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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 16 May 2021

MVOPC 16 May 2021
Call to Worship
Opening Psalm: Psalm 1A “That Man is Blest”
Confession of Sin
Almighty God, Who are rich in mercy to all those who call upon You; Hear us as we humbly come to You confessing our sins; And imploring Your mercy and forgiveness. We have broken Your holy laws by our deeds and by our words; And by the sinful affections of our hearts. We confess before You our disobedience and ingratitude, our pride and willfulness; And all our failures and shortcomings toward You and toward fellow men. Have mercy upon us, Most merciful Father; And of Your great goodness grant that we may hereafter serve and please You in newness of life; Through the merit and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Colossians 1:11-14
Hymn of Preparation: Hymn 389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”
Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 66:5-16
New Covenant Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Sermon: The Good News of God’s Vengeance
Hymn of Response: Hymn 383 “Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 1 (p. 872)
Pastoral Prayer
Closing Hymn: Hymn 517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/10) Read and discuss 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. (ESV)

John Byron writes:

Having assured the Thessalonians that God is just and will repay their enemies, Paul quickly shifts their attention to the “when.” It “will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven” (1:7b). This revealing of Jesus is consistent with descriptions of Jesus’ location in heaven in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 4:16. But the word Paul uses here is not parousia. Instead he uses apokalypsis (“revelation”), a word he uses elsewhere in the context of a day of judgment.

Paul’s point here is that just as Jesus is presently “hidden” from the Thessalonian believers, he is also hidden from those who are persecuting them. Consequently, they are unaware of the approaching judgment that will happen when Jesus returns. The Thessalonians, however, are aware of what is approaching, and Paul’s purpose here is not to scare or threaten his readers, but is rather to provide comfort. It is a promise that god has not forgotten them, that they have not missed the day of the LORD, and that when that day comes and Jesus is finally revealed, it will no longer be a secret.

Paul’s description of Jesus’ revelation “in blazing fire with his powerful angels” is intended to have the most impact possible on his readers. In the Old Testament a theophany (an appearance of God) is sometimes accompanied by fire. Fire burning one’s adversaries is also a common image in the Old Testament. But the wording here is most likely taken from Isaiah 66:15-16:

See, the LORD is coming with fire,
and His chariots are like a whirlwind;
He will bring down His anger with fury,
and His rebuke with flames of fire.
For with fire and with His sword
the LORD will execute judgment on all people,
and many will be those slain by the LORD.

Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Tuesday (5/11) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 12:12-20
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (ESV)

While the Church is supposed to manifest both UNITY and DIVERSITY – which of these two is more important? You probably realize that this is a trick question. We are not to pit unity and diversity against each other as though they are competitors but are instead to embrace both the unity of the body and the diversity of the members. That is the way God designed the Church. Nevertheless, it is easy in practice to actually choose unity or diversity and by doing so to distort God’s plan for a local congregation. While distortions in both directions are possible, the culture of the United States tends to err toward overemphasizing the individual making that the more likely way for us to go astray. One symptom of this misunderstanding among Christians in North America is revealed by the fact that many evangelical Christians are actually reluctant to join a particular local congregation (and a large number of churches have accommodated this desire by eliminating or downplaying membership). Instead of thinking of ourselves as members of a body we approach church life as consumers of religious services and experiences. Yet, oddly, the response to this error has often been to lurch toward emphasizing unity at the expense of diversity. This approach identifies the church with the gifts of a few members and basically calls the congregation to be happy identifying with and supporting those people and their gifts. That is not Paul’s vision at all. Paul insists: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” So how can we get this balance right? Programs won’t do it, but in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul will show us “a more excellent way” that leads to getting this right.

Q. 27. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Wednesday (5/12) Read and discuss Isaiah 66:5-16.

Hear the word of the LORD,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified,
that we may see your joy’;
but it is they who shall be put to shame.

“The sound of an uproar from the city!
A sound from the temple!
The sound of the LORD,
rendering recompense to his enemies!

“Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
says the LORD;
“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
says your God.

“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”

For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.

“For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many. Isaiah 66:5-16 (ESV)

William VanGemeren writes:

The prophecy of Isaiah concludes with God’s concern for true worship. God desires to have fellowship with those who show sensitivity to His word by acts of obedience, love, and justice. The love of God is evident in those who are humble and contrite in spirit. They may suffer in an unjust world, but He promises to vindicate them. On the other hand, He will avenge Himself on those within the community of faith who worship in their own ways, not having a heartfelt love for God and for their brothers and sisters in the faith.

The judgment of God clearly comes against all those who have opposed His kingdom. The noise coming from the temple is the sound of the LORD Himself who has come to defend His children by brining retribution on the wicked.

