20 May 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 95 “Though Troubles Assail Us”
Confession of Sin
O eternal God and merciful Father, we humble ourselves before your great majesty, against which we have frequently and grievously sinned. We acknowledge that we deserve nothing less than eternal death, that we are unclean before you and children of wrath. We continually transgress your commandments, failing to do what you have commanded, and doing that which you have expressly forbidden. We acknowledge our waywardness, and are heartily sorry for all our sins. We are not worthy to be called your children, nor to lift up our eyes heavenward to you in prayer. Nevertheless, O Lord God and gracious Father, we know that your mercy toward those who turn to you is infinite; and so we take courage to call upon you, trusting in our Mediator Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Forgive all our sins for Christ’s sake. Cover us with his innocence and righteousness, for the glory of your name. Deliver our understanding from all blindness, and our hearts from all willfulness and rebellion, we pray through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.
Assurance of Pardon: Deuteronomy 4:29-31
Hymn of Preparation: 41 “God, in the Gospel of His Son”
Old Covenant Reading: Malachi 1:6-11
New Covenant Reading: Romans 1:8-15
Sermon: Longing to Speak of Christ
Hymn of Response: 654 “O Jesus, I Have Promised”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 586 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”
OT: 2 Samuel 12:1-15a
NT: Luke 15:1-7
Repentance and Grace
Shorter Catechism Q/A #40
Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.
Monday (5/14) Read and discuss Romans 1:8-15. Doug Moo writes:
As Paul thinks of the ministry he hopes to have in Rome, he turns attention naturally to his plans for such a visit. He is apparently aware that some Christians in Rome may have been critical of him for “ignoring” them for so long. So he wants them to understand that his failure to visit Rome was not because of lack of will but because of lack of opportunity. Paul has often planned to visit them but was prevented from doing so. We do not know for sure what kept him from Rome. But it was probably the pressing needs of the ministry in the eastern Mediterranean, where Paul had been working up to this point. But Paul is still intent on getting to Rome, where he wants to enjoy a time of mutual edification in the gospel.
Paul’s desire to preach in Rome is motivated not by a concern to expand his personal “territory” but by his deep sense of obligation to preach the gospel to all kinds of people. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Paul exclaims on another occasion (1 Cor. 9:16).
Read or sing Hymn 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render” Prayer: Please pray for the spread of the Gospel in New England.
Tuesday (5/15) Read and discuss Read Romans 1:1-7. What is Paul striving to bring about? The New International Version helpfully says: “to call the Gentiles to the obedience which comes from faith.” In fairness to the ESV, “the obedience of faith” reflects the grammatical ambiguity of the original. If we didn’t have any context, we would have to say that Paul could have meant one of two things:
- First, he could have meant that his goal was to bring about that obedience which is faith; or
- Second, he could have meant that his goal was to bring about that obedience which flows from faith.
But we do have a context, and the context demands that we understand Paul as stating that his goal was to bring about that obedience which flows from faith. Let me give you just two reasons why this is so.
- The first is the simple point made by Leon Morris. If Paul wanted to tell us that his goal was to bring about “faith” amongst the gentiles, it is really hard to see why he wouldn’t just say that instead of saying “the obedience which is”
- Second, and far more importantly, we simply have to remember that Paul and Jesus were on the same page. Paul began Romans by telling us that he was the devoted slave and ambassador of Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t we therefore expect him to be about the very thing amongst the nations which Jesus commanded in the Great Commission? Perhaps our problem is that most American Christians forget what Jesus actually commanded. In the Great Commission Jesus commands:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Obedience is not a dirty word. Christ is sending us out to make Disciples by teaching people to obey everything that He taught, and Paul is telling us that this is his purpose as well. Paul’s goal is to bring about the obedience which flows from faith amongst the Gentiles. That may leave you wondering, why then didn’t Paul just say that his goal was to bring about obedience amongst the Gentiles rather than the obedience which flows from faith? It turns out that Paul will spend nearly half of his letter explaining why this must be so. Read or Sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Ask the LORD that He would cause you to trust Him with the genuine faith that always manifests itself in obedience.
Wednesday (5/16) Read and discuss Malachi 1:6-11. Although the modes of worship clearly vary, there is a remarkable similarity in attitude between the people Malachi is condemning and the Church in the modern Western world. G. Campbell Morgan makes this point when he writes:
These people are not in open rebellion against God, nor do they deny His right to offerings, but they are laboring under the delusion that because they have brought offerings they have been true to Him all along. Theirs is not the language of a people throwing off a yoke and saying, ‘We will not be loyal,’ but of a people established in the temple. It is not the language of a people who say, ‘Let us cease to sacrifice and worship, and let us do as we please’; but it is the language of a people who say, ‘We are sacrificing and worshiping to please God,’ and yet He says by the mouth of His servant, ‘Ye have wearied Me; ye have robbed and spoken against Me.’ They have been most particular and strict in outward observances, but their hearts have been far away from their ceremonials. They have been boasting themselves in their knowledge of truth, responding to that knowledge mechanically, technically, but their hearts, their lives, their characters, the inwardness of their natures, have been a perpetual contradiction in the eye of heaven, to the will of God. And when the prophet tells them what God thinks of them, they, with astonishment and impertinence, look into his face and say, ‘We don’t see this at all!’ To translate it into the language of the New Testament – ‘having the form of godliness, they deny the power.’
Prayer: Pray for the young people of our congregation that they would pursue the true godliness that comes from trusting Jesus.
Thursday (5/17) Read and discuss Luke 15:1-7. N.T. Wright comments:
The three parables in Luke 15 are told because Jesus was making a habit of having celebration parties with all the ‘wrong’ people, and some others thought it was a nightmare. All three stories are ways of saying: “This is why we’re celebrating! Would you have a party if it was you? How could we not?” …
At the heart of the trouble was the character of the people Jesus was eating with on a regular basis. The tax-collectors were disliked just because they were tax collectors – nobody much likes them in any culture – because they were collecting money for either Herod, or the Romans, or both, and nobody cared for them at all. And if they were in regular contact with Gentiles, some might have considered them unclean.
The ‘sinners’ are a more general category, and people disagree as to who precisely they were. … Certainly they were people who were regarded by the self-appointed experts as hopelessly irreligious, out of touch with the demands that God had made on Israel through the law.
Throughout the chapter Jesus is not saying that such people were simply to be accepted as they stand. Sinners must repent. The lost sheep and the lost coin are found. The prodigal son comes to his senses and returns home. But Jesus has a different idea [then] his critics of what ‘repentance’ means. For them, nothing short of adopting their standards of purity and law-observance would do. For Jesus, when people follow him and his way, that is the true repentance. And – he doesn’t say so in so many words, but I think it’s there by implication – the Pharisees and legal experts themselves need to repent in that way.
Read or Sing Hymn 650 “I Will Sing of My Redeemer” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China who suffer regular harassment for their commitment to Jesus Christ.
Friday (5/18) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 12:1-15a. The state of our hearts is often most profoundly revealed when we are convicted of sin. What do we do then? Dale Ralph Davis writes:
The law tells us what David deserved – death (cf. Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22); but grace shows us what David received – forgiveness and commuting of the death sentence (v. 13b). Readers may become cynical at this point, yammering about David’s getting off easy. Please don’t do that – unless you want to condemn yourself. We will do better to wade through the text.
Note David’s confession: “I have sinned against Yahweh” (v. 13a). Some may consider this confession too brief. After all, David only says two Hebrew words and Nathan gives him an assurance of pardon. Does David get off too easily? Is he only expected to say the right formula? We would prefer him to wallow in his guilt and plead, beg, and agonize over the possibility of pardon. If only he would writhe in obvious misery. We should know better, but we still assume that intensity of repentance contributes to atonement.
Simplicity, however, marks David’s confession: “I have sinned against Yahweh.” And precisely this simplicity makes it commendable rather than defective. …
Let us pause to observe how David here differs from Saul in 1 Samuel 15. This text implies that the state of a man’s heart is revealed in his response to the criticism of the word of God. In this David stands in contrast to Saul; he is sensitive to the divine critique. To be the man after God’s own heart is not to be sinlessly perfect but to be, among other things, utterly submissive to the accusing word of God.
Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you a tender heart that would respond with faith and repentance when you are confronted with your own sins.
Saturday (5/19) Read and discuss Romans 1:8-15. Richard Longenecker writes:
It is of great importance to note that Paul situates his own service for God in the context of worship (i.e. “worshipful service” or “service of worship”) and that he speaks of that worshipful services as being done “wholeheartedly,” “sincerely,” or “with [his] whole being.” Paul was not drive by personal ambition or aggrandizement. Rather, he viewed his preaching of the gospel and his missionary outreach to Gentiles as expressions of his worship of God. For consumed by the wonder of the gospel message, awed and empowered by a personal relationship with Christ, and humbled by the experience of reconciliation to God – all of which came about in response to the “good news” about the redemptive work of God’s Son, who is rightly acclaimed as Israel’s Messiah and humanity’s Lord – he could not help but serve God wholeheartedly, sincerely, and with his whole being.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.