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

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Great Goodness for Which We Praise and Love Our God (2021.09.29 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 31:19–24)

God Himself is the treasure that He lays up for us and the protection that He provides for us. We praise Him for the miracle of His covenanted love to sinners and love Him Who first loved us.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

The Glorious God Is the One Who Gave Himself (Family Worship lesson in Colossians 1:15–18)

Who is the “Son of His love” in Whom we have redemption? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Colossians 1:15–18 prepares us for the second serial reading in Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Jesus is the Lord: the uncreated Creator of all things, Sustainer of all things, Ruler over all things… for Whom they all exist, and Who is glorified over them all.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.09.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:15–18

Read Colossians 1:15–18

Questions from the Scripture text: Of what is Christ the image (Colossians 1:15a)? What else is He, and over what (verse 15b)? How many things were created by Him (Colossians 1:16a)? Where? What kinds of things (verse 16b)? In addition to being created by Him, how were they created (verse 16c)? For Whom were they created? How else does Jesus relate to all things (Colossians 1:17a)? And how else (verse 17b)? What relation does He have to the church (Colossians 1:18a)? What, therefore, is the church called? In what two ways is He the head (verse 18b)? Between His relationship to the church and all created things, what is the result for Him (verse 18c)?

The glory of being redeemed in the Son is the truth about Who the Son is. He is not merely the “son of God” in the way that Adam is described to be in Luke 3:38, because He is not “created in the image of God” the way Adam is in Genesis 1:27

No, the Son is Himself the image of the invisible God, God’s display of Himself (v15a). In fact, He is the One Who created all things (Colossians 1:16a)—not only on earth but in heaven, not only visible but invisible, at every level of authority and power (verse 16b–c)! Indeed the apostle uses the language from Genesis 1 to declare the Son as the One through Whom Adam had to be created in order to be created in the image of God.

The Holy Spirit is saying the same thing in Colossians 1:15–17 as in John 1:1–4. The Son, the Word, is the uncreated Creator, God’s own display of Himself, by Whom and for Whom all creatures exist.

“He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15)

“And the Word was God” (John 1:1)

“the Firstborn over all creation, for by Him all things were created” (Colossians 1:15–16)

“without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3)

“that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities of powers” (Colossians 1:16)

“without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3)

“All things were created through Him” (Colossians 1:16)

“All things were made through Him” (John 1:3)

“And He is before all things” (Colossians 1:17)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1)

“and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17)

“In Him was life” (John 1:4)

This is the One who has fully paid for the church by dying for her (Colossians 1:14). So, He is her head, as her Husband, and considers her to be His own body (Colossians 1:18a), for whom He paid the redemption price of Himself. In fact, this redemption cost Him both incarnation and death, but by going through death for His church, He became the firstborn from among the dead (verse 18b). Where the Head has gone, His body will follow. 

How glorious to have the Creator-Lord as our Kinsman-Redeemer! He is God the Word (John 1:1–18) and God the Son (Colossians 1:15–17), but He became a Man as well to offer Himself to die as the bride price for us sinners who needed forgiveness!!

The upshot of all this is that the Son’s glory in the church is the pinnacle of His glory in all creation and all authority. All those other things, even the highest and greatest of them, glorify Him because He created them (Colossians 1:16). But the church brings Him glory as His purchased bride, whom He leads out of death and into resurrection life. “That in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18c).

What effect does it have upon your heart, as a believer, to know that God the Son Himself gave Himself to purchase you as part of His bride? When you read that this was all done so that He would have the first place, how does this shape your aim in your day to day living? In what does it teach you to delight? What can take away this joy?

Sample prayer: O Jesus, our Creator, all things are from You, and through You, and to You. To You be the glory forever and ever, AMEN! Though You are God, You became a man to die for us. Forgive us for how forgetful we are of your love. And forgive us for how we keep losing sight of Your glory as the aim of our life and salvation. Grant that we would live our whole lives as a knowing of Your love for us and a loving of You and Your glory, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP110B “The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH288 “We Come, O Christ, to You”

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

God's Grace Sufficient Both through and in Weakness (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 6:28–7:7)

Why does this passage begin by repeating Moses's complaint and end by giving us his age? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Exodus 6:28–7:7 prepares us for the first serial reading in Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God works through those who are weak and sinful in order to show both that what He accomplishes through them is a display of Himself and His glory alone and also that even their obedience and service itself had to be produced by His grace.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.09.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 6:28–7:7

Read Exodus 6:28–7:7

Questions from the Scripture text: When does this come to pass (Exodus 6:28)? What did Yahweh say about Himself (Exodus 6:29a)? What did He tell Moses to say to whom (verse 29b)? And how had Moses answered (Exodus 6:30, cf. Exodus 6:12)? But what had Yahweh said to Moses (Exodus 7:1, cf. Exodus 4:16)? What is Moses to speak to whom and by means of him to whom (Exodus 7:2)? But what will Yahweh do to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:3a, cf. Exodus 4:21)? Why—to multiply what (Exodus 7:3b)? So, what will happen (Exodus 7:4a)? Why (verse 4b)? What will this accomplish (Exodus 7:5)? What were the immediate results of the Lord’s speech to Moses (Exodus 7:6)? How does Exodus 7:7 tie this passage back to the genealogy in chapter 6? 

