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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 24 November 2019

24 November 2019

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: Psalm 1A “That Man is Blest”

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: Luke 1:76-79

Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

Old Covenant Reading: Genesis 3:1-15

New Covenant Reading: Romans 16:17-20

Sermon: Heresy and Hope

Hymn of Response: Psalm 22B “All You That Fear Jehovah’s Name”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 568)

Closing Hymn: 417 “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun”

PM Worship

OT: Deuteronomy 7:6-11

NT: Ephesians 1:1-6

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Shorter Catechism Q/A # 11

Q. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/18) Read and discuss Romans 16:17-20. Michael Bird writes:

I don’t know if you remember the detective show Colombo, where Detective Columbo (i.e., Peter Falk) was known for making penetrating observations about a crime scene and poking holes in a criminal’s story. Every episode Columbo would interview a suspect and just when the suspect’s alibi seemed to check out, Columbo would pause and say, “Oh year, just one more thing …” and then ask a question that completely unraveled the suspect’s entire story. Here, Paul pulls a Columbo by adding just one more thing that provides some insight into the Roman situation. The one thing is that Paul wants them to be wary of false teachers entering their ranks and promulgating a false gospel. I like how Eugene Peterson paraphrases vv. 17-19: “One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide birth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.”

In my experience of churches in the UK, USA, and Australia, most evangelical churches do not get easily fooled by big and obvious heresies like denying the deity of Christ or denying the humanity of Jesus. More often than not, the danger is teaching that is vague and mushy, watered down, without substance, and has the theological depth of a car park puddle. You end up with a sermon diet that has the spiritual nutrition value equivalent to living exclusively on McNuggets.

On other occasions the danger is trendiness, wanting to be liked and loved by the masses, to be spoken of positively in the media, which puts pressure on pastors as much as parishioners to downplay certain aspects of the faith like sin, atonement, judgment, and hell. Here preaching becomes akin to pandering at the pool of popularity. … Here’s my point. False teaching starts as shallow, tries to be trendy, and pursues innovation without boundaries, and before you know it, you’re standing in a church where the Nicene Creed is either mocked or meaningless. That’s what happened in many mainline churches, when the leadership – who should have known better – let in wolves among the flock.

Read or sing Psalm 1A “That Man is Blest” Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to grant you doctrinal discernment and for the Lord of the Church to protect MVPC from false teaching.

Tuesday (11/19) Read and discuss Hebrews 9:1-10Planned obsolescence can be an unsavory description. The idea developed in the 1920s when mass manufacturers realized they could create repeat sales through product cycle upgrades.  Consumers usually go along with this system, but sometimes chaff at the idea of having to replace a perfectly good product with a new one because the old one is no longer compatible with other technologies or because it can no longer be serviced.  Nevertheless, we should realize planned obsolescence lies at the very heart of the Mosaic covenant. It was never designed to bring people to the ultimate Promised Land but was preparatory until the time when Christ would come. The very rituals that the priests were to undertake in the Tabernacle and then the Temple were designed to point to their own temporary and typological nature. For even the priests didn’t have regular access into God’s presence. Only the high priest could enter into the holy of holies and even then he could enter only once per year. Hebrews tells us that “the Holy Spirit indicting (was) this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the firs tabernacle was still standing.” Furthermore, the constant offering of sacrifices revealed that none of them had actually made anyone perfect before God. But Christ, having offered up Himself once and for all, has sat down at the right hand of God.  His work of atonement is finished and it does entirely wash away the sins of everyone who trusts in Him.  Therefore, every single believer now has immediate access to the throne of grace.  Consider what an extraordinary privilege this is – then take advantage of this access which was Jesus purchased for you with His own blood. Read or Sing Psalm 23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in the troubled nation of Eritrea (You may recall, that our missionaries in Eritrea were imprisoned and then expelled from the country several years ago. Our brothers and sisters in this country have been living with great hardship ever since).