The LORD invies all to rejoice with “mother Jerusalem.” Those who love her in adversity and prosperity will be rewarded with joy, fullness of life, peace, and comfort. These benefits are further guaranteed to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

As God’s people are encouraged that the Lord is going to be with His children, He also assures the enemies that His vengeance will come upon them. His coming is depicted in prophetic imagery: fire, chariots, whirlwinds, and swords. The effect of Yahweh’s judgment is that the wicked will be slain. The prophet gives the scene of God’s judgment on the wicked in order to assure the ungodly who have been members of the covenant community that they too will be under God’s judgment. Those who have mad their own rules of sanctification and defilement will be consumed together with the wicked.

Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

Thursday (5/13) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 12:21-31
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:21-31 (ESV)

In an association or club, those who appear to have the most to offer are those the organization wants to recruit and retain. In a family, everyone is loved without regard to their abilities. The Church is a family and not an association. In fact, God in His wisdom has bound together both the weak and the strong into the one body of Christ. Richard Hays explains:

Paul is writing to correct the behavior of some haughty Corinthians whose undisciplined flaunting of spiritual gifts has caused the weaker and less honorable members of the community (vv. 22-23) to feel despised and even ostracized from the body because they do not have the same exalted spiritual experiences (vv. 15-16). It is likely, though not certain, that this split with the community reflects the same social and economic differences that we have seen with regard to other problems in the letter, such as the use of law courts (6:1-8) and the abuse of the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34). Seeking to overcome this sad division in the church, Paul calls upon all the Corinthians to see themselves joined together as members of one body with a stake in one another’s peace and wellbeing. This message makes particular demands on those who hold the upper roles in the social structure and upon those who receive the most impressive spiritual gifts. “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required” (Luke 11:48). Minimally, the holders of power are enjoined to receive and honor the weaker members as their peers in the body of Christ, to “have the same care” for them that they have for themselves, and to share in their joys and sufferings (vv. 25-26). A conversion of the imagination will be necessary for those in a position of privilege truly to see themselves as bound together with the weaker members of the body.

Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Friday (5/14) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)

It is easy to drift into doing things simply out of habit. While this is o.k. to the degree that we have been self-conscious about creating our habits a long period of being unreflective can leave us surprisingly off-course without even realizing it. We start out with a plan to get somewhere, but small bumps in the road and minor temptations or distractions move us from our intended path. At first, we won’t seem too far off track. Yet, unless we keep correcting our course, we will eventually end up tragically missing the target of our original goals. Therefore, it is important for us to take inventory of our lives and to ask why we are doing what we are doing. This is perhaps even more true of our motivations as it is of our outward actions. God cares about both. Richard Hays puts it like this:

As verses 1-3 emphasize, even the most apparently spiritual and meritorious activities become, without love, literally meaningless. First Corinthians 13 ought to encourage us to step back from even our most cherished projects and ask, “Why am I doing this?” If we cannot honestly say, “I am doing this for love and in love,” then the legitimacy of the whole enterprise must come under serious doubt. This test applies, of course, not just to explicitly religious practices but to everything that we do: business, academics, politics. All of us know for sad cases where laudable causes are promoted by people who have lost this frame of reference and turned into loveless zealots. Indeed, this is not far from what was happening at Corinth: precisely those Corinthians who were most single-mindedly focused on spirituality had become guilty of dividing the community and despising their brothers and sisters. We are so susceptible to self- deception in such matters that we need others around us who can keep us honest and remind us, as Paul does, that love is what really counts ultimately.

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Saturday (5/15) Read and discuss 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. (ESV)

John Byron writes:

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Can Jesus be serious? It is one thing to pray for someone who is persecuting me, but to love them would mean I need to come in contact with them to express that love. But the attitude of love is what is crucial to the identity of being a follower of Jesus. Jesus stresses that this kind of love has a purpose: “that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” To be a part of God’s kingdom means reflecting the character of the Father. Since, as Jesus points out, God gives sunshine and rain to both the righteous and the unrighteous, Christians too should treat their enemies with a similar pattern of love.

Although Paul offers no advice on how to deal with persecution here, he does in Romans 12:14: “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.” Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 4:12-13 Paul reports: “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” While not using the same words of Jesus, Paul is echoing them.

There is something striking about both the words of Jesus and Paul. Neither is suggesting a passive response to the persecutors. The acts of praying, loving, and blessing someone require that the persecuted proactively step out and engage their enemies in a way that is the opposite of the treatment they are receiving. For the Christian, our response should not be simply one of nonretaliation. It is not only turning the other cheek and forgoing vengeance. Instead, there is a determined response to love those who are hurting us, to pray for them, and to wish them all of the blessings of life. Neither Jesus nor Paul says this is easy, but is the response we are called to give.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.