ANNOUNCEMENTS & Meditation
– Call to Worship –
Minister: The Lord is risen!
Congregation: He is risen, indeed!
Minister: Lift up your hearts!
Congregation: We lift them up to the Lord!
Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above………324-25
– Confession –
I Waited for the Lord……………………………………74
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. (Bulletin pg. 10-11)
+ Responsive Reading: Heidelberg Catechism: Question 27
Minister: What do you understand by the providence of God?
Congregation: The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby he still upholds, as it were by his own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.
Psalm 47………………………………….bulletin pg. 9
– Consecration –
+ Scripture Reading
Genesis 39:7-21; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!
My Savior God Is All My Light…………………….50
Opening: Deuteronomy 10:22
Thanksgiving: Deuteronomy 11:13-14
Petitions: Matthew 7:7
Rejoice, the Lord is King……………………………..326
The imagery of clothes in the Bible can scarcely be overestimated. This strikes us as alien on two counts. First, our clothing styles are very different from other cultures (which is nothing new), but secondly, we have adopted a notion of clothing which is entirely unscriptural and unnatural. Our problem is not that our clothes are different. Our problem lies with our theology of clothes
“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment . . .” (Ps. 104:1-9).
God is Clothed:
We always should begin our thinking with God, whatever our subject might be. In the Scriptures, God describes Himself in various kinds of clothing, vengeance and glory to take two examples.
“For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke” (Is. 59:17; 63:2-3).
“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save” (Is. 63:1).
God Clothes His World:
But this pattern descends, and our first consideration is to the natural world. “I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering” (Is. 50:3). Or consider the grass of the field. “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matt. 6:30; cf. Luke 12:28). God also dresses out other aspects of the world (Prov. 30:4). He binds the oceans in a garment.
God Clothes His Elect:
It is not too much to say that the entire doctrine of salvation can be presented, in scriptural language, in terms of clothing. Sin, judgment, justification, and glorification are all presented to us under the metaphor of clothing.
First, consider the need for salvation: one of the first indications of divine mercy we see in the Bible is shown through clothes (Gen. 3:21).
And what about our ongoing rebellion? Sin is pictured through clothing. “Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment” (Ps.73:6).
Clothing images being put right with God: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Is. 61:10). “1 counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Rev. 3:18).
This is a biblical way to grow in our understanding of salvation: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:12-14; Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:22).
Down to Earth:
We therefore cannot say that clothes are a “neutral thing.” And descending from the realm of symbolism and metaphor, we come to the world which makes symbols possible. We see prison clothes (2 Kings 25:29; Jer. 52:32), the clothes of a widow (Gen. 38:14,19), clothes of captivity (Dt. 21:13), clothes for mourning (2 Sam. 14:2), clothes for repentance or dismay (Gen. 37:34; Esther 4:1; Ps. 69:11; Is. 37:1), clothes to show joy (Is. 3:22), clothes to indicate sex (Dt. 22:3,5), clothes for fine occasions (Ruth 3:3; Ez. 27:24; Gen 27:15), politics (Matt. 11:8), work (John 21:7; John 13:4). Lepers would indicate their disease through torn clothes. “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean” (Lev. 13:45).
How Then Shall We Dress?
In most cases, the problem is one of thoughtlessness. In modern America, clothing is assumed to be value-free, and an opportunity for one to express his own individuality (as though that were a value-free statement), or comfort (as though that were not a worldview).
The problem today is that of the “invisible” uniform, the invisible worldview. Very few have eyes to see it. Remember that we are after the principle, and not a dress code.
2nd Service: 1 John
All passages of Scripture must be understood in context, but some by their nature require more contextualization than others. First John is one such book. Without an understanding of the errors it was written to refute, the necessary result is always going to be more error.
“That which was horn the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:1-4).
