19 August 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 222 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
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: Isaiah 55:7-9
Hymn of Preparation: 265 “In Christ Alone”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 85:1-13
New Covenant Reading: Romans 3:21-26
Sermon: Both Just and Justifier
Hymn of Response: Psalm 85
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 209 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright”
REMINDER: The Hymns for AM Worship are from the new Trinity Psalter-Hymnal. Why not read them over and familiarize yourself with them before morning worship this Sunday?
OT: 2 Samuel 18:19-19:8a
NT: Revelation 21:1-4
Shorter Catechism Q/A #53
Q. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Monday (8/13) Read and discuss Romans 3:21-26. R.C. Sproul writes:
There is no such thing as cheap grace. The gospel is not simply an announcement of pardon. In justification, God does not merely decide unilaterally to forgive us our sins. That is the prevailing idea, that what happens in the gospel is that God freely forgives us of sin because he is such a loving dear, wonderful God, and it does not disturb him that we violate everything that is holy. [But] God never negotiates his righteousness. God will never lay aside his holiness to save us. God demands and requires that sin be punished. That is why the cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. Christ had to die because, according to God, the propitiation had to be made; sin had to be punished. Our sin has to be punished.
In the drama of justification, God remains just. He does not set aside his justice. He does not waive his righteousness; he insists upon it. We cannot be justified without righteousness, but the glory of his grace is that this justice is served vicariously by a substitute that he appointed. God’s mercy is shown in that what saves us is not our righteousness. It is someone else’s. We get in on someone else’s coattails – that is grace. That somebody, our Redeemer, is perfectly righteous and has fulfilled the justice of God for us perfectly. That is the glory of justification. God demonstrates that he is both just and justifier. If all he did was maintain his righteousness without extending the imputation of that righteousness to us, he would not be the justifier. He is both just and justifier, which is the marvel of the gospel.
Read or sing Hymn 222 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus gave His life for the life of the world and that, in particular, He gave His life for you.
Tuesday (8/14) Read and discuss Romans 3:9-20. As one New Testament scholar has pointed out: Appealing to the Law as a way of escape, is like appealing to the Police Officer who caught us red-handed in the act of committing the crime. Rather than vindicating us, the Law causes us to put our hands over our mouths – as a visible way of declaring that we have absolutely nothing to say in our own defense. But God’s purpose for His people is not that we would put our hands over our mouths to the end that we would be crushed under the weight of our sins – but that we would turn from trying to vindicate ourselves so that we would be justified entirely by God’s grace in Jesus Christ our Lord. But there’s the rub: Grace. As odd as it might sound, people don’t like receiving things entirely by grace, because fallen human beings want to take credit for the things which they have. If you pay attention, you will notice that people have a lot of problems with receiving things entirely as gifts of God’s free grace. Just the other day, I walked down to the “Reed’s Ferry Market” – this is a convenience store down the street from where we live – and I grabbed a bottle of diet coke. While I waited at the counter, I saw the woman, who I think owns the place, outside happily chatting with an elderly gentleman who was giving her some freshly picked corn. She came in beaming ear-to-ear. As she placed the corn down on a chair, she said: “I wonder what I did to deserve that?” Hoping that this might be an opportunity to talk with her about Jesus, I replied: “Maybe you didn’t have to do anything. Maybe this was just his kindness and grace to you.” Do you know what she did next? I am not making this up. Instead of celebrating the kindness of one of her customers, this very pleasant woman started recounting to me some of the good things that she had done recently as though the Universe was just paying her back for being a basically good person. Well, I don’t know the state of that woman’s soul. But I do know that John Owen is entirely correct about every single human being on the face of the earth:
“Until men know themselves better they will care very little to know Christ at all.”
That is God’s purpose for today’s passage, that you would come to know yourself better and therefore entrust yourself body and soul to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ. Read or Sing Hymn 265 “In Christ Alone” Prayer: Please lift up the young people in our congregation who have yet to make a public profession of faith. Ask that the LORD would grant them a true and lively faith and that they would confidently profess Christ in this world all the days of their lives.
