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); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, September 18, 2021

2021.09.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 23:1–12

Read Luke 23:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: Who arose and led Jesus to whom (Luke 23:1)? Before the Roman governor, what three accusations did they try out (Luke 23:2)? With which one does Pilate cross-examine (Luke 23:3a)? How does Jesus answer (verse 3b)? What does Pilate conclude from this (Luke 23:4)? Which other accusation do they retry now (Luke 23:5)? What part of this catches Pilate’s attention (Luke 23:6)? Why—what is he able to do now (Luke 23:7)? How did Herod feel about this at first (Luke 23:8)? Why, what did he hope for? But what results did he get (Luke 23:9)? What made a sharp contrast with Jesus’s silence (Luke 23:10)? When his hope is disappointed, and he sees the conduct of the crowd, what does Herod do (Luke 23:11)? And what is the result of this (Luke 23:12)? 

The Innocent will be condemned. The Judge will be judged. The Son of God has come to be executed in place of sinners.

Jesus’s death is the obvious design of the whole multitude of the council (Luke 23:1a). In His religious trial, they had condemned Him for blasphemy (cf. Luke 22:71), but when they come to Pilate (Luke 23:1b), they charge Him with things they think can get Him murdered by Rome: inciting rebellion (Luke 23:2a), inciting refusal to pay taxes (verse 2b), and inciting rivalry with Caesar (verse 2c). There’s nothing Rome loved more than order, money, and authority. They throw their three biggest charges against Him and hope something sticks.

The one that seems to stick is the “King” claim (Luke 23:3). Apparently, Pilate takes that one as the foundation of the other two. Luke doesn’t tell us about the rest of Jesus’s answer, about the spiritual nature of His kingdom. He gives us the short version, in which Jesus is basically saying that Pilate’s words, which he got from them, are the only identifiable substance of the charge. There’s simply no case against Him, which Pilate immediately recognizes and declares (Luke 23:4).

That should have been it. Jesus should have been released. Pilate has authority over this innocent Citizen, so now his duty shifts from prosecution to vindication and protection. But these murderers will make use of this weak magistrate to turn him into a murderer with them. Their guilt is by no means reduced by the fact that it is God’s saving plan that the Innocent would die for the guilty (cf. Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27–28). 

The chief priests think that they are losing their mark, so they now appeal to Pilate’s personal prejudice. They know that he hates the Jews, and especially Galileans (Luke 23:5, cf. Luke 13:1). Probably they think they have struck the right cord by his response in Luke 23:6, but this has brought up the issue of jurisdictions, and Pilate has discovered his way out of the situation (Luke 23:7). Not only is Jesus’s hometown technically in Galilee, but the tetrarch is in town and available.

Herod is glad to have Jesus captive, because he hopes to see some sign (Luke 23:8). But Jesus isn’t here to satisfy Herod’s fleshly curiosity; He’s here to die. He shows no sign; He answers no question (Luke 23:9). Yet, the wicked will not give up on self-indulgence, and if Herod cannot indulge his curiosity, he will indulge his cruelty. He hears the vehement accusations (Luke 23:10) and exercises his authority by mocking the idea of Christ’s authority (Luke 23:11).

The wicked are not incapable of unity. Their raging and plotting can agree well, when the agreement is to oppose God and His Christ (cf. Psalm 2:1–2; Acts 4:24–28). But they have not heeded the warning (cf. Psalm 2:10–12). All of their little jurisdictions are in this One’s jurisdiction. For our sakes, the Judge was being judged.

Of what was Jesus guilty? Of what have you been guilty? What was happening to Jesus? Why?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are God, Who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. And, these men did to Jesus what You had determined before, so that we could be atoned for by His holy blood. Grant unto us humble adoration of our Redeemer, so that we might love Him because He first loved us, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP110B “The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Friday, September 17, 2021

2021.09.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 22:21–28

Read 2 Samuel 22:21–28

Questions from the Scripture text: According to what has Yahweh rewarded David (2 Samuel 22:21a)? According to what has He recompensed him (verse 21b–c, 2 Samuel 22:25)? What has David done (2 Samuel 22:22a, 2 Samuel 22:24a)? What hasn’t David done (2 Samuel 22:22b, 2 Samuel 22:23b, 2 Samuel 22:24b)? How has he done this (2 Samuel 22:23a)? With whom does God show Himself merciful (2 Samuel 22:26a)? Blameless (verse 26b)? Pure (2 Samuel 22:27a)? Shrewd (verse 27b)? Whom does He save (2 Samuel 22:28a)? Whom does He bring down (verse 28b)? 

