Saturday, May 02, 2020

Christ-Led Worship from Heaven (2020.05.02 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – May 2, 2020

Dear Congregation,

This week, I received a request for more explanation about the underlined portion of the following line from my article in the Christian Observer:
“This is the time for entertainment/involvement worship to be replaced by simple, Scripture-commanded, Christ-led worship from heaven that involves the whole of every person in the whole congregation the whole time.”

Though we have been learning about this together from the Scripture for almost three years now, sometimes we are helped by thinking through it again or by hearing it in different words. So, I hope that the following reply will stir up your anticipation for this glorious worship that awaits us tomorrow on the Lord’s Day:

There's a lot to unpack to answer the question, if someone hasn't thought this through or been taught it, but I'll try. I showed all of these things in the Hebrews series and more briefly in the recent worship series.

But the line that he is asking about is basically the teaching of the entire book of Hebrews. 

That there is a Sabbath-keeping (sabbatismos, not katapausis, in Heb 4:9) that remains, on which Christ personally and really addresses us from Heaven in the preaching (as chs. 3–4, 12 all teach, cf. Rom 10 "how will they believe Him whom they have not heard, and how will they hear without a preacher). 

Heb 2:12 also teaches this, while quoting from Psalm 22 to authoritatively interpret it as Christ saying that in the midst of the congregation it is actually He who sings His Father's praise (this has huge implications for what we sing in corporate worship, since it is Christ who puts His words into our mouths, and we are not at liberty to put our words into His; Eph 5 and Col 3 help with this, since it is the Spirit who fills us by making Christ's Word to dwell in us richly as we sing and admonish one another with His Word in song; Eph 5 even tells us that when we are doing this, each is to be submitting to all the others. The egalitarians love to wrestle v21 from this context and make it apply to marriage in v22ff, but this abuses the text and corrupts the teaching of the passage on both marriage and congregational singing). 

The point in the second half of 1Cor 11 is that their corruption of procedure shows that the Corinthians have missed that in the Supper Jesus is feeding us upon Himself from heaven

And, in prayer, we are living stones who offer spiritual sacrifices (1Pet 2, etc.), but this is mediated by our great High Priest who has offered Himself once for all, and Jesus our Priest presents our prayers at the throne (Heb 4–10).

This is why worship requires faith, because it engages in an unseen heavenly reality much more than the mere outward forms that we practice on earth (ch. 11–12). We come not to a Sinai that we can see or touch but to a heavenly Zion with angels, perfected souls, our Father, our Mediator, etc. The assembly of the firstborn.

This is why when ch 10 says to come to the true holy of holies through the new and living way that is His flesh and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is sentimental rubbish to take the "where two or three are gathered" text and abuse it to say that you can do this with any Christians at any time.

There are divinely mandated holy assemblies throughout the Scripture. There is just one in the New Testament, the holy assembly on that sabbatismos which remains; but, the holy assembly on the Lord’s Day is no less divinely mandated than any former holy assembly, and it participates in an assembly in glory over which Jesus presides as Prophet and Priest in an unique way that is not available to us at other times in other gatherings.


LORD'S DAY – May 3, 2020

10 a.m. Bible Class (no breakfast at this time)
We are studying the ARP’s confessed theology from Scripture, where we are beginning this week to learn about how Christ’s redemption is applied to us by the Holy Spirit.

11 a.m. Morning Worship
Children’s Catechism for May 3
Q27. Did Adam keep the covenant of works? A. No; he sinned against God.

Shorter Catechism for May 3
Q35. What is sanctification? A. Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Psalms and Hymns
+ SONG OF ADORATION — TPH354 "Not All the Blood of Beasts"           
+ SONG OF RESPONSE — TPH65C "Praise Waits for Thee in Zion"

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service

Scripture Readings
Old Testament – 1Samuel 6:1–12
Epistle – Ephesians 1:20–23
Gospel – Luke 5:1–11

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Genesis 25:19–26 God’s glory in election (which is free, according to His mere pleasure and promise; and gracious over-against our) and prayer (wherein His knowledge, power, and goodness are worshiped).

1 p.m. Picnic Lunch
with each family bringing its own food and tables spaced out. Weather permitting, eating outside on the grounds is preferable.

