Thursday, April 18, 2024

Trinitarian, Sanctifying Grace [Family Worship lesson in 1John 2:28–3:3]

What do God's children do? 1John 2:28–3:3 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord's Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God's children abide in Christ and purify themselves as He is pure.
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2024.04.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 2:28–3:3

Read 1 John 2:28–3:3

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them (again) in 1 John 2:28? What does he tell them to do? How does this relate to their anointing from Christ (cf. 1 John 2:27)? What is He going to do? What will those who are abiding in Him have, when He appears? What won’t they be? Before Whom? At what time? What do they know about Him (1 John 2:29)? What is His righteousness the only explanation for? How do those who practice righteousness come to do so? With what command does 1 John 3:1 begin? What are they to behold about God’s love? What does he call God, as a clue to what sort of love this is? With what verb does he describe the extension of this love from the Father to them? What does this love bring about—what does the bestowing of Fatherly love cause them to be called? Who do not know/acknowledge/understand them? Whom else does the world not know/acknowledge/understand? Now what does the apostle call them in 1 John 3:2? How does their name relate to their current status? What aspect of their adoption has not yet been appeared (cf. Romans 8:23)? But what do we know about that aspect at the time of His appearing? What will we be like? In order to do what? Again, in 1 John 3:3, what do all children/beloved already have? In Whom? What does each of them do to Himself? According to what standard?

What do God’s children do? 1 John 2:28–3:3 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God’s children abide in Christ and purify themselves as He is pure.

There are two great commands here that produce the same result in the life of the believer. The commands are with respect to the Son and the Father, and each is sustained by a special work of the Holy Spirit. 

Abide in the Son1 John 2:28-29. It is from out of the Son that we were born (end of 1 John 2:29), which is the only way that someone comes to practice (more literally, “work”) righteousness. We were originally born out of our first father, Adam, so we do not begin as those who work righteousness. But we know that Christ is righteous (verse 29a). Everyone who works righteousness has a new birth from Christ and in Christ. There is no other way that this happens, and no other working is “righteous.” 

Those who have had this beginning of being born of Christ will have the sweet ending, at His coming, of not being ashamed before Him (1 John 2:28). How extraordinary! It is one thing to be in a condition in which you will not be ashamed before men. But what is it to be in a condition in which we will not be ashamed before the glorified Jesus?! The only way that this can happen is to “abide in Him.” And we know from 1 John 2:27 how that happens. The anointing that we have received from Christ (His Holy Spirit) abides in us, teaches us, and makes us to abide in Him (cf. verse 27). 

Behold the love of the Father1 John 3:1. More precisely than to behold the love itself, the command is to behold what sort of love it is. So, 1 John 3:1 is commanding not merely consideration but wonder. What sort of love is it?

  • It is divine love—love that issues from the goodness of God and the fellowship of the Godhead.
  • It is Fatherly love, the love of “the Father”—love that is from everlasting, with the divine Father as its fountain and the divine Son as its object; we have been brought into that love (cf. Ephesians 1:4–6).
  • It is adopting love. It causes us to be called the children of God.
  • It is gifted love—“bestowed,” not earned.
  • It is consoling love. 

When the world refuses to acknowledge us and denounces us, it is a reminder tat this is a consequence of having been brought into the family whose Head receives the same from them (end of 1 John 3:1). What sort of love is this? Behold what sort of love! As the Spirit makes us to cry “Abba, Father,” (cf. Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), He is pouring out this sort of love in our hearts (cf. Romans 5:5). 

Therefore, purify yourself1 John 3:2-3. Both instances of “revealed” in 1 John 3:2 are the same as “appears” in 1 John 2:28. Jesus will soon appear (verse 28). Only then will the full consequences of our adoption also appear (1 John 3:2b, cf. Romans 8:23). We already have status as children (1 John 3:2a), and we already have the hope (1 John 3:3, biblical/NT hope, i.e., “sure certainty”) that when He appears we shall be like Him and see Him as He is (end of 1 John 3:2). But we do not yet have the hoped-for things: glorified body and purified soul. 

So, the hope makes a difference. We are unable to “work on” a glorified body, but sanctification is for keeps. And those who live out of this hope purify themselves as He is pure. This cuts two ways. First, He is the standard of our purification. His own purity gives purity its definition and extent. Second, His purity is the outcome of our purification. We labor as those who are sure to arrive at the goal —who are sure not to be ashamed, even before Him and even at His (glorious!) coming. Both the abiding in the Son that the Spirit teaches, and the love of Father that the Spirit pours out in our hearts, have this great effect: they drive us to purify ourselves. They compel sanctification!

By what means do you abide in Christ? How is “making your home in Christ” your goal as you attend upon those means? Who tells you to do this and gives to you to do this? With what sort of love has the Father loved you? What does this guarantee about your end? What does this hope drive you to do?

Sample prayer:  Lord, if we were to stand before You in ourselves, or in our present condition, we would surely be ashamed. Forgive us, and cleanse us of our remaining sin, so that we will not be ashamed. Forgive us for how forgetful we are of abiding in You, and grant that we would rest in You and flourish spiritually. Forgive us for being too unimpressed with the greatness of the Father’s love for us. And forgive us for desiring to be acknowledged by the world. Forgive us for not keeping our eyes upon the purifying that is necessary in order to see You as You are. And grant that we would have this hope and live in this hope, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP118A “Because He’s Good, O Thank the LORD” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

True Love [2024.04.14 Midweek Sermon in Romans 13:8–10]


True love is unto God first, defined by God's law, and determined by God's providence.

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Favor and Fellowship from the Throne [2024.04.14 Evening Sermon in Numbers 7:89–8:4]


For the people who know that the great thing about them is their God, their great God insists that they know His great grace to them in favor and fellowship.

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Treasuring Sanctification with Other Saints [2024.04.14 Morning Sermon in Matthew 7:1–6]


Treasuring heaven trains us to treasure holiness and God's holy ones.

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Resistance to Tyranny (5): Tactical Options for Individuals, Churches, or Magistrates [2024.04.14 Sabbath School]

Resistance tactic options for individuals, churches, magistrates.
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2024.04.17 Prayer Meeting Live Stream [live at 6:30p]

Click below for the:
April 17 Prayer Meeting Folder
Romans 13:8–10 Sermon Outline
We urge you to assemble physically, if possible, with a true congregation of Christ's church. For those of our own congregation who may be providentially hindered, we are grateful to be able to provide this service.

Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day (Sabbath School, Morning Public Worship, and p.m. Singing and Sermon) and Midweek Meeting (sermon and prayer). For notifications when Hopewell is streaming live, install the CHURCHONE APP on your [Apple], [Android], or [Kindle] device, and enter hopewellarp for your broadcaster

The Successful, Saving Resolve of the Suffering Servant [Family Worship lesson in Isaiah 52:13–53:12]

How did the Servant bring many sons to glory? Isaiah 52:13–53:12 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these fifteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that it was by His suffering that the Servant brought many sons to glory.
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Trinitarian, Sanctifying Grace [Family Worship lesson in 1John 2:28–3:3]

What do God’s children do? 1John 2:28–3:3 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God’s children abide in Christ and purify themselves as He is pure.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2024.04.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 52:13–53:12

Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12

Questions from the Scripture text: With what command does Isaiah 52:13a begin? Whom should we behold? How will He deal? What will happen to Him (verse 13b)? What will we see when we look (Isaiah 52:14)? What shall He do to whom (Isaiah 52:15a)? What will kings do (verse 15b)? What will they see (verse 15c)? What will they hear (verse 15d)? What two questions does Isaiah 53:1 ask? With what word does Isaiah 52:2 begin? So, what is this report that is the revelation of YHWH’s saving arm? Like what kind of plant would the Servant grow (verse 2a)? Out of what kind of ground (verse 2b)? What does verse 2 assure us would not be true about the Servant physically? How would men treat Him (Isaiah 52:3a)? What would He experience (verse 3b)? How would we respond to His sorrow and grief? But whose grief and sorrow is He actually carrying (Isaiah 52:4)? And Who, would men think, was punishing the Servant? But for whose transgressions was He wounded (Isaiah 52:5a)? For whose iniquities was He bruised? For whose peace was He chastised? Whom did He heal by His stripes? What had we done (Isaiah 52:6)? And Who was it that laid their guilt upon the Servant instead? When it came time for Him to die, how did it happen (Isaiah 52:7a, c)? And how did He conduct Himself (verse 7b, d, e)? What was done to Him (Isaiah 52:8a, c)? What generation doesn’t know what to say to this (verse 8b)? But what does YHWH say to this (verse 8d)? With what people did men appoint His grave to be (Isaiah 52:9a) But with whom did He end up being buried (verse 9b)? Why (verse 9c–d)? Whom did it please (Isaiah 52:10a) to do what (verse v10a–c)? With what outcome for the Servant (verse 10d)? And Whose pleasure will He proceed to accomplish (verse 10e)? How will the Servant feel about this (Isaiah 52:11a)? With what, especially, will He be satisfied (verse 11b)? How, will He do this (verse 11c)? With how many does He share His portion (Isaiah 52:12a)? What will be the condition of these portion-sharers (verse 12b)? How did He gain this for whom (verse 12c–f)?