Believers can be sure of God’s response to our prayers because He is rewarding us according to our righteousness (2 Samuel 22:21). How can that be true? In three ways. 

First, we can say this in union with Christ, for His obedient actions become our obedient actions. His hands are perfectly clean (2 Samuel 22:21b–c, 2 Samuel 22:25b); He has perfectly kept Yahweh’s ways (2 Samuel 22:22); He always kept God’s judgments before Him (2 Samuel 22:23). By the one Man’s obedience the many are made righteous.

Second, Christ Himself as a Person is our righteousness. The gospel reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith (cf. Romans 1:17), and in Jesus we become the righteousness of God (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). With God Himself as our righteousness, we may rejoice that He rewards us according to our righteousness.

Finally, as the Spirit conforms us to Christ’s image, we become more and more like unto Him. The reality of our union is seen in increasingly godly behavior, and the justness of God is displayed as He matches our lives and our reward to Christ, Who is our righteousness. 

Now, it is the justness of God that guarantees our deliverance, rather than our condemnation. The point of 2 Samuel 22:26-28 is that God’s justness is exact. So what does that mean if He has given you Christ to be your righteousness? It means that all things must be yours together with Him, for He is the rightful heir to it all (cf. Romans 8:32). 

If God deals with you according to your righteousness, what would happen to you? What righteousness do you have? How does your actual living reflect your standing before God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how perfect is Your righteousness and justness! And this would be a horror to us, but Your love is perfect too, and You have given Christ to be our righteousness. Stir up our hope in Him, and make us to be more and more like He is, so that we may glorify You for blessing us according to the righteousness that You have given us in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH457 “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Way of Prosperity and Protection is Obsession with God not Stuff or Self (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 16:16–20)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from “the Proverb of the day.” In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God Himself, by means of His Word, is our greatest prosperity and protection.
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Considering, Resting upon, and Praising God in Our Troubles (2021.09.15 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 31:1–8)

When you have such a Redeemer and God as we do, troubles are cause for considering Him, entrusting ourselves to Him, and exalting Him!
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How God Uses Theology to Fit Us for Glory (Family Worship lesson in Colossians 1:9–12)

Why does the apostle pray so earnestly for the Colossians’ theological development? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Colossians 1:9–12 prepares us for the first serial reading in Evening Public Worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God, Who has qualified us in Jesus for a holy and brilliant inheritance, gets us ready to partake of that inheritance by making us holy. He does this by increasing our knowledge of a gospel so good that it enables us to rejoice and give thanks in the midst of troubles that require patience and longsuffering. And this joy frees us to focus upon loving Him with our works.
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2021.09.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:9–12

Read Colossians 1:9–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the apostle been doing since he heard about the Colossians’ faith, love, and hope (Colossians 1:9)? With what has he been praying that they would be filled? What is the purpose of this knowledge, and wisdom, and Spiritual understanding (Colossians 1:10)? How pleasing to the Lord is this worthy walking? What fruit do such people bear? In what must they increase in order to bear this fruit? How else must they be enabled (Colossians 1:11)? Strengthened by what? According to what? For what two things must they have such strength? With what do they exercise this patience and longsuffering? As they wait joyously, what are they to give to Whom (Colossians 1:12)? Of what has the Father qualified the apostle and his readers to partake? 

We’re disqualified for the inheritance of saints, but the Father (Colossians 1:12a, cf. Colossians 1:3) has brought the Colossian believers into the faith, love, and hope for which the apostle has just been expressing thanksgiving in Colossians 1:3-8. This has triggered something for the apostle: not just thanksgiving for what God has done, but also prayer for what remains to be done—to be actually prepared and actually brought into that inheritance into which they have been adopted.

The Father has qualified them, now the apostle prays that He would fit them. In short, Paul prays that they would be made holy. The way Colossians 1:10 puts it is that they would walk worthy of the Lord. But let us not think that obedience is easy, for Colossians 1:11 tells us that in order to walk rightly, we need to be strengthened with almighty strength. And Colossians 1:11-12 tells us the surprising (?) source of this strength: joy and thanksgiving. That brings us back to the “main” request in Colossians 1:9: that they would be filled with knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding.

The more they understand, the more joyous and grateful they will be, which will strengthen them unto a life of good works in this knowledge of God. Putting this together, as the apostle prays for them to be filled with knowledge, he’s giving us the content of theology, the fruit of theology, the usefulness of theology, and the result of theology.

