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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 30 May 2021

Call to Worship
Opening Psalm: Psalm 46A “God is Our Refuge and Our Strength”
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: John 3:16-17
Hymn of Preparation: Hymn 436 “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place”
Old Covenant Reading: Joshua 1:1-9
New Covenant Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-20
Sermon: Christ Came to Save Sinners
Hymn of Response: Hymn 438 “I Love to Tell the Story”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 1 (p. 872)
Pastoral Prayer
Closing Hymn: Hymn 433 “Amazing Grace”

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/24) Read and discuss 1 Timothy 1:12-20.
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (ESV)

We live in a distracted age. Educators used to complain about how television was destroying the ability of young people to engage in detailed reasoning or to simply listen attentively to an hour-long lecture. Yet, that pales in comparison to the impact which social media and text messaging has had on our attention spans. So, newspaper articles and even sentences continue to grow shorter; logical reasoning is being replaced by soundbites and graphics; and, while more and more people are capable of reading, many of these people never read a single serious book in the course of a year. It isn’t that social media and cell phones are intrinsically evil. It is precisely their utility that makes them dangerous. The danger is that we can end up being so busy with trivial things that we end up ignoring the few things that really matter. Paul addresses this issue to Timothy in verses 18-19:

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.

It is important to recognize that the discussion of religious things can actually be what leads us away from our vocations. That is why Paul warns against being given over to “myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (v. 4) and engaging in “vain discussions” (v. 6). The language of “entrust”, “wage the good warfare”, and “holding faith and a good conscience” is vigorous. Paul is reminding Timothy that his vocation demands focused attention. Timothy is not free to focus on those aspects of his calling that happen to make him feel the best that day – and neither are we. Let us not fritter away the treasures which the LORD has entrusted us with. Recreation and amusement are gifts from God, but they are not the end for which we have been created. Let’s keep them in their proper place.

MEMORY WORK
Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Tuesday (5/25) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 14:20-25
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. (ESV)

Nearly everyone enjoys watching young children open presents. Giving them something to smile about lifts our hearts as well. Sometimes we end up with wonderful stories about how the youngest children delighted to play with the shiny wrapping paper while neglecting the toy that we so carefully picked out … and we too laugh with delight. When a child gets a bit older perhaps he will pick up his plastic hammer and pretend to go to work with Dad. So begins the process of dreaming what life will be like when he grows up. In High-School he will begin to dread the question that all the grown-ups seem to incessantly ask: “What are you going to be when you grow up?” But this is a natural are right question to ask. We were created with talents and given opportunities to develop them. We should be seeking to discover and live out our vocations where we grow into maturity and refine our gifts to make a positive impact on the world. Regretfully, when we ask “What are you going to be when you grow up?” we tend to only have career goals in mind. No one ever seems to ask “What are you going to be when you grow to maturity in your relationship with Jesus Christ?” Truth be told, many Christians in the United States seem to be content to simply play with the shiny pieces of the wrapping paper while approaching the Christian life nearly entirely from the perspective of “feels good/feels bad.” In today’s passage Paul calls the Corinthians and us to grow up. What does it mean to grow up? For a start it means growing in an understanding of God’s word, His plan for the world, and how the gifts that He gives functions in that plan. As Paul makes clear, the gift of tongues was intended as a sign to the rebellious nation of Israel that God was going to judge them for rejecting Him. Yet, some in Corinth (and we should add, some in the United States today) were treating this sign of impending judgment as though it were a toy that gave them a ecstatic experience and marked them out as particularly spiritual. Paul, by referring to Isaiah and Zechariah, essential tells them: “If you had aligned your thinking with God’s revealed will in Scripture you wouldn’t be acting in such a childish manner. Grow up!”

MEMORY WORK
Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to his revealed will.

Wednesday (5/26) Read and discuss Joshua 1:1-9.
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (ESV)

The first words of the LORD to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead,” focus on the transition of leadership for Israel. The LORD here speaks to Joshua as he spoke to the former leader, Moses (though not “mouth to mouth” and visibly as with Moses), implying that Joshua, whom Moses had commissioned at the LORD’s command, is now in charge. The LORD’s words begin to reveal to Joshua that while Moses’ body lies in the ground, no promise lies buried with him. Joshua will be his new agent of fulfillment. The death of a leader does not mean that the LORD has abandoned his pledges to Israel – or to the church. That is true even at the death of Moses, the incomparable mediator of the Sinai covenant, the model for all prophets and a type of Christ. God’s entire Word is “living and active.” His promises are longstanding and still standing! Even at the passing of the only national leader Israel had even known, no pledge falls to the ground dead.

MEMORY WORK
Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.

