Thursday, June 13, 2024

2024.06.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 5:4–5

Read 1 John 5:4–5

Questions from the Scripture text: Of Whom are the people in 1 John 5:4 born? What/whom do they overcome? What overcomes the world? What is this victory? What rhetorical question does 1 John 5:5 ask? What is its implied answer?

What does it mean to overcome the world? 1 John 5:4–5 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that to overcome the world is to come to the point, by faith in Christ, that you are a keeper of God’s commandments.

Overcoming by regeneration. The keeping of God’s commandments (1 John 5:3) is now described as overcoming the world. This does not mean to overcome the created order, but rather to overcome the condition into which the whole world of humanity was plunged by the fall. As long as someone belongs to this world, how can he overcome it? 

So he has to be born of God. In making us His children, God not only adopts us but actually gives us a new birth. These are they who overcome the world. If you do not have the new birth, then you cannot overcome the world; you cannot genuinely keep His commandments. 

Overcoming by faith. Even after we are born again, we do not have ability in us to overcome the world. But, praise God, the born again person is no longer in himself. By bringing them to faith in Christ, God brings born again believers out of themselves and into the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Faith is not just the beginning point of Christianity; it is the beginning, the middle, and even the end. Faith gets the victory because it hopes upon Jesus as the Son of God. It finds divine power in a divine Person. Now, is it still so surprising to you that you find it difficult to keep God’s commandments? Indeed, it must be impossible to you, except by faith in Jesus, the Son of God! The Christian life is impossible. Which is why it must be the Christ-ian life.

Where can you get the status or ability that enables you, genuinely, to keep God’s law?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for not making it our aim to overcome the world. Forgive us for thinking that we could somehow live as worldlings on the one hand, but be true commandment-keepers on the other. And forgive us for thinking or acting as if there was some other way of keeping your commandments than by the life, power, and goodness of Christ alone. Through Him, make us to overcome the world, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH466 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

2024.06.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 61:1–3

Read Isaiah 61:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is upon the Speaker ( Isaiah 61:1a, cf. Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 59:21)? Why—what has YHWH done to Him (Isaiah 61:1b)? What seven things has He been anointed to do to what six groups (Isaiah 61:1-3a)? With what two types of comings will He come (Isaiah 61:2)? What three exchanges will He make for them (Isaiah 61:3b–d)? What will they be called (Isaiah 61:3e–f, cf. Isaiah 60:21c)? Why? 

What did Christ come to do? Isaiah 61:1–3 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Jesus came as the Christ, the Mediator, to make us joyful and holy priests unto God. 

As the Lord Jesus Himself taught in the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Luke 4:16–22), this passage is about Christ Himself. Isaiah 61:1 picks back up the thought of Isaiah 59:21, where God makes a covenant with those whom He is saving. Jesus, Himself, is His covenant with them. Jesus would have YHWH’s Spirit upon Him (Isaiah 61:1a, cf. Isaiah 59:21, Matthew 3:16), and He would pour His Spirit upon those who are His spiritual offspring, and upon their offspring (cf. Isaiah 59:21; Matthew 3:11). Isaiah 61:1b characterizes the Spirit descending upon Christ as an anointing, an ordination. This ordination is to all three of His offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. 

As Prophet, Jesus is the Great Evangelist. He “preaches good tidings” to the poor. This was the crowing proof that He is the Messiah, when John wavered and sent messengers to ask (cf. Matthew 11:2–5). And indeed, He begins His most prominent sermon proclaiming blessing to the poor and the mourning (Isaiah 61:1b–c, Isaiah 61:2c, cf. Matthew 5:3–4). 

As Priest, Jesus sounds the Jubilee, proclaiming liberty to the captives in the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:2a, cf. Leviticus 25:9). This was the rarest regular day in the Jewish calendar, coming once every 50 years, and therefore it was in some ways one of the highest days. But this, and all other days belonging to the Aaronic priesthood would culminate in Christ’s coming and be superseded by His priesthood and His day. 

As King, Jesus comes not only to secure the proclaimed liberty but to execute vengeance in behalf of His people (Isaiah 61:2c). 

If you are a believer in Christ, then you have Him as your Mediator. He is your Prophet, Who declares to you the will of God for your salvation. He is your Priest, Who has offered Himself for you and intercedes for you. He is your King, Who reigns over you and conquers all of your and His enemies. 

Christians’ priesthood. And thus, He takes away your ashes, mourning, and heaviness, and in their place gives you beauty (turban!, Isaiah 61:3b), oil of joy (verse 3c), and garment of praise (verse 3d). All three of these are priestly images. He removes from us the bereavement and shame of our guilt, and consecrates us to come near to God in confidence and joy. Jesus exercises His three offices to bring you into the office of the priesthood of all believers. He brings you near to God, for the worship of God, in the joy of God!

