18 November 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 243 “How Firm a Foundation”
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. Amen
Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 53:4-5
Hymn of Preparation: 193 “Baptized into Your Name Most Holy”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 11:1-7
New Covenant Reading: Romans 6:1-7
Sermon: Newness of Life
Hymn of Response: Psalm 11A
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: Psalm 1A
OT: 2 Samuel 24:1-17
NT: Revelation 7:1-17
Sin and Repentance
Shorter Catechism Q/A #66
Q. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.
Monday (11/12) Read and discuss Romans 6:1-7. Michael Bird writes:
What Paul does in the scope of 6:1-8:17 is to trace the path of freedom, not only from sin’s penalty but also from its power, a path that does not use the Torah as a Winnebago to carry passengers to its destination. Paul places all of humanity between the figures of Adam and Christ. Adam stands as the head of the realm of sin, death, and condemnation, while Christ stands as the head of a new humanity by way of his obedience, life, grace, and righteousness. What Paul wants to do now, taking his cue from 5:21, is to map where believers are in relation to Adam and Christ. He wants to mark out where they sit in relation to the “reign” of sin and the “reign” of grace. Exactly whose jurisdiction are they under? To whom do they belong? And most important, what does that mean for how they are to live? Paul, like someone assisting confused visitors at an information booth in a massive shopping mall, wants us to find the part of the map that says “You are here.” And by the way, “here” means “in Christ,” not “in Adam.”
Read or sing Hymn 243 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus has overturned the reign of sin in our lives.
Tuesday (11/13) Read and discuss Romans 5:18-21. How is sin to be defeated in our own lives on this side of Christ’s Second Coming? For many Jews the answer would have been obvious – God gave us the Mosaic Law so that through the Law we could overcome sin. To them, and to many in our own day, what Paul says next is absolutely shocking. Verses 20 and 21:
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rather than the Law being the primary means for defeating sin, Paul says that one of the reasons why the Law was given was so that trespasses would increase. That not only sounds crazy, it sounds like it might be blasphemous. Wasn’t the Law God’s great gift to us? Well yes, it is! As Paul will go on to say in chapter 7: “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” There is nothing wrong with the Law. The reason why the Law can’t defeat sin in my life isn’t because there is something deficient in the Law. It is because there is something dreadfully deficient in me. To think that Law can defeat sin would be to imagine that we can defeat sin through our own efforts at law-keeping. The Law can restrain behavior and thereby contribute to a type of civic righteousness. This is particularly true when the Law is enforced, either through civil magistrates or simply through people being ashamed of being known as breakers of the law. But the Law is powerless to restrain sin because it has no ability to change the fallen human heart. Paul is very precise in his language. He does not say that the Law increased sin. He said that the Law increased trespasses. Apart from specific laws it is pretty easy to pretend that we are basically good people – people who would obey God’s commands if we only had them. Then we read the Ten Commandments, and if we try to keep them perfectly we quickly discover that not coveting is a lot harder in practice than it is in theory. Or we read Christ’s application of the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, and we realize how frequently we have had bad thoughts about other drivers – particularly other Massachusetts drives – and then we remember these words from our Lord:
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
By giving us specific commandments and teaching, the Lord is not making us more wicked. But the actual transgressions of His Law brings our wickedness out into the open. The Law shines a giant spotlight on our corrupt nature, by multiplying are actual transgressions of the Law, so that we will be convicted of sin and flee to Jesus Christ. Read or Sing Hymn 193 “Baptized into Your Name Most Holy” Prayer: Ask the LORD to guide our congregation as we consider buying property for a future church home in Salem, NH.
Wednesday (11/14) Read and discuss Psalm 11:1-7. Allen P. Ross writes:
The central message of this psalm could be worded this way: Faced with the breakdown of law and order with attacks from the wicked, the righteous must stand firm in their faith in the sovereign God who reigns and judges from above. The psalm describes anarchy, wickedness in high places, and attacks on the righteous in this description of godless society. It is not all bleak; the righteous know that God is sovereign, that he loves the righteous, and that he will eventually set things right. God reigns from heaven; it is his kingdom. He may allow evil to exist for a short while, but in the end, he will destroy it.
But in the meantime, the wicked have to be endured. There are times when one is tempted to flee, but if that is done out of fear and not by faith, it is wrong. The believer must lie by faith and that includes knowing when to leaven and when to stay. By staying one can champion righteousness in the midst of corrupt society, even though there will be malicious attacks and persecution. The believer must not give in to a corrupt environment, and if by remaining faithful the believer suffers for it, at least the suffering will be for righteousness sake.