By way of the genealogy in Exodus 6:14–27, the Holy Spirit has already answered Moses’s objection from Exodus 6:12 for us. Now, He repeats the objection in Exodus 6:30, as the Lord answers Moses as well. Moses may be Moses, and that’s a problem; but Yahweh is Yahweh, and that’s the solution: 

“I am Yahweh,” Exodus 6:29

“I will […] multiply My signs,” Exodus 7:3

“I will […] multiply […] My wonders,” verse 3. 

“I will lay My hand on Egypt,” Exodus 7:4

“I will […] bring My hosts […] out of the land of Egypt,” verse 4.

“I will […] bring […] My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments,” verse 4.

“the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh,” Exodus 7:5.

“when I stretch out My hand on Egypt,” verse 5.

“when I […] bring out the children of Israel,” verse 5.

It’s all about Yahweh. It’s not about whether Moses’s lips will be up to the task (cf. Exodus 6:30). It’s about Yahweh making Himself known, His glory known, His covenant faithfulness known, His justice known. We make a great mistake, when we think about our circumstances and situations as if they are about us. 

In His works, just as in His Word, the Lord is always making Himself known.  We make a mistake when we are slow to obey out of fear that our weakness will keep the obedience from bearing fruit. And we make a mistake if our aim in obedience is more personal success than the display of God’s glory.

But God displays His glory and covenant faithfulness known not only in what He does through us, but also in what He does in us. And that’s the point of Exodus 7:6–7. We go from Moses saying, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me” (Exodus 6:30) , to “Moses and Aaron did so; just as Yahweh commanded them, so they did” (Exodus 7:6).

What produces this change from halting, doubting disobedience to complete, exact obedience? Eighty year-old Moses and Eighty-three year-old Aaron were from a nation of families that Yahweh had set apart for Himself. And He displays His faithfulness not only by delivering them from Egyptians, but also by giving them increasing deliverance from their own sins.

And He still does that today! You can trust Him, dear Christian, to do that work in you so that you more and more serve and obey with the confidence that He will display His own glory through you.

What situation are you in, where you feel that you’re not up to it? What is God aiming at in that situation? Where can you get the faith to serve and obey in it? 

Sample prayer:  O Lord, You showed Your glory in the way that You chose to deliver Your people from Egypt. And infinitely more so in the way that You have delivered all Your elect by Christ. Forgive us for forgetting that You are showing that same glory, even through the most difficult circumstances and service to which You call us. But even for increased faith, You are the One to Whom we may look. Glorify Yourself in us by growing us in Christ, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

2021.09.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 13

Read 1 Corinthians 13

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of authenticating sign would Paul be, if he had tongues signs even more than actually existed, but was missing the love sign (1 Corinthians 13:1)? If he has prophecy, and understands it all completely and believes it, but does not love, what is he (1 Corinthians 13:2)? If he performs great acts of self-sacrifice, what might he still not have? And what will it profit him (1 Corinthians 13:3)? What does love do (1 Corinthians 13:4a)? What does love be (verse 4b)? What two things does love not do (verse 4c-d)? What is love not (verse 4e)? How does love not behave (1 Corinthians 13:5)? What does it not seek? How does it not respond to offenses? What does it not think/calculate? What does love not rejoice in (1 Corinthians 13:6)? What does love rejoice in? What does love bear (1 Corinthians 13:7)? What does love believe? What does love hope? What does love endure? Which of the authenticating signs will never end (1 Corinthians 13:8)? What were currently partial at the time that Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 13:9)? Did God’s revelation remain incomplete? When the completion arrived what happened to partial words of prophecy and knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:10)? How does 1 Corinthians 13:11 describe the age of partial revelation? How does 1 Corinthians 13:12 describe the age of partial revelation? What three things outlast the age of partial revelation (1 Corinthians 13:13)? Which is the greatest of the three?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration all come from 1 Corinthians 13, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with If I Speak a Foreign Tongue

In chapter 12, the apostle had taught that the God’s Word was authenticated by gifts to display that it was the Lord Himself who was not only working faith in individual believers, but arranging them as members of the body, and making each a necessary and effective instrument of God in the lives of the other members of the congregation.

This focus on the Word is why prophecy in a known tongue is going to get such a hearty recommendation in chapter 14. The Word is what God especially uses to build us up. But here, in chapter 13, the focus is upon what the fruit looks like in a believer’s life, when he is being built up. Even during the age when the Spirit was giving new revelation, the authenticating signs that accompanied it did not compare with love. 

Love is the everlasting fruit of the Lord’s redemption and the Lord’s redeeming Word. Love was not only a sign that the effective Word was being spoken; it was a sign that the authentic Word had already begun to take its effect. There are other things that we might be tempted to be impressed by (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), but without love to authenticate them, we realize that they’re worthless. 

So, it’s important to know what this love looks like in the lives of believers. After all, one might be shocked by the assertion in 1 Corinthians 13:3 that giving everything for the poor and giving oneself up in sacrifice are not themselves tell-tale signs of genuine Christian love. Those are grand displays, but they are not love’s proving ground. 

