A Worship Guide for Good Friday

Grieving on Good Friday

REFLECTIONS

O all ye who pass by, behold and see; man stole the fruit, but I must climb the tree; The tree of life to all, but only me:  Was ever grief like mine?

—  From the poem “The Sacrifice” by George Herbert

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?  Look around and see.  Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?”

— Lamentations 1:12

CALL TO WORSHIP  – Galatians 6:14

Leader: “The cross of Christ is the door to heaven, the key to paradise, the downfall of the devil, the uplifting of mankind, the consolation of our imprisonment, and the prize for our freedom. The cross of Christ is the safeguard of our faith, the assurance of our hope, and the throne of love. It is the sign of God’s mercy and the proof of forgiveness. The cross is the way to peace, joy, and righteousness in the kingdom of God. The way to victory over sin, despair, and death is through the cross of Jesus Christ.”

— Abbot Rupert of Deutz, ca. 1100 AD

People: Therefore, “may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified.”

SCRIPTURE READING #1 – John 18:1-11

With clubs and staves they seek me, as a thief, who am the Way and Truth,

The true relief; Most true to those, who are my greatest grief: Was ever grief like mine?

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down:

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?

SCRIPTURE READING #2  – John 18:12-24

See, they lay hold on me, not with the hands—Of faith, but fury: yet at their commands

I suffer binding, who have loosed their bands:  Was ever grief like mine?

There is a Fountain

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains . . .

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away . . .

SCRIPTURE READING #3 – John 18:28-40

Then they accuse me of great blasphemy, That I presumed to be the Deity,

Who never thought that any robbery: Was ever grief like mine?

What Wondrous Love is This?

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss

To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,

To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

SCRIPTURE READING #4 – John 19:1-9

The soldiers lead me to the Common Hall; There they deride me, they abuse me all:

Yet for twelve heavenly legions I could call: Was ever grief like mine?

Man of Sorrows,” What a Name!

“Man of sorrows!” what a name for the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah, what a Savior!

SCRIPTURE READING #5 – John 19:10-16

Thus trimmed, forth they bring me to the rout, Who Crucify him, cry with one strong shout.

God holds his peace at man, and man cries out:  Was ever grief like mine?

O Sacred Head

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down;
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

SCRIPTURE READING #6  – John 19:17-27

O all you who pass by, behold and see; Man stole the fruit, but I must climb the tree;

The tree of life to all, but only me:  Was ever grief like mine?

Tenebrae Hymn—Were You There?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh!  Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh!  Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Oh!  Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

SCRIPTURE READING #7  – John 19:28-30

But now I die; now all is finished.  My woe, man’s weal: and now I bow my head.

Only let others say, when I am dead, Never was grief like mine.

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh!  Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

BENEDICTION

Father, into your hands we commit our spirits.  AMEN

– Adapted from Psalm 31:5

The Biggest Barrier to Reaching People with the Gospel

John Milne, in his commentary on John’s Gospel, writes:

“The biggest barrier to effective evangelism according to the prayer of Jesus is not so much outdated methods, or inadequate presentations of the gospel, as realities like gossip, insensitivity, negative criticism, jealousy, backbiting, an unforgiving spirit, a root of bitterness, failure to appreciate others, self-preoccupation, greed, selfishness and every other form of lovelessness. These are the squalid enemies of effective evangelism which render the gospel fruitless and send countless thousands into eternity without a Savior.”

Let us pray that we would love one another well and, thus, see people come to vibrant faith in Jesus.

Reflections on What Jesus Desires for His Church

 

The prayer in John 17 is Jesus’ longest prayer recorded in Scripture. In it, Jesus reveals his priorities for His people and what he was most passionate about for us prior to His death for our sins. Christ does not pray that his disciples might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from evil, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven.

– Adapted from Matthew Henry 

Every time we gather together we either strengthen or weaken the evangelistic appeal of our church by the quality of our relationships with our fellow church members. The biggest barriers to effective evangelism according to the prayer of Jesus are not so much outdated methods, or inadequate presentations of the gospel, as realities like gossip, insensitivity, negative criticism, jealousy, backbiting, an unforgiving spirit, a root of bitterness, failure to appreciate others, self-preoccupation, greed, selfishness and every other form of lovelessness.
These are the squalid enemies of effective evangelism which render the gospel fruitless and send countless thousands into eternity without a Savior.

John Milne

Although individual Christians, and the church in general, tend to fall short of the fullness of unity that the Lord intends, whenever such unity is even partially realized the result will always be deep joy, a persuasive witness to the world, and a display of God’s glory.

 

An Inspiring Definition of Evangelism

Yesterday, our pastors led us through what is the gospel and discussed ways that we can practically share the gospel with others. We enjoyed hearing a testimony of one of our own who recounted how he recently led a person to faith in Jesus. It caused me to remember this great definition of evangelism that has inspired me through the years:

“To evangelize is to so present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.”1


1                   Anglican Archbishops’ Committee of Inquiry into the Evangelistic Work of the Church, 1918.  Quoted by Ed Dayton, Planning Strategies for World Evangelization, p. 52.

The Marks of a Missional Church – Acts 13

At our Vespers service this week, we delved into and prayed concertedly through Acts 13 for our church. Acts 13 is a transition chapter in Dr. Luke’s letter. The gospel begins to go to the nations. It chronicles the first stages of Paul’s first missionary journey. In the process, it highlights the distinguishing marks of a missional community of Christ-followers.

Attached is a link to a study and prayer guide through Acts 13.