The content of theology is “His will.” This is the knowledge that is gained in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. More specifically, however, His will has been to adopt us as holy heirs (Colossians 1:12b–c). Such glad knowledge produces the fruit of theology: among other things, joy and thanksgiving. What gladness and gratitude belong to those whom the Father has adopted in contradiction to their unworthiness!

That brings us to the usefulness of the theology. Because this joy and thanksgiving are about what God has unstoppably determined, and because they come as the fruit of God’s work, they are the means by which believers are empowered with God’s own power: “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.” We mightn’t feel all-powerful, but the joy that we have is empowered by this limitless source. With unlimited power beneath us, and an unlosable inheritance in front of us, we can be patient and longsuffering through anything! Now that’s useful theology.

Finally, the outcome of the theology. One false thing that I sometimes hear is that there are wicked people who have good theology. What they think or say may have some accurate features, but theology that is not lived can never be good. The knowledge that Paul prays for is not an end in itself, because it is ultimately knowledge of a Person, from a Person, for a purpose: “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work.”

By the Lord’s answering this prayer, the saints in Colossae would be made fit for glory, and would indeed come to partake in the inheritance for which Christ was their qualification from the Father. Theology that produces such an outcome: that’s good theology. It’s theology to pray for yourself to have, for all believers to have.

What place does learning theology have in your life? How much of the content is the Father’s plan to bring you into the inheritance of the saints? What patience-strengthening joy do you get from it? What kind of life is it producing?

Sample prayer: Our Father, we adore Your glory. There can be nothing better than to know You and belong to You. And though we had sinned against this glory, You gave Your Son for us to qualify us to be Your adopted children. Forgive us for when we lose sight of how certain our salvation is—for when we become joyless, impatient, anxious, and lose our strength for serving You. Restore to us the joy of our salvation, and renew in us a right Spirit we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Why God Shows Mercy: to Glorify Himself in Covenant Faithfulness (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 5:20–6:8)

How can God be so patient and forgiving with the wicked complaining of the Israelites and especially Moses? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Exodus 5:20–6:8 prepares us for the first serial reading in Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these twelve verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God shows mercy to some sinners, because He has freely and graciously committed Himself to them, binding Himself to them and them to Himself in everlastingly covenanted love.
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2021.09.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 5:20–6:8

Read Exodus 5:20–6:8

Questions from the Scripture text: From where did the Israelite officers come in Exodus 5:20? Who met them? What did they want Yahweh to do now (Exodus 5:21)? Why? To Whom does Moses turn (Exodus 5:22)? What two things does he ask? What does he say has happened (Exodus 5:23)? What does he say hasn’t happened? Of what does Yahweh remind Moses in Exodus 6:1 (cf. Exodus 3:19–22; Exodus 4:21–23)? And of what in Exodus 6:2 (cf. Exodus 3:13–16)? With whom had Yahweh not used this Name (Exodus 6:3)? But what had He done with them (Exodus 6:4)? And to what circumstances is He responding by acting upon this covenant (Exodus 6:5, cf. Exodus 2:23–25; Exodus 3:6–9; Exodus 4:5, Exodus 4:31)? What will be the manner of Yahweh rescuing and redeeming Israel (Exodus 6:6)? By this plan, what relationship will God uphold (Exodus 6:7)? And what promise will He thus complete (Exodus 6:8)? What bookends Yahweh’s speech from Exodus 6:2-8?

The Lord certainly isn’t saving the Israelites because of their godliness, or using Moses to save them because of his godliness. The Israelites attack the one that God sent (Exodus 5:21), and then Moses turns to Yahweh, accuses Him (Exodus 5:22) and complains that He hasn’t delivered the people yet (Exodus 5:23). Remember: this is after Yahweh has told him, multiple times, that Pharaoh would refuse to let the people go and harden his heart until compelled by great wonders.

Dear Christian, do not be surprised when you find your heart to be as unbelieving as Moses. Repent of such wickedness; it is offensive in the mirror as it is in the text. But, do not dismay. Behold the mercy and patience of your God, Who continues to save anyway, for the glory of His Name (Exodus 6:2), for the keeping of His Word (Exodus 6:3-4), and for compassion to His people (Exodus 6:5). 

How does God respond to the faithlessness of His people? By reaffirming that He has joined them to Himself by covenant (Exodus 6:6-7) and reaffirming the promise He has made to them as their God (Exodus 6:8). Careful observers of the Scriptures note from Exodus 20:2 that God’s relationship with Israel is an administration of the covenant of grace, and that truth stands out quite clearly here. God actually responds to the wickedness of His people by committing Himself to their deliverance. What glorious grace!