No, what shows that love is real, and what shows that grace is real, is found in the condition of the heart and manner of interaction in the everyday nitty-gritty of life: Patience that maintains cheerfulness through the continual provocations of sharing life with sinners (1 Corinthians 13:4a). Kindness that steadily shows thoughtfulness and expresses tenderness (v4a). Gladness at others’ receiving words of praise and desirable possessions (verse 4b). Modesty that isn’t trying to be the one that gets noticed (verse 4c) or admired (verse 4d). This steady ooze of sweetness toward those around you in your everyday life—that’s what the apostle describes as the authenticating stamp of the Holy Spirit’s actually having laid hold of a person.

Now, there is much more that we could say about love in those verses, but that section from the middle of 1 Corinthians 13:5 to the end of 1 Corinthians 13:7 doesn’t get nearly enough consideration. 

Love is most easily identifiable when it is mistreated. How does love react then?

Love is not provoked—love refuses to take offense. It doesn’t calculate wrongs—there’s no keeping of score here. It doesn’t easily notice what ill has been done because it is busy delighting in what has been true. 

Love bears all things—love doesn’t say, “I’ve had it” or “I’m done.” It believes all things—if there’s a possible explanation with a good intention, that’s the one that love chooses to believe. It hopes all things—love doesn’t say, “this will never get better” but rather “it’s worth giving him another chance.” It endures all things—love says, “It’s worth it for me to carry the pain in order to continue in this relationship.”

“NO ONE loves like that, when they are mistreated!!” Exactly. Well, not exactly. And that is why love like this functions as an authenticating sign of the work of the Spirit in a person.

Jesus loved like that perfectly. And His loving is what is counted for us, as if we had done it, when we believe in Him. And because they are being made like Him, real Christians love like this more and more and more. 

The fact that love like this is so rare is why it works as a sign. Here is the authentication of the fact that the Holy Spirit has done real work in someone by His real Word: that person has come to love like 1 Corinthians 13 describes! The age of new revelation and its authenticating signs ended long ago. God has given us everything we need for the faith and hope that remain, but greater than these is the love that will continue even after faith becomes sight and hope has been fulfilled.

What other evidences do you tend to emphasize when thinking about how your Christian life is going? In what aspect of this description of love do you think you most need to grow? Who else (hint: they probably live with you) might be better able to answer this question for you? As you pursue loving more, what comfort do you get from Christ having done so perfectly?

Sample prayer: O God, Who are love in Yourself, we adore Your glory and holiness. How marvelous it is to us that You have chosen us in the Son of Your love, and have brought us into Your own love! Forgive us for how petty, bitter, hard, and mean we often are toward each other in our hearts and even in our interactions. Count Christ’s perfect love for us as if we had done it, and continue working in us to make us like He is, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH499 “If I Speak a Foreign Tongue”

Monday, September 27, 2021

2021.09.27 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)? 

Last week, we saw that the first response to this Scripture is to praise God that this trial of our Lord Jesus occurred exactly according to God’s Word, precisely to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose. As Pilate and Herod, king and ruler, make friends in Luke 23:12, we see a fulfillment of Psalm 2 for which the apostles also praised Him in Acts 4:23–28. And their continued response in Acts 4 models two other apostolic applications of Christ’s trial and this passage: imitating Christ and trusting Christ.

Imitating Christ. In contrast to the raging and plotting and turmoil of the people and Pilate and Herod, the Lord Jesus is the picture of calm in this passage. In Luke 23:3, He answers Pilate with two words. And He says even less in Luke 23:9, “He answered him nothing.” 1 Peter 2:20–25 picks this up, presenting Christ’s conduct under unjust attack as a model for us: suffer patiently, suffer politely, suffer prayerfully, and suffer perseveringly. 

Suffer patiently. There, the apostle is urging us to do good, so that if we suffer it will be for doing good. It is then that we are doing something “commendable before God” if we take it “patiently” (cf. 1 Peter 2:20). He says that this was one of the reasons for Jesus’s own conduct under His suffering for us: “leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Suffer politely. Again, the focus is upon doing good. The apostle points out in 1 Peter 2:22–23a that Jesus “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten.” The word ‘politely’ hardly covers it, but the point of the text is this: Jesus understood that there was danger of multiple tongue sins, precisely because of the injustice of His suffering, including (but not limited to): deceit (exaggerating His own case), reviling (attacking with His mouth those in offices where God has placed them and therefore necessitating our respectful speech), and threatening.

Suffer prayerfully. 1 Peter 2:23b gives us a window into the heart of our Lord Jesus throughout this trial. He “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” On earth, He was standing before those who were judging wickedly. But they are not the only judges, and they are not ultimately the judges of record. He committed Himself unto God. Considering what He was about to suffer for our sakes and our sin from the justice of this Judge, this is truly remarkable. The apostles in Acts 4 also made this application, not taking it upon themselves to mitigate the council’s threats but praying, “Now, Lord, look on their threats” (Acts 4:29). 

Suffer perseveringly. Jesus persisted in what He was given by God to do for us. He “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24a). He did this not only that we would be forgiven (“by Whose stripes you were healed”), but that in union with Him we would begin to live like Him: “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.” The apostles in Acts 4 conclude their prayer by asking to speak boldly (Acts 4:29b) and then follow their prayer by proceeding to speak boldly (Acts 4:31b). When we are punished for doing good, we glorify God under that persecution by persevering in doing that good all the more! Jesus died for us because we “were like sheep going astray” (1 Peter 2:25a), but His success under this very trial has resulted in our returning “to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25b).

