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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 23 October 2022

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Psalm: Psalm 8A “O LORD, Our Lord, in All the Earth”
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: Romans 4:20-25
Hymn of Preparation: Hymn 275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 24:1-10
New Covenant Reading: Matthew 5:7-12
Sermon: Christ Blesses the Christlike
Psalm of Response: Psalm 24A “The Earth and Its Riches”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: Hymn 533 “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!”

PM Worship
Hymns: Psalm 100B, Psalm 23A, 238
OT: Exodus 34:1-8
NT: Hebrews 8:1-13
Sermon: Our Merciful God

Adult Sunday School: Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 4

Q. But doesn’t God do man an injustice
by requiring in his law
what man is unable to do?
A. No, God created man with the ability to keep the law.
Man, however, at the instigation of the devil,
in willful disobedience,
robbed himself and all his descendants of these gifts.

Q. Will God permit
such disobedience and rebellion
to go unpunished?
A. Certainly not.
He is terribly angry
with the sin we are born with
as well as our actual sins.
God will punish them by a just judgment
both now and in eternity,
having declared:
“Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey
all the things written in the book of the law.”

Q. But isn’t God also merciful?
A. God is certainly merciful,
but he is also just.
His justice demands
that sin, committed against his supreme majesty,
be punished with the supreme penalty—
eternal punishment of body and soul.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/17) Read and discuss Matthew 5:7-12.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV)

Jeffrey Gibbs writes:

There is a noticeable shift in the Beatitudes in 5:7. Jesus’ words are still Good News. Jesus still pronounces present blessing. Moreover, the future eschatological gifts of God are still the reason for present blessedness, as affirmed explicitly in 5:10, where Jesus repeats the promise of 5:3, “because the reign of heaven is theirs,” and also in 5:12, where Jesus promises, “Your reward is great in heaven.” I argued above that in 5:3-6, the disciples of Jesus were described in terms of their inability, rather than their accomplishments, and clearly the last two Beatitudes (5:10-12) promise blessing for disciples who passively suffer.

In 5:7, however, Jesus says, “The merciful are blessed, because they will be shown mercy.” Is this not in effect an exhortation: “Be merciful, so that you may be shown mercy”? I would argue that that is not the force of 5:7. Rather, the adjective “merciful” (as with the other adjectival subjects in the first four Beatitudes) describes Jesus disciples – all of them. It bespeaks the transforming power of discipleship and of Jesus’ call to faith. Jesus Himself is mercy incarnate, perfect mercy. One simply cannot become His disciple without also beginning to exhibit mercy in a new way.

Read or sing Psalm 8A “O LORD, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Tuesday (10/18) Read and discuss Matthew 5:1-6.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (ESV)

Grant Osborne writes:

The first four beatitudes deal primarily with total reliance on God. Each provides an aspect of that sense of dependence. We begin with those who are humble before God, who have realized their absolute need to put their trust wholly in Him. They seek their treasure in heaven, not on earth, and have placed all earthly concerns secondary to following Him. Then there are those who “mourn” under both oppression and guilt for sin and who thereby turn to God for help and forgiveness. They grieve under both physical (mainly poverty) and spiritual (mainly sin) needs but turn to God rather than their own resources.

Too few Christians sincerely grieve for sin; we have become hardened not just to the sin around us but even more sadly to the sin within us. The “meek” are the ones who turn the other cheek and go the extra mile for the sake of others, who are so attuned to God that they do not react aggressively when hurt by others. Those who crave “righteousness” again seek justice when wronged (note how this fits into the “meek” who turn to God for justice rather than seek it for themselves) but also want to live rightly before God. As Keener says, “these humble people are also those who yearn for God above all else (cf. Zeph 2:3).” This is exemplified in the three sections on almsgiving, prayer, and fasting in 6:1-18; they must be done entirely to please God, not to look pious to others.

Read or sing Hymn 275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

Wednesday (10/19) Read and discuss Psalm 24:1-10.

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah (ESV)

Today’s passage is a liturgical psalm that celebrates the victory procession of the LORD into the Temple sanctuary. Allen Ross notes:

From the detailed analysis of the psalm we can suggest a reconstruction of the occasion and setting of the piece. The internal evidence suggests that the Israelites had just returned from a victorious battle with the Canaanites. They were proceeding to the sanctuary to give praise to the LORD for the great and mighty victory in battle, carrying with them the glorious ark of the covenant, the symbol of the LORD’s presence with them. As they approached the gates they were met by the Levitical gatekeepers. It was the worshiper’s part to ask who could enter the sanctuary of the LORD; and it was the gatekeepers’ part to answer with the standards set down in the Law – perfect righteousness. The worshipers in this case did not claim to be qualified to enter; rather, they responded that they were simply seeking the LORD’s favor – a response that indicates that they wanted to meet the LORD’s requirements but had to bring sacrifices to do that. The psalm concludes with the procession of the people into the sanctuary with shouts of acclamation for the LORD’s greatness expressed in the form of an encouraging refrain.