We know that there are those in the church who perish in their sin for lack of faith, and that this entire Israelite generation would end up suffering the same consequence (cf. Hebrews 3:16–4:2), and that the Lord Jesus solemnly warns unrepenting churches in the seven letters at the beginning of the book of John. So, we can never take such mercy as an excuse for being lax about our sin.

BUT, when we are repenting of our sin and tempted to despair over it, let us turn to Him, rejoicing at His marvelous patience and free grace, rejoicing over the love that gave us Christ and the fullness of the atonement that Christ has made for us.

What difficulties have challenged whether you will keep clinging to the promises of God in Christ? What repeated sin in your life has you tempted to think that God will run out of patience with you, and how does this passage encourage you to keep turning back to Him?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for our impatience with You. We are like Moses, complaining after one try that “You have not saved Your people at all.” But how marvelous is Your patience with us! For the sake of Your Name, Your promise, and Your love, persist with us, forgive us, and cleanse us from this unrighteousness. For, we ask this in  Him in Whom You have revealed Your Name, kept Your promise, and displayed Your love, even Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP30 “O LORD, I Will Exalt You” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

2021.09.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:1–18

Read John 1:1–18

Questions from the Scripture text: When was the Word already there (John 1:1)? With whom was the Word at that time? Who was He at that time? Who was with (literally, “toward,” or “facing”) God in the beginning (John 1:2)? What was  made through Him (John 1:3)? What wasn’t made through Him? What was in Him (John 1:4)? What did men receive from this light? What does the light do now (John 1:5)? What has the former light of men become? What can’t the darkness grasp? What was the name of the man sent from God in John 1:6? What did this man come to do (John 1:7)? Why did he bear witness of the Light? Was that man the Light (John 1:8)? Then what was he sent to do? To whom does the true Light give light (John 1:9)? Where was the true Light coming? Where was He, in John 1:10? What was made through Him? What (Whom!) did the world not know, when He was in the world? To what things does John 1:11 say that He came? But what people did not receive Him? What right did the Light give to those who received Him (John 1:12)? What did “receiving Him” mean they had believed in? From where did this birth to believe in Him NOT come (John 1:13a, b, c, d)? From where DID this birth to believe in Him come (verse 13e)? What did the Word become (John 1:14)? What does this mean the Word had been before? When the Word became flesh, what did He do? What did the evangelist (John) behold? What kind of glory did they behold in the enfleshed Word? What did this glory mean that He was full of? Who bore witness of Him? Why did John the Evangelist say that Jesus was preferred to him (John 1:15)? From what have received (John 1:16)? What did we receive from His fullness? What was given through Moses (John 1:17)? Through Whom did grace and truth come? Who has seen God (John 1:18)? When has someone seen God? Who has declared (exegeted) God? Where is this Son that declares God? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration all come from John 1:1–18, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts

It’s not surprising that a hymn that has been beloved in the church for a thousand years would be full of truths from this passage in John. One of the most essential beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus is the uncreated Creator (John 1:3), who has life as inherent in Himself and not derivative from another (John 1:4a), and that He is the One Who first gave light to Adam’s eyes and continues to do so for every man (verse 4b, John 1:9, cf. Genesis 2:7).  

When God’s glory was famously displayed to (and hidden from, cf. Exodus 33:20–23) Moses in Exodus 34:5–6, He famously declared Himself, “Yahweh, Yahweh God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” “Goodness and truth”—or steadfast love and faithfulness—are commonly translated from Hebrew by the same Greek words as what NKJV translates “grace and truth” in John 1:14

That is to say that the evangelist is making a direct claim that Jesus Christ is the Yahweh Whose glory could not be seen by men (John 1:18a), but that when He became flesh, men could finally behold that glory (John 1:14). Indeed, men have now beheld God completely in Christ, for the only begotten Son has made Him fully known (the literal meaning of the word translated “declared” in John 1:18b, which is an ancestor of our word “exegete,” cf. John 14:9). 

And what is it that we see, when we behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6)? We see love. We see Yahweh God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in covenant-love and faithfulness. We see Him Who became flesh not only that we might behold Him, but that He might die for us. This is the love that gives everlasting life (cf. John 3:16; John 6:51), and that produces in us the love for Him—and joy in Him—Who first loved us.

What is the only way for you to see/know God? What especially, about God, do you see when you see Jesus? What should your response be? What does that feel like? What does that look like?