Trusting Christ. Ultimately, this brings us back to Psalm 2. As Jesus stands before kings and rulers who conspire against Him, we are reminded that all of humanity is split into two camps: those who resist His reign, and those who kiss the Son. When nations and kings and rulers attack Christ by attacking His church, it is a right response to praise Him and to suffer well (patiently, politely, prayerfully, perseveringly), but our right response is not the ground of our blessing. Yes, Psalm 2 tells us, serve (Psalm 2:11a) and submit (Psalm 2:12a); but, that is not where blessedness comes from. “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (verse 2:12d)!

In what ways is the church generally, and are you specifically, being attacked for belonging to Christ or obeying Christ? How is your life exhibiting the responses of praising God and suffering well (patiently, politely, prayerfully, perseveringly)? What is your hope that this will turn out for your blessing?

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: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH525 “Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead Us”

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Lord Is Our Sure, Exclusive, and Necessary Help (2021.09.26 Evening Sermon in 2Samuel 22:29–37)

Since the Lord gives us nothing that we can handle and nothing that He can't handle, the Lord is our help regardless of the circumstance, the only help that we can ever have, and such a necessary help that growth in faith is not growth in independence but growth into more complete dependence.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this sermon)

Suffering Like Jesus, through Faith in Jesus (2021.09.26 Morning Sermon in Luke 23:1–12)


Even as Christ was purchasing our forgiveness and our liberty to live righteously under His leadership, He was setting us an example of how to live righteously when suffering for doing good.


(click audio title within player for a page where you can download video/mp3/pdf files of this sermon)

“Of Good Works” part 2, WCF 16.1.1–2, Man Cannot Define Good Works (2021.09.26 Sabbath School in Heb 13:20–22, Matt 15:3–9, Isa 29:9–14)

Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intention.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

2021.09.25 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)? 

Last week, we saw that the first response to this Scripture is to praise God that this trial of our Lord Jesus occurred exactly according to God’s Word, precisely to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose. As Pilate and Herod, king and ruler, make friends in Luke 23:12, we see a fulfillment of Psalm 2 for which the apostles also praised Him in Acts 4:23–28. And their continued response in Acts 4 models two other apostolic applications of Christ’s trial and this passage: imitating Christ and trusting Christ.

Imitating Christ. In contrast to the raging and plotting and turmoil of the people and Pilate and Herod, the Lord Jesus is the picture of calm in this passage. In Luke 23:3, He answers Pilate with two words. And He says even less in Luke 23:9, “He answered him nothing.” 1 Peter 2:20–25 picks this up, presenting Christ’s conduct under unjust attack as a model for us: suffer patiently, suffer politely, suffer prayerfully, and suffer perseveringly. 

Suffer patiently. There, the apostle is urging us to do good, so that if we suffer it will be for doing good. It is then that we are doing something “commendable before God” if we take it “patiently” (cf. 1 Peter 2:20). He says that this was one of the reasons for Jesus’s own conduct under His suffering for us: “leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Suffer politely. Again, the focus is upon doing good. The apostle points out in 1 Peter 2:22–23a that Jesus “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten.” The word ‘politely’ hardly covers it, but the point of the text is this: Jesus understood that there was danger of multiple tongue sins, precisely because of the injustice of His suffering, including (but not limited to): deceit (exaggerating His own case), reviling (attacking with His mouth those in offices where God has placed them and therefore necessitating our respectful speech), and threatening.

Suffer prayerfully. 1 Peter 2:23b gives us a window into the heart of our Lord Jesus throughout this trial. He “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” On earth, He was standing before those who were judging wickedly. But they are not the only judges, and they are not ultimately the judges of record. He committed Himself unto God. Considering what He was about to suffer for our sakes and our sin from the justice of this Judge, this is truly remarkable. The apostles in Acts 4 also made this application, not taking it upon themselves to mitigate the council’s threats but praying, “Now, Lord, look on their threats” (Acts 4:29). 

Suffer perseveringly. Jesus persisted in what He was given by God to do for us. He “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24a). He did this not only that we would be forgiven (“by Whose stripes you were healed”), but that in union with Him we would begin to live like Him: “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.” The apostles in Acts 4 conclude their prayer by asking to speak boldly (Acts 4:29b) and then follow their prayer by proceeding to speak boldly (Acts 4:31b). When we are punished for doing good, we glorify God under that persecution by persevering in doing that good all the more! Jesus died for us because we “were like sheep going astray” (1 Peter 2:25a), but His success under this very trial has resulted in our returning “to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25b).

Trusting Christ. Ultimately, this brings us back to Psalm 2. As Jesus stands before kings and rulers who conspire against Him, we are reminded that all of humanity is split into two camps: those who resist His reign, and those who kiss the Son. When nations and kings and rulers attack Christ by attacking His church, it is a right response to praise Him and to suffer well (patiently, politely, prayerfully, perseveringly), but our right response is not the ground of our blessing. Yes, Psalm 2 tells us, serve (Psalm 2:11a) and submit (Psalm 2:12a); but, that is not where blessedness comes from. “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (verse 2:12d)!