The Marks of a Missional Church – Acts 13

A.    The fuel for a missional church is vibrant worship (12:1-3).
How does Dr. Luke describe the worship at the church in Antioch?
What happened in the corporate worship gatherings in the church in Antioch?

Pray that we would become a people who view our corporate worship as “ministering to the Lord” instead of meeting our own needs and preferences.

B.    The sacred trust and primary commitment of a missional church (vv.26, 46-49).
To spread the Word of the Lord. In a missional church, the word of the Lord is faithfully proclaimed (vv. 48-49).

This commitment alway demands great boldness (v.46).
What should a missional church expect to happen when we faithfully proclaim the Word of God?
Why are we committed to this? Because when people believe, they receive eternal life (v.48). Pray that our belief in predestination would foster more intentionality in our evangelistic efforts (v.48).

Pray that we would not become spiritually obtuse and bone-headed, but we would be keenly sensitive to the Holy Spirit as we give attention and time to read God’s Word (v.27).

C.    The realistic expectation of a missional church: A missional church will face spiritual and physical opposition and attack and, yet, it is not deterred in its mission (vv.8-12, 45,50). A missional church is not surprised by suffering, hardship, difficulty, and opposition.

D.    The aim of a missional church is to “bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (v.47).

Ask the Lord to show you specifically what your particular role is in helping to bring His “message of salvation” to others (v.26).

A Divine Appointment

Recently, I was studying Acts 8 and Philip’s divine appointment with the Ethiopian eunuch and I came across this captivating story of a divine appointment.

In 1985 Clarence Duncan arrived in Africa as missionary to the solidly Muslim people called the Yao who live mainly in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi. When he settled in his village, he called for a meeting with the elders. After the pleasantries the chief asked him his name. Clarence replied, “Mr. Clarence.”

The council looked at each other for a moment and then the chief asked, “Why are you here?”

Again Clarence simply said, “I want to tell your people about Isa Al Mahsi (Jesus the Messiah).”

A couple months later, when the chief decided he could trust Clarence, he said, “Do you know why we allowed you to stay?”

Clarence said, “I never thought about it.”

“Twenty-one years ago a very old Yao man came to our village and called for a meeting as you did. When we asked him his name, this Yao man said, ‘Mr. Clarence’—which isn’t an African name at all! When we asked him why he came, he said, ‘I want to tell your people about Isa Al Mahsi.’ These were your very words. Twenty-one years ago Mr. Clarence led four of our villagers to follow Jesus. So we ran them out of the village. And we killed Mr. Clarence. The reason we allowed you to stay was we were afraid.”

That was 1985. Two years ago on a January morning 24 Muslim elders approached Clarence Duncan’s house. After a meal the leader sat in the middle of the room and said that they had come to ask questions about Christianity. Clarence said fine but that he would only answer them by reading from the Bible so they would know he did not invent the answers. So he gave each of them a Bible in the trade language. The first question was, “Why do you Christians say that there are three gods?”

Clarence said the answer was found in Deuteronomy 6:4 and gave them the page: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is one!” And he mentioned that Isa (Jesus) said this very thing in Mark 12:29.

The questioning went on till five in the afternoon. When all had left, the leader, Sheik Abu Bakr, stayed and asked if he could see Clarence in a week.

When they met Abu asked if Clarence knew why they came to see him last week. Clarence said he assumed it was to ask questions. But Abu said, “No, it was because the Christian church is growing so fast we knew we had to kill you. We had consulted for three days and prepared our magic. You were to be struck dumb when we asked questions, then fall on the ground paralyzed and then die. But when you kept talking, and even stood up and moved around, we knew you had a stronger Spirit and gave up.”

Then Abu said, “I want to become a Christian.” And he told an amazing story.

“When I was a teenager, in our village we were not Muslim people and we were not Christian. We were Achewa people with our own religion. Behind our village was a hill where I would often go to pray.

“One day I was on that hill praying. Suddenly all around me was a blinding light. Out of this light I saw a big hand coming toward me holding an open book. I looked at the book and saw writing on the page. A Voice told me to read. I protested that I could not read, never having been to school. The Voice again told me to read. So I did. And suddenly the book and the hand disappeared.

“I ran back to my village and all the people were looking for me, thinking I had died on that hill! They asked about a fire they had seen up there. When I told them the story, they laughed at me saying, You can’t read!

“Someone got a book and I began to read! Then people came from all around to find out more about what happened and asked questions. The Muslim authorities found out about me and I was trained in the ways of Islam. Soon all or our village became Muslim. For 15 years I was the greatest debater against the Christians.”

He paused and then said, “You remember when I asked you the first question about why Christians believe in three gods? Your answer was Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4.”

“That’s right,” Clarence said.

Sheik Abu Bakr looked Clarence Duncan in the eye and said, “That was the same passage that this Voice on the mountain showed me. At that moment I knew that the God you were talking about was the True God!”

“Then why did you keep asking me all those questions the whole day?”

“Because,” he smiled, “I wanted all these Muslim leaders to know what the Christians believe and I wanted them to hear it from you. The whole day I pretended unbelief so that I could ask more questions. Now I want to become a Christian.”

In the midst of a life of steady, persevering faithfulness, God has yet more wonders to show us in the work of evangelism and world missions than we can imagine. Let’s pray for eyes to see and ears to hear when he calls us to a divine appointment like Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch had on the road to Gaza.

– Taken from a sermon by John Piper

Evangelism Defined Simply

Here’s one of the better definitions of evangelism that I have seen:

“To evangelize is to so present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit,

that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him,

to accept Him as their Savior,

and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.”

Anglican Archbishops’ Committee of Inquiry into the Evangelistic Work of the Church, 1918.