Proclaiming the Gospel to Ourselves in Corporate Worship

One of our main purposes of gathering corporately for worship is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. We aspire to do this throughout our whole worship service by cultivating in all who gather three things:

  • A dawning realization of the greatness of your God,
  • A growing awareness of your own sinfulness
  • But also a fresh and continual discovery of the pardoning grace of God revealed in the cross of Jesus Christ (This last phrase is adapted from Jack Miller and his book Outgrowing the Ingrown Church.)

This is why we regularly confess our sins corporately and personally to the Lord. After our time of personal confession, we hear one of our pastors speak to us God’s assurance of pardon from the Scriptures. How can we be so bold to assure people of God’s forgiveness? God’s Word contains countless promises where He assures His people of His forgiveness.

One of the high moments of our worship service occurs when we hear right after the assurance of pardon: “…if your faith is in Jesus Christ this morning, then I assure you, based on the sure promise of the Word, that your sins are forgiven….”

Oh what a blessing to know that you are completely forgiven, totally accepted and profoundly loved by our Lord! Why not reflect on the wonderful and assuring promise of the prophet Micah: “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity… who delights in mercy… You will subdue our iniquities; and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19)?

What is so amazing about grace?

If I care to listen, I hear a loud whisper from the gospel
that I did not get what I deserved.
I deserved punishment and got forgiveness.
I deserved wrath and got love.
I deserved debtor’s prison
and got instead a clean credit history.
I deserved stern lectures and crawl-on-your knees repentance.
Instead, I got a banquet spread for me.

One who has been touched by grace will no longer look on those who stray as ‘those evil people’ or ‘those poor people who need our help.’
Nor must we search for signs of ‘loveworthiness.’
Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is,
not because of who we are.
— Philip Yancey

The Major Markers of Spiritual Progress

Have you ever wondered what does it really look like to make spiritual progress in

your journey? What kind of Christians does the Holy Spirit want to develop?

Christians whose lives display the following seven features:

  1. Doxology, the habit taught and modeled by Paul of constantly praising God and giving him thanks;
  2. Humility, the downward growth that comes by dwelling on the free, boundless,, almighty grace of God that achieves the salvation of sinners, including oneself, through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ;
  3. Generosity, the whole-hearted giving of oneself and one’s resources in order to show love and render service both to God and to others;
  4. Honesty, the refusal to cut moral corners, practice deception or come to terms with injustice;
  5. Intensity, a spirit that rejects euphoric sloth and laziness in favor of maximum effort to further God’s cause, extend Christ’s kingdom, and make the Savior known, and that goes flat out with an eye on the goal as one does when running a race;
  6. Bravery, which, though sometimes trembling in its shoes, stands firm for Christ against all forms of opposition, belittling and ridicule; and
  7. Solidarity with the church, especially the local church, the people of God who are the body and bride of Christ and one’s one spiritual family, so that one never wanders off into any form of churchless individualism, as if one were the only pebble on God’s beach.” – J.I. Packer, From the periodical CRUX, Spring 2007, vol. 43. no. 1, p. 6.

The Fear that Releases Us from All Other Fears

The fear of the Lord releases us from the bondage to all other fears. What does Jesus tell us his followers when he wants to calm our fearful hearts? When Jesus wants to calm the fearful hearts of His followers, he tells us to fear God!

He says in Luke 12:4-5: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.”

Friends, the same God who can throw us into hell, is the same God that we are to address in prayer as Abba Father. Then, without even a break, he says we should relax: “‘Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows’” (12:7). Jesus’ message: You are worth everything to the One who is to be feared. Fear God and you’ll fear nothing else!

Oswald Chambers, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

If You Have Ever Questioned the Practice of Infant Baptism…

Here is an excellent, brief, biblical rationale that answers the question: Why Christians baptize their babies?

The Controversy of Infant Baptism

 

An Increasing View of the Infinite Dignity of Jesus Christ

hawkers_portraitThanks to my good friend David Elmore I know of the esteemed Robert Hawker, an evangelical Anglican minister back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. His devotional The Poor Man’s Morning & Evening Portions can be assessed here:

Poor Man’s Morning & Evening Portions

Here is a lovely thought of his that I am thinking about and praying through this week:

  • That I may have increasing views of the infinite dignity of His person, work, merit, offices, relations, characters, and in short, everything that relates to one so dear, so lovely, so glorious, and so suited to a poor sinner like me, as the Lord Jesus Christ is in all things.
Robert Hawker, The Poor Man’s Morning & Evening Portions

Temptation & the Loveliness of Jesus

The below three quotations remind us of the only real, lasting cure for resisting temptation.

To respond to the distorting nature of temptation and sin
you must set your affections on the beauty and glory of God,
the loveliness of Christ, and the wonder of the gospel:
Were our affections filled, taken up, and possessed with these things…
what access could sin, with its painted pleasures,
with its sugared poisons, with its envenomed baits, have unto our souls.
– John Owen

How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys
which I had once feared to lose. . . You drove them from me,
you who are the true, the sovereign joy.
You drove them from me and took their place,
you who are sweeter than all pleasure,
though not to flesh and blood,
you who outshine all light,
yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts,
you who surpass all honor,
though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves.
O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.
– Augustine of Hippo

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you…
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. – John Donne