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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 24 February 2019

24 February 2019

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 238 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”

Confession of Sin

Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good;  And all our shortcomings and offenses.  You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts;  In forgetting Your love.  But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You.  Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son.  And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Titus 2:11-14

Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 8A

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 54:1-17

New Covenant Reading: Romans 8:12-17

Sermon: Heirs with Christ

Hymn of Response: 275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)

Doxology (Hymn 568)

Closing Hymn: 394 “Eternal Spirit, God of Truth”

PM Worship

OT: 1 Kings 2:1-12

NT: 2 Timothy 4:1-8

David’s Final Directives to Solomon

Shorter Catechism Q/A # 79

Q. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (2/18) Read and discuss Romans 8:12-17. Commenting on the witness of the Holy Spirit, R.C. Sproul writes:

Finally, we come to the deepest and highest level of assurance of salvation that we can [receive] in this world. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit.” … There is a spiritual conversation here, a spiritual communication that comes from the Holy Spirit to the human spirit, which indicates “that we are children of God.” In the final analysis, our assurance of salvation is not a logical deduction springing from our theology. Our assurance is certainly not based on a careful analysis of our behavior. Our final assurance comes by the testimony of God the Holy Spirit, who bears witness with and through our spirits that we are children of God.

This is wonderful but also dangerous. Paul is not falling into some kind of gnostic mysticism here, a special revelation or secret pipeline through which the Holy Spirit talks to us and gives us private revelation. Paul is talking about how the Spirit of the Lord confirms a truth to our human spirit. The Spirit does not come and whisper into our ear when we are driving down the highway, “Relax, you are one of mine.” We need to understand that when the Spirit communicates to God’s people, He communicates to them by the Word, with the Word, through the Word, and never against the Word. There are millions who claim to be led by the Spirit into sin and disobedience. The testimony we receive from the Holy Spirit comes in through the Word.

It is important that we understand that. If we lack assurance and want our hearts to be at peace, we must go to the Word. The Spirit confirms His truth to us in and through the Word. If we want to be led by the Spirit of God, we must immerse ourselves in the Spirit-inspired Word. We are called to test the spirits to make sure that the spirit who is leading us is the Holy Spirit, and the only test we can apply is the test of the Word itself.

Read or sing Hymn 238 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Please lift up the people of Haiti in prayer as they live through severe political unrest. Pray that the LORD would use this uncertainty to spread the gospel.

Tuesday (2/19) Read and discuss Romans 8:5-11. Paul is teaching us important truths about how sanctification takes place through work and power of the Holy Spirit. It would be helpful for us to stop and think for a moment about just how the Holy Spirit works to sanctify us. There are many aspects to this wonderful work, but I would like to highlight just one of them for you. Let me start with a question: Why do we sin? That’s a good question. The truth is a bit disconcerting: We sin because we want to. So, how does the Holy Spirit lead us to more and more die unto sin and to live unto righteousness? You might think that the Holy Spirit does this by giving us the strength to do the good that we otherwise wouldn’t want to do. There may be a tiny bit of truth in this, but that isn’t the primary thing that Holy Spirit is doing in your life at all. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit isn’t just zapping you with bits of power that are changing your nature so that you are less corrupt than you used to be. The primary way that the Holy Spirit is sanctifying you as by using the ordinary means of grace – in particular the Word of God, the sacraments, and prayer – to change your desires. As the Holy Spirit shows you the beauty and glory of Christ, you will desire Christ more and you will also see the ugliness of sin with greater and greater clarity. This is one of the reasons why people who are growing in holiness sometimes don’t feel that way. While they are more and more dying unto sin and living unto righteousness – they have a greater appreciation for how wonderful Christ is and how exceedingly wicked sin is so that they feel their remaining lack of sanctification more and more intensely. There is a very practical ramification of this truth for our lives: Since a large part of how the Holy Spirit works to sanctify us is by using the ordinary means of grace – in particular the Word of God, the sacraments, and prayer – to change our desires. One of the primary ways that you seek your own sanctification must be by diligently attending to the means of grace. You cannot expect that the Holy Spirit will illuminate and apply the Word of God to your mind and your heart which you are not reading nor hearing read and preached. Furthermore, this truth reminds us that sanctification is not a self-help project. While we are called to apply ourselves to the pursuit of holiness – it is only accomplished in the Holy Spirit’s power and never in our own. The Christian life is not a self-help project. We live by faith in the Son of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. That isn’t only an important truth … that is really good news. “For He who has begun a good work in you, will surely bring it to completion.” Read or Sing Psalm 8A Prayer: Please pray for the young people in our church that they would understand God’s grace in Jesus Christ and that the Holy Spirit is with them and in them to empower their walk with God.

Wednesday (2/20) Read and discuss Isaiah 54:1-17.  R. Reed Lessing writes:

Isaiah foresees the day when Zion will have no children, no family, and no husband. Her city will be destroyed, her cupboards will be bare, and her hopes will vanish. She will have absolutely nothing. …

Enter Yahweh, the Husband, Maker, Holy One, Redeemer, the God of all the earth and its armies. His Servant, Jesus, performed His first miracle when partygoers looked at their supply of wine and saw nothing. Then there was the widow at Nain, Jairus’ daughter, blind Bartimaeus, the Canaanite woman, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, and the familiar words “we have only five loves of bread and two fishes here.” The Servant, “who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing.” Even the best Manhattan advertising agencies would be hard-pressed for a catchy jingle: “Become nothing. Imagine the possibilities!”

