Monday, December 31, 2018

181231FW Gen 3:12-15 - Gospel of Serpent-Crushing Grace

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon the sermon from Genesis 3:12-15 in corporate worship, Lord's Day morning. Before God says a single word of penalty to the woman or man, He announces His grace that will work in sinners whom He is saving, His grace that will keep the church separate from the world, and His grace that will send His Son as the Seed of the woman to crush the serpent's head. Praise the God of gospel grace!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

181229FW Prov 29:6-9 - Fruitful Faith, Wisdom's Foundation

From the Proverb of the day (29), we saw how confidence in God's goodness to us in Christ is the foundation of wise living. If we are confident that God seeks our pleasure, we will not be snared by trying to find pleasure in disobedience (v6). If we are confident that God attends to all our needs, we will not be closed-fisted but rejoice to imitate His generosity (v7). If we are confident that God defends our interests, we will be freed from contentiousness to pursue peace (v8). And, if we are confident both that we are still sinful and that everything that we encounter is designed by God to fit us for heaven, then we will be poised to take correction seriously and benefit from it (v9).

181229FW Gen 3:12-15 - Good, Serpent-Crushing, News

Family Worship teaching time, anticipating the sermon from Genesis 3:12-15 in corporate worship, tomorrow morning. God elicits a horrifying response from Adam, a disappointing response from the woman, but no response at all from the serpent. Why? Because He asks the serpent no question--simply declares a curse! He promises His own sovereign work in regeneration, and that He will maintain a covenant line of those who belong to Him, over-against those who belong to the serpent. Ultimately, the only way that this can be effective is because He Himself will come, born of a woman, to destroy the devil and his works! ... And God promises all of this before He has even declared the consequences of Adam and his wife's sin! The first time that the bad news of the curse was announced, it was already in the context of the good news of the gospel!!

Friday, December 28, 2018

181228FW Prov 28:10-12 - In Relationships, Reliance, and Rule, We Reap What We Sow

Family Worship teaching lesson from Proverbs 28:10-12. In relationships, we reap what we sow. If we cause others to stumble, we fall. If we build others up, we enjoy good from God's hand. In reliance, we reap what we sow. If we are self-reliant, then we will end up in that utter folly of being wise in our own eyes. If we fear the Lord and rely upon Him, we will be in a position to instruct even those who seem great. In rule, we reap what we sow. When those who rule are godly, there is joy; when they are wicked, there is fear.

181228FW John 7:1-13 - Jesus, Bringer of Sword and Division

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon John 7:1-13 from the Old Testament reading in corporate worship, Lord's Day morning. Jesus highlights for his brothers that they are still of the world--hateful and murderous toward Him. Marvelously, He does so in the midst of reminding us that He has come to suffer and die as a sacrifice for those whose deeds are evil! All mankind is divided by Christ into those who hate Him, and those who trust in and love and follow and obey Him--and who are therefore hated with Him. There is no middle ground.

Incomplete Reformation

The year is winding down, which brings me once again toward the end of 2Chronicles. The evil of Manasseh is never surprising. The repentance of Manasseh always is. Something else caught my eye today, however.
He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the LORD their God. (2 Chr 33:15–17)
It's that last verse there. "Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to Yahweh their God" (emphasis mine). The way that the Holy Spirit notes this is instructive for believers such as we are, who are always in an a state of incomplete reformation.

Recently someone dear to me, who is just now at a very late point in life coming 'round to delighting in the Lord's Day and rejecting man-made holy days, expressed grief over someone else whom he loves. That individual had been talking about praying to this and that saint, and visiting this and that holy site, as a way to enhance the effectiveness of his own intercession before God.

I pointed out to my dear one that, so long as we are coming by genuine faith in Christ, we are coming in union with Christ. I say 'genuine', rather than 'only', because if we tell the truth, then the fact is that we never have perfect faith in Christ. Even if we intend to believe in Christ alone as the God-man, our Mediator, all of our faith is imperfect. Of course, willfully trusting in others as well is not genuine faith in Christ, but every one of our hearts is a tangled web of excuses by which we explain away all of our false trustings.

Well, if we are coming in union with Christ, then the Lord is receiving us according to Christ's righteousness. And, if we are coming in union with Christ, then His blood puts away all of the guilt of all of the sin and error in how we come.

Does that mean that we should be satisfied with imperfect reformation? No, not at all. As we read through Chronicles (or Kings), we find that the Lord cares very much about every detail of reformation, and does "grade" varying degrees of reformation differently. Here, in 2Chr 33:17, there is obvious divine dissatisfaction with the people's sacrificing on the high places.

However, we also learn here not to treat a smaller degree of reformation as if it is worthless for being smaller. The Lord mentions the sincerity of their flawed (idolatrous!) worship: but only to Yahweh their God. Does this take away the guild of the idolatrous portion? Of course not. The Lord was still about to destroy Israel for their man-invented way of holding a feast to Yahweh in Exodus 32:5. Only the Mediator (Christ!!--though, in that section of Exodus, Moses is a type/foreshadowing of Christ) can take away the guilt that belongs to the flaws in our worship.

That is what frees us to celebrate the removal of some flaws--even if there are others that we can still see. Imperfect reformation is not the same as no reformation at all. In fact, covered in Christ's blood and made sincere by His Spirit, every well-intended reformation is something to be celebrated, even if fraught with glaring blindspots of imperfection!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

181227FW 1Cor 15:50-58 - Victory in Jesus

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon 1Corinthians 15:50-58 from the Old Testament reading in corporate worship, Lord's Day morning. We need glorified bodies to inherit the kingdom. The kingdom is not something that Christians bring in or build. It is something that we pray to come, because we inherit it when it comes. We receive it as a gift, to which we have a right through our relationship to God as His children.