Again, Isaiah 61:3e–f recalls Isaiah 60:21c–e. There, in the new creation, with all mourning ended and YHWH Himself as the light of His people, they are “the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.” Here, the finished work of Christ in His three offices produces the result: “that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of YHWH, that He may be glorified.” This will be no disappointing vineyard like back in chapter five. The work of Christ, producing the priesthood of Christians, will be perfectly fruitful and pleasing and glorifying to God!

What do you need Christ to do for/to you as Prophet? When/how do you especially experience this? What do you need Christ to do for/to you as Priest? When/how does He especially do this? What do you need Christ to do to/for you as King? When/how does He especially do this?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Your Son to be our Mediator: Prophet, Priest, and King. Forgive us for how we have not listened to Him as our Prophet. Forgive us for how we have not come to You through Him as our Priest. Forgive us for how we have not submitted to His reign as our King or trusted His deliverance and vengeance as our King. Forgive us for how we have failed to rejoice in Him with holy gladness. Grant that we might not only be forgiven, but sanctified, so that as righteous trees of Your planting, You might be glorified in us, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH259 “O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?”

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Great Is Thy Faithfulness [2024.06.09 Evening Sermon in Numbers 13–14]


The Lord is as He says He is and does as He says He will. If you do not trust this by His grace, then you will suffer the truth of it under His wrath.

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Jesus, True Friend of Sinners [2024.06.09 Morning Sermon in Matthew 9:9–13]


Jesus came to be our righteousness and to give us a repentance that we could never give ourselves.

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The Spirit Himself as Our Seal [2024.06.09 Sabbath School in WCH 18.2.i—Hopewell 101]

The Holy Spirit is a seal unto believers and their faith, assuring them that God Himself has wrought the saving work that has been done in them, and that they will assuredly be brought into their full inheritance in the day of redemption.
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2024.06.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 119:33–40

Read Psalm 119:33–40

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Psalm 119:33a ask YHWH to do to the psalmist? What does he wish to be taught? In order to do what with it (verse 33b)? What does Psalm 119:34a ask Him to do to him? In order to be able to do what? To what extent does he hope to keep it (verse 34b)? What does Psalm 119:35a ask Him to do to him? In what path? Why this one (Psalm 119:35b)? What does Psalm 119:36a ask Him to do to his heart? Incline it to what? To what would it be inclined otherwise (verse 36b)? What does Psalm 119:37a ask Him to do to his eyes? From what do his eyes need to be turned away? In order to give the psalmist life how (verse 37b)? What does Psalm 119:38a ask Him to do to His Word? Unto whom? How can this servant be identified (verse 38b)? What does Psalm 119:39a ask Him to do? What needs to be turned away? How does the psalmist feel about this reproach? Why would the Lord do this with his reproach (verse 39b)? How does Psalm 119:40a begin? At what is he asking the Lord to look? How is he asking the Lord to give him life?

How can sinners come to live righteously? Psalm 119:33–40 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that sinners can only come to live righteously by being revived by sovereign grace.  

The Lord Who is in sovereign control. The lines of the fifth eight-verse stanza of this acrostic all begin with the letter that we would transliterate “H.” 

This is easy to do in the Hebrew language, because the causative verb stem (i.e., “cause [object] to [action]”) includes a prefix that begins with this letter. So, the first seven verses all begin with a causative verb, and Psalm 119:40 begins with the interjection that means “look!” 

The result is a stanza that is primarily pleading for the Lord to exercise His sovereign power over the psalmist, his circumstances, and even the Lord’s own words.

Sovereign grace for righteous livingPsalm 119:33-36. The first half of the stanza focuses especially upon keeping YHWH’s way (Psalm 119:33), observing His law (Psalm 119:34), walking in His commandments (Psalm 119:35). These are different ways of describing the same thing. 

The difficulty with coming to delight in His commandments (Psalm 119:35b) and give our whole heart to obeying them (Psalm 119:34b) is that, apart from sovereign grace, we are inclined exactly opposite. We need the Lord doesn’t give spiritual, moral understanding to our minds (Psalm 119:35a). And if He does not incline our hearts to His own testimonies, then our hearts will default to inclining toward covetousness! Apart from God’s sustaining, sanctifying grace, covetousness is what we will always revert to.

Sovereign grace for restored life, Psalm 119:37-40. The second half of the stanza is bookended with requests to be revived (Psalm 119:37Psalm 119:40)—to be brought back to life. In our flesh, we foolishly think that getting our way would be reviving, but it is God’s way that is reviving (Psalm 119:37b). 