How did the Servant bring many sons to glory? Isaiah 52:13–53:12 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these fifteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that it was by His suffering that the Servant brought many sons to glory. 

A command to beholdIsaiah 52:13. “Behold” in verse 13 is a command to look at, consider, and dwell upon the marvelous truths that follow—and the marvelous One about whom they are true. Marveling at the wisdom (verse 13a) of how He accomplishes His own exaltation, by way of our salvation, is part of His bringing us to faith, and we will be rejoice to continue that marveling forever. 

Astonishing suffering, astonished salvationIsaiah 52:14-15. The suffering is so great that it is spoken of as dehumanizing (Isaiah 52:14b). The astonishing suffering (verse 14) accomplishes astonishing salvation (Isaiah 52:15a) unto astonished worship (verse 15b).

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead seeIsaiah 53:1-2. The arm of YHWH, a revelation of Himself (cf. Isaiah 51:19) and His own saving action (cf. Isaiah 52:10), is reported (Isaiah 53:1a) as revealed (verse 1b), not first in the saving of His servant, but first in the smiting and suffering of His servant (Isaiah 53:3). This Servant, Who is a revelation of YHWH, is also distinct from Yahweh, since He is before Him in Isaiah 53:2a (cf. John 1:1–2; 1 John 1:2). 

And He is described in very human and creaturely terms as growing up, a tender shoot at first (Isaiah 53:2a)—unexpectedly from infertile/dry ground (verse 2b)! His humanity is so complete that there are no visible cues to distinguish his Divine personhood (verse 2c–e). 

The complexities of how this humanity fits with Him being YHWH Himself will not be resolved until the incarnation. Even after they are resolved, they remain so profound that we will learn and worship forever. 

A seeing that is only by grace–given faithIsaiah 53:3-4. In themselves, men do not rightly respond to or recognize Him (Isaiah 53:3).  We are so ignorant that the fault is ours (Isaiah 53:4a–b), that we think that His suffering is due to rejection by God (verse 4c–d), rather than approval by God as the only One who could successfully atone. 

Apart from grace, people have the same response to Jesus now that they did then. They are rebellious against His demands of exclusivity, indignant at His claims of divinity, and offended by His convicting exposition of morality that accuses and condemns us all. Then and now, apart from grace, sinners want to conclude that the Scriptural Jesus is bad (Isaiah 53:4c–d) for these things, in order to maintain a view of ourselves as good. 

The Man of greatest sorrow everIsaiah 53:3-5. There is an emphasis here on the consequences of the fall, by use of the literal language of sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4a, where NKJ has “griefs”) and pains (verse 4b, where NKJ has “sorrows”). He did not make Himself more miserable by sin, like we do with our own sin.  But the miseries of this life were more profoundly miserable to Him for the knowledge of their origin, and for their distortion of “very good” condition in which He had created all things (cf. Genesis 1:31), and for what the enemy had done to mar the display of God's glory in His image bearers, and even for the knowledge of what all of these sicknesses and pains would culminate in, when He was made to be sin with our sin at the cross (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). Not only did the Lord Jesus genuinely suffer illness and pain throughout His earthly life, He suffered it more genuinely and profoundly than any of us can imagine in our own ignorance and sinfulness.

We do not suffer the miseries of this life in the right way, but the Lord Jesus has done so obediently and believingly in our place (obedience in experiencing everything sinlessly, “active obedience”). So also we are unable to suffer the penalty for the guilt of our sins, but the Lord Jesus has also done this (obedience in subjecting Himself to curse for us, “passive obedience”). Thus, He brings that peace (Isaiah 53:5c) in which the miseries themselves shall eliminated. The contrast between the “all” and the singular “Him” in Isaiah 53:6 shows how great indeed must be the atonement and the One who makes it. It is a similar contrast to that of the one and the all in Romans 5:12, Romans 5:18 and the one and the many in Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19

Suffering that had to happen, one way or the otherIsaiah 53:4-6. Going astray (Isaiah 53:6a) is not only the language of leaving the correct path/place, but also the language of putting oneself in danger of sure and violent death. This is what happens when sheep go astray. Grace opens our eyes to see that it is because we are wicked that the one good Man that there has ever been was wounded, bruised, chastised, and scourged (Isaiah 53:5-6). Redundant pronouns in the original emphasize that He Himself suffered this (Isaiah 53:4a and c; Isaiah 53:5a, c, and d; Isaiah 53:6c). He alone. Because we could not. And in the contrast of the Hebrew poetic parallels, this is emphasizing that we alone are the sinners.

Laying down His life with authorityIsaiah 53:7-8Isaiah 53:7-9 zoom in on the end of the Servant’s earthly life, just like Isaiah 53:1-3 had zoomed in on the beginning of His earthly life. There is not just the willingness of God to make the Servant into the suffering substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6), but now here an emphasis on the willingness of the Servant Himself (Isaiah 53:7). His silence and resolve are a display of authority and power (cf. John 10:17–18; 1 Peter 2:22–25). He is able to be as silent as a lamb, because He has authority of the One who has life in Himself.

Jesus knows exactly why He is dying. It is His generation that doesn’t know what to say/declare (Isaiah 53:8b). A more literal translation would be, "Who of his generation considered?" That is to say that no one else at the time had an awareness of what was happening in his death. From the Gospel accounts, we see that this was true even of His disciples. 

Isaiah emphasizes Jesus as the sole One on earth who understood, at the time of His death, what was truly happening. This isolates for us the great transaction that is occurring between God and God the Son. No one else is pictured as being “in on it” until, marvelously, one of the thieves who had been mocking him suddenly speaks in the same categories of innocent penal suffering (cf. Luke 23:41) and imminent royal victory (cf. Luke 23:42) that we see here towards the end of our passage. 

Surely, the same Spirit who wrote it by Isaiah's hand on Isaiah's scroll is the one who wrote it on that day on the redeemed thief's heart. And if we are to know these truths not merely academically, but as a glorious reality, we must now have the same Spirit write it upon our own hearts. 

Buried in dignityIsaiah 53:9. In verse 9a, “wicked” is in the plural and refers to those with whom men would have buried Him. But “rich” is in the singular and refers to the providence of God, through the care of His disciples, by which His body was treated with honor. Though humiliation continued (in His being under the power of death in the grave) chastisement and atonement had been completed. 

God cared for Jesus's buried body, for which it was impossible that He should see corruption (cf. Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27–32; Acts 13:35–39). This indicates to us God's Care for our own interred bodies, though they see correction. He was buried with one rich man, but our burials cannot excise our bodies from being united to the Heir of all things. And so, we ought to treat the bodies of deceased believers with a similar respect to that which was shown the body of our Lord in His death.

The fruit of His laborIsaiah 53:10-12Isaiah 53:10 declares that the suffering has been a success. By it, the Servant obtains His offspring, for whom He had suffered. Death was not the end for Him; resurrection is a new beginning. The most natural way to read the original of Isaiah 53:4 is that the prolonged days belong to the offspring, as a consequence of the Servant’s death. 

The language of the Lord's pleasure brackets Isaiah 53:10 at its beginning and end: the Lord's goal in history has been to bring about this great, successful life, death, and resurrection. The whole purpose of history has been secured by this one, great event. The same Servant who suffered that brings about the glorious ends unto which He had suffered (Isaiah 53:11).

Isaiah 53:12 speaks of the same accomplishments, but from the perspective of the Servant being rewarded. The application of Christ 's finished work is not just a function of His power but of His rightful reward and honor. “Great” in Isaiah 53:12a is actually the same as “many” in Isaiah 53:11b, Isaiah 53:12e. The “many” who are justified by His bearing their sin become sharers of His portion—sharers in His birthright, reward, and inheritance.