At the resurrection, when death and the grave are exposed not as victorious opponents but as defeated servants, death is swallowed up in victory!

But, as we learn from Romans 6-7, we enjoy already the resurrection victory of Jesus as we walk in newness of life. Death and sin lost their claim upon us when we died in Jesus Christ. The one that belonged to them died in Christ; the one that we are now is a slave of Christ.

This is why we must be steadfast in the work of the Lord Jesus--we are His slaves, so let us stick with His work! This is why we must be immovable in the work of the Lord Jesus--we are His slaves, so let us not depart from His work! This is why we must be abundant in the work of the Lord Jesus--we are His slaves, so let us be overflowing with His work!

Jesus frees us--not to be slaves to ourselves and our desires, but to be slaves to Him. Every time we say no to sin, no to self, and yes to Jesus, we are already now enjoying resurrection victory!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

181226FW Josh 11:1-15 - Shocking Grace

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon Joshua 11:1-15 from the Old Testament reading in corporate worship, Lord's Day morning. Readers and hearers are often shocked at how complete and hard the destruction of the Canaanite tribes/cities/kings is. However, this passage emphasizes over and again that this is the Lord's work, and that the manner in which Joshua and Israel carried it out was according to the Lord's Word. This leaves us to face the fact that we are not shocked enough by sin. If we were, then what we would find truly shocking in this passage is God's grace to Israel!

Friday, December 21, 2018

181221FW Prov 21:9-11 - Contentiousness, Conduct, Correction, and the Heart

Proverb of the day (21), vv9-11. Avoiding becoming (or marrying) a contentious woman; keeping the heart, and receiving correction.

181221FW Jn 6:60-71 - Christ Alone Gives Spirit and Life by His Word

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon John 6:60-71 from the gospel reading in corporate worship, Lord's Day morning. The people were offended that Jesus said that they had no spiritual life from themselves, and could only ever have any from Him. Jesus told them that they would be even more offended when they see Him sitting on the throne of heaven. Yes, His Words are the Words of eternal life, but He alone can apply them to us and give us life by them. So, let us not presume that just because we are part of His church, or even know and agree with true Christian teaching, that we are thereby saved and safe. These are unreliable things to cling to. Instead, let us cling only to Him Himself! And, if we find it difficult, we are not without recourse. We may come and ask Him who is the only One who can give this faith.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

181220FW 1Corinthians 15:35-49 - What Kind of Body We'll Be Raised With

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon 1Corinthians 15:35-49 from the epistle reading in corporate worship, Lord's Day morning. In the resurrection, we don't get our old bodies back. Rather, from the humble, corruptible, weak seed of our corpse, the Lord makes something glorious, incorruptible, and strong after the pattern of Christ. He is the last Adam, the heavenly Man, and we receive according to what He is like and what He deserves as our federal Head!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2018.12.19 Worship Wednesday - The Day of Worship, Chapter 7-9

On these Worship Wednesdays, we are reading The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath by Ryan McGraw. 

In chapter 7, McGraw demonstrated that Jesus's own exposition of the 6th commandment establishes for us how to understand and apply any of the ten commandments, and specifically the 4th commandment.

Just as Jesus demonstrates that the 6th commandment includes the positive commandment to love our neighbor, so also the 4th commandment includes not just the prohibition ("do no work") but especially focuses upon the positive commandment, "Remember the Sabbath to consecrate it."

Just as the 6th commandment forbids hatred in the heart and requires love in the heart, so also the 4th commandment requires delighting in the day.

Just as the 6th commandment forbids speech of hatred and requires speech of love toward our neighbor, so also the 4th commandment requires that our speech on the Lord's Day be consecrated speech.

Just as the 6th commandment required consideration of others' ability to worship ("don't sacrifice unreconciled"), so also most obviously the 4th commandment requires consideration of others (which keeps us from justifying employing others).

In chapter 8, McGraw moves onto some practical considerations. He is diligent to point out that this is a book of principles, not details--that proactively attending to what the day is for will be the process by which we arrive at our particular habit of keeping God's holy day. He had made illustrative applications throughout the book, to show how this would work in practice.

Here, he adds a couple areas of pastoral advice, including the necessity of preparing in advance, the preference of corporate worship over private, and the need to answer all detail questions from the standpoint of "what best helps me keep the day according to the purpose for the day?"

Finally, in chapter 9, McGraw tackles the question of whether or not this approach to the 4th commandment is legalistic. Happily, he works to define terms first. Legalism is not either carefulness about or emphasis upon obeying God's commandments. If this were true, then the Holy Spirit would be a legalist!

Rather, legalism is altering (whether by addition or subtraction) God's commandments with our own, or believing that we can be righteous in God's sight by how well we do, or that we can grow in holiness by virtue of how hard we work. In fact,  the person who wants to subtract some part of consecrating the Lord's Day is a legalist, and the one who looks down upon others who aren't as enlightened about it as he is to do whatever he wishes on the Lord's Day is a legalist.

The solution to legalism is to love God's law because we love Him Himself, the God of the law, and to be grateful that part of what Jesus has won for us is that we shall surely be made like Him by His Spirit. Thus, without subtracting in the least from God's law, we come to it from a joyful standpoint of love and liberty.

If our view of any part of God's law is sound, then we will be viewing it as pervasive and comprehensive and something that is impossible to perfectly do in this life--but also as something in which we delight and to which we look forward to being perfectly conformed in glory. Is this how we view Lord's Day keeping? Or are we legalists?