Saturday, March 06, 2021

On Not Being a Hand/Foot/Eye that Needs Cutting Off (2021.03.06 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – March 6, 2021

Dear Congregation,

As I was reading Mark 9:33–50 this morning, vv42–47 struck me forcefully again. They’re meant to do so. Expositions of passages like these often immediately run to how this was just figurative, as if there is a real danger of people deciding to gouge and maim themselves.

But that’s a mistake. Though the passage is not endorsing physical gouging and maiming, the use of the illustration is meant to be shocking. So we need to be shocked.

Furthermore, it needs to be within the context of the passage that we apply the shock.

The disciples had been arguing about who would be the greatest (v34), but Jesus had responded by saying that we are to regard the children who are His with the intensity of regard that we have for Him (v36–37).

John tries to apply this to someone who hasn’t supported the apostles (v38). After all, if what is done to one of Christ’s little children is so significant, then what about what is done to the apostles? Jesus does affirm that what is done to them matters (v41, though not to respond vindictively, v39–40), but He immediately brings their attention back to the little one who is still in his arms (v42, cf. v36).

That’s the context for vv42–48, where He repeatedly emphasizes the permanence and intensity of Hell. A culture of pride puts our children in danger of hell.

We are the hand and the foot and the eye of v43, 45, 47. God forbid that we should become the occasion of our children being cast into hell!

Let us sacrifice our pride. Is it really more important to us how highly others regard us?

Are we really willing that they would learn from us to try to appear rich in spirit, rather than come to God as poor in spirit and with hunger and thirst and meekness before Him?

Are we really willing to put our own comfort or amusement ahead of that daily worship and all-day discipleship to which He has called us for the sakes of their souls (cf. Deut 6, Eph 6)?

Are we really willing to nurse personal offenses that keep our children from the  corporate worship of God and the fellowship of the saints that are designed by Christ as instruments through which He brings them to faith and grows us in faith (cf. Eph 4, Heb 10)?

Consider Jesus holding that little child. Never had anyone held a child so lovingly as our Savior. Consider His repeating over and over, with that child in His arms, the greatness of the spiritual danger if we will not sacrifice ourselves for them.

On the other hand, consider your children. And the rest of the precious children of our congregation. Isn’t it marvelous that our Lord has given us such a role in His bringing them to faith and building them up in it? How much this work matters to Him! What a great privilege is ours!

Looking forward to exercising that privilege with you,


LORD'S DAY – March 7, 2021

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens

10 a.m. Sabbath School
This week, we’ll be studying WCF 14, Of Saving Faith
11 a.m. Public Worship
Children’s Catechism for March 7
Q71. Why do you need Christ as a king? A. Because I am weak and helpless.

Shorter Catechism for March 7
Q79. Which is the tenth commandment? A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.

Psalms and Hymns
TPH449 “As When the Prophet Moses Raised”   
ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” 
TPH464 “The Beatitudes”

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service
John 3:13–17

Scripture Readings and basis for confession of sin and petition for help
2Samuel 5:17–25
Luke 14:1–24

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Genesis 47:13–27 about The Great Reversal

Lord’s Supper! (Please see the section at the end of the Worship Booklet on how rightly to prepare for it and take it)

1 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 47:27So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.

2:30 p.m Psalm/hymn Sing

3:30 p.m. Evening Sermon from
Philippians 1:19–21, The Sort of Life Whose Dying Is Gain

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for March
Madison-Monrovia ARP Church in Madison, AL

March Psalm of the Month
ARP22C I’ll Praise You in the Gathering

Upcoming Events

•Wednesday, March 10, 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.
•March 14, Annual budget meeting
•March 15, Stated Session meeting, 6p
•March 20, Leadership (men’s and boys’) breakfast, 6:30a

Smooth Stones from a Babbling Brook
(internet links of the week)

▫ARP Minister Brad Anderson highlights Larger Catechism 167 and the neglect of the duty of improving our baptism as one factor in so many churches sliding into a religion that really is not the Christian faith at all: “To improve one’s baptism does not mean we can make it any better, rather is to experience its meaning, and work out its implications in actual life.”
▫You may be interested in this article about Faith ARP in Tillsonburg, ON, for whom we have been praying as they hold firmly to obeying God, even when this means disobeying men. Their primary prayer requests are to remain faithful and that the Lord would providentially use this as He revives other churches in the area.
▫When our own flesh can easily rationalize staying home from worship, or not put forth the extra effort when it becomes more challenging, it’s good to be reminded of Reasons Why Gathering for Corporate Worship Is Loving (especially since we live in a moment when gathering for corporate worship has been deprioritized, even in the churches).
▫A Scottish minister urges us to consider that sometimes idolatry of man masquerades as love of neighbor. In cries of “Romans 13!” and other situations, if 1st-great-commandment love of God’s glory isn’t driving it, then it’s not really 2nd-great-commandment love of neighbor that we’re doing

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