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Christ Church Sunday Morning Service (8:30 am & 11:00 am)
September 25, 2016
Announcements & Meditation
– Call to Worship –
Minister: Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Congregation: And also to you.
Minister: Lift up your hearts!
Congregation: We lift them up to the Lord!
– Confession –
Psalm 6……………………………bulletin pg. 10-11
Confession of sin
Congregation is invited to kneel if able
+ Assurance of Pardon
Minister: Your sins are forgiven through Christ.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!
+ Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed
Minister: Christian, what do you believe?
Congregation: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
+ Responsive Reading: Heidelberg Catechism: Question 53
Minister: What do you believe concerning “the Holy Spirit?”
Congregation: First, that, with the Father and the Son, he is equally eternal God; second, that God’s Spirit is also given to me, preparing me through a true faith to share in Christ and all his benefits, that he comforts me and will abide with me forever.
– Consecration –
+ Scripture Reading
Nahum 1:1-13; Matthew 11:20-30
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!
Admission of New Members
1st Service: Andy and Jenny Fountain and family
2nd Service: Andrew and Genevieve Brown and family
Profession of Faith Baptism
1st Service: Elizabeth Hewitt
Congregational Charge to Elizabeth: Our sister, for you Jesus Christ came to this earth, struggled and suffered; for your sake He crossed Gethsemane and went through the darkness of Calvary; for your sake He cried: ‘It is finished’; for your sake He died and for your sake He overcame death; indeed for your sake, our sister, and this is what you have heard and believed. And thus the word of the apostle is confirmed: ‘We love God, for He loved us first.’
2nd Service: Timothy Brown
Congregational Charge to Timothy: Our brother, for you Jesus Christ came to this earth, struggled and suffered; for your sake He crossed Gethsemane and went through the darkness of Calvary; for your sake He cried: ‘It is finished’; for your sake He died and for your sake He overcame death; indeed for your sake, our brother, and this is what you have heard and believed. And thus the word of the apostle is confirmed: ‘We love God, for He loved us first.’
2nd Service: Christiana, Joshua, & Adelaide Brown
Congregational Charge to Joshua, Christiana, and Adelaide: Little children, for you Jesus Christ came to this earth, struggled and suffered; for your sake He crossed Gethsemane and went through the darkness of Calvary; for your sake He cried: ‘It is finished’; for your sake He died and for your sake He overcame death; indeed for your sake, little children, and you—still— know nothing of it. And thus the word of the apostle is confirmed: ‘We love God, for He loved us first.’
(Taken from an old French Reformed Baptism Rite)
Let Israel Now Say in Thankfulness……………….162
Opening: Revelation 4:11
Thanksgiving: Revelation 11:17
Petitions: Revelation 21:6,7
First Service: Aeneas, Anarchy and America 3Sermon
As we read Scripture carefully, we should note that there are many differences between the status of the Jews in Isaiah’s day, for example, and our condition. At the same time, we have to realize that God gave the Scriptures to us for an example, so that we would be able to learn from their failures. We see this in multiple places (e.g. 1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Jude 7; Rom. 15:4). And this means that there are strong elements of continuity, and not just discontinuity. If there is no continuity, there are no lessons.
“Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, And their works are in the dark, And they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?” (Is. 29:15).
Summary of the Text:
There are different kinds of blindness. There is natural blindness—a rock is blind, for example. Rocks can’t see at all. There is unnatural physical blindness—as a man may be blind through no fault of his own. He belongs to a race of seeing creatures, but he cannot see. And then there is the peculiar kind of blindness that believes that the God of all omniscience is blind. This kind of blindness is the result of a judicial stupor—when God strikes a people for their rank hypocrisy.
