All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 4 March 2018

4 March 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 273 “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”

Confession of Sin

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done. And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us. But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent; According to Your promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father; For His sake; That we may hereby live a godly, righteous, and sober life; To the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Joel 2:12-13

Hymn of Preparation:  269 “Welcome, Happy Morning!”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 16:1-11

New Covenant Reading: John 20:1-18

Sermon: The First Witness

Hymn of Response: 276 “Up from the Grave He Arose”

Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 286 “Worship Christ, the Risen King!”

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 5:1-16

NT: Hebrews 12:18-29

The LORD Secures David’s Throne

Shorter Catechism Q/A #29

Q. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (2/26) Read and discuss John 20:1-18. Sometimes critics talk as though people who lived 2,000 years ago were all terribly gullible. So, after Jesus died it was easy to spread the fanciful idea that three-days-later He was raised from the dead. Such chronological snobbery may say a great deal about us, but it says nothing about them. People back then had a firsthand knowledge of death that we have increasingly sanitized out of the Western world. They knew that when people died they stayed dead – and not a single one of Christ’s disciples was looking for His resurrection that first Easter morning. Mary and the other women came with ointments and perfumes for His dead body while the men were cowering away in fear that they might be next. So, when Mary saw the empty tomb she thought exactly what you would have thought: Grave robbers! Don’t judge Mary. Instead see how the LORD would treat this woman who continued to love His Son even after His death. Read or sing 273 “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” Prayer: Please pray for the people of the spiritually dark island of Haiti, that they would see the light of Christ crucified in their place.

Tuesday (2/27) Read and discuss Read John 19:38-42. the burial of Jesus reminds us that Jesus chose to remain under the power of death for a period of time. The Shorter Catechism asks: “What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?” It then gives this solidly Biblical answer: “The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.” Frankly, this truth has fallen on hard times. Many Christians in the United States have abandoned the Biblical teaching that we are our bodies in favor of a Platonic notion that we are merely contained by our bodies. But note well, the Bible does not teach that our bodies will be raised. The Bible teaches that “We will be raised.” We are more than our bodies. Nevertheless, we really are our bodies. Even Billy Graham seems to have fallen into this error. As Billy Graham passed away this week, it was common for people to post his catchy saying: “Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” In many ways, that is a great quotation. What it affirms, I want shout from the rooftops. Billy Graham is more blessedly alive today than he has ever been before. As the Apostle Paul tells us, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD … which is far better.” On the other hand, while I want to vigorously affirm what Billy Graham affirmed; the Bible compels us to vigorously deny what this quotation seeks to deny. Beloved, Billy Graham is dead. Billy Graham is lying in a casket waiting until the day when his body and soul – which are both truly Bill Graham – will be gloriously reunited through the resurrection of his body. But don’t you see – that was once true of Jesus as well. Jesus took to Himself a true human nature. So, when Jesus was buried in the tomb – it really was Jesus who was buried in the tomb. Jesus knew what it was to be absent from His own body while being present with the LORD … after all, He had promised the criminal next to Him that on that very day they would be together in Paradise. Jesus, therefore, already knows the joy of being further clothed – having received back His glorified body – and so He remains true God and true man, forever! Read or sing Hymn: 269 “Welcome, Happy Morning!” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH.

Wednesday (2/28) Read and discuss Psalm 16:1-11. This Psalm can seem difficult to interpret until we see how David’s prophesy about the resurrection of the Messiah undergirds the confidence he has in both this life and the life to come. This Psalm can be outlined like this:

  1. 1-2: David’s Relationship to God.
  2. 3-4 The Immediate Result of David’s Relationship with God.
  3. 5-9 David’s Present Blessings
  4. 10-11 David’s Future Hope

Where interpreters tend to get tripped up is in seeing how verses 10-11 relate to the rest of the Psalm. Some think that, since verses 1-9 relate to David’s personal experiences, verses 10-11 must focus on David’s personal experiences as well. But the Apostles Peter and Paul both quote verse 10 and both state that it applies specifically to Jesus and not to David (Acts 2:25-31; 13:35-36). Other interpreters wrongly assume that because verse 10 applies to Jesus that the whole Psalm must also be about him and not about David. While this is a more plausible interpretation it is probably better to see the Psalm as arising out of David’s own experience of being abandoned by men with David rejoicing that He will never be abandoned by His Lord. How does the idea that the Psalm arises out of David’s own abandonment fit together with the truth that verse 10 is a prophesy about Jesus? The answer is to recognize that David’s confidence for the future was not based upon God’s unmediated relationship with David but upon the mediated relationship that David had with God through the LORD’s Messiah. David looked forward (as we look back) to the coming Messiah who would fight Satan, sin, and death on his behalf. The vindication of the Messiah through the resurrection would therefore be David’s vindication as well. In this life David was guided by God (v. 7), guarded by God (v. 8), and gladdened by God (v. 9). All of this rested on the simple confidence He had that Jesus would be triumphant. As those who live on this side of the empty tomb we should be able to say with even greater confidence: “Jesus has won! Lord, You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Prayer: Pray for the young people in our congregation that they would plant both feet firmly in the Kingdom of God.