Omnipotent. He cries. The owner of all things, he says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man does not have a place to lay His head.” … The Creator – He is spit on by His creatures. The source of truth – He is declared guilty on the basis of lies. The source of light – for three hours He hangs in the darkness. The source of life – He is crucified, dies, and is buried. From the pinnacle of praise in the universe to the ultimate absolute nothing. “He had no attractiveness and no majesty. We saw Him, and He had no appearance that we should desire Him.”

However, because of the Servant’s selfless sacrifice, Zion will have precious children and priceless city structures. Her tents, once destroyed, are not only restored but expanded. … The ravages of the Babylonian flood have receded and given way to peace. The refugees returning from Babylon have a rebuilt city decked in royal splendor.

The restoration prefigures Yahweh’s greatest act of salvation: after Christ’s vicarious suffering and atoning death, He rises from the dead. Because Jesus is alive, the Holy Spirit delivers in Word and Sacrament the blessings of rich, cleansing forgiveness that flows with the blood and water from the Servant’s pierced side (Jn 19:34). John is beside himself: “From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16). …

… We are called to relearn the apostolic attitude: “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the transcendent power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor 4:7). Zion’s destiny in Isaiah 40-55 teaches us this equation: Yahweh plus absolutely nothing equals absolutely everything!

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in China as they suffer through an increase in persecution.

Thursday (2/21) Read and discuss 2 Timothy 4:1-8. John Stott writes:

Paul is not issuing his charge in his own name or on his own authority but ‘in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus’ and therefore conscious of the divine direction and approval. Perhaps the strongest of all incentives to faithfulness is the sense of a commission from God. If Timothy can only be assured that he is the servant of the most high God and an ambassador of Jesus Christ, and that Paul’s challenge to him is God’s challenge, then nothing will deflect him from this task.

The main emphasis of this first verse, however, is not so much on the presence of God as on the coming of Christ. It is evident that Paul still believes in Christ’s personal return. He wrote of it in his earliest letters, especially those to the Thessalonian church. Although he now knows that he will die before it takes place, yet still at the end of his ministry he looks forward to it, lives in light of it, and describes Christians as those who love Christ’s appearing. He is sure that Christ will make a visible ‘appearing,’ and when He appears, He will both ‘judge the living and the dead’ and consummate ‘His kingdom’ or reign.

Now these three truths – the appearance, the judgment and the kingdom – should be as clear and certain an expectation to us as they were to Paul and Timothy. They cannot fail to exert a powerful influence on our ministry. For both those who preach the word and those who listen to it must give an account to Christ when He appears.

Read or Sing Hymn 275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (2/22) Read and discuss 1 Kings 2:1-12. Walter Maier writes:

The clause” he lay down with his fathers” appears at the beginning of 2:10 to indicated that David died, and it is used of other monarchs throughout Kings for the same purpose. … A person’s “lying down” can carry with it the thought of his “getting up” again. When one rests or sleeps, he will be roused once more to action or will be awakened. This commentary holds that “he lay down with his fathers” implies the resurrection of the dead. …

The NT’s teaching that, at death, the soul or spirit is (immediately) transferred to the afterlife (either heaven or hell) is evident in passages such as Lk 16:19-31; 23:43; Phil 1:21-24; and many passages in Revelation. Yet this Testament, as mentioned above, also speaks of people who dies as those who fell asleep, who are sleeping, and who will be awakened on the Last Day – that is, will be raised bodily form the dead. … Some of the believers who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ had “fallen asleep” by the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul writes about believers who “have fallen asleep” (died), but who will rise from this sleep at Christ’s second advent (1 Thess 4:13-18).

The doctrine of the resurrection, then, either directly or indirectly, is presented throughout Scripture. Job, probably living during the time of the patriarchs confessed this (Job 19:23-27). What happened with Enoch (Gen 5:23-24) and Elijah (2 Ki 2:1-18) reinforced that the bodies of all people, after their time on earth, would someday continue to exist in the next life (in the case of believers, as Enoch and Elijah were, with the LORD). When the author of Kings chose these words to mark the end of the monarch’s career, “H lay down with his fathers,” he was sending an underlying message to his readers. That man, who had entered the sleep of death, would one day be awakened. All those who had fallen asleep in faith in the Messiah would awaken to everlasting life.

Read or sing Hymn 394 “Eternal Spirit, God of Truth” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has promised to both raise and glorify our bodies.

Saturday (2/23) Read and discuss Romans 8:12-17. Doug Moo writes:

The feeling of being rejected is all too common in our world. Husbands reject wives and wives husbands as the divorce rate soars. Parents reject children and children parents. High school students reject other students because they do not fit with the “in group.” Every reader can fill in the blank with his or her own experience of rejection. The sad fact is that it is increasingly difficult to find a secure and permanent relationship. As a result, people feel uneasy and uncertain. I know wives married twenty-five years to loving husbands who find it hard to trust their husbands because of the broken marries they see all around them.

Of course, no human relationship can ever provide ultimate security. The best-intentioned spouse can die at any time. But what our fellow humans can never supply, God does. In the midst of our disillusionment and doubt, He offers the most secure relationship imaginable: adoption into his own eternal family. Through our faith in Christ, the Son of God, we become His “brothers and sisters” (see Heb 2:10-13), children of God and co-heirs with Christ of all that God has promised those who love Him. We belong to the ultimate “in group,” those who are the dearly loved children of the God of the universe. Nor do we have to worry about being rejected from this relationship. As Paul has been teaching throughout these chapters and will do again in 8:18-39, our adoption is permanent. Nothing can change that, nothing and nobody can keep us from enjoying God’s favor and blessing forever.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.