Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Thursday, December 08, 2022

2022.12.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 3:14–15

Read 1 Timothy 3:14–15

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the apostle doing (1 Timothy 3:14)? Despite what hope? What does this show about the urgency of what he has written? What possibility does he consider in 1 Timothy 3:15? What about three things about the church fuel this urgency…. Whose house is it? What is true about the church’s God? What is the church’s role/relationship to the truth? 

Why is organizing the church God’s way so urgent? 1 Timothy 3:14–15 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that organizing the church God’s way was urgent enough to write about because of its relationship to God, the character of God, and its purpose from God.

Timothy had been Paul’s apprentice for a long time. And Paul was hoping to be reunited with his apprentice soon. Now, in these two verses, Paul emphasizes the needfulness of this letter and therefore the urgency of its content: that Timothy (“you,” singular) might know how to conduct himself. That he might know how to conduct himself as he puts a stop to creative theology in the church (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3) and lead the church back into proper public ministry and organization (chapters 2–3). Why couldn’t this wait? Why was it so urgent that it needed to be written right away?

The letter was urgent because the church is the household of God. God loves His creatures. God loves especially those creatures whom He made in His own image. How much more those whom He has created new in His Son (cf. Ephesians 2:10) and adopted as His family in His Son (cf. Galatians 4:4–6)! 

The apostle is about to argue that a man must prioritize his own household (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). But the church is to be treated as God’s household! God’s own family! In an ordinary family when everything has gone off the rails, it is necessary that the one appointed to lead the house immediately bring the family together and put everything back into order. Letting harm continue to them is to deny the faith and be worse than an unbeliever.

The letter was urgent because the church is the church of the living God. It is not the church of a figment of the imagination or the church of a distant and uninterested God. It is the church of Yahweh, the God Who is. Being is inherent to Himself, so there is nowhere that He is not. Everything continually depends upon Him for existence, so He is continuously active. 

God especially makes Himself known in the midst of His people as Yahweh, the covenant God. The church is His house not only as a household but as a temple or, more specifically, a tabernacle. Jesus is the embodiment of this as “He Who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands” (cf. Revelation 2:2). His immediate, active presence presses an urgency upon the church for reformation and repentance. So, the letter is urgent not only because of what it is to God (His household), but because of what God is to His church (the living God). 

The letter was urgent because the church gets its purpose from God. It is “the pillar and ground [buttress] of the truth.” The Lord has entrusted the church with the truth as a deposit and responsibility. He Who upholds His own truth through all generations has determined that His church would be the instrument through which He does so now. 

If the world is going to hear the truth, it is going to hear it from the church. As believers are sanctified through God’s truth (cf. John 17:17), the church is God’s primary instrument for that (cf. Ephesians 4:11–29). The maintenance of the truth in the church is uninspiring to some and in our day, and positively offensive to others. But this Scripture tells us that maintenance of the truth in the church is necessary and urgent, and that proper organization in the church is necessary to it.

What about the church’s identity makes it so urgent to do things the right way in it? How are you doing this in your church? What about God’s identity makes it so urgent do things the right way in His church? What about the church’s purpose/role especially necessitates doing things rightly in it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You have made the church both Your family and Your temple. But we have often been negligent about doing things Your way in it. We act as if You are not the living God Who are active in the midst of Your church. The maintenance of the truth has suffered, in the world and for believers, because we have not guarded the truth in the church, and we have not followed Your prescribed order for how the church would do so. Forgive us, Lord, and grant unto us repentance, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or TPH404 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Theology Simply Explained—WSC64 (2), What an Honoring Obedience Looks Like

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 64—especially explaining how an “honoring” obedience will be cheerful, sincere, consistent, complete, etc...

WSC64: What is required in the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors or equals.
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Recognizing and Responding to God's Faithful Chastening [Family Worship lesson in 2Kings 8:7–15]

How does God carry out His historical judgments of His people? 2Kings 8:7–15 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God carries out His judgment according to His Word, with weeping, and often by the hand of the wicked.
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2022.12.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 8:7–15

Read 2 Kings 8:7–15

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Elisha go in 2 Kings 8:7? What was the condition of Ben-Hadad? What was told the king? To whom does the king speak (2 Kings 8:8)? What does he tell him to take to whom? What does he want Elisha to do? What is he calling Elisha? Where does Hazael go in 2 Kings 8:9? What does he bring? What does he call the king, in the king’s behalf (cf. 2 Kings 6:21)? What does he ask, in his behalf? What does Elisha say about the disease (2 Kings 8:10)? But what has Yahweh shown him will happen anyway (verse 10)? What does he then do to Hazael (2 Kings 8:11)? How does Hazael respond? And how does Elisha respond to that? What does Hazael ask (2 Kings 8:12)? What else had Yahweh shown Elisha that Hazael would do to whom? What four evil things, specifically, will he do to Israel? What does Hazael think that Elisha is calling him (2 Kings 8:13a)? What is Elisha actually calling him (verse 13b)? Where does Hazael go in 2 Kings 8:14? What does the king ask? What does Hazael answer? But what does he do, when (2 Kings 8:15)? 

