Saturday, November 07, 2020

God's Marvelous Patience with the Church (2020.11.07 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – November 7, 2020

Dear Congregation,

I've been in Old Testament narrative a lot lately, so humanly speaking, it wasn't hard to guess what was happening when officials from the counties that contain Atlanta saw that the vote wasn't going well and suddenly said, "y'all just look so tired... wink wink... just go home... wink wink... get some rest... wink wink... and we'll see what the total is in the morning"

And, humanly speaking, it wasn't difficult to guess what was happening when NC, PA, MI, and WI followed suit. Knowing man from God’s Word fosters a certain, biblical incredulity.

Because the Bible is honest about what men are like, it gives us a healthy suspicion of men. Our Lord Jesus entrusted Himself not to men, because He knew what was in them (John 2:24). Especially when it comes to the rise and fall of earthly rulers, these OT narratives teach us that while not all conspiracy theories are true, the fact of conspiracy is a Bible truth rather than a mere theory, especially as touches resisting the reign of Christ (Psalm 2:1–3).

But one of the things that OT narrative also teaches us is that it's utter folly to consider the rise and fall of earthly reigns in a merely “humanly speaking” manner. These reigns do not rise and fall upon the success and failure of the conspiracies.

World history is guided especially as a function of God’s response to the purity or impurity of His church on earth. It is especially the purity of worship (first great commandment) and execution of righteous justice (second great commandment) with which the Lord is concerned, and especially as touches His church.

To put it bluntly: an honest reading of the Bible will bring you to the conclusion that all those Reformed distinctives—no images, the necessity of weighty/reverent worship, consecration of the entire Lord’s Day—that take a hammering in (ostensibly) Reformed credentials exams for pastors (across multiple denominations now) are actually the things that God cares about the most. The sins with which He is most furious. The things for which we most needed Christ to die.

It is not true that, as one famous pastor recently claimed, pride in the heart is not as bad as murder in the hand. But, when we read God’s own responses in Scripture, we find that lawlessness (5th commandment), murder (6th), perversion (7th), theft (8th), falsehood (9th), and coveting (10th) are less offensive to God than Sabbath-breaking (4th), blaspheming (3rd), or creativity in worship (2nd).

It is for the violation of those first-table sins that He gives men over to the second table sins. It is time for churches like ours to be honest and to repent. He has given us over to second-table sins on a large scale, and the church’s response has been to begin by indulging unbelievers in the church for generations (seeker-oriented, or nominal-friendly worship), until those unbelievers became our preachers, and actually began scrupling those first table sins in their Presbytery exams.

We are right to think that it is a calamity that a post-Christian nation’s “election” may go to the candidate who can lie, cheat, and steal the best. But, we must not allow this to blind us to the fact that what is happening in the churches is a much greater calamity. Huge chunks of the church are papist (antichrist), mainline liberal (pagan), and charismatic (spiritist/new-age/superstitious).

But of them to whom much has been given much is required. There is a real sense in which the decline in the Reformed, Presbyterian churches is the most calamitous of all. That part which ought to have been the most sound has descended for generations into those things which God most hates.

How astonishing has God’s patience been! Yes, alas, how far America has fallen. And even more, alas, how far the churches have fallen—and especially the Reformed churches! But, let us consider Him who yet bears with us, and who has even granted some measure of reformation to our own congregation.

And let us rejoice over His patience, and be stirred up to greater love to Him who has so loved us, and greater joy and peace in His patient persistence and powerful grace toward us!

God’s Word is brutally honest enough to enable us to think plainly about what is going on in the world. We can smell the dishonesty a mile away (and not think, by the way, that those who are most skilled at it are the only ones engaged in it).

But how tragic it will be if we use this characteristic of Scripture only as a window to the world and forget that it is a mirror for the church (cf. James 1:19–25). This is a far more important use of Scripture.

And if we do not make use of it now for humiliation and repentance before God, the calamity that is coming will make the calamity of American politics pale by comparison, in its comparative smallness.

Looking forward to rendering unto our patient and powerful God that glorious worship which is His due,


LORD'S DAY – November 8, 2020 

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens

10 a.m. Sabbath School
This week, we will continue to work through Ryan McGraw’s The Day of Worship, learning about the goodness of God in this good commandment.


11 a.m. Public Worship

Children’s Catechism for Nov 8
Q54. What kind of death did Christ die? A. The painful and shameful death of the cross.

Shorter Catechism for Nov 8
Q62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment? A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God's allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, His challenging a special propriety in the seventh, His own example, and His blessing the sabbath day.

Psalms and Hymns
TPH416 “Your Hand, O God, Has Guided”   
ARP96A “O Sing a New Song” 
TPH352 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service
Psalm 32:4–11

Scripture Readings
1Samuel 22:6–23
Ephesians 5:22–24
Luke 9:37–45

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Genesis 37:1–11 about Hated Followers, Useful in the Hands of a Hated Savior

12:45 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1:15 p.m. Fellowship Lunch & Open Mic Time
Members are encouraged to bring way more than enough, so that there will be plenty for everyone, including any members or guests who are deciding last-minute whether or not to stay.

At open mic time, we’ll begin with birthdays and anniversaries and recitations of the memory verse:
Genesis 37:8And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

2:30 p.m Psalm/hymn Sing

3:30 p.m. Evening Sermon from
Ephesians 5:22–24, The Spirit-filled Wife

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for November
Fayetteville ARP in Fayetteville, TN

November Psalm of the Month
ARP96A O Sing a New Song to the Lord

Upcoming Events

•Wednesday, November 11, Prayer Meeting. 6:30p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. We pray for a solid hour, splitting into groups to balance praying corporately with giving everyone an opportunity to pray out loud as much as possible.
•November 14, Leadership (men’s and boys’) breakfast, 6:30 a.m.
•November 16, Elders’ Meeting, 6 p.m.

No comments:

Post a Comment