, by the Spirit Who is the Revealer of the mystery of the gospel about Christ, Who is the Center of the mystery of the gospel.

2020.06.14 Morning Sermon—Genesis 26:34–28:19 "Blessedness by Unstoppable, Unassistable, Unimprovable, Undeterrable, Unfakeable Grace"

In a passage where God is the only "good guy," the Holy Spirit proclaims to us that blessedness comes only in Christ, and only by unstoppable, unassistable, unimprovable, undeterrable, unfakeable grace.

2020.06.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 26:34–28:9

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Esau take as wives in Genesis 26:34? What do Isaac and Rebekah think of them (Genesis 26:35; Genesis 27:46–28:2; Genesis 28:8)? Whom does Esau take as wife in Genesis 28:9? What was Isaac’s condition (Genesis 27:1–2)? What does he want to do for Esau (Genesis 27:4)? But what does he need Esau to do for him first (Genesis 27:3-4)? Who was listening (Genesis 27:5)? And what plan does she share with whom (Genesis 27:6-10)? What concern does Jacob have about this in Genesis 27:11-12? What does Rebekah suggest as a solution to that (Genesis 27:13)? Upon whose activity do Genesis 27:14-17 focus the most, as the plan is carried out? How do you know, from Genesis 27:18-24 that Isaac is actually pretty suspicious? What is Jacob even willing to do in his deceit in Genesis 27:20? With what things is Isaac quite pleased in Genesis 27:25-27? How does this relate to the first set of blessings in Genesis 27:28? What is the focus of the blessings in Genesis 27:29? How soon does Esau come in (Genesis 27:30)? Of what do Genesis 27:31-32 remind us? What are his and Esau’s reactions in Genesis 27:33-34? What does Esau now want (Genesis 27:35-36)? Why doesn’t Isaac think this is possible (Genesis 27:37-38)? Where does Isaac bless Esau to dwell (Genesis 27:39)? What relief does Esau’s blessing in Genesis 27:40 occasionally provide from Genesis 27:29? What does Esau plan to do when Jacob dies (Genesis 27:41)? What is Rebekah’s new plan for this situation (Genesis 27:42-45)? How does she initiate the new plan in Genesis 27:46? What does Isaac do, openly and conscientiously, in Genesis 28:1? Where is he sending him? What does he call God in Genesis 28:3? From where is the language of this blessing taken (Genesis 28:3-4, cf. chapters 12, 17, 22, 26)? How does Esau try to increase his own blessing in Genesis 28:6-9
In our previous look at this passage, we noted that God’s blessing comes only by that grace in Christ which is unstoppable, unassistable, unimprovable, and unfakeable.

We also here have a glimpse of how God’s grace in Christ is unlosable.

Isaac’s sin against God is great. He directly goes against God’s Word. We all know who Esau is, so when Genesis 27:1 says, “his older son,” it reminds us that this is directly against the words of Yahweh in Genesis 25:23, “the older shall serve the younger.”

Indeed in Genesis 27:29 when Isaac thinks that he is blessing Esau, he seems to have this directly in mind when he says, “Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you.”
This is a shocking rebellion from a man who had begun so well!

But what is more shocking is God’s grace to him. Through Rebekah’s new plan to send Jacob out of Esau’s reach, God gives His sinning servant another chance to bless his son. Isaac has not lost his redemption, because that is something that is planned in Christ and secured in Christ, and can never be lost.

But God’s unlosable grace also super abounds to give him another opportunity to serve the Lord conscientiously in the blessing of his younger son. This time, Isaac’s focus is not on reversing God’s words in Genesis 25, but in reinforcing God’s words in the blessing of Abraham. And God heard him, and fulfilled that blessing in bringing Christ into the world!

How marvelous is our God! Not only is His grace unlosable, because it is in Christ; but, He often gives us second and third and fifty-sixth chances to serve Him, as we repent from our blackslidings into sin!

When you see your sin, cling to Christ, in whom God’s blessing by grace is unlosable. And, coming in repentance, seek from this God of grace that He might yet use you in His mission to bring His redemption in Christ to all to whom it belongs!
How have you stumbled? Did you repent? What new opportunity do you have to serve?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”