Saturday, May 18, 2024

True Unity with the True Church [2024.05.18 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald]

Hopewell Herald – May 18, 2024

Dear Congregation,

Due to the weakness of our faith, we overvalue what we can see. So, we are helped by God’s designed (commanded!) simplicity for worship under the administration of Christ (New Testament worship). In the administration under Christ, we have Him Himself incarnate, Him Himself dead and risen, Him Himself ascended and seated. Thus, the age of earthly and outward divinely-ordained worship helps has given way to the age of heavenly and spiritual worship. Our Great High Priest, Himself, is physically in glory!

How important, then, is desire for Jesus Christ, delight in Jesus Christ, dependence upon Jesus Christ, and devotion to Jesus Christ! Each of these fruits of faith draws the thoughts, affections, and will to Him. By faith, we perceive Him. By faith, we prioritize Him. By faith, we are joined to Him. By faith, we are not merely led by Him, but even worship with Him. By faith, it is He Who worships even through us who are on earth.

In this, we have a great and glorious unity with the perfected souls of the righteous who worship there, in glory, with Him. Their bodies rest in the grave, but their souls have passed through heavens, where our faith also brings us by virtue of our union with Christ. And this great and true unity protects us from doing that which is false in order to have more uniformity with other congregations of the visible church on earth.

However many are the congregations of the visible church that may be doing something that is not commanded by Christ, it is no expression of biblical unity to join them in it. For, if we add to what Scripture has instituted, we depart from that in which Christ Himself is leading us from glory, and we depart from the fellowship of the angels and of the souls of the just made perfect. Such is not Christian unity, however theologically-themed, spiritual affection-inducing, or well-intended. For, however much a manmade addition might add uniformity to the churches on earth, it does so at the prohibitive cost of fracturing their unity with the church in glory.

Happily, the converse is also true. When we worship only in the way that Christ has commanded, and embrace simplicity on earth, addressing the senses only with that which Christ has instituted to address our senses, we are led by Him from glory. In such worship, we join the angels. In such worship, we are one with the souls of the just made perfect. In such worship, we draw near, in living and real truth, to God our Father. In such worship, we come through Christ our Mediator, Whose physical flesh and blood are truly in glory, speaking more excellent things, more excellently, than the blood of Abel. Does true, simple, biblical worship splinter us off from a large majority of the visible church? In seasons of spiritual and theological famine, it will do so more. In seasons of revival and reformation, it will do so less. But, always, some loss of uniformity with the churches on earth is a small price to pay for unity with the church in glory.

Again, the key is Christ Himself. Desire for Christ. Delight in Christ. Dependence upon Christ. Devotion to Christ. An increasing measure of each of these makes His simple, spiritual worship more perceptible and palatable. But He has designed for us a virtuous cycle here. For, He uses this very worship to increase our faith. He uses this very worship to increase our desire for Him. He uses this very worship to increase our delight in Him. He uses this very worship to increase our depending upon Him. He uses this very worship to increase our devotion to Him.

If we are in a low spiritual condition, where our faith perceives so little of Him that simple, biblical worship leaves us cold and dead—so that we think we would benefit from what man has added to His worship, or that we would prefer what joins us to other churches on earth rather than what has been instituted by Christ Himself—the remedy is near to hand. The remedy is Him Himself, by His gracious working, using His prescribed means, in His prescribed worship!

May the Spirit stir up our faith in the Son, preparing us for that worship by which He increases our faith in the Son!

Looking forward to His ministry among us in the worship of God,


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

▪Theology Simply Explained — CC93, Why the 6th Commandment Is 6th 
▪Theology Simply Explained — WSC32, Benefits of Union with Christ 
Psalm 119:9–16, “How God Sanctifies Us by His Word” 
Isaiah 56:9–57:21, “The Two Families” 
1John 3:24–4:6, “The Hallmark of True Christianity” 
Matthew 8:18–22, “The Dependence and Devotion of True Disciples” 
Numbers 10:11–36, “How God Leads His People

LORD'S DAY – May 19, 2024 

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens

10 a.m. Sabbath School
We are preparing our minds and hearts for public worship by studying our Confession of Faith from Scripture, affirming that Scripture is our only ultimate authority, but also discovering that what we confess is thoroughly Scriptural.

11 a.m. Public Worship
Children’s Catechism for May 19. Q93 What is the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill. [CC 93 Simply Explained: “Why the 6th Commandment Is 6th”]

Shorter Catechism for May 19. Q32 What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life? They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them. [WSC 32 Simply Explained: “Legal, Relational, and Moral Benefits of Union with Christ”]

Songs for May 19 morning service: 
ARP119B “How Can a Young Man Cleanse His Way?” [mp3]
ARP44A “O God, We Have Heard of Your Works” [mp3]
ARP26 “Lord, Vindicate Me” [mp3]

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service
Psalm 119.9-16

Scripture Readings and basis for confession of sin and petition for help
Isaiah 56:9–57:21 
1John 3:24–4:6

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing the sermon from Matthew 8:18–22 about “Truly Following Christ

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 May 19, Matthew 8:22, But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

3:00 p.m Evening Praise and Preaching
We will be singing at least ten Psalm selections and hearing the sermon from Numbers 10:11–36 about “How God Leads His People


Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for May
Riverside ARP in Prattville, AL

May Psalm of the Month
ARP44A O God, We Have Heard of Your Works


Upcoming Events

Wednesday, May 22, Midweek Prayer Meeting. 6:30 p.m. in the Chapel. We will hear a sermon from Romans 15:8–12 then pray until 8:15 p.m.
• Thursday, May 23, Session Meeting, 6p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.
• Saturday, May 25, Men’s (and future men) breakfast, 7a in the Fellowship Hall

No comments:

Post a Comment