"For an everlasting possession (Gen 48:4). We have elsewhere shown the meaning of this expression: namely, that the Israelites should be perpetual heirs of the land until the coming of Christ, by which the world was renewed... For that portion of land was promised to the ancient people of God, until the renovation introduced by Christ: and now, ever since the Lord has assigned the whole world to his people, a fuller fruition of the inheritance belongs to us."
John Calvin, Commentary upon the Book of Genesis
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Philippians 1:3–4 (NKJV)
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
As I return to the ministry of the Word today, I wanted to thank you for the time that you have afforded me year by year to sit as one of you and listen to the preaching of the Word. As a congregation, we are blessed to live within such close proximity to several sister churches from whom we can draw an array of qualified and talented men to preach the Word to us. And the opportunity you give me to sit and to listen and to meditate on the Word helps remind me why we’re doing what we’re doing. I hope also that it reminds all of you that what we’re doing is far larger than any one of us, including me. It is important to emphasize regularly that this is not “my” church but Jesus’ Church and our church. We are the body composed of many members, each serving an important role.
So during my time sitting and listening to the Word, it has been a joy to observe the work of God’s Spirit in our midst. I have witnessed the way in which folks have stepped forward and served in various roles. I have witnessed your mutual love, affection, interaction, encouragement, exhortation, and comfort. The intensity of your joy and delight in one another is almost palpable – and so, like Paul, I just sit back and “thank God upon every remembrance of you.” And the reason that I thank God is because the joy and enthusiasm and energy and love and hunger to learn and grow that are present in the congregation are gifts from Him. His Spirit is at work. So since He has given us these things, it is fitting that we give thanks.
And this is one of several reasons I take July out of the pulpit – it is all too easy for us to begin taking one another for granted, getting into a rut, and failing to let joy and thankfulness characterize our interaction with and attitude toward one another. We can become bitter and resentful or we can simply become disinterested. We begin to look upon worship as routine, fail to give the attention to the Word that it deserves, overlook the needs of others, and take for granted their acts of kindness. Taking time off helps shake things up and remind me to be thankful.
So what about you? Are you thankful? Thankful for your brothers and sisters here at Trinity Church? Thankful for the opportunity to gather week by week and worship the Lord? Thankful for friends and family gathered around the throne of grace? Thankful for the preaching of the Word? Thankful to have your sin exposed, your idols broken, and your compromises crushed? Paul was thankful and we have much for which to be thankful as well.
But as we come into the presence of the Lord, I think that we must confess that often we fail to be thankful as we ought. We often take His gifts for granted, ignore them altogether, or even view them as curses and not blessings. So as we enter into the Lord’s presence, let us kneel and confess our ingratitude.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
"...since no living image of God can exist without the word, whenever God has appeared to his servants, he has also spoken to them. Wherefore, in all outward signs, let us be ever attentive to his voice, if we would not be deluded by the wiles of Satan. But if those visions, in which the majesty of God shines, require to be animated by the word, then they who obtrude signs, invented at the will of men, upon the Church, exhibit nothing else than the empty pomps of a profane theatre. Just as in the Papacy, those things which are called sacraments, are lifeless phantoms which draw away deluded souls from the true God. Let this mutual connexion, then, be observed, that the vision which gives greater dignity to the word, precedes it; and that the word follows immediately, as if it were the soul of the vision."
John Calvin, Commentary upon the Book of Genesis, p. 388 (on verse 46:2)
John Calvin, Commentary upon the Book of Genesis, p. 388 (on verse 46:2)
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Jeremiah 7:8–11 (NKJV)
8 “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.
Last week we remarked that the only two options before us as individuals are to repent or perish. Because we have all sinned and are therefore guilty in God’s sight, deserving of judgment, there are only two options: repent or perish. Repent: turn from your sin, confess your need of Jesus to cover your guilt, and ask God’s forgiveness; or perish: cling to your sin, ignore your guilt, and face God’s judgment. These are our only options.
As sinners, however, we don’t like it that there are only two options. We would much rather hold on to our sin and avoid judgment. We want to have our cake and eat it too. So we tell ourselves lies – and these lies come in two forms.
First, we lie about the nature of our behavior. We begin to call good evil and evil good. We redefine justice in accordance with our own thoughts and desires rather than defining it according to God’s moral law. We say to ourselves, “This is the way we are supposed to act!” Or, in the words of our text, “We are delivered to do all these abominations!”
So, locally, some of our city officials, in the wake of the Orlando shooting, held a vigil. This vigil didn’t bow before God and confess that we are sinners deserving of judgment and in need of mercy. This vigil didn’t acknowledge the many ways that we as a people have violated the law of God – stealing, murdering, committing adultery, swearing falsely, worshiping false gods – and become justly subject to His wrath; instead this vigil stood in defense of our perverse sexuality and censured any condemnation of the behavior. We are lying about the nature of our behavior.
But not only do we lie about the nature of our behavior, we also begin to lie about the character of God. “God is soft and cuddly; God doesn’t care; God takes no notice; God just wants me to be happy; God believes in me; or, perhaps, God doesn’t even exist.” But it is these gods that do not exist – they are figments of our own imagination, not the God of creation and revelation. They are, in Jeremiah’s words, gods that we do not know – gods that we use to placate our conscience rather than the God who speaks in our conscience.