Summary of the Text:
John begins with the same kind of reference he uses in the gospel, with an emphasis on the beginning (arche), which should make us think of Genesis 1:1. But this person who was from the beginning was someone that John and his fellows had heard, had seen, gazed at, and touched (v. 1). That person was the Word of life. That Word was manifested to them (v. 2). What they had witnessed, they now declared, so that the listeners could come into fellowship with them, and then discover that their fellowship was with the Father and the Son (v. 3). This was all written out carefully, so that our joy might be full (v. 4).
Occasion of the Letter:
Those who were causing the problems in Ephesus here were characterized in three ways by the apostle John. They were false prophets (4:1), they were deceivers (2 Jn. 7), and lastly they are antichrists (2:18, 22; 4:3, 2 Jn. 7). These false teachers had broken with the true church and had “gone out into the world” (4:1). This break showed that they were not really of the truth (2:19).
Those believers who had not gone with them were overcomers (4:4), but they were overcomers who had been unsettled by the battle and who were greatly in need of encouragement. This is the pastoral encouragement that John provides in this letter.
Characteristics of the Lie:
From the internal evidence of this letter, and from the external evidence we have about Ephesus in the first century, we can piece together a pretty good understanding of the heresy John was attacking.
The false teachers had both a doctrinal problem (2:26) and an ethical/moral problem (3:7). The doctrinal problem was that they denied the incarnation of Jesus. The ethical problem was that they claimed to be able to be “in the light” while taking some kind of weak view of their sinfulness and sins.
As it happens, we know a good deal about this brand of heresy in Ephesus at this time. The leader of the opposition against the apostle John in Ephesus was a man named Cerinthus. He was a leader of an early Gnostic group. Gnosticism was characterized by two great features—the impurity of matter and the supremacy of knowledge.
The first led them to deny the incarnation, which is in effect the materialization of the eternal one. Their arrogance and pride over their “inside knowledge” led them to their lovelessness and to their lawlessness. Hence, we see John attack the heresy of the Cerinthus at every key point. Christ is the very Son of God. We must walk in love. We must keep God’s commandments. We must turn away from every form of lawlessness.
Do not confuse the beast of Revelation with the antichrist of 1 John. They are both bad men, but they are very different kinds of bad men. A beast is a savage persecutor of the church from outside, an out-of-control despot who hates the people of God. An antichrist is a smooth talking false teacher, one who weasels his way into the church and introduces the contagion of heresy. In modern terms, a beast would be someone like Stalin. An antichrist would be a liberal Methodist bishop. The former savages the body of Christ on earth. The latter denies that God assumed a body on earth.
We Sin Downhill:
When false teachers introduce absurd errors, and apparently sane people go for them, what is going on? If I am talking to someone who is about to go for some nonsense, the question always to ask is “what’s the pay out?” What else is going on? The answer is that the devil functions with bribes. He offers intense short term pleasures, the central one being the sensation of absolute freedom (1 Jn. 3:4). All you have to do is agree to the long-term covenants that end with an inchoate and dissolute mind. This is called selling your soul to the devil. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25).
Life and Doctrine, Doctrine and Life:
Remember the context of this letter. John is not addressing a tormented Christian, alone in his room, wrestling with a troubled conscience over some sin or affliction in his life. John is not addressing the sensitive believer in the midst of a panic attack. He is talking about a group of false teachers who have an utter disregard for the commands of God.
In John’s mind, these issues are to be understood in terms of light and darkness; he is not discussing the twilight. His absolutism is refreshing in a relativistic era, in which our thinkers and theologians want all cats to be gray.
We focus on the ethical—love your brother (1 Jn. 2:9). We focus on the doctrinal—Christ is God in the flesh (1 Jn. 2:22-23). A denial of either is equally fatal. It does not matter whether you have leprosy of the heart or leprosy of the head.
Hold it all together this way. Jesus of Nazareth is God, and God is love.
Ending with The Lord’s Prayer………………………411
+ Psalm 19………………………….bulletin pg. 12-13
– Communion –
Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior……………………208
Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior……………………209
– Commissioning –
+ CLOSING DOXOLOGY
The congregation may raise hands
Doxology, p. 437 to the tune of “That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright” …………………………………………..271
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