In what ways is the church generally, and are you specifically, being attacked for belonging to Christ or obeying Christ? How is your life exhibiting the responses of praising God and suffering well (patiently, politely, prayerfully, perseveringly)? What is your hope that this will turn out for your blessing?

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: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH525 “Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead Us”

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Long Term Value of a Good Name with God (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 22:1–4)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from “the Proverb of the day.” In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we should take the long view of things, both within this life, but especially with respect to eternity.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

The Lord Is Our Sure, Exclusive, and Necessary Help (Family Worship lesson in 2Samuel 22:29–37)

Why does David say he can leap over a wall or bend a bow of bronze? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 22:29–37 prepares us for the Evening Sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord Himself is a sure help, an exclusive help, and a necessary help
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.09.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 22:29–37

Read 2 Samuel 22:29–37

Questions from the Scripture text: What is Yahweh unto David (2 Samuel 22:29a)? What does He do to him (verse 29b)? What does David describe himself as being able to do, by Whom (2 Samuel 22:30a)? What else (verse 30b)? What does he call God here? What does he say about God’s way (2 Samuel 22:31a)? What does he say about God’s Word (verse 31b)? What does he call Him when talking about His proven Word? What is God to whom in verse 31c? What question does 2 Samuel 22:32a ask? With what implied answer? And what question in verse 32b? With what implied answer? What two things is God to David in 2 Samuel 22:33a? For what purpose does God imbue him with strength and power (verse 33b)? What else does God do for David (2 Samuel 22:34a)? Where does God set him (verse 34b)? For what does God train David’s hands (2 Samuel 22:35a)? With what result (verse 35b)? What has God given him (2 Samuel 22:36a)? What has God been toward David, to make him great (verse 36b)? What has God done for David (2 Samuel 22:37a)? Why (verse 37b)?

In the previous section of the Psalm, we realized that because God has given us Christ Himself for our righteousness, God’s own justness demands that we be helped. But what kind of help does God’s justice demand for us? It demands that God Himself be that help! Therefore, our help is sure, exclusive, and necessary.

Our help is sure, regardless of the challenge, 2 Samuel 22:29-31. Running against an entire troop. Leaping over a wall. The images in 2 Samuel 22:30 seem hyperbolic to us. But that’s because of how limited we are. The help of the one who has Christ for his righteousness is not limited, because that help is Yahweh Himself. Yahweh Himself is the Lamp (2 Samuel 22:29). Yahweh Himself is the Shield (2 Samuel 22:31). He is perfect; He is proven; He is Yahweh.

Our help is exclusive, giving us the kind of help that cannot be found and must not be looked for elsewhere, 2 Samuel 22:32-35. The implied answer to the questions in 2 Samuel 22:32 is “no one.” If you have to have God Himself as your strength and power (2 Samuel 22:33), there’s no other place to look. What speed and agility program could you follow to become like a leaping deer (2 Samuel 22:34)? What strength program could you follow to bend bronze (2 Samuel 22:35)? These images are like the ones from 2 Samuel 22:30. It is idolatrous folly to consider something other than the Lord Himself our help. Even all of the means that He gives us to use are only useful because He is the One who helps us by them.

Our help is necessary; we cannot function rightly without it. He strengthens us not to independence but unto dependence, 2 Samuel 22:36-37. God’s help is not a leg up for a while, after which we would be prepared to take things on by ourselves. God Himself must continue to be his shield (2 Samuel 22:36a). What makes the believer “great”? God’s gentleness with him (verse 36b). The picture of dependence in 2 Samuel 22:37 is subtle at first, but quite stark once you see it. Why aren’t David’s feet slipping? Not because God has given him super-agility-training; the image is of God manipulating providence to literally enlarge the ground right underneath him. We must be continually dependent upon Him, knowing that He is continually in complete control.

Blessed is that man whose help is the Lord!

What difficult situation are you facing right now? What is your duty in that situation? How can you be able to face and do your duty in such a situation? What “chance” is there that this situation will turn out for the best?

Sample prayer:  Lord, by Your perfect righteousness in Christ, You have secured for us Yourself as our infinite help. We praise You for Your glorious mercy and power! Forgive us for when we worry as if we have no help, or when we foolishly trust in other things as our help, or when we arrogantly feel as if we are not in need of help. Yes forgive us, and since You Yourself are our help even against this sin of ours, cleanse us from all unrighteousness, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

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

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Despair Drives Us to Delight in Our God (2021.09.22 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 31:9–18)

Believers can take the greatest pain to their Lord, for His comforts will always prove greater than their pain!
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Delivered, Conveyed, Redeemed, and Forgiven! (Family Worship lesson in Colossians 1:13–14)

Why does praying for sanctification spill over so easily into pouring out thanksgiving? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Colossians 1:13–14 prepares us for the second serial reading in Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that our sanctification so that we can finally partake of the inheritance of the saints in light flows out of four glorious things that God has given us in Christ Jesus: deliverance, conveyance, redemption, and forgiveness.
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2021.09.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:13–14

Read Colossians 1:13–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the Father done to us (Colossians 1:13a)? From what has He delivered us? What else has He done to us (verse 13)? Into what sort of place has He conveyed us? Whose kingdom is it? What more specific name is given to the Son here? What else do we have in the Son (Colossians 1:14)? Through what do we have this redemption? Of what does this redemption consist? 