Who is Jesus? Why did He suffer? How did He give His life? What did He gain by it? For whom? What is your part in His suffering? What is your part in His accomplishment and reward?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for how easily we ignore our sin. And forgive us for how unthoughtful and unfeeling we often are about the greatness of our Savior’s misery and death. Grant that we would love for Him to receive His reward—even as You and He have been pleased to give us to share in His reward with Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH352 “Man of Sorrows”

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Christ Exalted Yesterday, Today, and Forever [Westminster Shorter Catechism 28—Theology Simply Explained]

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 28—especially explaining how Christ is exalted both as a divine Person and as the glorious true Man over the new creation.

Q28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation? Christ’s exaltation consisteth in His rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
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Calling God's Day What God Calls It [Children's Catechism 89—Theology Simply Explained]

Pastor walks his children through Children’s Catechism question 89—especially explaining how it is from the Lord Himself that we learn to call the first-day-Sabbath “The Lord’s Day.”

Q89. Why is it called the Lord's Day? Because on that day Christ rose from the dead.
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Thanking, Trusting, and Triumphing Forever [Family Worship lesson in Psalm 118:1–14]

What does the life of the redeemed look like? Psalm 118:1–14 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the life of the redeemed is one of thankfulness, trust, and triumph.
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2024.04.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 118:1–14

Read Psalm 118:1–14

Questions from the from the Scripture text: What command does Psalm 118:1 give? For what two reasons? Who should say this second reason in Psalm 118:2? Who should say it in Psalm 118:3? Who should say it in Psalm 118:4? What has the psalmist done (Psalm 118:5a)? What did the Lord do with his cry (verse 5b)? What did the Lord do in response? What has the psalmist concluded (Psalm 118:6a)? Therefore, what won’t the psalmist do (verse 6b)? What rhetorical question does verse 6c ask? With what implied answer? Among whom is YHWH numbered (Psalm 118:7a)? What is this sure to bring about (verse 7b)? What two things are compared in Psalm 118:8? Which is better? What two things are compared in Psalm 118:9? Which is better? What had happened to the psalmist (Psalm 118:10a, Psalm 118:11a, verse 11b)? Like what (Psalm 118:12a)? But what will he do (Psalm 118:10b, Psalm 118:11c, Psalm 118:12c)? Like what (verse 12b)? Whom does the psalmist address in Psalm 118:13a? What had this one done? But Who did what (verse 13b)? As what two things does the psalmist have YHWH (Psalm 118:14a)? And what does the psalmist have in and from YHWH (verse 14b)?

What does the life of the redeemed look like? Psalm 118:1–14 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the life of the redeemed is one of thankfulness, trust, and triumph.

Thankfulness—His covenanted love endures foreverPsalm 118:1-4. It’s not difficult to see the theme of the first four verses. God’s ḳessed, His covenanted love, endures forever (Psalm 118:1b, Psalm 118:2b, Psalm 118:3b, Psalm 118:4b). It is the love that proceeds from God’s own devotion to Himself, and which therefore proceeds toward those whom God joins to Himself in everlasting covenant. It is unconditional, because it is dependent not upon something in the object of the love, or even in any circumstance, but entirely upon the source of the love: the Lord. And it is eternal because He Himself is eternal. The inherent goodness (Psalm 118:1a) of God, therefore, bends itself completely and eternally upon the objects of this love!

So, the objects/recipients of this love ought to give thanks! And this thanksgiving isn’t just a condition of the heart; it is an act of worship among the covenant people. Why is there an Israel, a covenant people gathered from the nations (Psalm 118:2a)? In large part, to give thanks by declaring the truth about God and His covenanted love (verse 2b)! Why is there an anointed, ordained priesthood (Psalm 118:3a)? In large part, to give thanks by declaring the truth about God and His covenanted love (verse 3b)! And those who are in Christ have been consecrated to God in Him (cf. 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:9–10). Why does God give an internal reality of fearing the Lord, to match these external/formal/covenantal realities (Psalm 118:4a)? In large part, to give thanks by declaring the truth about God and His covenanted love (verse 4b)!

Trust–His aid overrules all fearPsalm 118:5-9. Men will fail us (Psalm 118:8b), even the best of them (Psalm 118:9b). So, whatever other helpers the Lord gives us in His providence, we must put our trust for that help only in the Lord Himself (Psalm 118:7a). For, it is by His help that we will one day look, in victory, upon all that threatened us (verse 7b). If the self-existent Creator is for us (Psalm 118:6a), then all creation could not succeed against us—and men are merely creatures (verse 6c, cf. Romans 8:31). Trust has a natural reflex: not fear (Psalm 118:6b) but prayer (Psalm 118:5a). And God’s trustworthiness has a reliable response: answering (verse 5b). If you find yourself too easily fearful, dear saint, seek grace from God to develop your prayer reflex. It actually becomes difficult to tremble at the creature, when on your knees in godly fear before the Creator!

Triumph—in the Name of YHWH I will destroy themPsalm 118:10-14. It becomes evident that we can only sing this song in union with King Jesus in Psalm 118:10a. “All nations surrounded me” (verse 10a) is historically Davidic language, but especially as a type of Christ (cf. Psalm 2:1–2). It is He Who destroys into fire enemies from all the nations (Psalm 118:12b, cf. Revelation 19:19–21), though their surrounding be even like swarming bees (Psalm 118:10a, Psalm 118:11a, verse 11b, Psalm 118:12a). It is in Jesus that the Lord’s strength becomes our strength, and the Lord’s song becomes our song; we find Him Himself to be our strength and gladness (Psalm 118:14a). He is our salvation (verse 14b), not only because He is the One Who does the saving, but because what we are saved unto is dependence upon Him and delighting in Him. Lord willing, we will consider that more in the next part of the Psalm in Psalm 118:15-18.

If you are a member of the church, a participant in Christ’s priesthood, or fear the Lord from your heart, what is a large part of the reason for each of these things? What do you declare in worship? When? How has prayer displaced fear as the trust-reflex of your heart? How can you seek this more (cf. Philippians 4:6–7; Hebrews 4:16)? In what ways do you know the Lord as your strength? In what ways do you know Him as your song?

Sample prayer:  We give thanks to You, O Lord, for You are good. And we have gathered to declare to one another, before You, that Your covenanted love endures forever. We called on You in our distress, and You answered us. You are on our side; we will not fear. What can man do to us? Indeed, it is better to trust in You, O Lord, than to trust in the greatest of mere men. All the nations have raged against Christ, but by His blood, You have redeemed us and made us kings and priests to our God. So now, give us to worship forever and to live forever with You Yourself as our strength, song, and salvation, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP118A “Because He’s Good, O Thank the LORD” or TPH118A “O Thank the LORD for All His Goodness” 

Monday, April 15, 2024

Law Fulfilled and Love Defined [Family Worship lesson in Romans 13:8–10]

What debt may a Christian conscientiously leave outstanding? Romans 13:8–10 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the only debt that we should leave outstanding is the debt of love.
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2024.04.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 13:8–10

Read Romans 13:8–10

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom mustn’t we owe anything (Romans 13:8)? Except what? What has the one who loved done? What commandments are listed in Romans 13:9 (except in the critical text—ESV, NASB, etc.)? How does verse 9 cover all other commandments? What saying sums them all up? What doesn’t love do (Romans 13:10)? Therefore, what does (is) love?

What debt may a Christian conscientiously leave outstanding? Romans 13:8–10 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the only debt that we should leave outstanding is the debt of love. 

The debt of loveRomans 13:8a. You owe God everything (cf. Romans 11:36). Since Christians are to be living sacrifices (cf. Romans 12:1), this is doubly true for them. We remember that this was part of the point of the language of “gift” in Romans 13:6-13: the Giver (Christ) has designated the recipient (His body) of the gift that is in you. Service unto the local church in the roles in which He has placed us is not optional; it is an obligation, a debt. You owe your brothers, your gifts. You owe your neighbor to do what is good before him and be at peace with him (cf. Romans 12:18–21). You owe your ruler to do what is good under him, treating him as one instituted by Christ for good (cf. Romans 13:1–7). We must fulfill of this obligations (Romans 13:8).

But even after you have paid all of these debts, still the debt of Love remains and will never run out. There is nothing that is more in the image of God than adoration of God and devotion to God. God is love—even from all eternity, even within Himself. And just as He is infinite and eternal, so also the adoration and devotion due to Him is inexhaustible and undiminishable. Whatever he loves for us to love, for His own sake, we must love to love for His sake.