Wednesday (11/20) Read and discuss Genesis 3:1-15. According to verse 6, what did Eve think regarding the desirability of the forbidden fruit before she ate it?  Verse 6 reads: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took …” Even though she clearly knew that the LORD had commanded her and her husband not to eat this fruit, she took and she ate. What must Eve have thought about God in order to choose following Satan and/or her own perceptions over God’s clear word? Obviously, she thought that the LORD, the LORD who had both created them and literally given them a paradise to live in, was somehow holding out on her. It can be helpful for us to realize that all sin involves not simply a desire for forbidden pleasures – but a faulty view of God.  According to verses 8-10, what actually happened to Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit?  Compare this to Eve’s evaluation of eating the fruit in verse 6.  Obviously, things didn’t turn out the way she hoped. Sometimes we need to put things in terms that even a small child can understand – so that we can understand them as well: Satan is a liar and so is the world.  Neither Satan nor the world delivers on their promises, but the LORD is always faithful. So, when being tempted, don’t be afraid to remind yourself that Satan and the world are liars. Remarkably, the LORD responds to this rebellion not only with judgment but also with grace.  Rather than wiping mankind from the face of the earth, He makes provision for our redemption (This is all according to His plan which He had from before the foundation of earth. God was not surprised by mankind’s sin.).  Genesis 3:15 has often been called the proto-euangelion (“first gospel”) because it tells us of God’s commitment to crush Satan and his work through the seed of the woman – Christ.  Prayer: Pray that God would open your eyes more fully to the wonder of who He is that you would be able to meet temptations this week with the reality that God’s promises are so much better than Satan and the world’s promises – and that God is actually faithful to bring all of His promises to pass.

Thursday (11/21) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 7:6-11. Paul Gilchrist writes:

Israel’s special status is by virtue of election – chosen by God, not because of any inherent greatness but solely because of God’s love and the oath bound promise made to Abraham. God’s sovereignty is also expressed in his faithfulness (v. 9) whereby He keeps His “covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” Love is the epoxy that binds people and God together. Note the amazing grace of God expressed in the Decalogue where the thousand generations to whom God’s covenant love is applied is placed in contrast to God’s punishing the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. Such a high calling is often accompanied by pried and boastfulness (problems which Moses deals with in chaps. 8-10). Israel is not to presume on God’s covenant love and grace, for carelessness only leads to destruction as a further exhibit of God’s justice.

Read or Sing Psalm 22B “All You That Fear Jehovah’s Name” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to the church who would be blessed by uniting with our congregation and whose gifts would build up our church.

Friday (11/22) Read and discuss Ephesians 1:1-6. Clinton Arnold writes:

This passage makes clear that God sovereignly chose us before He made the heavens and the earth. The two parallel sections strongly emphasize God’s initiative, decision, and choice in our salvation. The motivation for the election is His love, the basis is expressed as His “good pleasure” (v. 5) and “the counsel of His well,” (v. 11) and the purpose is that we would be a people “to Himself” (v. 5). It is conspicuous that Paul never says that we chose God or that the basis of election is rooted in God’s choice of those who would believe in Him. It is difficult to find within this text any notion of God foreseeing those who would exercise faith. “Hearing” and “believing” are expressed in the application section of this text (1:13-14), but as subsequent to God’s electing and predestining.

Why has God revealed His teaching about election in this passage? He wants to encourage our hearts by helping us see not only God’s sovereignty, but also His extraordinary love for us. As it did for Paul, these truths should lead us to praise God and thank Him for His indescribable kindness to us in pouring out His grace.

Read or sing Hymn 417 “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey OPC in Jaffrey, NH and ask that the LORD would give them a zeal for reaching their neighbors with the gospel.

Saturday (11/23) Read and discuss Romans 16:17-20. N.T. Wright comments:

[Paul] wants the church to grow up and learn how to understand, in love and good sense, that there is an ever-present danger of false teaching in the church. Coupled with this there is, of course, an ever-present danger that people will imagine false teaching where there is none, or will label as ‘false teaching’ something which just happens not to coincide with the particular way they are used to hearing things said. Recognizing these wrinkles and possibilities is part of learning to be both wise and innocent. But noting the dangers of wrong analysis doesn’t mean that there isn’t such a things as false teaching. There is, and it matters.

The trouble is, of course, that false teachers seldom give themselves away easily. What they say sounds clear, convincing and attractive – as does a great deal of good and wholesome teaching. Many Christians, for good reasons, like to believe what they are taught and to take it on board with humility and trust, and so are easy prey for those who have subtly different ideas and a clever way of putting them across. But Paul sees that the church is caught in the crossfire of spiritual warfare. It isn’t a matter of simply getting one’s doctrine correct out of a sense of intellectual pride. There is a battle raging for the redemption and renewal of the world and of individual people, and the church is up against the powers of darkness. Paul doesn’t spell this out in detail here the way he does in Ephesians 6:11-20, but verse 20 indicates surely enough that this is how he sees things. What they need is both the assurance that victory will be theirs and the promise and prayer of fresh grace to be with them in every need.

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