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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 9 May 2021

Call to Worship
Opening Hymn: Hymn 244 “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
Confession of Sin
O great and everlasting God, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Who searches and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart; We confess that we have not loved You with all our heart, nor with all our soul, nor with all our mind, nor with all our strength; Nor our neighbors as ourselves. We have loved what we ought not to have loved; We have coveted what is not ours; We have not been content with Your provisions for us. We have complained in our hearts about our family, about our friends, about our health, about our occupations, about Your church, and about our trials. We have sought our security in those things which perish, rather than in You, the Everlasting God. Chasten, cleanse, and forgive us, through Jesus Christ, who is able for all time to save us who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Micah 7:18-20
Psalm of Preparation: Psalm 26 “Declare Me Innocent, O LORD”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 43:1-5
New Covenant Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Sermon: Joy in Suffering
Psalm of Response: Psalm 43B “Judge Me, God of My Salvation”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)
Pastoral Prayer
Closing Hymn: 245 “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/3) Read and discuss 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

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. (ESV)

John Byron writes:

In 1:3-4 we see that Paul’s thankfulness is not offered up because of something he received or something that someone did for him. Paul offers thanks to God because of what God has done in the life of the Thessalonians and the way they responded to Go. In fact, Paul almost never thanks human beings for anything in his letters. The only possible exception is a reference in Romans 16:4, where he expresses gratitude for Prisca and Aquila risking their lives for him. Even here it is not only Paul who gives thanks, but all of the Gentile churches, which shows that Paul is thinking about the wider ministry and its focus on God.

But Paul doesn’t give thanks just for past actions of God. As I noted, the thanksgiving section of this letter is one long sentence in Greek. Withing that one sentence Paul expresses thanks for what God has done in the lives of the believers and what God will do when Jesus returns. Thanksgiving for Paul is not about a gift received; it is about what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will do.

As followers of Jesus in the modern age, our perspective on thanksgiving needs to shift from being grateful for what we are getting to what God is doing. This means that we are thankful, even in difficult circumstances. One person in history who models this is St. John Chrysostom, who was twice exiled from his home in Constantinople for speaking out against Empress Eudoxia. As he died, away from his home and under persecution, his last words are said to have been, “Thank God for everything!”

MEMORY WORK
Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a redeemer.

Tuesday (5/4) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 11:17-22
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 (ESV)

Richard Hays writes:

Strangely, we are indebted to the Corinthians for messing up their celebration of the Lord’s Supper. If they had not suffered divisions at the Lord’s Table, Paul would never have written to correct them, and we would know nothing about his teaching concerning the tradition and practice of the Lord’s Supper. As it is, the Corinthians’ trouble serves for our instruction: Paul’s rebuke and advice can help us reflect theologically about what we are doing when we come together as a church around the table. …

The Lord ’s Table must first of all express the community’s unity as the new covenant people of God. Divisions and conflicts in the church are incongruous with the meaning of this common meal; indeed, disunity turns the celebration into a hollow parody of the Lord’s Supper. This point pertains not only to doctrinal conflict but also and especially to divisions caused by social and economic disparity in the community. The major emphasis of Paul’s pastoral response to the Corinthians is to be found in verses 21-22 and 33: those with more resources must stop shaming the poor and begin sharing their food with “those who have nothing.”

MEMORY WORK
Q. 21. Who is the redeemer of God’s elect?
A. The only redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.

Wednesday (5/5) Read and discuss Psalm 43:1-5.
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:1-5 (ESV)

John Calvin writes:

In order to encourage himself in the hope of obtaining the grace of God, David rests with confidence in this, that God, who is true, and cannot deceive any, has promised to assist His servants. The knowledge of the divine favor, it is true, must be sought for in the Word of God; nor has faith any other foundation on which it can rest with security except His word; but when God stretches out His hand to help us, the experience of this is no small confirmation of the word of and of faith. …

As the chief cause of his sorrow consisted in his being banished from the congregation of the godly, so David places the height of all his enjoyments in this, that he might be at liberty to take part in the exercise of religion and ot worship God in the sanctuary. Tacitly, indeed, David makes a vow of thanksgiving to God; but there can be no doubt, that by these words he intimates that the end which he had in view in seeking deliverance from his afflictions was, that as formerly he might be at liberty to return to the sanctuary, from which he was driven by the tyranny of his enemies. And it deserves to be particularly noticed, that although he had been deprived of his wife, spoiled of his goods, his house, and all his other earthly comforts, yet he always felt such an ardent desire to come to the temple, that he forgot almost everything else. This holy desire of David ought to be imitated by all the faithful.

MEMORY WORK
Q. 22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.

Thursday (5/6) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 11:23-34
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 (ESV)

How should we prepare to receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? Whenever we ponder such questions, we should avail ourselves of the wisdom of those who have gone before us in the faith. For example, the Larger Catechism of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church says:

Q. 171. How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
A. They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.

Note well that the examination the Larger Catechism encourages believers to undertake is not for the purpose of deciding whether or not they should come to the Lord’s Table but so that we will participate in a way that glorifies God and leads to our own blessedness in Him. This is what Paul himself says in verse 28: “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

MEMORY WORK
Q. 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our redeemer?
A. Christ, as our redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Friday (5/7) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV)

We live in an age where many people are choosing spirituality over organized religion. In fact, the term spirituality has become an applause word. If someone goes on a T.V. or radio program and talks about exploring their spirituality other people are expected to applaud or at least to generally approve. Spirituality is good – or is it? The Corinthians whom Paul is writing to where very spiritual people before they had become Christians. They were not rescued from atheism but from the worship of demons. This leads to a fundamental truth: Spirituality is only a good thing if the Spirit involved is the Holy Spirit. But how can we know for sure whether the spiritual activity that we are experiencing is from the Holy Spirit or from evil spirits? This is not a trick nor tricky question. The clear dividing line is what that spirituality has to do with Jesus. Paul gives the Corinthians two black and white truths:

  1. No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and
  2. No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit

Of course, Paul doesn’t mean that a person is incapable of uttering the phrase “Jesus is Lord” apart from the work of the Holy Spirit but that a person cannot say and believe that “Jesus is Lord” apart from the Holy Spirit. That is why we confess in the Nicene Creed that our belief “in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.” The Holy Spirit glorifies the Son by testifying to Him and by gathering people into the Kingdom who will worship and glorify the Risen Lamb forever. As Spirit-filled people this should be what we are about as well.

MEMORY WORK
Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Saturday (5/8) Read and discuss 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5.
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

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. (ESV)

John Stott writes:

There is an important practical lesson to learn here. What should our attitude be to Christian’s who are doing well in some aspect of their discipleship? Some people resort to congratulations: ‘Well done! I think you’re marvelous. I’m proud of you.’ Others are uncomfortable with this and see its incongruity. It borders on flattery, promotes pride and robs God of His glory. So, although they may thank God privately in their prayers, they say nothing to the person concerned. They replace flattery with silence, which leaves him or her discouraged. Is there a third way, which affirms people without spoiling them? There is. Paul exemplifies it here. He not only thanks God for the Thessalonians; he also tells them that he is doing so: ‘we ought always to thank God for you … we boast about you.’ If we follow his example, we will avoid both congratulation (which corrupts) and silence (which discourages). Instead, we can affirm and encourage people in the most Christian of all ways: ‘I thank God for you, brother or sister. I thank Him for the gifts He has given you, for His grace in your life, for what I see in you of the love and gentleness of Christ.’ This way affirms without flattering, and encourages without puffing up.

MEMORY WORK
Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.

Morning Services have been suspended until further notice. The 5pm evening service will continue.