Love and the lawRomans 13:8-10. As we consider Romans 13:9, we might notice that it lists only the last five commandments and the second great commandment. But we must not think that this is because the Christian may safely ignore or even deemphasize the first table of the law or the first great commandment. As we have seen by considering the context from Romans 12:1ff, all of the horizontal loves of the second great commandment are subordinate to the first great commandment. Rather than being in competition with the first great commandment, the second Great commandment is actually subsidiary of it and sustained by it. 

And notice how highly this speaks of God’s commandments! It is sad that many professing Christians come away from this passage thinking that somehow love has replaced the law. Even if the verses sounded like they said this, we must never understand Christ to be saying by one Scripture the opposite of what He has said by another Scripture (cf. Matthew 5:18). 

Love and law-keeping are not in tension with one another. Reading closely, this passage teaches that neither can be understood properly without the other. Love without the law is purposeless—an undefined nonsense of theoretical or emotional abstraction. And law without love is powerless; without love, the law cannot begin to be obeyed. Indeed, neither actually exists without the other.

One reason that we tend to set love and law over against each other is that our own lovelessness does not embrace the goodness of the law. Another reason is that we had to be vigilant against law-keeping in our justification. After learning this lesson, we may be silly and ignorant enough to export our vigilance against commandment-keeping from justification into sanctification and how we now live. If we think that living by love is in tension with commandment keeping, we end up putting asunder law and love—two things that God Himself has inseparably joined together.

Fulfilling the law. Love of God produces love of God's law (cf. Romans 7:22, Romans 7:12, Psalm 119, 2 John 5–6, 1 John 5:3), which produces love of neighbor. Each love fills up the previous one. There is no such thing as love of God without love of God's law. And there is no such thing as love of God's law without love of neighbor. 

To think that one has true love for God's law, without true love of God, is legalism; it obeys, but it does not adore. And to think that one has true love for one's neighbor, without true love for God's law, is antinomianism. It isn’t loving but actually harming, and therefore hating, all along. Love does no harm to a neighbor (Romans 13:10), and God’s commandments define harm to us (Romans 13:9). 

We love by keeping the law. This is very obvious in some places like the 5th and 6th and 8th commandments, but we really need to learn this lesson in connection with the 7th and the 9th commandments. In order to answer the perverse logic of the world, we must be clear that breaking the 7th commandment is never “love” and never “harmless.” In order to avoid the broken parenting and relationship-philosophy of the world, we must be clear that breaking the 9th commandment is never “love” and never “harmless.” 

Defining love. In addition to the relationship between love and God’s law, the debt-language in Romans 13:8 helps us correct wrong definitions of love. Since love is owed to all, all the time, it cannot be dependent on a feeling that we fall into or fall out of. Surely, without the feeling of love, there is not actual love. But loving feeling is just a part of what is owed—along with loving attitude, loving intention, and loving action.

Coming out of Romans 13:7, It is obvious that this love is different to each person, depending on that person’s particular relation to us in the Providence of God. Different things are owed to different people. Chapter 12 has given us different sets of obligations for brethren, neighbors, and enemies. Romans 13:1–6 gave us still another set of obligations to rulers. And Romans 13:7 teaches that different things are owed to different people. 

This has implication for nearness of relation within the home, within the congregation, within the broader church. We are finite and cannot love everyone with the same intensity or effort. So our first love is for the church over the world, but with more intensity and effort for those brethren the Lord has joined our lives to. Even within the congregation, we cannot love all equally, so responding well to God Himself and His providence to us, love to the congregation from within our household takes priority. Outside the church, and at a lower priority than love for believers, community involvement and nationalism are important because they  are appropriate responses to God’s providence.

This also speaks to a drastically different approach to romantic love than that taken by the world and indeed by much of the church. It means that until there is a betrothal, there is a duty to restrain romantic love; and after a betrothal, a duty to foster it as preparation for the marriage, and after the wedding, a duty to foster it continually for the rest of the life. Love is not something that we fall into or out of, but a right response of the whole man, under God, to the type and nearness of the connections that He has given us with others. It begins with adoration of Him and devotion to Him and proceeds to those thoughts, affections, intentions, and actions that are due to any other, out of this love for Him.

How has this passage improved your definition of love? How would you answer someone who says that people should be free to “love” whom they want and how they want? Whom has the Lord put in your family? In your congregation? How does His providence to you, concerning them, place you under obligation to love them? How is your love for them reflecting the level of your obligation to them? 

Sample prayer:  God, we thank You that You are love and that You have demonstrated Your love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Grant unto us to love You by keeping Your commandments. And grant that loving You with all our hearts would produce love for our neighbor, made in Your image, and especially love for our brother, renewed into Your image in Christ. Thank You for Your perfect providence in our lives. Grant that the varying levels of intensity and effort in our love for others would appropriately reflect how near to us Your good providence has placed them—all of which we ask in the Name of the Son of Your love, even Jesus, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2  “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

Sunday, April 14, 2024

2024.04.14 Lord's Day Live Streams (live at 10:10a, 11a, 3p)

Click below for the:
April 14 Lord's Day Worship Booklet
Matthew 7:1–6 Sermon Outline
p.m. Song Selections & Numbers 7:89–84 Sermon
We urge you to assemble physically, if possible, with a true congregation of Christ's church. For those of our own congregation who may be providentially hindered, we are grateful to be able to provide this service.

Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day (Sabbath School, Morning Public Worship, and p.m. Singing and Sermon) and Midweek Meeting (sermon and prayer). For notifications when Hopewell is streaming live, install the CHURCHONE APP on your [Apple], [Android], or [Kindle] device, and enter hopewellarp for your broadcaster

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Scripture Clarified and Enriched to Us by Context [2024.04.13 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald]

Hopewell Herald – April 13, 2024

Dear Congregation,

It’s amazing to experience the difference that context makes in accuracy, clarity, and richness of understanding the Scriptures. This week, we considered two of the most misused passages in Scripture in our home devotionals. In each case, coming into the passage by working consecutively through the Scriptures, gave us a fresh and clear understanding of the context, so that we might understand and apply the passage well.

Coming to Romans 13:1–7 from Romans 12, it is much easier to see that the primary authority and wrath in view is that of the Lord Himself, as established by 12:19. Coming to it by way of a series through Romans as a whole, it is much easier to understand that every magistrate is a tool in God’s sovereign, providential hand, often over-against that magistrate’s own evil intentions (cf. 8:35–38). This freed us both from a slavish-obedience approach to lesser magistrates, and from the more subtle slavery of viewing “liberty” as being left alone to indulge myself.

Rather, we discovered that since even wicked magistrates are being used for our good, if we zealously devote our whole life to doing what God’s Word defines as good (cf. 12:1, 17b), we are freed from fear even of what would otherwise be terrifying. Being a living sacrifice is a liberty that “libertarianism” doesn’t know!

Treasuring Holiness (and Holy Ones) Together [Family Worship lesson in Matthew 7:1–6]

How does treasuring holiness shape our relationships? Matthew 7:1–6 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that treasuring our own holiness humbles us and sweetens us to be helpful to others who are treasuring holiness.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2024.04.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 7:1–6

Read Matthew 7:1–6

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Matthew 7:1 forbid? What happens to those who do it? What two things are parallel in Matthew 7:2? What does Matthew 7:3 ask about our looking at? In whose eye? What does it ask about our not considering? In whose eye? About speaking to whom does Matthew 7:4 ask? What statement/instruction, specifically, to a brother? When we ourselves are in what condition? What does Matthew 7:5 call the plank-eyed person who does this? What must he do? What change will this make in himself? For usefulness in what task? What does Matthew 7:6 say about this help? To whom is it not to be given? What else does he call these things? Before whom must they not be cast? What will happen is this warning is not heeded? 

How does treasuring holiness shape our relationships? Matthew 7:1–6 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that treasuring our own holiness humbles us and sweetens us to be helpful to others who are treasuring holiness.

Knowing ourselves as needy of helpMatthew 7:1-2. In treasuring the Lord (cf. Matthew 6:24) and seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33), sanctification is heavenly treasure (cf. Matthew 6:20), and helps in sanctification is like precious pearls (cf. Matthew 7:6). Those who know their need of it will, by grace, be grateful for the gentleness and patience and mercy of God with them. And, by grace, they will be gentle and patient and merciful with others. This has been a theme near the openings of chapter 5 (cf. Matthew 5:7), chapter 6 (cf. Matthew 6:12Matthew 6:14Matthew 6:15), and now chapter 7 (Matthew 7:1-2). Matthew 6:14–15 is particularly parallel to Matthew 7:1-2. Receiving and reading this in context, it becomes clear that this is not a prohibition against exercising judgment (discernment) about what is or isn’t sinful, or even about whether another’s actions are or aren’t sinful. Rather, as the language of “measure” in Matthew 7:2 clarifies, it is about manner and spirit of interaction with others. So just as, previously, the Lord warned that the unforgiving will find themselves unforgiven (cf. Matthew 6:15), now He warns that the judgmental and censorious will find themselves condemned (Matthew 7:1-2)!