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for May:
Pressly-Memorial ARP in Red Level, AL

May Psalm of the Month
ARP78B O Come, My People, to My Law

Upcoming Events
•May 4, Monthly Session meeting 6p.m.
•May 6, Prayer Meeting, 6:30p.m.
•Men’s Breakfast, May 16, 6:30a.m. Boys and men of all ages encouraged to attend.
•October 2-4, HARPC 200th Anniversary Celebration

Congregational Prayer Requests (new/updates in bold)
▪ Alan McClelland and his ministry at Ft. Rucker
▪ Repentance of the Church and the Nations, as well as comfort and strength through the advancement of the gospel against the backdrop of SARS-CoV-2 and its accompanying panic, especially joining the rest of the ARP at 9a.m. central every day
▪ Joe & Lauren from Heritage CPC in Centerville, in the loss of their newborn baby, Valerie
▪ Comfort and provision for the LeeAnn Billings family as they grieve, especially for new work, as the university just eliminated her position from the department
▪ Rebecca Sterling’s new shunt and tube to properly drain brain fluid
▪ Pray for the Jeffers family, whose granddaughter Isabelle (14) and then her mother Norma both attempted suicide; there’s a long way to go medically, financially, and especially spiritually for all involved; please keep praying for them and for Sue’s ministry to them
▪ Pray for Kacey and family, going through difficult trial
▪ Pray with D&L L for her 85yo mother and her heart issues
▪ Pray with KC for her acquaintance Linda who doesn’t seem to know the Lord, and just lost 21 year old son; and, for sister Diane and her husband Frank, who need a living faith in Christ; and for friend Patty, a believer, that she will continue to do well after treatment for uterine cancer
▪ Pray with D&M G that her mother would continue healing well and not smoking; for Sean; for Jeremiah and Julianna; and for the adjustment and thriving of Jordan and Atlanta and family with new baby twins, Charlotte and Hew
▪ Pray with W&C G for her mother’s health and caregivers; and for spiritual (and total) well-being of son Greg
▪ Pray with J&H H for his father’s cancer and recovery from open-heart surgeries; and sweetness in his parents’ remaining time together; for his youngest brother; for sister-in-law’s recovery from cancer treatment
▪ Pray for James Heard to make good choices and to walk with an serve the Lord in this next phase of his life.
▪ Pray with H&K H for their health (especially Karen’s back, which keeps getting reinjured, and their schedule which it affects) and for many of their loved ones; needing Christian fellowship: her grandmother and father, widow Hope w/4 children, Brown family of 7 (wayward son Nicholas); needing health: her mom, sister Lisa, Martina, Donna, Joyce; needing spiritual life: Velvet and Reagan (lost their sister/daughter to a brutal murder), neighbors Shawn, Merlin, & children; other widows: Libby, Naomi (w/daughter Stacia), Stephanie (w/many children, were missionaries); friend Andrea’s New Age friends; Charles & Robert to be able to forgive; friends w/family problems: Dave, Lee, Melodie, Cole; spiritual growth and wife for friend Scott; their family’s evangelism, recently firefighter Dalton; Riggs to grow mighty in the Lord
▪ Pray with R&M J for Meredith, young daughter of M’s college friend Ashely (and husband Brad), who’s taking medicine to shrink her brain tumor
▪ Pray with O&A L for her unbelieving mother w/heart condition, and brother w/lung cancer.
▪ Pray with CM for his sister Ginger, diagnosed with an aggressive and advanced leukemia, and for Sheriff’s Reserve James Wilson, and his wife Andra’s cancer; and friend Michael Duval and his recovery from knee surgery
▪ Pray with C&T P for wisdom for him about what to do with two good career choices, and for the conversion of her brother Todd; and for her dad who is not doing well and his wife Jolene, who is receiving radiation to treat a spot on her brain.
▪ Pray with D&K R for their family’s growth in godliness, especially dying to self, godly speech, and Lord’s Day keeping; for Micah, Rachel, and baby girl due in July; and for local pastor/constable Darryl Thrasher, who has an aggressive, malignant brain tumor
▪ Pray with GR for friend Abby to come to faith in Christ
▪ Pray with JeR for believing friend Jeanette Cary’s CHF, Fibromyalgia, & slow-healing wound
▪ Pray with J&S R for her nephew, who needs life in Christ; and for her and her family in the loss of her father, especially spiritual impact on her sisters and nephews; and for her sister Rebecca’s pregnancy; and for the whole family, and especially his mother, as they grieve the passing away of his father; and PRAISE with neighbor Stacey’s friend whose two-year-old daughter has recovered from a serious struggle with covid19 and is now doing very well
▪ Pray with S&V Y for his parents and siblings as they deal with his father’s declining health and his mothers dementia
▪ Please pray with Pressly Memorial ARP in Red Level, AL, throughout the month of May
▪ Please pray for the TN-AL Presbytery to be enabled to plant a faithful church with the resources available and earmarked for that purpose
▪ Please pray for all ARP presbyteries, churches, and agencies
▪ Please pray for our nation, state, community and all the officials thereof 

Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue. (WCF 21.3)

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