Repent or perish is not only a summons for us as individuals; it is also a summons for us as communities. When we lie about the nature of our behavior or lie about the character of God or both, these lies do not profit us. In the end, we shall come up against the solid wall of God’s reality. Gravity eventually catches up with us. For God declares, “Behold I, even I have seen it.”
Jeremiah’s words remind us that we have much to confess – individually and corporately. Let us cry out to God on behalf of our city, that God would have mercy upon us for our rebellion, that He would open our eyes to see the evil of our ways, and that we would together cry out to Him for mercy. And as we confess our sins to the Lord, let us kneel in His presence.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Luke 13:1–5 (NKJV)
1 There were present at that season some who told [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Last Sunday morning a deeply disturbed Islamic man attacked a gay and lesbian night club in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding 53 more. Many have wondered how to respond to this tragedy. Does this indicate that those who were slain were worse sinners than others?
Jesus answers this question in our text today in the negative. No – they were not worse sinners. Their sin deserved the wrath and judgment of God and our sin deserves the wrath and judgment of God. Tragic events of this sort are intended by God as a shot across our bow, a warning of the judgment to come on all who spurn His lawful authority and pretend as though there is no higher law over them. The warning from our Lord Jesus Christ is simple, “Repent or perish.”
The reason that these are the only two options is that God is just. He has faithfully revealed His moral law in the human conscience and in His Word. When we violate His law – in minor or major ways – He cannot just wink at our sin and pretend it’s no big deal. Sin is an attack on His honor and an attack on the very foundations of the world. The one who sins becomes objectively guilty in the sight of God. And we have all sinned – we are all guilty.
And because God is just, there are only two ways to deal with our guilt – repent or perish. The first way is to repent: turn from your sin, acknowledge your guilt, and seek the forgiveness of God through the shed blood of His Son Jesus. Jesus is the only fully righteous Man who has ever lived. And He lived and then died and rose again from the dead in order that He might bear the guilt of our sin, that He might take away our guilt. For those who repent and trust in Christ, God’s justice is satisfied, judgment has fallen on Christ, and we can rejoice even in death knowing that God is on our side. Repent.
The second way to deal with guilt is to perish. Stand in the presence of God day by day declaring that the sacrifice of His Son is unnecessary. Tell Him hour by hour that you don’t need the blood of Christ to cover Your guilt. Announce minute by minute that your hands are clean; wash them with water like Pilate and say, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood.” And day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute fill up the full measure of your sin knowing that God will judge you and you will perish. Repent or perish – those are your options.
Do you suppose that those men and women in Orlando were worse sinners than you? I tell you, no, but unless you repent you shall all likewise perish – without hope, without God, and without Christ.
And so reminded of Jesus’ call to repent, to turn from our sin and acknowledge our need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, let us confess our sin to the Lord and cry out for His mercy. And as we confess, let us kneel.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Psalm 4:4–5 (NKJV)
4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.
The call of God upon us as His people is very simple and straightforward – He wants us to serve Him, not man; to trust in Him, not in created things; to love and cling to Him, not to the idols which we create with our own hands.
Each of us faces the choice of whom we shall serve: will we serve God or will we serve some idol? And note that this is not a choice that admits of middle paths – there is no third option; no opportunity to plead that we have been placed in a false dilemma. The dilemma is real; the antithesis stares us in the face; you must choose whom you shall serve. Who will be your God? Who is your God?
Have you given yourself to the gods of this age? To glamour, wealth, power, sex, academic prestige, simplicity, health? Do you sit and worship at their feet?
Or have you given yourself to the Triune God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the fountain of true glamour, of lasting wealth, of real power, of meaningful sex, of profound wisdom, of unpretentious simplicity, of blessed health? Do you sit and worship at His feet?
It was here that David sat and he knew as one who sat at God’s feet what the Lord required and summarized it quite well –
Be angry – Fear God, and in fearing him despise wickedness and those who practice wickedness; be indignant for God’s Name.
Do not sin – Remember in all your indignation, that to love God is to hate evil and the ways of wickedness; and that it is not first and foremost to hate the evil out there but the evil in here, in your own heart; so in loving and fearing God, turn away from sin.
Meditate in your heart upon your bed – When you are laying down to rest and your mind begins to go over the day, to consider where you’ve been and where you’re going, do not let your thoughts wander wildly but instead bring them into subjection to the Word of God. For it is by meditating upon God’s law, His promises and assurances of love toward us that we will be able to…
Be still – If we meditate on the Word, if we let our thoughts race not on our own anxieties but on the Word of God then we shall be equipped to be still – God will care for me; God will bless me; God will remember me. And so it is in this knowledge of God’s care for me that I…
Offer sacrifices of righteousness – I come before the Lord faithfully every Lord’s Day in company with His people, I serve the Lord with gladness of heart every day; I rejoice in his precepts; delight in His law; pray; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Trust in the Lord – Don’t succumb to the allurement of the idols – many of them are carved quite cunningly, beautiful with their gold and silver accents – but remember that despite all their cunning beauty they cannot do anything for you.
So what is God’s call upon us as His people? David tells us: Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.
As we come into the presence of our Lord to worship, reminded that our calling is to trust wholly in Him and no doubt convicted that we have failed to do so, let us kneel and confess our sins in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will have a time of private confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin.