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Sunday Service – Christ Church Downtown (9:30)
March 8 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Announcements & Meditation
– Call to Worship –
Minister: Bless the Lord who forgives our sins.
Congregation: His mercy endures forever.
Minister: Lift up your hearts!
Congregation: We lift them up to the Lord!
Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem, bulletin p. 10
– Confession –
Before Thee Let My Cry Come Near, p. 158
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!
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.
Minister: When Israel went out of Egypt,
Congregation: The sea saw it, and fled.
Minister: Jordan was driven back.
Congregation: The mountains skipped like rams,
Minister: Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
Congregation: At the presence of the God of Jacob;
Minister: Who turned the rock into standing water,
Congregation: The flint into a fountain of waters.
Lead On, O King Eternal, p. 312
– Consecration –
+ SCRIPTURE READING
Esther 9:18–29; 2 Timothy 4:16–18
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!
NEW MEMBERS: Luke and Anita Deacon (CC–2nd)
Come, Ye That Love the Lord, p. 348
Opening: Isaiah 54:1
Thanksgiving: Psalm 95:1–2
Petitions: Psalm 25:1, 4–5
Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word, p. 368
CC: Psalm 119 (Douglas Wilson)Sermon
And here we come to a great hymn of gratitude and praise, offered up to God for His glorious law. We have here the definitive answer for those who accuse us of “bibliolatry” simply because we treat the words of God like the treasure they are. It is of course true that there is an absurd sin of actual bibliolatry out there in the religious world, the kind of sin that misses the whole point (John 5:39). But how could it be bibliolatry if we resolutely refuse to miss the point?
“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord . . .” (Psalm 119:1-176).
Summary of the Text
This psalm, taken as a whole, is a work of towering literary craftsmanship. It has twenty-two sections, each one presided over by each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. For example, the first section is ruled by aleph, and that letter is repeated eight times throughout that section at the beginning of each discrete thought. The next section belongs to beth, and it is repeated eight times, and so on.
It is also a song of deep devotion, again showing that true dedication to God and craftsmanship in literary art are not in any way at odds.
A facile but wrong-headed summary might want to say that a psalm of 176 verses that is dedicated to praising the law of God might have to get a tad repetitive—as though the psalmist could only say nothing more than yay law a couple hundred times. But this is not what we find at all. There are many shades of meaning here, and many lessons for us to learn.
In the Word
We shall shortly see that the Word of God is an amazing tool chest. It is large, and contains hundreds of tools. Christians who do not read their Bibles are like those who are given a tool chest that they store in the garage or attic, never acquainted themselves with what they have, with what they have been given. Not only so, but every day they have numerous tasks for which they need one of those tools, but which they do not know they have. The same thing goes for elders and ministers. The Word of God is given, in part, so that the man of God might be “thoroughly furnished” for all “good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
So how might this psalm be a blessing for you? There are many ways, although we just have time to discuss a handful of them.
Prevention of Sin
We begin with the simple truth that Bible memory will help you in the hour of temptation. What did Jesus do when tempted? He quoted Scripture. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, That I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11).
We are shown that our choice is binary—either/or. Either the Word or covetousness. Either the Word or vanity. “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; And quicken thou me in thy way” (Ps. 119:36–37). It is one way or the other.
And when we are in the Word, we learn more than just a tsking disapproval. “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law” (Ps. 119:53)
The more we learn, the more we are able to learn. We are enabled to see wonderful things. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Ps. 119:18). When we eat, we grow bigger, beginning with the heart. “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Ps. 119:32).
When we are taught this way, we are given a great advantage over our enemies, and we even find ourselves ahead of our teachers. “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: For thy testimonies are my meditation” (Ps. 119:98–99).
Who does not have moments of discouragement? The Word is there. “My soul melteth for heaviness: Strengthen thou me according unto thy word” (Ps. 119:28).
The fact that we need to be driven to the Word is one of the reasons why afflictions arise. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; That I might learn thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71). Some saints, like some oven dishes, can only be adequately prepared at high temperatures.
Suppose you don’t know which way to go, or what to do. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105). And when we wander away from the path—the one illumined by this light—the reason we did so was because of pride. “Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments” (Ps. 119:21).
While affliction drives us to the Word, that Word is not a paper fortress. God drives us there because He wants us to see what He can do. “Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: For I do not forget thy law” (Ps. 119:153).
As we have noted before, the psalmist had enemies. He also had the Lord and His Word, which were his strong tower. “The proud have forged a lie against me: But I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease; But I delight in thy law” (Ps. 119:69–70).
And all of this comes back around to the God who spoke the Word. The perfect God spoke the perfect Word. The living God spoke the living Word. The constant God spoke the constant Word. “For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth” (Ps. 119:89–90).
Our knowledge of God is mediated to us. No creature can apprehend God directly—He dwells in unapproachable light. And so He mediates His glory to us in various ways. He does so through the glory of creation. His glory fills the earth. He does so through His incarnate Son, who lived, died, and rose among us, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He does so through the glory of the gospel. And He mediates His glory to us through the vehicle of His perfect Word, all of which causes us to praise and glorify His name.
“Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments” (Ps. 119:164).
CCD: How to Preach a Sermon (Aaron Ventura)Sermon
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5).
Westminster Larger Catechism
159. How is the Word of God to be preached by those that are called thereunto?
They that are called to labor in the ministry of the Word, are to preach sound doctrine, diligently, in season and out of season; plainly, not in the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; faithfully, making known the whole counsel of God; wisely, applying themselves to the necessities and capacities of the hearers; zealously, with fervent love to God and the souls of his people; sincerely, aiming at his glory, and their conversion, edification, and salvation.
Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Sanctus, p. 407
– Communion –
Do Not Forsake Your Servant Now, bulletin p. 8
Your Law is Honey, bulletin p. 9
– Commissioning –
+ CLOSING DOXOLOGY
The congregation may raise hands
Doxology, p. 437
CHARGE & BENEDICTION
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20–21