How does God carry out His historical judgments of His people? 2 Kings 8:7–15 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God carries out His judgment according to His Word, with weeping, and often by the hand of the wicked.

God carries out His historical judgments of His people according to His Word2 Kings 8:7-10. It seems strange for Elisha to be on his way to Damascus in 2 Kings 8:7, but the Bible is full of prophets doing strange things. What is happening comes into focus when we find that Hazael is going to have a role. 

It’s been about 12 chapters, so I hope that you haven’t forgotten 1 Kings 19:15–18, where the Lord had given Elijah a final assignment of anointing Hazael king of Syria, Jehu king of Israel, and Elisha as prophet. These would serve to kill all of the house of Ahab as God judges Israel for its Baal worship. So, when we meet Hazael in 2 Kings 8:8, it’s not Ben-Hadad’s death that takes center stage, but the first tolling of the death knell for the house of Omri/Ahab, and the eventual downfall of the northern kingdom.

Now, the Lord’s word to Elijah has been matched by what he has shown Elisha. Ben-Hadad seeks a word about his disease (2 Kings 8:8), for which he is willing to pay generously (2 Kings 8:9). But Elisha’s word about that has less to do with the disease (2 Kings 8:10a, cf. 2 Kings 8:14) and more to do with Hazael (2 Kings 8:10b, cf. 2 Kings 8:15). The disease won’t kill the king; his right-hand man will.

God carries out His historical judgments of His people with weeping2 Kings 8:11-12. Elisha stares Hazael down in the first part of 2 Kings 8:11 until Hazael is quite embarrassed. And then the prophet embarrasses him even more. Elisha begins to weep. Naturally, this military/political higher-up is quite uncomfortable with this emotional display and asks about it (2 Kings 8:12a). 

But by his doing so, the Spirit provokes us to wonder as well about the prophet’s weeping. Doesn’t Israel deserve all the horrible things that Hazael is going to do? Why would the representative of Yahweh weep over God’s just judgment? Because God does not delight in judging even those whom He is directly calling wicked. We see this with the eventual judgment of the southern kingdom (cf. Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:32; Hosea 11:8). And when God becomes a Man, we see Him weeping over Jerusalem’s forthcoming destruction for rejecting Him (cf. Luke 19:41–44). 

Behold the compassion of God, even in the midst of a proper hatred of the wicked and their wickedness! When we love our enemies, as sons of our heavenly Father, we learn to weep over their just perishing. And if ever we or our church come under just judgments, may the weeping heart of Jesus in it move us to worship and repent.

God often carries out His historical judgments of His people by the hand of the wicked2 Kings 8:12-15. The word “evil” in 2 Kings 8:12 can mean “harm” in addition to moral evil, but the actions described are shocking for their immorality. Hazael himself considers them “gross” actions suitable to a dog more than a man (2 Kings 8:13). And the treachery of using access to the sickbed to turn it into a death bed (2 Kings 8:15) should also disgust the reader. Even the slow, suffocating method of murder highlights the evil of Hazael. But even in the examples previously cited, it was Babylon and Rome whom the Lord had used. And both of them came under historical judgment for it.

The Lord still brings historical judgments against His people (cf. Revelation 2–3). When it comes with extremely wicked men doing extremely wicked things, let us not forget that it still comes as the just judgment of God.

What are some judgments that have come upon the churches? What is Jesus’s heart toward those churches, and how should they respond? Who are some wicked who have done very wickedly against the church. What will God do to them for it?

Sample prayer: Lord, You are righteous when You judge, and when Your judgment begins at the household of God. Yet, we forget that You have no pleasure in the death of the wicked and that Jesus Himself wept over Jerusalem. Forgive us for not weeping like You do. Forgive us for failing to see how much our pain means to You, even when it is right and necessary. Make us think rightly about You we ask, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come” or TPH103E “O, Come My Soul, Bless Thou the Lord”

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Living by Faith Instead of Sight through Faith's Sight of God's Holiness [Family Worship lesson in Psalm 73:1–24]

What is happening when the wicked seem to prosper? Psalm 73:1–24 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when the wicked seem to prosper, the Lord is actually preparing them for the sudden and more horrible disaster that they deserve, while trying the righteous so that they may repent of being like beasts toward Him.
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Theology Simply Explained — WSC64 (1), Honor and Duty from All to All in God's Economy

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 64—especially explaining how God’s design of levels of authority calls every one of us to honor every other person, and lays upon us a duty to each of them.