In just such a context, Israel was blind because they had blinded themselves (v. 9). They were drunk, but not with wine. The Lord had poured a spirit of stupor over their heads (v. 10). What was happening was to them a sealed book, or an unsealed book in the hands of an illiterate (vv. 11-12). The cause of all this was their formalism and hypocrisy (v. 13). God was therefore going to do something amazing (v.14). Then we have our text—woe to those who want to outsmart God (v. 15). Surely, Isaiah says, you have everything inverted—clay does not shape the potter (v. 16). Clay does not have the right, or the power, to do any such thing. Clay that attempts to aspire to the role of potter can only achieve the status of being messed-up clay.
The Father of Lies:
The issue is lies, always lies (John 8:44). In political life, the foundational issue is honesty. What do I mean? If someone were to maintain that God did not know the location of a particular river in Montana, and someone were to contradict him, their resultant debate would not be a debate over geography. We have to recognize that when two armies meet in a particular place, fighting over the control of a continent, the actual turf where they are fighting need not be that important—whether it be Waterloo, or Gettysburg. When the serpent lied to Eve, the death was in the forbidden fruit, but the poison was in the words “hath God said?”
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3).
So for example, if someone were to tell you that Jesus never went to Capernaum, the issue is not how important it was in the abstract for Him to ever visit that place. The issue is what God has told us—whether through conscience, nature, right reason, or Scripture. And the central, foundational warning must be this matter of simple intellectual honesty. As Emerson once put it, “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” When dealing with liars, you must always define your terms. Defining terms is how you count the spoons.
All of our current woes are a function of idolatry. Either we are living under the blessing of the true and living God, or we are living under the faux-blessings of the false gods, faux-blessings that reveal their anemic nature at some point. Consider some of the following:
What’s Wrong With Human Rights?
Human rights are given by the god of the system. If the God is the true God, then the rights are true rights. If the gods are false, then the gifts they give (including “rights”) will be false gifts. Moreover, they are false because they will reflect the nature of the giver. In a secular society, where the god is Demos, the people, the gifts will reflect the nature of the giver—and so they will be both sinful and mutable.
For instance, if you have a right to affordable housing, this means that someone else has an obligation to provide you with it. This is the kind of thumb-on-the-scale-cheating that idols do all the time. But when you have the right to speak your mind, no one else need do anything. So always remember that false gods offer a false gospel.
It is a matter of great importance whether Moses or Jeroboam writes the history books. We might be able to agree on the phrase “this is the God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” The disagreement comes when we examine the referent of “this.” What God are you pointing to?
You have been told, ad nauseam, that the United States was founded as a secular republic, breaking with the older order of Christendom. Secularism, formal religious neutrality, and saved us all from endless religious strife and blood-letting. But this is almost entirely false. False gods write false salvation narratives.
One of the more common idols on the right is the notion of American exceptionalism. False gods offer a false doctrine of election. But look where this hubris has gotten us.
What Cultural Engagement Actually Is:
Some Christians run away from culture. This is the separatist move Others approach culture, hoping for some kind of amalgamation or compromise. This is the syncretistic move. Others go over to the secular culture in order to surrender to it. This is the “convert me” move. The only appropriate option for us as Christians is to recognize the ultimate authority of Christ, and to disciple all the nations, including this one, baptizing and teaching obedience.
Has It Come to That?
We have to choose from one of the two main candidates, it is said. But why? If someone says that we have to vote for Trump because Hillary is far worse, then wouldn’t that require voting for Hillary at some point if she were running against someone far worse?
What do Christians do when there are no elections where they live? Well, they have to trust God. But we don’t want to have to do that. Trust God? Has it come to that?
It may seem odd to end a series of message on marriage with a message on divorce, but if we approach the subject biblically, we can learn a great deal about marriage.
““For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously””
(Mal. 2:16, NKJV).
Summary of the Text:
Divorce is the dissolution of a marriage. As we have seen, a marriage exists when there has been a sexual union within the context of a covenantal oath (Mal. 2:14). When the central terms of that covenant are violated, then the marriage itself has been violated. This helps us understand why God hates divorce. As the text makes plain, He hates the treachery involved.