Helping one anotherMatthew 7:3-5. But how do we reconcile the fact that sanctification is a blessing, and that we are to be a blessing to one another (and therefore helpful in one another’s sanctification), with this warning against judgmentalism? Because, as Matthew 7:3-5 go on to teach, we must be upper-classmen in the school of mortification before we are humbled enough and clear-sighted enough to be helpful to a brother. The metaphor of the object in the eye is poignant. No one with a foreign object in his eyeball says that it is “just a speck”! When this happens to us, our whole life comes to a grinding halt until we have got clear of that foreign object. A believer who rightly understands his own sin will not tolerate any amount of it for any amount of time. If we haven’t humbled ourself to know the great badness of our sin and the great goodness of God in cleansing us from it more and more, we are unprepared to be helpful to our brother. What sweet liberty and freedom the man knows, who finally gets a foreign object (or some of foreign objects) out of his eye! So also we, who have been wretched, and have discovered great treasure must be prepared by that school of sanctification to interact with our brethren in tenderness and compassion that desires for them to know the sweetness with us in the discovery of the same treasure.

But as long as we are two-faced, we are self-deceived pretenders, the hypocrite of Matthew 7:5. How many, who haven’t been humbled and sweetened in Christ’s school of sanctification, have thought (or even denounced) others to be dogs or swine, because they did not yield readily to accusation, condemnation, or command! But the judgmental hypocrite is exposed even by the language of the verse by which he vindicates himself in his heart, for not having been humbled and sweetened by Christ’s school, he does not give his help with the gentleness and patience of one presenting holy treasure for the delight of the recipient. No, we must wait until Christ’s school has cleared our vision of self, sin, sanctification, and brother. Then we may be able to help.

But what about those who won’t be helped? Matthew 7:6. Of course, even when helping a brother with sin-removal is offered in a humble spirit and an affectionate manner, it is not always received as holy treasure! If the possible sin in question is not clear and chargeable and confrontable, it is best, in that case, to cover it over with love. And you will have learned that this one is not ready to receive help. Love can cover it over. 

But if there is a clear case of sin, then we must follow Luke 17:3, Galatians 6:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:13, James 5:19–20, knowing that if a Matthew 18:15 situation progresses to Matthew 18:16–17, the former “brother” will turn out to have indeed been dog and swine. These are not mean-spirited insults but “unclean animal” metaphors reminding us that sanctification is only for believers. Not everyone in the church is one, and trying to sanctify “everybody” will lead to vicious attacks. You do not have an infinite supply of pearls. Spend your time and effort and concern wisely. This is one reason why we are to let church discipline do its work in the rather speedy way described in Matthew 18:15–17, Titus 3:10–11, 1 Corinthians 5, and not be permitted to drag out in situations of clear, unrepentant sin. To let ourselves think it patient, or gentle, or judicious to let it drag out is to consider ourselves wiser than God and make it that much more difficult for those who actually are being humbled and sweetened together in sanctification to know how to spend their pearls wisely.

How/when have you enjoyed eye-object removal in your spiritual life? What effect has this had upon your view of yourself? How much desire for others’ liberty and sweetness has it produced? Whose help have you readily received?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us the heavenly treasure of sanctification. Help us to be as intolerant with our own sin as we are with foreign objects in our eyes. Help us to be as tender and caring with our sinning brother, as with someone who has a foreign object in his eye. Give us sweetness with You in being helped by You, and give us sweetness with one another in being used by You to help one another, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Fellowship-Facing Favor from Father [Family Worship lesson in Numbers 7:89–8:4]

How does arranging a lamp connect to 12 days of offering collection? Numbers 7:89–8:4 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that every one of the Lord’s people ultimately enjoy the shining of His favor and the sharing of His fellowship in Christ.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2024.04.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Numbers 7:89–8:4

Read Numbers 7:89–8:4

Questions from the Scripture text:  Who went where in Numbers 7:89? To do what with Whom? What did he hear? From above where? On what was this mercy seat? Between what? How does the end of verse 89 emphasize the location/manner of speaking? Who speaks to whom in Numbers 8:1? To whom was Moses to speak (Numbers 8:2)? About what task? How many amps on the lampstand? Where are they to give their light? How does Aaron respond (Numbers 8:3)? What aspect of the placement does the middle of verse 3 emphasize? What does the conclusion to verse 3 emphasize? What does Numbers 8:4a now talk about? And what does verse 4b emphasize about where the form and the fashioning of the lampstand came from? 

How does arranging a lamp connect to 12 days of offering collection? Numbers 7:89–8:4 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that every one of the Lord’s people ultimately enjoy the shining of His favor and the sharing of His fellowship in Christ.

Inside-fellowship out. The bulk of chapter 7 covered the 12 days of the 12 leaders bringing the 12 identical sacrifices of the 12 tribes—all emphasizing how this newly consecrated tabernacle (with its transport furnished, and its service furnished, and its sacrifices furnished) is something that every Israelite has a participation in. Numbers 7:89 is a sister passage/event to Numbers 7:23. Both texts cover an entry into the tabernacle and an emphasis on the people’s participation in the glories of what occurs inside. 

The nature of the fellowship. Numbers 7:89 is quite remarkable, giving a “window” into the sort of fellowship that Moses enjoyed within the tabernacle. Exodus 33:9–11 teaches how unique and great this fellowship was. YHWH spoke to Moses face to face as with a friend, giving Moses a uniquely great place among men (cf. Numbers 12:8), looking forward to the only Man Whose relationship and status as God’s Prophet would exceed that of Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15–19, Deuteronomy 34:10).

The grammar of the verse clues us in to the greatness of the fellowship. Here is the living God the Lord of heaven—YHWH, Who makes the display of His glory to sit above real cherubim in a glorious reality of which the tabernacle is just a copy (cf. Numbers 8:4, Exodus 25:40, Acts 7:44, Hebrews 8:5). And into this tabernacle walks a creature, already infinitely dwarfed and separated by the Creator-creature distinction, formed from dust (cf. Genesis 2:7), and even destined to return to dust for his sin (cf. Genesis 2:17, Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19). 

And what is this creature walking in to do? To converse with the living God! How can he do so? Because, as signified by the place from which He makes His voice heard shows, God has provided full atonement, propitiation—signified in the mercy seat. Indeed, the word translated “speaking” in our English version is a rare verb form in Hebrew that indicates reciprocal action: i.e., “speaking together with” or “conversing with.” Not only does YHWH speak to Moses, but He gives to Moses to speak to Him, to converse with Him! The reality is so remarkable that we might well add exclamatory punctuation to “thus He spoke to him!”

The fellowship pictured for the people. This remarkable fellowship that God had with Moses was pictured in Leviticus 24:1–9. There, we saw how the maintenance of the lampstand and the maintenance of the showbread communicated the greatness of the relationship into which the Lord had brought Israel: shining His favor upon them as indicated in the seven-fold light, and sharing His fellowship with them as indicated in the twelve-fold bread. When we considered that passage, we made reference to Numbers 8:1–4, noting how this passage especially points out the direction that the light of the lampstand would shine, as if the light is coming from above the ark itself (by which the Lord is represented), and shining down onto the table (by which the twelve tribes are represented). This direction of the light is emphasized both in Numbers 8:2 (“give light in front of the lampstand”) and in Numbers 8:3 (“he arranged the lamps to face toward the front of the lampstand”). 

The Lord is declaring the sweet grace of His fellowship to His people. First, as noted from Numbers 7:89, the fellowship that Moses has on the inside is the substance of the fellowship that every believer has with the Lord, and that will ultimately be perfected in Christ. Second, what is announced in the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:22–27 is the ongoing/continual case of the shining of the Lord’s favor upon His people. Just as the lamp always burns inside, and the pillar of fire always shines outside, one day Christ Himself will be the light of glory forever, and the people will dwell under that shining of His favor (cf. Revelation 21:23, Revelation 22:4–5). Finally, bringing the teaching of Leviticus 24:1–9 into this passage, we see a third declaration of His fellowship: the weekly refreshing of the bread on the Sabbath reminds us that the Sabbath itself holds promise of a consummation of a shared life with God (cf. Hebrews 4:1–10). 