In His righteousness, God revives us into His righteousness (Psalm 119:40b). It is His righteousness that turns our eyes away from worthless things (Psalm 119:37a) and makes us to long for His precepts instead. By His Word, He makes us to fear Him (Psalm 119:38), and by His good judgments, He turns away our reproach (Psalm 119:39). 

Left to ourselves, we are dead. But His Word is the means by which He revives us in righteousness. 

Revival and righteousness require sovereign grace. That is what He gives, and that is what He teaches us to pray for.

What do you default to, apart from grace? How is God’s rule over your heart a comfort to you? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, grant that Your Spirit would give us understanding to worship, in Your way, with our whole heart. Incline our hearts to delight in You and Your commandments, and turn our eyes away from worthless things unto You. Give us Your own life, through Christ, and satisfy our longing for You and Your precepts, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP119E “That I May Keep Your Statutes” or TPH119E “Teach Me, O LORD, Your Way of Truth”

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Hatefulness of Pride Month [Family Worship lesson in Romans 1:24–32]

Why is perversion of marriage so abominable and alarming? Romans 1:24–32 is an important passage for our current cultural moment. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that perversion of marriage is abominable and alarming because being given over to this sin, and its celebration, is a display of being under God’s righteous wrath for refusing to know Him.
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2024.06.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 1:24–32

Read Romans 1:24–32

Questions from the Scripture text: Who did what to men (Romans 1:24)? To what did He give them up? In what? To do what to what? Among whom? What did these given-up men do (Romans 1:25)? What two things were exchanged? In what worship did this result? Rather than worshiping Whom? And what is the glory of this Creator? How does the end of the verse add solemnity and certainty to this statement? To what did God further give them up in response (Romans 1:26)? Upon whom did this further judgment of vile passions especially fall? What did they exchange for what? Against what is their behavior? Who else gave up what natural use (Romans 1:27)? In what did they burn? For whom? Committing what, together? Receiving what? Where? For what was this penalty due? For what does Romans 1:28 say that God is still punishing them (cf. Romans 1:18-21)? To what does He further (thirdly!) give them up? What do they end up doing in this debased mind? With what are they thus filled (Romans 1:29)? What twenty-two examples does the apostle give of this unrighteousness that fills them (Romans 1:29-31)? What do all men know (Romans 1:32)? Whose righteous judgment do they know? What does He righteously judge about those who practice such things? But how do they respond to knowing that these things deserve death? And even what to others who practice them? 

Why is perversion of marriage so abominable and alarming? Romans 1:24–32 is an important passage for our current cultural moment. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that perversion of marriage is abominable and alarming because being given over to this sin, and its celebration, is a display of being under God’s righteous wrath for refusing to know Him. 

The mayor of the nearby town has declared it pride month, joining the masses in our nation and its churches who “not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” It is a fulfillment of God’s Word, an expression of His righteous wrath (Romans 1:18) upon a nation, and even churches, who refuse to know Him, thank Him or glorify Him (Romans 1:19-23).  It is also a providentially provided opportunity to see the riches of His glory in His gospel mercy. 

The whole discussion of the revelation of His wrath (Romans 1:18) comes in the context of unashamedly preaching the gospel, because in it the saving righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:16-17) over-against this revelation of God’s wrath. So how has God’s wrath been revealed? Especially in three “givings up” that show what all sin deserves, and how the practice and approval (!) of sin is the sure and horrible demonstration that men are indeed under God’s wrath. 

Uncleanness in the lusts of their heartsRomans 1:24-25. The first “giving up” shows how dreadful our sin is. It brings us into uncleanness, making us unfit to draw near to God in worship. As those whose hearts have chosen desires other than God (and apart from Him), every bodily expression of what’s in a man’s heart dishonors himself. The great truth about man is that he was created in God’s image, for God’s glory, according to God’s law. But man exchanged that for the devil’s lie: that man could create himself in his own image, for his own glory, according to his own ways. The uncleanness of living this way displays that man is under wrath for refusing to know, thank, or worship God.

Vile passionsRomans 1:26-27. The second “giving up” shows how irrational our sin is. “vile passions” in Romans 1:26 means “disgraceful emotions.” Not only is man’s will evil, choosing creatures over the Creator, but his affections are evil too. The perversion of women with women, or men with men (instead of one man and one woman), displays God’s wrath. Adultery and fornication are not marriage either, but when God gives men over to such perversions as in these verses, the very irrationality displays how deep-seated is man’s God-rejecting wickedness. Our evil is so great that it not only misuses nature but even goes contrary to nature itself. 