WSC64: What is required in the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors or equals.
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2022.12.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 73:1–24

Read Psalm 73:1–24

Questions from the Scripture text: Who penned this Psalm (superscript)? With what word does he begin it (Psalm 73:1a)? What is true? How does verse 1b define “Israel” from verse 1a? But what had been the case with Asaph (Psalm 73:2)? In what did this stumbling/slipping consist (Psalm 73:3a)? What (mistaken) assessment had led to this envy (verse 3b)? What did he think of their death (Psalm 73:4)? What did he think of their life (Psalm 73:5)? What did he think they had gotten away with (Psalm 73:6)? With what apparent results (Psalm 73:7)? How had they been able to speak (Psalm 73:8-9)? Despite what conduct (Psalm 73:8a)? And against Whom (Psalm 73:9a)? And whom else (verse 9b)? Who else seem to prosper (Psalm 73:10a)? With what inheritance (verse 10b)? And what spiritual result (Psalm 73:11)? How does Asaph summarize the first 11 verses (Psalm 73:12)? How had he begun his conclusion about himself in Psalm 73:13? What did he conclude that his conduct had been (verse 13a, 13b)? With what perceived success (v13a)? Concluded from what circumstances (Psalm 73:14)? What was he tempted to do (Psalm 73:15a)? But what would this have done (verse 15b)? What had he previously attempted (Psalm 73:16a)? With what result (verse 16b)? What resolved this pain (Psalm 73:17a)? What did perceiving God in His holiness cause Asaph to understand (verse 17b)? What is the reality of the wicked’s apparent prosperity (Psalm 73:18a)? What is the reality of the wicked’s state at death (verse 18b)? When will this realization come upon them (Psalm 73:19a)? What is the type and intensity of the effect (verse 19b)? What will the Lord’s actions make their indulgent and boastful life to have been like in retrospect (Psalm 73:20)? After having worshiped, what is Asaph’s assessment of his pre-worship condition (Psalm 73:21)? Of his pre-worship response (Psalm 73:22)? Of his current condition (Psalm 73:23-24a)? Of his future condition (Psalm 73:24b)?

What is happening when the wicked seem to prosper? Psalm 73:1–24 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when the wicked seem to prosper, the Lord is actually preparing them for the sudden and more horrible disaster that they deserve, while trying the righteous so that they may repent of being like beasts toward Him.  

This Psalm is organized around three uses of the word “surely” (Psalm 73:1, where it’s translated “truly,” Psalm 73:13, and Psalm 73:18). These belong to three sections in which the Spirit teaches us that the flesh misinterprets what is happening with the wicked (Psalm 73:1-12), the flesh misinterprets what is happening with the righteous (Psalm 73:13-16), but faith comes to the correct conclusions about both (Psalm 73:18-24) and a right response to God (Psalm 73:25-28).

The flesh misinterprets what is happening with the wickedPsalm 73:1-12. The theme that the Asaph had needed kept before his heart and mind is plainly stated in Psalm 73:1: God is good to Israel. He Who gives purity in heart makes sure that for those to whom He gives it, all other things work together for good (cf. Romans 8:28–32). 

But Asaph was stumbling and slipping (Psalm 73:2) into envy (Psalm 73:3a). Why? Because he was living according to sight (verse 3b, “when I saw”) instead of according to faith (which lives by what is sure: Who God is, what God has said, what God does). 

Psalm 73:3 is stark: the boastful and the wicked are spiritually and morally disgusting; why would he envy them? Because he thought they prospered. He thought that the wicked were comfortable and strong (Psalm 73:4), always untroubled (Psalm 73:5Psalm 73:13b), contented (Psalm 73:7), fulfilled (Psalm 73:10), and always increasing in riches (Psalm 73:12c)—despite being proud (Psalm 73:6a), violent (verse 6b), and arrogant toward God (Psalm 73:8-9Psalm 73:11)!

Even when the wicked are outwardly prospering, none of these things are even internally true of them. And what is coming upon them will remove even the illusion of outward prosperity. But the flesh falls for illusions and stumbles.

The flesh misinterprets what is happening with the righteousPsalm 73:13-16. Perhaps an even more dangerous delusion is the idea that the righteous are cleansing their own hearts (Psalm 73:13a) and washing their own hands (verse 13b). This is the language of flesh, not faith. It is boastful and proud before God, just like the wicked are!