The origin of the fellowship. Finally, taking Numbers 7:89 with Numbers 8:1–4, there is a quadruple reminder that the display of this fellowship (together with the fellowship itself) comes entirely at God’s own initiative. First, although the verb is reciprocal, it is God Who speaks with Moses (Numbers 7:89). Second, Numbers 8:1–4 are all given as a command from Numbers 8:1. Third, there is the concluding assessment in Numbers 8:3, “as YHWH commanded Moses.” But the fourth reminder is the strongest; for, although it describes artistic work (“the workmanship of the lampstand was hammered gold; from its shaft to its flowers it was hammered work”), its emphasis is not on creativity of the artist but the Lord’s own instruction as determining the design (“According to the pattern which YHWH had shown Moses”). 

Whom do the tabernacle, the ark, the lampstand, the table, and God’s speaking to Moses all proclaim to you? What do you have in Him? At what daily times, and what weekly day, does the Lord give you to enjoy the shining of His fellowship and the sharing of His favor? How are these times shaping your mindset the rest of the time?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for shining Your favor upon us in Christ, and sharing Your fellowship with us in Christ, even bringing us into reciprocal relationship with You! Grant that Your Spirit would make us to know this reality with You in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Reside” or TPH165 “To Your Temple, I Repair” 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Let Every Soul Be Subject to Christ [2024.04.10 Midweek Sermon in Romans 13:1–7]


God, Who rules in all authority, rules over and through each individual authority, demanding that we do good—both in authority and under it.

(click here to DOWNLOAD video/mp3/pdf files of this sermon)

How the Spirit Keeps Us Abiding in the Son and in the Father [Family Worship lesson in 1John 2:18–27]

What does the Spirit do for believers? 1John 2:18–27 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Spirit keeps believers from becoming antichrists by confirming Scripture and biblical teaching to them, so that they abide in God by abiding in Christ.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2024.04.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 2:18–27

Read 1 John 2:18–27

Questions from the Scripture text: How does John address his readers in 1 John 2:18? What does this mean has happened to them (1 John 2:12)? And Whom does this mean they have known (1 John 2:13f)? What hour does he tell them that it is now? Whom had they heard is coming? But who have already come? What does this show about the hour in which John was writing? From where did these antichrist’s come (1 John 2:19)? Why did they go out? What if they had been of the fellowship of 1 John 1:3? What has their departure manifested? But what do the believers have (1 John 2:20)? What do they know, that corresponds to what the apostle now writes? What isn’t the reason for his writing (1 John 2:21)? What about them has led him to write? What do they know about lies? Who is the great liar (1 John 2:22)? What is his title? What (Whom) does he deny? Whom doesn’t the Son-denier also not have (1 John 2:23)? Whom does the Son-acknowledger also have? What are they to let abide in them (1 John 2:24)? What will happen by this truth’s abiding in them—in Whom does this truth tell them to abide and make them to abide? What has been promised by this abiding (1 John 2:25)? Who has promised it? Concerning whom is the apostle writing them? What (Who) abides in them (1 John 2:27)? What don’t they need? What else does this anointing teach them? How reliable is this anointing? What have they already begun to do by its teaching?

What does the Spirit do for believers? 1 John 2:18–27 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Spirit keeps believers from becoming antichrists by confirming Scripture and biblical teaching to them, so that they abide in God by abiding in Christ.

What about those who don’t “abide” in the church? The visible church/invisible church distinction. 1 John 2:17 concluded that he who does the will of God abides forever. But there were people who had went out from the church (1 John 2:19a). What about them? Well, not everyone that is in the church is of the church (1 John 2:19). Sometimes someone who learns about the distinction between the visible church (baptized members) and invisible church (all the elect) complains that this is not a biblical distinction. But it clearly is one here, with those who “went out from us” because “they were not of us.” (Just as the same is clearly taught in Romans 9:6-12, especially Romans 9:6.

Antichrist, and antichrists, come because it is the last hour (and has been for 2000 years!). It is a dreadful thing indeed either to have to be put out of the church (cf. 1 Corinthians 5) because some sin or error has exposed your profession as false, or to leave from the church and expose your profession as false (1 John 2:19). It reveals such an assertion of “self” authority and “self” theology that 1 John 2:18 describes such people as “many antichrists.” Their autonomy and independence is in the image and spirit of that great Antichrist, the Man of Sin who puts himself in the place of God (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4). What the Pope is, writ-large and eschatologically, the “lone-ranger” Christian is on a smaller scale. Sadly, these “independent thinkers” must be watched against, since they often are not satisfied merely to leave the church, but attempt to lead genuine believers astray (1 John 2:26).

The Spirit agrees with Himself about the Father and the Son. How do real believers come to remain in biblical/faithful churches? They have “an anointing from the Holy One.” God has anointed believers in Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:21). Christ has poured out His Spirit upon them, specifically as the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). It is He Who had given all previous Scripture (cf. 1 Peter 1:11). It is He Who makes our hearts to understand Scripture and agree with it (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:14–4:7). So John is encouraged, as he writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, because he is writing to those who recognize, by the Spirit, that what the apostle writes is true (1 John 2:21). 

The spirit of antichrist is especially present in those who deny the Persons within the Godhead; they deny the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). But God is One, and they cannot know or have God if they deny any of the Persons of the Godhead (1 John 2:23a). Happily, this means that in giving Himself to us in the Son, God the Father has also given Himself to us (verse 23b). This is the great truth by which believers begin in Christianity (1 John 2:24): God the Son became a man to save us, and we are saved by abiding in Jesus—by Whom we also then abide in the Father. This is the truth that must abide in us. And, God has promised that by abiding in Him we have eternal life from Him and in Him (1 John 2:25, cf. 1 John 1:2–3). 

Thanks be to God that the Spirit persuades us inwardly of what faithful teachers say outwardly: the triune God has given us to abide in Himself by abiding in Christ (1 John 2:27). This is why, if you are a Christian, you have discovered that the truths of the divinity of Christ and doctrine of the Trinity are so important to you. Christ has given His Spirit to you precisely to convince you of Bible truth, so that you will abide in Him!

Who gave you the Bible? Who gives you faithful Bible teachers in the home and in the church? Who are these teachers? What do all faithful Bible teachers say about the Father, the Son, and the Spirit? In Whom do they teach you to abide? What do they teach you that you have by this abiding?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for teaching us that Jesus is God the Son, and for revealing Yourself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thank You for teaching us that the church is Your own institution and that we cannot expect to be saved if we go out from it. Forgive us for how lightly we have taken the necessity of our church membership and the gift of faithful teachers in the church. Forgive us for how lightly we have underestimated the wickedness and danger of those who deny the divinity of Christ or the doctrine of the Trinity. Forgive us for when we have not been so intentional and diligent to abide in Christ and in His doctrine. Thank You for Your patience with us. Keep persisting with us by Your grace, as You continue convincing us by Your Spirit and helping us by Your Spirit, we ask in the Name of the Son, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP110B “The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH212 “Come, Thou Almighty King”

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

2024.04.10 Prayer Meeting Live Stream (live at 6:30p)

Click below for the:
April 10 Prayer Meeting Folder
Romans 13:1–7 Sermon Outline
We urge you to assemble physically, if possible, with a true congregation of Christ's church. For those of our own congregation who may be providentially hindered, we are grateful to be able to provide this service.

Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day (Sabbath School, Morning Public Worship, and p.m. Singing and Sermon) and Midweek Meeting (sermon and prayer). For notifications when Hopewell is streaming live, install the CHURCHONE APP on your [Apple], [Android], or [Kindle] device, and enter hopewellarp for your broadcaster

Holy unto, and Happy in, the God Who Declares Himself by Saving Us [Family Worship lesson in Isaiah 51:17–52:12]

How will the return from exile anticipate ultimate redemption? Isaiah 51:17–52:12 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these nineteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the return from exile anticipates ultimate redemption by displaying God’s glory in saving us.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2024.04.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 51:17–52:12

Read Isaiah 51:17–52:12

Questions from the Scripture text: With what double command does Isaiah 51:17 begin? And what command in verse 17b? What has Jerusalem drunk (verse 17d–e)? From whose hand (verse 17c)? Who cannot do what for Jerusalem (Isaiah 51:18)? What have come to Jerusalem (Isaiah 51:19)? What doesn’t she have anyone to do? Why can’t her sons help (Isaiah 51:20)? Who will help her instead (Isaiah 51:21-22)? Whom will He afflict instead (Isaiah 51:23)? What command is now renewed in Isaiah 52:1? What is she to put on? Who will no longer come to her? From what is she to rise (Isaiah 52:2)? From what to be loosed? What have they done to themselves (Isaiah 52:3b)? But what will the Lord now do for them (verse 3c)? What afflictions/oppressions doe He refer to together in Isaiah 52:4? What did their oppressors have in common (Isaiah 52:5)? What will the Lord take this as an opportunity to make known (Isaiah 52:6)? To whom? How (by whom) will He make this known to them (Isaiah 52:7)? What four things will this preacher proclaim to them? Who will receive this message, and how will they respond (Isaiah 52:8)? What command does Isaiah 52:9a give? To whom (verse 9b)? Why (verse 9c–d)? What does YHWH do in bringing this salvation (Isaiah 52:10a)? Before whom (verse 10b–c)? So what double command comes to them in exile (Isaiah 52:11)? In what manner won’t they go (Isaiah 52:12a–b)? Why not (verse 12c–d)? 

How will the return from exile anticipate ultimate redemption? Isaiah 51:17–52:12 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these nineteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the return from exile anticipates ultimate redemption by displaying God’s glory in saving us. 

Three double commands give literary shape to our passage: “Awake, awake!” (Isaiah 51:17). “Awake, awake” (Isaiah 51:1). And “Depart! Depart!” (Isaiah 51:11). Zion’s restoration from exile in the near term in this passage will exemplify several things about the Lord’s establishing her in the new heavens and new earth (cf. Isaiah 51:16).

Man cannot do it, but the Lord willIsaiah 51:17-23. All affliction and misery comes, ultimately, from the Lord’s wrath against sin (Isaiah 51:17). This is why mere man can never, ultimately, deliver (Isaiah 51:18-20). Marvelously, the very God from Whose wrath we need deliverance is the One Who will do the delivering (Isaiah 51:21-22). And any injustice done to His people, even by those instrumental in chastising them, will be avenged by the Lord (Isaiah 51:23). 

This is how the Lord makes His glory known, Isaiah 52:1–10. This second section is in two subsections. In Isaiah 52:1-6, the message itself is described. In Isaiah 52:7-10, the relaying of that message, and response to it, are dramatized. The message is one of strength and beauty (Isaiah 52:1) emerging by resurrection (Isaiah 52:2a) and emancipation (verse 2b–d). They had played the harlot (“sold yourselves for nothing,” Isaiah 52:3b), but the Lord will redeem them at no cost to themselves (verse 3c), bringing them into this new strength, beauty, and liberty. Assyria’s oppressing them (just as with Egypt before them, Isaiah 52:4) will become the canvas upon which YHWH paints the disclosure of His Name to His people (Isaiah 52:6). This is how He has been pleased to declare Himself.

The second subsection has been made gloriously famous by Romans 10:15. The lovely-footed runner races to Jerusalem to announce their own covenant God is sovereign over all and bending all unto their salvation (Isaiah 52:7). In Isaiah 52:8, they are arriving at the city, where the watchmen receive them and their message, responding in song. In Isaiah 52:9, the message now gets relayed to the whole city, which still bears the marks (“waste places”) of her punishment, but now joins the rejoicing and singing of the watchmen. Just as YHWH has said (Isaiah 52:6), His saving His people is a display (making bare) of His holy arm (Isaiah 52:10a), not only for one nation to rejoice over, but for all nations and all ends of earth to see and know the salvation of God.

So His people ought to respond with holiness and confidenceIsaiah 52:11-12. The holiness that Isaiah 52:11 commands, and the confidence/dignity that Isaiah 52:12 commands, both come from the fact that the Lord has redeemed His people for Himself. Because they are drawing near YHWH, bearing His vessels (Isaiah 52:11e), they must maintain holiness. Because YHWH goes in front and behind them (Isaiah 52:12c–d), they must be steady and confident, rather than panicked and anxious (verse 12a–b). Holiness and hopefulness both rest upon the fact that our salvation is more about our Lord even than about ourselves.

How have you been learning that your salvation is ultimately about the display of God and His glory? How does that help you respond with holiness of life? How does it help you respond with hopefulness and confidence?

Sample prayer:  Lord, give us to wake up to Your saving us. Forgive us for sleepwalking through life. Give us to put on beauty and strength as Your people. Forgive us for taking Your Name upon us lightly. Give us to rejoice over Your good news and appreciate the loveliness of Your proclaiming it to us. Forgive us for how thoughtlessly and unfeelingly we have received the preaching of the gospel. Give us to touch no unclean thing and maintain separation from the world. Forgive us for how easily we mingle with the worldlings around us. Give us to live as those who have a sure hope. Forgive us for the hastiness and fearfulness that often marks our lives. Grant this all, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Worldwide Praise for the God Who Displays Himself in Salvation [Family Worship lesson in Psalm 117]

Who should praise YHWH and why? Psalm 117 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that all nations and all peoples should praise and magnify YHWH, especially for His covenant love and faithfulness.
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2024.04.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 117

Read Psalm 117

Questions from the from the Scripture text: With what command does Psalm 117:1 begin? Whom are they to praise? Who is being commanded? How many of them? What is the second command? Whom are they to magnify? Who is being commanded? How many of them? For which attribute of His in Psalm 117:2a? And what quality of that attribute? Toward whom? And which attribute of His in verse 2b? And what quality of that attribute? How does verse 2c conclude/summarize his psalm?

Who should praise YHWH and why? Psalm 117 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that all nations and all peoples should praise and magnify YHWH, especially for His covenant love and faithfulness.

The shortest Psalm, indeed the shortest chapter, in the Bible is a powerful and enduring command, “[y’all] Praise YHWH!”

All nations are being commanded to praise, and all peoples are being commanded to exalt. 

This is why all things existed in the first place, and why all things have ever happened: for His glory. All things are from Him and through Him and to Him. To Him be the glory forever, Amen!

But there is one great thing, and forever thing, that stands out as that for which the whole new creation will praise and magnify God forever and ever: His covenant relation to His people, and His covenant redemption of that people, in which His glorious character is most displayed.

Notice that although it is “all you Gentiles” and “all you peoples” who are being commanded to worship YHWH in Psalm 117:1, it is “toward us” that the gloriously great covenant love has occasioned this praise.

This reminds us of how the four living creatures in Revelation 5:8, and indubitably all of heaven as implied by the connection to Revelation 4:6–11, worship YHWH and/as the Lamb not only for His creating all things (Revelation 4:11) but especially for His redeeming the saints to God by His blood (Revelation 5:9) and for having completed the application of that redemption by making them kings and priests unto God (Revelation 5:10).

It is especially for the display of His glory in accomplishing and applying redemption that all creatures (and therefore all nations and all peoples) are to give to God everlasting praise. This would indeed be true even if He had only ever saved one tribe, one tongue, one people, and one nation. But, this pan-national praise is bolstered all the more, because the “us” in Psalm 117:2 is “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (cf. Revelation 5:9).

In redeeming the elect, the Lord highlights especially two of His attributes: His goodness (in covenant love) and truth (in covenant faithfulness). The covenant love in Psalm 117:2a and covenant faithfulness in verse 2b are the same two attributes in which He declares himself to abound in Exodus 34:6, and of which believers see Jesus to be full when they behold His glory (cf. John 1:14). 

Indeed, all of God’s glorious attributes always hold together. He is everything that He is in all of His infinite being; there are not any parts in God. But in the display of His glory to us, it is especially in His covenant mercy that He is pleased to display the riches/richness of that glory (cf. Romans 9:23). 

He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in all of His attributes, and that comes out in Psalm 117:2. His covenant love is great (verse 2a), and indeed He is infinite in all of His attributes. His covenant faithfulness endures forever (verse 2b), and indeed His is eternal and unchangeable in all of His attributes.

And in response to this, all of His creatures will praise and magnify Him, increasingly, forever (verse 2c)!

How has God most displayed His covenant love? How/when do you most lay hold of this and respond to it? How has God most displayed His covenant faithfulness? How/when do you most lay hold of this and respond to it? In what other ways has He been displaying His love in your life? In what other ways has He been displaying His faithfulness in your life? How do you respond now? How will you respond forever? With whom else should you be looking forward to doing this?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You from our tribes and tongues and peoples and nations. We magnify You for the greatness of Your covenant love and the eternality of Your covenant faithfulness. In that love and faithfulness, help us by Your holy Spirit to praise You and magnify You through Christ, now and forever, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP117B “O All You Nations of the Earth” or TPH117B “Praise the LORD God, All You Nations”  

Monday, April 08, 2024

Why the Sabbath Is the Lord's Day [Children's Catechism 88—Theology Simply Explained]

Pastor walks his children through Children’s Catechism question 88—especially explaining how the Sabbath became the first day of the week by God’s self-revelation in Christ.