Sample prayer: O Lord, Who are full of steadfast love and faithfulness, we adore You. Grant Your Spirit’s ministry, by which the light of the knowledge of Your glory would shine in our hearts in the face of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for when our love has grown cold and joy has grown dim, for this exposes that we have failed to consider and respond to Christ as Your display of Yourself. So help us, for the sake of Your glory, and for the love in which You gave Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH494 “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts”

 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Tasting God's Greatness by Our Prayers Great in Trouble and His Greater Response (2021.09.12 Evening Sermon in 2Samuel 22:1–20)

For those in whom the Lord delights in Christ, the greatness of our troubles is meant to provoke us to cry out to our greater God, so that His greater response will result in His everlasting praise
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Jesus's Identity Reveal: the Christ, the Son of God, the I AM (2021.09.12 Morning Sermon in Luke 22:66–71)


In seeking charges upon which to execute Jesus, His murdering accusers become the occasion for displaying a glorious portrait of our Redeemer.


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2021.09.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:66–71

Read Luke 22:66–71

Questions from the Scripture text: For what were they waiting to start the trial (Luke 22:66)? Who are gathered together? What is the first question about the identity of Jesus (Luke 22:67)? How does Jesus answer? What explanation does He give for not cross-examining with His own questions (Luke 22:68)? What does He declare about His identity and His future instead (Luke 22:69)? Now what do they ask about His identity (Luke 22:70a)? What is His answer in verse 70b? What question do they ask in Luke 22:71? What point are they making?

Jesus is the Christ (Luke 22:67a). This, all will be sure of, when they see Him sitting at the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69). But why don’t they believe now? It is not for lack of information—those who pretend so would not believe if they were told (Luke 22:67b). Nor is it for lack of persuasion—the Lord Jesus makes plain that they would not be responsive if He took the lead to persuade them (Luke 22:68).

This reminds us how utterly necessary the New Birth is. Christianity is perfectly reasonable. In fact, Christianity is the only reasonable way to understand all of reality: God, ourselves, salvation, everything. But no one can be merely reasoned into the kingdom. In fact, the Lord Jesus testified that He spoke in parables not so that all could understand but so that seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. When you or someone else does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the problem in the head has its roots in the heart, and it is the root that must ultimately be dealt with.

Yes, the Lord Jesus is the Great Prophet like Moses, who was to arise. Yes, the Lord Jesus is the Great High Priest to Whom even Aaron pointed forward, and in Whom all believers are to be united (cf. Psalm 133). Yes, the Lord Jesus is the Son of David, that great Forever-King to Whom all the Davidic kings pointed forward. 

But there is something even more at issue than Jesus being the Christ. What’s at issue is that the Christ turns out to be God Himself. That’s the point that Jesus makes by referring to Himself as the Son of Man. In Ezekiel, the Son of Man is a human figure. But in Daniel, the Son of Man is clearly divine—a theophany of God Himself, for it is He Who comes on the clouds in glory. When Jesus identifies Himself as the Son of Man in these terms, the Jewish religious elite all know what He is claiming: He is the Son of God. 

Truly, in order to be our Savior, Jesus had to be both. If He is merely man, He cannot save at all. If He is merely God, He cannot die in order to save. But it is this latter part of His claim for which He is condemned to die. The religious leaders believe themselves to have come into very good fortune, for they perceive Him to have made a blasphemously false claim to divinity: “What further testimony do we need?” (Luke 22:71).

How will you respond to the claims of Christ? You may tell yourself that He has not sufficiently proved Himself to be the Christ Who is God. But, if that’s what you think, the problem is actually in you and not the evidence. And you will not be able to make such a claim when you stand before Him. 

But the good news is that He to Whom all worship properly belongs gave Himself to be executed for making that claim, because He went to die not merely as a victim of injustice but as a willing substitute to bear what His sinful people justly deserved. If you find that you can’t bring yourself to believe in Him, you are correct. But He can bring you to that faith. Cry out for His Spirit to give you that certainty that Jesus is God, Who died for you. Look to Him, and be saved!

Whom do you know that is having difficulty with these claims of Christ? What can be done for them? How does the validity of Christ’s claims give the possibility of hope, even for many who do not currently recognize them?

Sample prayer:  Lord Jesus, You are our Lord and our God. Forgive us for how much our resistant hearts keep our minds from recognizing glorious truth about You. Grant Your Spirit’s powerful, merciful work to convince us—which we can ask, because You our God have been executed as an atonement for our sin, so we ask it in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP110B “The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”


Sunday, September 12, 2021

“Of Repentance unto Life” part 14, WCF 15.6.4, The Duty of Reconciliation (2021.09.12 Sabbath School in 2Corinthians 2:3–11)

The duty of encouraging one another, reconciling, and reaffirming affection is as much of an apostolic command as church discipline.
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