If believers are absolutely convinced that the sovereign God reigns from heaven and that some day he will destroy the wicked, then they may be courageous in the face of antagonists. Jesus warns his disciples that he is sending them as sheep among wolves, but he tells them that they should stand firm in the faith and not fear those who only have power over the body, but fear the LORD who has power over body and soul. The servants of the LORD face with such life-threatening opposition must respond with faith, faith that the LORD is ruling over the affairs of humans and will provide wisdom to decide what is the best way to respond in any given situation. For example, the apostle Paul endures much suffering in his serve of the LORD as he stands up for the faith, but for the sake of continued service he also finds it wise to escape over the wall in a basket (see 2 Cor. 11:24-33).
Prayer: Ask the LORD to strengthen you that you would stand fast in your faith.
Thursday (11/15) Read and discuss Revelation 7:9-17. Mitchell Reddish writes:
Right from the start, this is a scene of joyous celebration. John does not envision a small gathering of a select few. God has thrown a party, and the attendees are packed wall to wall! This is in stark contrast to the view expressed in another apocalyptic writing that was likely penned within 5 to 10 years of the writing of Revelation. In 2 Esdras, the writer expressed the view that the number of the saved would be very small. God has “made this world for the sake of many, but the world to come for the sake of only a few.” …. John’s vision of a God who welcomes a massive crowd of faithful servants is reminiscent of Jesus’ joy-filled parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son.
The great crowd of the faithful has joined the heavenly throng who surround the throne of God and the Lamb. They are robed in white, the color of victory, celebration, and purity. The palm branches that each person holds indicate the festive nature of this gathering, for palm branches were symbols of celebration and victory.
Read or sing Psalm 11A Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.
Friday (11/16) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 23:8-39. Robert Chisholm writes:
A primary theme emerges from the accounts of David’s mighty men: When the LORD gives chosen servants a task to do, he provides support to aid them in their endeavors. As the Lord’s chosen king, David was responsible for national security. In the hostile environment in which ancient Israel existed, this meant that David must fight the wars of the LORD. Beginning with his victory over Goliath, he did so quite effectively. After becoming king of united Israel, he experienced great success in his campaigns against the surrounding nations. However, as David makes very clear in the lengthy poem that appears in 2 Samuel 22, he often faced death on the battlefield and was dependent on the LORD’s protection for survival and success. In the accounts of David’s mighty men, we discover that these brave and loyal soldiers were often the instruments of divine protection for David. The LORD gave David a challenging and dangerous task to do, and he did not leave David alone. Behind the remarkable exploits of David’s men, one can see the LORD himself. On at least two occasions recorded here, Israel’s armies retreated, but a lone warrior stood his ground and defeated the Philistines. But these individuals did not stand alone: the narrator informs us that the LORD “brought about a great victory,” much like he had done for another solo Philistine killer (cf. Judg. 15:18).
Read or sing Hymn Psalm 1A Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD is a merciful God who hears the prayers of His people and who turns away the calamity that our sins deserve.
Saturday (11/17) Read and discuss Romans 6:1-7. R.C. Sproul writes:
At the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, Luther was charged with antinomianism. Anti means against or opposed to,” and nomos is the Greek word for “law.” Antinomian, therefore, means “being opposed to the law of God” or “against the law of God.” The Roman Catholic Church feared that people would take the doctrine of sola fide, justification by faith alone, as a license for sin. If justification is by faith alone without any works, the lay person is going to understand it simply to mean that he is saved by race, by faith alone, so he can live however he wants to live. It was critical to the sixteenth century Reformers to answer that charge because they had the same concern. They reminded their friends in the Roman Catholic Church that Paul addresses this question in Romans 6.
Luther responded to the change by explaining that we are justified by faith alone but not be a faith that is alone. Justification by faith alone, as we have seen, is shorthand for justification by Christ alone and by his righteousness, but justification by faith alone was never intended by God as a license for sin.
Every time the gospel is preached, the demon of antinomianism knocks at the door and says that if we are justified by faith, then works do not count, and if works do not count then works do not matter. No work we do will ever contribute to our justification; in that sense, our works do not count. However, that is not the same thing as saying they do not matter, because we are justified unto good works. We are not justified by our sanctification, but we are justified unto sanctification. The fruit of true faith, the fruit of true justification, will always be conformity to the image of Christ. That is what Paul is beginning to spell out for us.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.