Q88. What day of the week is the Christian Sabbath? The first day of the week, called the Lord's Day.
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Understanding the Greatness of Christ's Humiliation [Westminster Shorter Catechism 27—Theology Simply Explained]

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 27—especially explaining how Christ was both infinitely humiliated to become a man and greatly humiliated even as a man.

Q27. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist? Christ’s humiliation consisted in His being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
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Accumulated Blessedness [2024.04.07 Evening Sermon in Numbers 7:1–88]


The Lord honors His people with participation in His work of blessing them.

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Don’t Worry, Be Holy [2024.04.07 Morning Sermon in Matthew 6:25–34]


On account of trusting and treasuring God as Father in Christ, worrying is excluded from any rightful place in the life of a Christian.

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Resistance to Tyranny (4): Resistance Options [2024.04.07 Sabbath School]

Biblical options/forms of resistance.
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2024.04.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 13:1–7

Read Romans 13:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Who are commanded in Romans 13:1? What are they to do? To whom are they to be subject? Why—from where did their authority come? Which authorities are appointed by God? What are the people described in Romans 13:2 doing? What are they actually resisting? What do they bring on themselves? To whom are rulers not a terror (Romans 13:3)? To whom are rulers a terror? Of what (not “of whom,” but “of Whom”!) does the apostle ask if you want to be unafraid of them? What does he say to do? What will the one who does good receive from (the highest) authority? Whom does the ruler serve (Romans 13:4, whether he knows it or not)? For what does God use him? What should you do, if you do evil? Why—how is the ruler not wielding the sword, if you are doing evil? How is the ruler always being used by God upon the one practicing evil? [when will the instrumentality of the ruler be removed, and how will the wrath come then, 2 Thessalonians 1:9?] For what two reasons does Romans 13:5 say to be subject to earthly rulers? What else are we to do for these two reasons (Romans 13:6a)? Remembering what foundational reason (verse 6b)? To whom are we to render their due (Romans 13:7)? What four sorts of things may be due? To Whom are all four ultimately due (cf. Matthew 22:20–21, Mark 12:16–17, Luke 20:24–25)? 

What are we to do with our magistrate? Romans 13:1–7 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that before the magistrate, just as with all other men, we are to do only whatever God says is good. 

“Let each soul,” Romans 13:1. The wrath of God in Romans 12:19 has reminded us that whether we interact with persecutors (Romans 12:14), those who do us evil (Romans 12:17), or even enemies (Romans 12:20), we always do so not only as men interacting with men but as everlasting souls interacting with the living God. It is difficult enough to love an enemy, but what about an enemy that has power over you? This would have been a pressing issue for the church in Rome, under Nero’s hostile, imperial (even insane) nose. The apostle gives an answer so clear that for two thousand years, believers’ remaining flesh has been pretending it away as “difficult to understand.” Be subject (Romans 13:1). Do what is good (Romans 13:3). Be afraid (Romans 13:4, but only if you do evil). Be subject (Romans 13:5). Give whatever is owed (Romans 13:7). 

The chain of command, Romans 13:1-2a. “governing” authorities in Romans 13:1 means the authorities who are “over you.” Which authorities that are over me should I be subject to? In the household, the church, or the state the answer is the same: “all of them.” Every chain of command goes all the way to the throne of glory. It all belongs now, not only to God, but even under Him, to the God-Man. He is both the God the Word and the image of God to us. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). As commanded, He has asked for and received the nations as His inheritance (Psalm 2), and any enemy-authority is being put under His feet (Psalm 110).

How to be unafraid of authority, Romans 13:2-4a. Just as Romans 13:1 reminds us to remember the height to which authority goes, Romans 13:2-3 remind us to remember the duration to which go penalties and rewards from authority. Every magistrate is a lesser magistrate; in His mediatorial kingship Christ alone is Chief Magistrate of any family, nation, or state. So whether not being subject to authority, or whether misusing one’s lesser authority, either error is “resisting the ordinance of God” and “receiving judgment upon themselves.” Failing to recognize Christ’s authority over and in the existing authority is not merely something that will bring judgment but evidence of already being under judgment. 

Alternatively, the way of being unafraid of authority is to do good. Just as “all men” may not know what good is (cf. Romans 12:17), so also the ruler might not know. But his authority does not come from himself, and it does not serve him. Though he may think himself a terror, the believer is unafraid of suffering for doing good (Romans 13:3, cf. 1 Peter 2:12–20), for the Chief Magistrate will praise him for it (end of Romans 13:3), and God Himself is doing him good even through whatever the wicked lesser magistrate does wickedly (Romans 13:4a, cf. Romans 8:28, Romans 8:35–39). The more conformed our actions are to the Son (cf. Romans 8:29), the more sure He permits us to be that we are in Him, and the less afraid we are of any authority.

When to be afraid of authority, Romans 13:4-5. Of course, the contrapositive is true. If we do good, then we ought to be unafraid of anything. But if we do evil, then we ought to be afraid of literally everything. Even Christians who are doing evil should know that however the magistrate’s sword falls upon them, even if the magistrate be wicked in wielding it, he is still a servant under Christ being used to chasten us. 

And those who do evil without Christ must fear all the more, for whatever wrath they receive in this life is the slightest hint of the wrath that they will one day endure. For now, however painful the magistrate’s sword may be as an instrument in Christ’s hand, it is nothing compared to the pain when the wrath comes not instrumentally but immediately from the Lord’s presence and glory forever (2 Thessalonians 1:9). 

Just as with doing good being beneficial both later (“you will have praise from the same”) and now (“God’s servant to you for good”), so also refusing to do evil is beneficial both later (“because of wrath”) and presently (“for conscience’ sake”). For the Christian, the greater distress is not what the magistrate might do to me now, or even what the Lord might do to me, but whether he is sinning against God. What a blessing is a good and clean conscience! 

What to do with the magistrate? Romans 13:6-7. And so whether as a lesser magistrate, or under another lesser magistrate, the Christian has a compass by which to set the direction of His life: do good. Do whatever God’s law says is good. Do not come to the question from the standpoint of, “how much of what I want to do am I free to do instead of what the magistrate says?” This is neither subjection nor freedom. Rather, come to the question from the standpoint of, “How does God command me to love Him, brother, neighbor, and enemy right now?—even if that enemy happens to have been set over me by God?” 

Believers are to pull the principles of Romans 12:17–18 into the question of how to respond to the magistrate. This includes biblical definitions of what is good (what God’s law says) and what is peace (first and foremost, peace with God and within the soul, and secondly between others for the sake of our Lord). 

In the case of the magistrate, we remember that the Lord has set him over us, and we pay taxes (Romans 13:6). To the Jews (and Gentiles) in Rome, this was the most distasteful part of being under Roman rule, and two thousand years and five thousand miles away, the same holds true. But it is to God that tax, purpose (“customs” is singular and translating “telos” and may well indicate that it is due only to God), reverence/fear, and honor are ultimately due (Romans 13:7). He is over us under God’s providence, but God is ultimately over us in His providence, and the disposition of the heart must be chiefly toward the Chief Magistrate, while appropriate taxes, respect, and obedience are rendered to the lesser magistrate.

This, too, is how Jesus answered the question. Matthew 22:20–21, Mark 12:16–17, and Luke 20:24–25 all include both parts of the question, “whose inscription and whose image is this?” But it was Caesar who was ignorant of what God’s scripture (inscription) says and the responsibility that being made in God’s image puts us under. “Rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s” indeed meant taxes, respect, honor, and obedience. And this was a smaller part of giving oneself to God as a living sacrifice. What should we do with the magistrate? Only that which we can do in Christ’s Name, by Christ’s Spirit, unto Christ’s glory; for it is to our God and Savior that all things are due. From Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!

Who are the authorities that God has set over you in the household, the church, and the civil sphere? Before them, and in response to them, what should you do? What authority, if any, do you have in any of these institutions? How must you exercise this authority?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Christ all authority in heaven and on earth. By His grace and Spirit, grant that we would preserve the honor, and perform the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. For, we ask it in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2  “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”