Because God hates divorce, it is not surprising that some have concluded that divorce is always a sin. Unfortunately, this position does not do justice to all the biblical teaching on the subject. Of course, it is always sin for at least one of the marriage partners. It is usually sin for both. Nevertheless, it is sometimes an act of righteousness for the offended and innocent party. We can’t make “stealing” a sin that encompasses both the thief and the original owner.
Biblical Grounds for Divorce
There are two basic categories. In the nature of the case, there is, of course, some overlap.
“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:31–32).
The word translated here as “fornication” is porneias. It means sexual uncleanness. It is not the specific word for adultery used later in this passage, although adultery would certainly be included as a type of porneias. Such behavior would include immorality before marriage that the other person did not know about (Mt. 1:19). Porneias is a general term. It applies to sexual immorality before and after marriage. In the Greek Old Testament, the word is closely linked with idolatry. Given the nature of pagan idolatry, the linkage is probably not entirely figurative, because the idolatry frequently involved immorality during worship.
The second biblical ground for divorce is addressed by Paul in this way:
“But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Cor. 7:12–16).
The issue in this passage is covenantal desertion. If the non-Christian is willing to live within the Christian understanding of the marriage covenant (as well as a non-Christian can; that is to say, externally), then he is sanctified. This means that he receives an external blessing as a result of external conformity to God’s standard.
If he decides to desert his spouse, the Christian is not bound. What is more, the Christian here is forbidden to fight the divorce. This means that the Christian is free—free to remarry, free to stay single, and free to reconcile with his. Not bound means not bound.
Marriage is not an absolute. It is sanctified because the Word of God has sanctified it. It cannot therefore be made into a vehicle to set aside the Word of God. Many Christians have tolerated evil things simply because they think marriage vows require it. They do not. Marriage vows require us to set aside our self-centeredness. Husbands must love their wives, and wives must respect their husbands. We must set aside our own self-centeredness, not the Word of God.
Not I, But the Lord
In 1 Corinthians 7:10–11, Paul says this: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”
The key to understanding this passage is the parenthetical phrase “not I but the Lord.” This does not mean, as some have thought, that Paul is claiming that this teaching is inspired, and the passage that follows in verse 12 (“I not the Lord”) is uninspired.
It means that Jesus (during his earthly ministry) taught directly on divorce, and Paul is applying his teaching here. Divorce is forbidden, and if it occurs, someone is in sin. What God has put together, man does not have the right to separate. This means that divorce cannot be justified “for any and every reason.” The Word of God must regulate our behavior in every respect.
But Jesus’ teaching, while foundational, did not cover every possible situation. This was particularly obvious as the Christian Church moved out in the Gentile pagan world, making significant progress, resulting in the new situation of many mixed marriages.
We see, then, that sin which leads to divorce is prohibited, with no exceptions. Violators of the covenant are always in sin, and it is the violator of the covenant who is the cause of the divorce. But the Bible teaches that it is legitimate for us to recognize what the violators of the covenant have done. It is also legitimate for the spouse who was sinned against to recognize the status of the offender.
The fact that conservative Bible teachers differ with this does not mean that this is a liberal view of divorce. There are two ways to tamper with the Word of God. One is to add to the Bible’s teaching, and the other is to subtract from it. There are many well-meaning Christians who have set standards on this subject that are stricter than those of the Bible. And it is not truly conservative to be stricter than God.
But what about those who, by the time they hear this message, have already done everything wrong? They are now on their third marriage and are troubled with guilt. The good news is that God picks us up where we are, not where we should have been. There is always forgiveness in Christ. Those in such a situation should confess the sin, accept God’s forgiveness by faith, and begin to live in submission to the Word of God.
– Communion –
Behold! the Mountain of the Lord…………….298-99 (CR 7.1)
– Commissioning –
+ CLOSING DOXOLOGY
The congregation may raise hands
Gloria Patri………………………………………………..436 (SM 13.1)
Charge & Benediction
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14