In order for us formerly-disqualified sinners to be able to “partake of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12), a rescue operation had to occur.  We had to be delivered from one place (Colossians 1:13a). We had to be conveyed into another (verse 13b). For this to happen, we had to be purchased (redeemed, Colossians 1:14a). And this purchase is effective because it “secures passage” by way of forgiveness (verse 14b).

Delivered. Who? God is the One Who delivers. This may seem obvious, since this is a statement of thanksgiving, but how many act as if it is left to us. But we neither have the requisite love to seek our own deliverance (preferring rather to live under the power of darkness) nor the requisite ability to effect it (so that, even if we could somehow have preferred rather to be slaves of God in Christ, we would not have been able to break free from slavery to sin.

Whom? Us. The apostle brings himself into the formula here, alongside the Colossians. He had known himself to be the chief of sinners. There is not a single Christian who has not had to be rescued entirely by God’s power in God’s love. Christians may be made into grace-sustained heroes of a sort, which description they reject for themselves, grace-sustained as they are. But, one is not made a Christian by any sort of heroism, grace-sustained or otherwise. One is made a Christian by God’s own heroic rescuing of us.

From whence? From the power of darkness. Not just from the guilt of our darkness, though certainly that. Not just from alliance with darkness or allegiance to darkness, though certainly that. But even from its power. We could go to Romans 6 and see this truth at greater length, but a Christian is one over whom sin is no longer master. Its rule over him has been broken. He still sins, to be sure, but he has the liberty to reject it as master—in fact, we can rightly say that he does not have the liberty to continue to accept it as master, for all that he is belongs to another now, as we are about to see.

Conveyed. Believers have not just been brought out from under one master; they have been carried into the kingdom of an infinitely better one: “the kingdom of the Son of His love.” It is a kingdom of Sonship, where all have not only a glorious citizenship, but a gracious adoption. Its King is the only-begotten, but all who belong to His kingdom are shown such love that they are called the children of God (cf. 1 John 3:1–2).  

And just as God says of His Son, “this is My beloved,” so it is with all who bear the symbols of the Son, and are indwelt by the Spirit of the Son, and live in the service of the Son. The love with which the Father loves the Son from all eternity, within the Godhead, is bestowed upon them. He says of each one in Christ, “this is My beloved.

Redeemed. A purchase has taken place. There is something in the gospel that is akin to a retail receipt, and when we scan it to locate the purchase price we find the shocking words “in Him” (or, as our translation puts it, “in Whom”). Yes, the purchase price was blood, but consider Who it was that bled! Our own blood would not have been sufficient. The church had to be purchased by the blood of God (cf. Acts 20:28). The Greek text used in the church throughout the centuries does not include “through His blood,” for His blood itself required that He Himself be given for us and be given to us.

How was it that the Son came to bleed for us? From all eternity, He has no body. He cannot die. Indeed, He cannot suffer at all, which was necessary. The sacrifices that pointed forward to His redeeming work underwent not only the slaying and the bleeding but then the burning fire that sets forth a picture of the wrath of God. And so God—and specifically, the third Person of the Godhead—had to take to Himself not only a human body in order to bleed and die, but a reasoning soul that would be able to suffer. That is to say that the Son of His love took to Himself an additional, complete humanity, precisely that He could endure wrath. 

Redeemed! The purchase has zero “amount due”; it is “paid in full,” and what a marvelous payment! God the Spirit grant us to see its value, so that we may ever be full of thanksgiving for our redemption.

Forgiveness. We have just been thinking about redemption using the image of a purchase receipt. To understand this word translated “forgiveness,” another piece of paper may be a helpful image. This time, it is a bill of debt, but for us it says “cancelled.” It can mean released (of slaves), remitted (of debt), dismissed (of charges), or exempted (of taxes). What a great debt our sin was against God, and now it has been wiped out completely! That’s what this forgiveness is. 

Delivered. Conveyed. Redeemed. Forgiveness. Truly, the Lord has done a glorious—an infinitely, divinely glorious—work to “qualify us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light”! No wonder that the apostle added to this thanksgiving such eager prayers that the ongoing, sanctifying work to bring them into that inheritance would advance. Let us learn to pray for and desire sanctification for the same reason!

What has God done to qualify you to have heaven as your inheritance? How ought you to respond to Him? What must still be done for you to come into that inheritance? How do your prayers and habits prioritize this?

Sample prayer: O Triune God, in You is all true love and all true power! And it takes our breath away that in all of that love, You have loved us in the Son, and that by all of that power You have saved us in the Son. Forgive us for how easily we take Your glorious salvation for granted. When You have secured our inheritance in such a way, how grievous it is that we do not prize that holiness which we must have to come into that inheritance! So, grant Your Spirit’s ongoing work to stir up thankfulness in our hearts and produce holiness in our lives, which we ask through Christ, AMEN! 