Thursday (5/27) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 14:26-40.
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order. (ESV)

There are a few tricky interpretive matters in today’s passage. One of the challenges we face as Christians is to not become so distracted by those parts of God’s word that seem unclear to us that we avoid simple obedience to what is being clearly revealed. N.T. Wright comments on the problem that Paul was addressing and his broader concerns for the Church:

What is clear is that … Paul’s overriding concern is for order, peace, and mutual upbuilding when the congregation comes together for worship, rather than for chaos, interruption and dissension.

Of course, there are many churches today where there is so much order and peace that Paul might have wondered if everyone had gone to sleep. That poses different problems, which a fresh and lively engagement with the gospel itself, and the personal challenges it poses, should begin to address. But in Corinth at least the problem was one of worship meetings bordering on the chaotic – and chaos, as always, provides an opportunity for those with the loudest voices or the slickest operating skills to come out on top, while those with gentler voices and more humility can get crushed in their path. The issue, in other words, may well not be simply about how to order public worship, but how to prevent bossy and overbearing Christians exploiting an extemporaneous worship service in order to show off their gifts and strengths. That problem is not unique to ‘free’ services such as those in Corinth.

In particular, Paul issues specific instruction as to the exercise of the gifs he has been talking about. The main principle remains that everything should be done with an eye to building up the church. Beyond that, at most three people should speak in tongues, and then only if one of them can ‘interpret’, in other words, put into plain speech what it is that has been said. Paul would have no time for people who wanted to go on and on in a free-flowing way with different gifts being exercised. Spontaneity is no guarantee of spirituality, and to think otherwise is to entertain wrong ideas about God himself (verse 33).

A simple way to put this into practice is to remember that corporate worship is not like an elementary school talent show. Talent shows are about the individual and his or her talents. Spiritual gifts are exercised in corporate worship not for the sake of the individual but for the sake of the whole congregation.

MEMORY WORK
Q. 41. Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

Friday (5/28) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 15:1-28.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (ESV)

A very strange thing seems to have happened in Corinth. There were members of the church who apparently were doubting or even denying that there would be a future resurrection of our bodies. We shouldn’t imagine that they were envisioning some sort of future annihilation where everything ended at death. This wasn’t modern America where unbelievers can feel comfortable in a liberal church. These were people who were (in some sense) placing their trust in Jesus for a better life in the age to come. Yet they had allowed secular philosophy to alter their understanding of Biblical anthropology. That is, they had lost sight of the fact that God made matter good and that our physical bodies are an important part of our humanity. Why would they do this? It was common in some parts of Greek philosophy to hope for the deliverance of the human spirit from the body. The spirit was seen as noble and good while the body was seen as decaying and limiting. In fact, some philosophers called the body the tomb of the soul. Oddly, many Christians in modern America have let this idea creep into their own thinking. If you were to ask many individuals about what they expect after they die – they will vaguely talk about heaven and, if you listen closely, it will sound like a surprisingly immaterial place. But this is not the goal for which we have been created or redeemed. As one New Testament scholar likes to put it, “Heaven is important but it’s not the end of the world.” If we die prior to the Second Coming, we will in fact pass directly into the presence of the LORD while our bodies remain buried in the ground. This will be a glorious experience but it is not the end of our redemption. Scripture teaches that we will then be looking forward to the redemption of our bodies so that in glorified bodies we will live in a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell. This truth is so important that Paul actually argues from Christ’s resurrection to the resurrection of our bodies. Is this the way you think about the body God has given to you?

MEMORY WORK
Q. 42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Saturday (5/29) Read and discuss 1 Timothy 1:12-20.
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (ESV)

R. Kent Hughes writes:

This outpouring of gratitude [in verses 12 through 14] stemmed from Paul’s personal history before meeting Christ. Paul, at that time called Saul, hunted down Christians, desiring to devastate the church. He was a brutal, implacable, bloody man. Paul’s personal biographer, Dr. Luke, described him as a religious predator: “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1, 2). Paul preyed on those “who belonged to the Way” – the followers of Jesus who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). His goal was nothing short of the complete extermination of the Way.

Luke’s description here of him as “still breathing out murderous threats” literally reads, “breathing in threats and murder.” As A.T. Robertson explained, “Threatening and slaughter had come to be the very breath that Saul breathed, like a warhorse who sniffed he smell of battle.” …

The rest of the story has become the treasured deposit of the apostolic church and all who have valued an apostolic life.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Paul, an untamable tiger, met the Lion of the tribe of Judah at the Damascus off ramp! He renounced persecuting the church to become a major player in the drama of world evangelization.

MEMORY WORK
Q. 43. What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Sunday Morning worship services will restart on July 4th at 9:30 am (note new time!) See More