And of course those who are proud before God will miss that they already have Him. The self-righteous, who think that they themselves are producing spiritual good, interpret God’s fatherly discipline (Psalm 73:14, cf. Hebrews 12:5–7) as unkindness.

But the truth is that God’s people are His children (Psalm 73:15b). Asaph realizes that his perspective was a lie (verse 15a). Thankfully, God had spared him from hurting others, but this hadn’t kept living by sight from hurting himself (Psalm 73:16). 

Beholding God’s holiness makes all the differencePsalm 73:17. What made the difference? How is Asaph now praying and singing this from the overall perspective of the Psalm? “Until I went into the sanctuary [the holiness] of God” (Psalm 73:17a). This is what made him “understand” (verse17b).

The holiness of God’s value puts so-called “prosperity” into perspective. What can a man possibly have that would compensate them for not having God? If it’s worthless to gain the whole world and lose one’s own soul, then how much more worthless it is to gain the whole world and lose the holy God!

The holiness of God’s character makes the punishment of the wicked certain. This holy God is not letting anyone get away with anything. The nature of His providence to them in the present is determined by the certainty of the His punishment of them in the end.

Faith comes to correct conclusions about what is happening with the wickedPsalm 73:18-20. With “their end” (Psalm 73:17b) now correctly brought into view by the holiness of God, Asaph doesn’t see the wicked as being raised on high but set up to fall to destruction (Psalm 73:18). The illusion of prosperity makes their punishment that much more shocking (Psalm 73:19a) and horrible (verse 19b). The prosperity will have seemed as real and as short as a dream (Psalm 73:20a–b). “Image” in verse 20c is from a root meaning “shadow.” The point is that not only is God heightening punishment by their prosperity, but also heightening their humiliation by shattering their proud appearance as being a mere apparition.

Faith comes to correct conclusions about what is happening with the righteousPsalm 73:21-24. So, was Asaph really cleansing his own heart and washing his own hands (Psalm 73:13)? With God’s holiness now in view (Psalm 73:17), he realizes that his grief and vexation had been exposing exactly the opposite: he was a foolish, ignorant, beast (Psalm 73:22). He was acting like someone who did not know God at all!

But, praise be to God, the real story of a believer’s life is not what is coming from the believer, but what is coming from God. He was not living as one who knew God, but still God was continually with him (Psalm 73:23a). When a believer comes into the holiness of God, and realizes that he is being given to know the God Who knows him, our entire perspective on life changes. God is always right there with me to hold me up. “You hold me by my right hand” (verse 23b). God is always right there with me to teach and direct me. “You will guide me with Your counsel” (Psalm 73:24a).

And the believer’s past and present are foretastes of the future. “And afterward [You will] receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24b). The great reward of heaven is already with me, and already helping me, and He Himself will personally receive me to Himself at the last! How great will that glory be, and how great that grace is already!

What wicked seem to prosper? What would your flesh say about them? What would faith say instead, in view of God’s holiness? What is your flesh tempted to say about you? What would faith say instead? What difficult circumstances are you in? How do faith and flesh disagree about them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, surely You are good to Your people, Your Israel of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! Don’t let us be like beasts who do not know You, but take us by the hand, and guide us by Your counsel. Make us to enter into Your holiness and know that we are continually with You! Make us to speak as those who walk by faith, not by sight. Make us to encourage a generation of Your children rather than be untrue to them. Give us a glimpse of that glory to which You will receive us in the end: the glory of personally knowing You Yourself, and being received by You Yourself, in Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73A “Yes, God Is Good to Israel” or TPH73A “Surely, God Is Good to Israel”

Monday, December 05, 2022

The Veil That's Destined to Be Torn: the Tabernacle's Portrait of Christ's Ascension [2022.12.04 Evening sermon in Exodus 26:31–37]


The doorways of the tabernacle (the veil and screen) communicated that access to the holy God had been sealed off, but that He was providing a way through, a way that would be superseded by the new and living way: the flesh of Jesus Himself.

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That Word Above All [Demonic and] Earthly Powers — Whom Christ Conquers [2022.12.04 Morning Sermon in Acts 16:16–22]


Neither demonic oppression nor worldly opposition can stop the advance of the gospel, because God Himself is saving whomever He wills.

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Biblical Theology of the Diaconate (13): Male Leadership in Diaconal Giving and Service a Perpetual Component of God's Gathered Church

Ever since the Lord constituted Israel as a church, He has had a church whose materials for worship and ministers of worship were provided by way of the diaconal giving of His people. And He made male/head leadership in that giving a foundational component.
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