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

How to Plead Our Righteousness before God in Prayer (2021.09.19 Evening Sermon in 2Samuel 22:21–28)

Through faith in Christ, we may plead our righteousness before God, because Christ’s obedience has been counted for us as if we had done it; because Christ Himself is our righteousness, and we can pray in union with Him; and, because whatever true righteousness has come out of our sanctification is the fruit of the same saving work, and rewarded by God not for its merit but by grace (for Christ’s merit).
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God's Sign Points to His Faithfulness, Not Our Fitness (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 6:9–27)

Why does this particular genealogy appear at this point in Exodus? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Exodus 6:9–27 prepares us for the first serial reading in Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these nineteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that our salvation—and ultimately even our usefulness—depends upon His faithfulness, which is the point of His covenant sign.
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2021.09.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 6:9–27

Read Exodus 6:9–27

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom did Moses speak Yahweh’s words (Exodus 6:9)? How did they respond? Why? Who spoke now (Exodus 6:10)? What did He command (Exodus 6:11)? How does Moses respond—what does he argue against this (Exodus 6:12)? For whom does Yahweh now restate commands to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:13)? What does the Scripture proceed to describe about the children of Israel (Exodus 6:14)? Whose sons first, and who were his firstborn? Whose sons second (Exodus 6:15)? Which son is singled out and for what? Whose sons does the rest of the passage cover (Exodus 6:16)? What info does verse 16 add about him? Which clan does Exodus 6:17 cover? Which clan in Exodus 6:18? What info does verse 18 add? Which clan in Exodus 6:19? What man, from which clan, does Exodus 6:20 zero in upon? Whom did he marry? Whom did she bear him? What other relations of theirs are described in Exodus 6:21-22? Whose wife and sons does Exodus 6:23 list? Who are they? Upon which of his nephews does Exodus 6:24 focus? Upon which of his sons does Exodus 6:25 focus? What do Exodus 6:26-27 give as the reason for this focus in this genealogy—what had Yahweh said to them? To whom did they speak (Exodus 6:27)?

The Lord had given Moses a command in Exodus 6:6, “Say to the children of Israel…” Now in Exodus 6:9, Moses obeys, but with bad results literally “because of shortness of breath and cruel bondage.” With their new working conditions, no one had the breath to listen or believe.

So when in Exodus 6:11 the Lord gives Moses a similar command, “Go in tell Pharaoh…,” Moses states what he thinks is obvious: the “telling people stuff” campaign doesn’t work with “uncircumcised lips” like his. Moses doesn’t understand the point of circumcision: that we need our fleshliness cut away by God’s almighty power and atoned for by God’s infinitely worthy sacrifice. (Baptism is even better: it announces that God pours out His Spirit to give us new birth and washes us clean by the blood of Jesus!)

This time, the Lord doesn’t stoop down to argue with Moses. He just renews the commands (Exodus 6:13). There’s a good lesson in that. Sometimes, the Lord gives us reasons so that we can understand how His commands are good or will work. But even without them, He is the Lord, and we should obey.

The Holy Spirit, however, gives us an answer to Moses’s question in the genealogy that follows. The conclusion to the genealogy in Exodus 6:26-27, restating the commands, and emphasizing twice that it was these very same Moses and Aaron “who spoke to Pharaoh.” The lesson is pretty plain: Moses is from the covenant line, as his circumcision attests. When Pharaoh listens to him, it will not be because his lips did such a good job, but because God has exerted His almighty power. He doesn’t need “circumcised lips.” He is as he needs to be, because God has set him apart to Himself by covenant.

So the genealogy places Moses and Aaron among the covenant people generally at first. Eldest son (Exodus 6:14). Second son (Exodus 6:15). Third son (Exodus 6:16). By giving the ages at death of Levi and Kohath (Exodus 6:18), the text may even be implying that the Lord granted unusually long (for that time) lifespans so that Moses’s and Aaron’s parents would be a grandson of Levi and a daughter of Levi—Moses is much more immediately connected to the patriarchs than many of us imagine!

And that’s the point. Moses isn’t just a covenanted servant. Israel is a people whom the Lord has covenanted to save. This promise has been His declaration over each of their households, throughout their generations, despite their unworthiness (or anti-worthiness, cf. the Canaanite mother of Shaul in Exodus 6:15, and the infamous names of Nadab and Abihu in Exodus 6:23). 

And your baptism testifies the same to you. The Lord has put you among His covenant people. The Lord summons you to believe in the cleansing blood of Christ and depend upon the regenerating power of His Spirit. More than that, the Lord promises unto your faith that you are useful despite your deficiencies and shall be finally and fully saved, despite your anti-worthiness! He traces His work across generations, makes promises to grandparents and great-grandparents, and then keeps them to their offspring. 

He is the Lord. That is enough to obey Him. And He is the covenant Lord. That is enough to be confident that His commands will bring blessing!

What have you been called to that you feel inadequate for? Why can you be confident of its ultimate effectiveness? Of what else can you be sure by God’s covenant?

Sample prayer:  O Lord, You are the faithful, powerful, wise, covenant-keeping God! Blessed be Your Name forever and ever! But we so fail to glorify You that we often doubt the goodness of Your commands, or even resist obeying until we approve of their prospects of doing good. Forgive us, O God! And use us, according to Your power and perfect purpose in Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, Amen!  

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Kings and Rulers Take Counsel Together—Just as God Said, and Just as God Purposed for His Glory in Redemption (2021.09.19 Morning Sermon in Luke 23:1–12)


Nations still rage, peoples plot vanity, and kings and rulers still conspire. But our Lord does whatever His almighty hand and His redeeming purpose determined before to be done.