Two additional comments are in order:

  1. Whether or not Ross is entirely right in capturing the original setting of the Psalm, the Psalms are composed in such a way that they were intended to be used down through the centuries by believers. It is not only legitimate, but an intended function of this Psalm, that subsequent generations of believers would use it to celebrate the God who is victorious over His and our enemies; to celebrate the LORD’s majesty; and to confess that only those with clean hands and a pure heart are fit to come into his presence.
  2. It is fair to read verses 3-5 Christologically, realizing that the only man fully qualified “to ascend the hill of the LORD” is the man Christ Jesus. On the other hand, verse six is clearly intended to apply to believers and is not restricted to Jesus.

Sing or Read Psalm 24A “The Earth and Its Riches”

Thursday (10/20) Read and discuss Hebrews 8:1-13.

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (ESV)

Do you ever let your imagination run and put yourself back into dramatic historical situations? It might be a great battle, a turning point in political history, or something as simple as a football game. Think about that for a moment and then answer this question: Which side to you put yourself on? Unless you are very unusual – you put yourself on the winning side. Perhaps you imagine yourself to be the quarterback who heroically leads your team to a last-minute victory or perhaps you are simply loyally and nobly supporting the right side in some great cause – but nobody uses their imagination to go back in time to be on the side of evil as you get crushed by the righteous. That’s just not how we want to see ourselves. In pointing out the deficiencies in the Mosaic Covenant the author of Hebrews is asking his original audience: Why is it again that you want to turn from the New Covenant to go back to that? Yes, the Mosaic Covenant revealed God’s goodness and is filled with grace – but don’t you remember that because of our sin it was largely fourteen centuries of failure? Don’t you remember that the LORD even drove us out of the Promised Land into exile because of the hardness of our hearts? Why would you want to go back to that? Then, the author of Hebrews lays out the reasons for being far more hopeful about the future now that the New Covenant had come. In order to drive home this point, Hebrews quotes at length from Jeremiah 31. Although it is very unlikely that anyone reading this mediation feels tempted to return to the Mosaic Covenant, each of us is being tempted to turn from that which though unseen is eternal to that which can be seen which is passing away. Let us not forgot how great the privilege of belong to Christ in His New Covenant Church is:

  1. We have a better PRIEST
  2. Who serves in a better SANCTUARY
  3. Who offered a better SACRIFICE
  4. Who inaugurated a better COVENANT
  5. Which is built on better PROMISES

Indeed, as Jesus Himself made clear: It is even better for us to be here this morning than it would have been for us to be with Christ physically on the other side of the cross and empty tomb. With grateful hearts let us give thanks – not only with our lips but with our lives.

Friday (10/21) Read and discuss Exodus 34:1-8.

The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. (ESV)

Doug Stuart writes:

God’s instruction to Moses to prepare two new stone tablets and his promise to write the Ten Words/Commandments on these new tablets just as he had on the former ones conveys a most welcome message: God had decided to forgive the Israelites and accept them once again as his covenant people, and he would renew his covenant with them, through which all sorts of blessings would once again be theirs. Like an employer saying to a previously dismissed employee, “Welcome back to the company. Let me show you to your work station” or a judge saying to a person whose punishment has been completed, “You’re free to go and resume your former life,” God said to Moses and through him to Israel, in effect: “Bring some new tablets. Let’s put the covenant back in force.”

Read or sing Hymn 533 “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!”

Saturday (10/22) Read and discuss Matthew 5:7-12.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV)

Jeffrey Gibbs writes:

The second group of Beatitudes (5:7-12) still describes the disciples of Jesus: the merciful, the pure in heart, and so forth. These blessings testify that Jesus’ call to discipleship begins to transform those who are called. When Jesus joins men, women, and children to Himself, that union begins to manifest the life of Christ Himself in the lives of His disciples. That was true for Jesus’ original disciples there on the mountain in Galilee. It is also true for the disciples of Jesus today, who are baptized into union with Christ and who comprise His church, which hears and receives the Beatitudes in faith. Indeed, the Beatitudes contain within themselves the kerygmatic power to make a hearer or reader into a disciple of Jesus and a member of His church. To hear and believe that one is poor in spirit, spiritually bankrupt, and then to hear Jesus pronounce blessing and the promise of the reign of heaven can make one into a believer in Jesus. Hearing and believing the Beatitudes can also sustain that faith. When life is hard and the power of evil is too great, Jesus’ words comfort us: “The poor in spirit are blessed, because the reign of heaven is theirs!”

At this point, and only at this point, a person is ready to hear the teaching of Jesus in the body proper of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ teaching will continue to have the character of divine, authoritative revelation. He reveals truth about the disciples’ calling, about the true meaning of God’s OT Torah, about life under the Father’s care, and so on. Aspects of this truth concern God’s will for man’s obedience. The Sermon contains Law, the commandments of God as Jesus declares them. Sooner or later, that Law, when taken seriously by men and women trying to obey it, will rise up to condemn Jesus’ disciples as guilty, as sinful – as poor in spirit. At those times, Jesus’ disciples are invited to remember that the Sermon has a doorway, a doorway that in the first-place swings open on this hinge: “The poor in spirit are blessed, because the reign of heaven is theirs!” (5:3). In this way, perhaps many times in a single day, Jesus’ disciples will receive and enter and accept His authoritative revelation. In the first place (literally!), however, His authoritative revelation is His word of promise, of present blessing and final salvation to all His disciples.

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