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!

And, as we go into 13:8–10, the language of love and law will be a clue to us that the Spirit is still enriching for us our understanding of 12:1–2. We’ll be very much looking forward to the Midweek Meeting’s instruction on love, and how God’s law defines it. By God’s help, the sermon from that passage will including an application to countering the justifications for perversion in today’s culture (and somewhat in the church culture, sadly), as well as an extended application to a proper view of romantic/marriage love that counters that which dominates even in the church.

How helpful context is!

Tomorrow, we will be in an even more-often abused passage (Mt 7:1–6) in the morning sermon. “Judge not!” (Mt 7:1) many say, when believers—and even ministers—denounce error and wickedness in the culture or the church. But, context again will help us. For, far from prohibiting the exercise of good, biblical judgment on moral issues, obedience to this passage actually requires it!

Last week, we saw that “seek first the kingdom and His righteousness” is not about justification (though it requires justification) or political action (though it produces political action), but about that holiness that is a requisite part of heavenly and everlasting treasure of seeing and enjoying the Lord Himself. Tomorrow, the next six verses are about pursuing this heavenly treasure together, as those who count even one another as part of that treasure.

“Judge not” turns out to be a warning against those who have not come to know their sin in the way that chapter five has taught, or to pursue the reward that chapter six has defined—a way of exposing to ourselves whether we are scribal or pharisaical hypocrites, or if we are those enjoying God’s great mercy to us, and mercifully help others enjoy the same mercy that we are enjoying.

How helpful context is! Of course, it must be. For, “contextual interpretation” is just another way of saying that the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself. As God the Spirit uses it, especially in the context of the preaching in public worship (cf. Heb 3:12–4:11), the Scripture is living and active and sanctifying (cf. Heb 4:12–13, Jn 17:17, 2Tim 3:16–17, etc.). And to interpret Scripture by the Scripture (taking each verse in its local context, and the context of the teaching of the Bible as a whole) is to rest upon the Holy Spirit for our interpretation of Scripture. He is God, Whom we also trust to do the work of applying that Scripture to our hearts.

Looking forward to God’s working in us as He glorifies Himself in our worship together,


Audio lessons to help you prepare for the Lord’s Day:

▪Theology Simply Explained — CC88, Why the Sabbath Is the Lord's Day 
▪Theology Simply Explained — WSC27, The Greatness of Christ's Humiliation 
Psalm 117, “Worldwide Praise for the Saving God” 
Isaiah 51:17–52:12, “Holy unto, and Happy in, the Saving God” 
1John 2:18–27, “How the Spirit Keeps Us Abiding in the Triune God” 
Matthew 7:1–6, “Treasuring Holiness (and Holy Ones) Together” 
Numbers 7:89–8:4, “Fellowship-Facing Favor from Father

LORD'S DAY – April 14, 2024 

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens

10 a.m. Sabbath School
Mr. Ben Rupe continues teaching on when/how God requires us to resist the civil magistrate (by engaging with Phil Kayser’s [book] on the subject).

11 a.m. Public Worship

Children’s Catechism for April 14. Q88 What day of the week is the Christian Sabbath? The first day of the week, called the Lord's Day. [CC 88 Simply Explained: “Why the Sabbath Is the Lord's Day”]

Shorter Catechism for April 14. 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. [WSC 27 Simply Explained: “Understanding the Greatness of Christ's Humiliation”]

Songs for April 14 morning service: 
ARP117B “O All You Nations of the Earth” [mp3]
ARP22D “All Ends of Earth Will Turn to Him” [mp3]
ARP32AB “What Blessedness” [mp3] 

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service
Psalm 117

Scripture Readings and basis for confession of sin and petition for help
Isaiah 51:17–52:12 
1John 2:18–27

Sermon Scripture text and topic

We will be hearing the sermon from Matthew 7:1–6 on “Treasuring Sanctification with Other Saints

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

1 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1:30 p.m. Fellowship Lunch 
Memory Verse for April 14, Matthew 7:5, Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

3:00 p.m Evening Praise and Preaching
We will be singing at least ten Psalm selections and hearing the sermon from Numbers 7:89–8:4 on “Favor and Fellowship from the Throne

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for April
Prosperity ARP in Marion Junction, AL

April Psalm of the Month
ARP22D All Ends of Earth Will Turn to Him

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, April 17, Midweek Prayer Meeting. 6:30 p.m. in the Chapel. We will hear a sermon from Romans 13:8–10 then pray until 8:15 p.m.
• Thursday, April 25, Session Meeting, 6p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.
• Saturday, April 27, Men’s (and future men) breakfast, 7a in the Fellowship Hall

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