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“Of Good Works” part 1, WCF 16.1.1, Good Works Are Only Whatever God Says They Are

"Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His holy Word."
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Triune Love Produced, Known, and Displayed in the Divinely Redeemed (Family Worship lesson in 1John 4:7–19)

In what way does true love display God? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 1John 4:7–19 prepares us for the opening portion of Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that genuine love is only that love which comes by new birth, because its source is that love that God has within Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. We know that love because in giving the Son, He has given Himself. And, in giving the Spirit, He has given us the ability to know the Father and the Son and therefore to know the Divine love of God in giving the Son to become a propitiation, and therefore to become a Man so that He could die and atone for us. The only-begotten Son is the full display of God to us; and though not a full display, the Spirit-born love of believers is yet a true display of God in us. Of course, this Divine love has God Himself as its first and great object, so that when we see the Son on the judgment throne, our hearts will be so full of love to Him (for first loving us!) that there will be no room in our hearts on that day for fear. Hallelujah!
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2021.09.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 4:7–19

Read 1 John 4:7–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them (1 John 4:7a)? What does he say to do? From where would this love come? How does it come from Him? What is true of someone who doesn’t love (1 John 4:8)? Why? How did God show His love (1 John 4:9)? From where does love not originate (1 John 4:10)? From where does it originate, and in what did it result? What does that display of love call for from us (1 John 4:11)? What has no one seen (1 John 4:12)? But in whom does God abide, and in whom does His love fully display itself? What can loving make us know (1 John 4:13)? Why—what can we know He has given us, if we love? What else is evidence of this indwelling of the Spirit and abiding in God (1 John 4:14-15)? And what are confessing/knowing/believing when we confess this about Christ (1 John 4:16)? What is love? For what day does our current love give us boldness (1 John 4:17)? What likeness/resemblance fosters this boldness? What isn’t there in love (1 John 4:18)? What does perfected love do? What does it show if we fear? Whom do we love, and why, in 1 John 4:19?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration all come from 1 John 4:7–18, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with My Jesus, I Love Thee

The apostle urges us to love one another, because this is the currently visible display of something that goes back into God Himself. 1 John 4:12 clues us in to the fact that this is where he is taking us, because he uses language from the prologue of his gospel (cf. John 1:18). 

There, he had begun at the beginning—where the Word was already God and with God. This, of course, is how it can be true that God is love (1 John 4:8b). Because God is Triune—three Persons but one substance, one God—He is able to have love within Himself, by the mutual adoration of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. 

In John 1, no one had seen God at any time, but the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, fully declared (exegeted) Him. Now, in 1 John 4, though we do not “exegete” God to the world as Christ does, yet as His adopted children, “God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” That is to say that it was His plan that when He takes sinners such as we were; and makes us lovers of Him and of one another, such as we are; He would display in us a reflection or refraction of His own glorious love.

This is the only source of genuinely True love (capital T!). “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Jesus’s love for us is the greatest display of God’s love in His only-begotten Son (cf. John 1:17). Now our love for one another is the greatest display of our “born of God” new birth, and our “knowing God” as Father, Son, and Spirit in our adoption.

Love is all in the family. If you don’t love, you don’t know God. Simple as that. The only way to know God is in His Son, and those who know the Son know Him as the propitiation (full atonement) for our sins. That’s how we know love, and our right response and imitation is to love one another (1 John 4:11). But if you have this birth from God and the Spirit of God (1 John 4:13), then by the Spirit you see and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior.

These great truths can make your mind spin, or swim, as you consider them. But, they can also bring clarity and freedom to thinking about other things. One of these we have already seen: our brothers and sisters in the church. God loved me in Jesus; God loved them in Jesus; I must love them in God and Jesus. Another area that becomes crystal clear when thinking about God and His love is the day of judgment. God loved me in Jesus, atoning for me by Him and saving me by Him, so I can think about the day of judgment with boldness instead of fear (1 John 4:17-18).

We love Him because He made Himself ours. We love Him because He atoned for us. We love Him in life; we’ll love Him in death; we’ll love Him at the judgment; we’ll love Him forever. We love Him because He first loved us.

How does meditating upon Christ’s atonement and how it was planned/executed help you know what love is? How does this help you love others? What would someone think about God’s love for us, if they thought your love for the brethren was a reflection of it? How does meditating upon Christ’s atonement and the day of judgment help you love Him?

Sample prayer: O God, You are love in Yourself. We enter into Your own eternal and infinite joy when we love You. And You have brought us into that love by the gift of Your Son to atone for our sins, and by the gift of new birth from Your Spirit. Forgive us for when our love for You is dull or cold, and when we fail to love one another. Just as You have given us fearlessness in the judgment by the atonement of Christ, so also give us forgiveness and cleansing, and conform us to Christ. Make us love Him and one another, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “Thank the Lord, for He Is Good” or TPH496 “My Jesus, I Love Thee”

Monday, September 20, 2021

Avoiding Wrath by Respecting Real Authority (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 20:2)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from “the Proverb of the day.” In this one verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that authority is an institution of God and must be honored out of reverence for Him.
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2021.09.20 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 2:23Acts 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 2:1–2Acts 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”

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”