Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Sunday, September 26, 2021

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

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

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

Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intention.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

2021.09.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 23:1–12

Read Luke 23:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: Who arose and led Jesus to whom (Luke 23:1)? Before the Roman governor, what three accusations did they try out (Luke 23:2)? With which one does Pilate cross-examine (Luke 23:3a)? How does Jesus answer (verse 3b)? What does Pilate conclude from this (Luke 23:4)? Which other accusation do they retry now (Luke 23:5)? What part of this catches Pilate’s attention (Luke 23:6)? Why—what is he able to do now (Luke 23:7)? How did Herod feel about this at first (Luke 23:8)? Why, what did he hope for? But what results did he get (Luke 23:9)? What made a sharp contrast with Jesus’s silence (Luke 23:10)? When his hope is disappointed, and he sees the conduct of the crowd, what does Herod do (Luke 23:11)? And what is the result of this (Luke 23:12)? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are God, Who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. And, these men did to Jesus what You had determined before, so that we could be atoned for by His holy blood. Grant unto us humble adoration of our Redeemer, so that we might love Him because He first loved us, which we ask in His Name, AMEN! 

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

Friday, September 24, 2021

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

Pastor leads his family in a verse from “the Proverb of the day.” In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we should take the long view of things, both within this life, but especially with respect to eternity.

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

Why does David say he can leap over a wall or bend a bow of bronze? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 22:29–37 prepares us for the Evening Sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord Himself is a sure help, an exclusive help, and a necessary help

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

Read 2 Samuel 22:29–37

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed is that man whose help is the Lord!

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

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

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

Thursday, September 23, 2021

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

Believers can take the greatest pain to their Lord, for His comforts will always prove greater than their pain!

Delivered, Conveyed, Redeemed, and Forgiven! (Family Worship lesson in Colossians 1:13–14)

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

2021.09.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:13–14

Read Colossians 1:13–14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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

Through faith in Christ, we may plead our righteousness before God, because Christ’s obedience has been counted for us as if we had done it; because Christ Himself is our righteousness, and we can pray in union with Him; and, because whatever true righteousness has come out of our sanctification is the fruit of the same saving work, and rewarded by God not for its merit but by grace (for Christ’s merit).