Thursday (3/1) Read and discuss Hebrews 12:18-29. John Kleinig writes:

The teaching in this amazing passage has received far too little attention in modern times because of its unfashionable understanding of the church and the Divine Service [i.e. corporate worship]. It contradicts the theology that has prevailed widely since the Enlightenment that assumes there is an iron curtain between heaven and earth, a gulf that cannot be crossed. In stark contrast to that secular dogma, 12:2-29 claims that when the congregation participates in the Divine Service, heaven is open before it, so that it can by faith approach and enter the heavenly realm. Through Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, … heaven comes down to earth for God’s faithful people. …

When it gathers as a community here on earth, it assembles before God in his heavenly city. Its assembly is the visible part of the unseen, heavenly assembly, an assembly that transcends time and space. The congregants are accompanied by angels and archangels who assist them in their praise of the triune God. The angels invite the congregation to join together with them as they sing “Glory to God in the highest” and “Holy, holy, holy.” The local members of the congregation are part of the whole communion of saints, who all perform a single service of worship. In the Divine Service they then are associated with all their siblings and fellow heirs around the world, as well as with all the people of faith who have departed from this life. There the congregation stands before God the Judge, who pardons and justifies them. Since they have a clear conscience and since God regards them as righteous, they can be sure that God is well-pleased with them. In their gathering, the risen Lord Jesus is present with them as their divine-human mediator, the mediator of the new covenant in Holy Communion.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (3/2) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 5:1-16. Andrew Steinmann writes:

David’s choice of Jerusalem as his capital was a shrewd political move. Hebron, his former capital, was in central Judah and was quite a sensible choice as long as David ruled only one tribe. However, a location that signaled his commitment to all of Israel was needed. Jerusalem was in the territory of Benjamin but was never claimed by that tribe and was still inhabited by Jebusites, one of the original Canaanite peoples. It was an ideal option. David could conquer it and make it royal property. Moreover, by conquering Jerusalem, David could fulfill the divine mandate for Israel to defeat the Jebusites (Deut 7:1-2, 20:16-17), which was accompanied by the promise that Yahweh’s Angel would go before them. However, it appears that David did not completely fulfill that directive, since he did not extirpate the Jebusites. Therefore, the author may be already hinting that while David had many successes, he also had his failings and flaws.

Read or sing Hymn 276 “Up from the Grave He Arose” Prayer: Give thanks that Christ has brought us into a Kingdom that will never be shaken.

Saturday (3/3) Read and discuss John 20:1-18. Mary comes to the tomb in emotional anguished that leaves her dazed. She loved Jesus and knew that she was loved by Him. Now He was gone. What was she doing at the tomb? Certainly she wanted to honor Christ in His death. Yet, perhaps on a more basic level, she simply wanted to be as close to possible to the one she had lost – if not forever – than at least until she too passed beyond the grave. Then with one word her life changed forever – “Mary.” Leon Morris observes:

Jesus speaks only one word, “Mary.” This immediately dispels any thought of a gardener, for it shows that he knew who she was. The name is given in the form “Mariam,” which appears to be Aramaic. Jesus is speaking in the language of the ordinary people of Palestine in that day. …

She responded with one word, “Rabbouni,” which, like “Mariam,” is Aramaic. John explains that “Rabbouni” means “Teacher,” but is an unusual form of address. W.F. Albright thought that there was a note of affection about the word and that we should see the meaning as “My dear Master.” Understood in this way, it expresses some of Mary’s affection for Jesus. … An interesting feature of {the word “Rabbouni”} is that it is often employed when people spoke of God, the heavenly Master. It may be used to refer to people, but when this is done the word seems always to be talking about them, never as a way of addressing them. We should probably say then that Mary’s use of the term as a form of address indicates something of her love and respect for her Lord.

Read or sing Hymn: 286 “Worship Christ, the Risen King!” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.