Wednesday (8/15) Read and discuss Psalm 36:1-12. James Montgomery Boice writes:
The conclusion of the psalm is a prayer in which David prays for others who know God and are upright (v. 10) and for himself that he may be preserved from evildoers (v. 11). So confident is he of this final deliverance that the psalm closes with a prophetic glimpse of the wicked who, in his vision, “lie fallen –thrown down, not able to rise” (v. 12).
What is the final application of the psalm? It is what we have already seen in verse 7. What distinguishes the righteous from the wicked are not the good deeds of the godly (though they inevitably express their right relationship to God by good deeds), but rather that they, in distinction from the wicked, have taken refuge under the shadow of God’s wings. The words “find refuge” mean to flee for refuge, like a man guilty of manslaughter fleeing from the avenger of blood. They mean to flee with haste and intensity, stopping for nothing, until by the full thrust of our entire natures we find safety and deliverance beneath the wings and in the unfailing mercy of Almighty God.
That mercy is to be found in Jesus Christ. He said of Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, … how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34). The masses of Jesus’ day missed that great blessing and perished. The masses miss them today. Do not be one of them. Come to Jesus now.
Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD’s “faithfulness endures to all generations (Psalm 119:90).”
Thursday (8/16) Read and discuss Revelation 21:1-8. The Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. That may come as a bit of a surprise to those of us who think that paradise restored might be something like a beach in Hawaii. So is Tim Keller right when he says, “If you don’t like cities you are not going to like the new heavens and the new earth”? Well, not exactly. What cities provide is an opportunity for large numbers of people to easily interact with one another for good or for ill. On the positive side, the degree of interaction and specialization that cities provide promotes economic growth through trade, exceptional educational opportunities, and generally the highest forms of a civilization’s culture. On the downside, social deviants who are shamed into behaving better in small towns are able to find peer groups in large cities that will affirm their perversions as though they were good. So, large modern cities like New York and London produce the extremes of human culture. On the one hand there is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, financial and business centers, and world class universities. On the other hand there are gangs, slums, homeless people, and every manner of perversion imaginable. But what if all the negative things were to be taken away and we were left with only the upside of cities? That is what God is promising to do in this passage:
And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. … He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. … To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
Yet, the most important thing about this city will not be its beauty or even that all its citizens will be entirely free from sin. The most important thing about the New Jerusalem is that God Himself will dwell there with His people:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. … The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Read or sing Psalm 85 Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would build up our church.
Friday (8/17) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 18:19-19:8a. John Woodhouse writes:
This episode in the history of David’s kingdom is a powerful display of the problem that David’s kingdom could not resolve. The king himself was a sinner, as were his sons and his subjects. In particular, Absalom was a rebel. Justice demanded one thing. David’s love for Absalom longed for something else. Remarkably, David’s helpless cry anticipated the solution that would one day be provided. “Would I had died instead of you,” David wept (18:33). I do not imagine that David was conscious of the significance of these words. However, when the great son of David eventually came, he came to die instead of his enemies – “a ransom instead of many,” as he said (Matthew 20:28).
Read or sing Hymn 209 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to bring about greater conformity between your life and God’s revealed will.
Saturday (8/18) Read and discuss Romans 3:21-26. Since salvation is entirely the free gift of God, it can be absolutely certain. James Montgomery Boice writes:
If salvation is by human works, then human works (or a lack of them) can undo it. If I can save myself, I can unsave myself. I can ruin everything. But if salvation is of God from beginning to end, it is sure and unwavering simply because God is himself sure and unwavering. Since God knows the end from the beginning, nothing ever surprises him, and he never needs to alter his plans or change his mind. What he has begun he will continue, and we can be confident of that. Paul expressed this confidence in regard to the church at Philippi, saying that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.