Debased mindRomans 1:28-31. The third “giving up” goes to our very root. God has designed our intellect to inform our affections, which move our wills. In the display of His wrath, God gives them over to themselves in their will, their affections, and their minds. In this case, the “debased mind” (Romans 1:28), the non-functional mind, exposes them to being filled with all unrighteousness. This is what ungodliness and unrighteousness deserve: to fill up one’s sin (Romans 1:29). The perversions in Romans 1:26-27 are emblematic of all sin. By being “against nature” (Romans 1:26), they are the extreme case of what is “not fitting” (Romans 1:28). All sin is irrational. All sin is abominable to God. All sin is destructive to man and to creation. Consider, from the twenty-two examples listed in Romans 1:29-31, those which especially beset you. Do you easily recognize your sin as God-rejecting, self-destruction to which His wrath would rightly give you over? The perversions that are being celebrated by so many this month are so abominable, precisely to show us the abominable nature of all of our sin.

Approving those who doRomans 1:32. And all of this brings us to “pride month.” This is end-stage spiritual cancer that displays God’s wrath upon a person or a nation. The conscience becomes so seared that they do not feel the need either to be alarmed or to be ashamed at their sin. Those who do such things know that they deserve death (versev32), but they suppress this to the point that they do them without alarm. And they are so far from being ashamed of sin that they approve of it. Indeed, they make their sin their very identity. Some protest that by “pride” they mean not arrogant boastfulness (though all affirming of sin is arrogance against God!) but self-approval of their “identity.” Yet, self-approval is exactly that to which the Lord has given sinners up. For those whom the Lord gives over to their sin, it has been “pride month” for some six thousand years. 

Vessels of mercy. In Romans 1, this display of wrath is the backdrop for the gospel’s display of God’s saving righteousness. God gives—even to such sinners as this!—His own righteousness through faith in Christ (Romans 3:21–24)! He patiently bears with vessels of wrath prepared for destruction precisely to “make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:22–23). 

How dreadful is our sin! There is nothing more hateful than to tell ourselves that our sin is permissible or excusable. To celebrate “pride month” is to perpetrate “hate month.” Those who celebrate sinners’ perversions hate sinners by doing so. But God loves and saves sinners. He reveals not just His wrath against sinners, but His righteousness, offered to them. How grateful we should be for His mercy! How eager to be found in Christ! And loving our neighbor means calling him to repentance and inviting him to God’s righteousness revealed in Christ—inviting him to rejoice in God’s mercy as a vessel of mercy. 

For further consideration: “Righteously Given Up to Godless Feelings, Choices, and Thoughts”—available at hpwl.org/sa220615mws

Of the 22 sins listed in Romans 1:29-31, to which are you most prone? What do you deserve? What does the Lord offer you instead? How?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us, for we have so often been unmindful of You and unthankful toward You. But even to such sinners as we are, You offer Your own righteousness through faith in Christ. So give to us, by Your Spirit, to believe in Christ, to be forgiven of our sin, and to be righteous with His righteousness, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Sunday, June 09, 2024

2024.06.09 Lord's Day live streams (live at 10:10a, 11a, 3p)

Click below for the:
June 9 Lord's Day Worship Booklet
Sabbath School lesson outline
Matthew 9:9–13 Sermon Outline
p.m. song selections & Numbers 13–14 Sermon
We urge you to assemble physically, if possible, with a true congregation of Christ's church. For those of our own congregation who may be providentially hindered, we are grateful to be able to provide this service.

Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day (Sabbath School, Morning Public Worship, and p.m. Singing and Sermon) and Midweek Meeting (sermon and prayer). For notifications when Hopewell is streaming live, install the CHURCHONE APP on your [Apple], [Android], or [Kindle] device, and enter hopewellarp for your broadcaster

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Sinner-Friendly Worship [2024.06.08 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald]

Hopewell Herald – June 8, 2024

Dear Congregation,

God’s love for sinners is counter-intuitive to people who are addicted to this world and to our sin. It’s quite literally insane that people think that the hatefulness of “pride month” is loving, when what is loving is to point out that the irrationality and self-destruction of our sin is a clue that we are under the wrath of God. God lovingly announces His wrath against our sin, because He is lovingly announcing that, in Christ, He offers His own righteousness to those who are under wrath! That’s true love.

“Seeker-friendly” worship is, of course, worship as God has commanded—because sinners do not seek Him apart from Him seeking them! But even “sinner-friendly” worship is counter-intuitive. It is not friendly to sinners to give them worship that feels comfortable and familiar. Truly sinner-friendly worship is worship that makes them uncomfortable on account of its unfamiliarity and other-worldliness.