Lord's Day Liturgy

Ordained to Overcome

I really do get the huge and tangled implications for Christians as we think about God and government. I also really do think it’s important, relevant, and encouraging, for Christians to think about how God saved us. Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” and was “killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). When Jesus told Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11) Jesus was acknowledging His Father’s sovereignty in/through the abuse of human authority and His own unjust treatment.

Peter wrote “this is gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19). And then Peter gave us the WWJD passage:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:21–24 ESV)

We would have no atonement for our sins, no Lord’s Supper, no celebration of our hope of glory, if Jesus had not suffered unjustly without sinning. Praise God that He ordains to overcome evil with good.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Thankful on Their Way

This will be the last exhortation based on the beginning of Ephesians 5, and one final reminder that thanksgiving is not just a sign of health, it is a medicine that works healing. Thanksgiving is not the completion of holiness, like splashing into the pool at the end of a water slide, the arms of thanksgiving swim against the stream of lusts and discontent and idolatry.

Certain things “must not even be named” among saints, certain things are “out of place.” Paul says in Ephesians 5:4, “but instead let there be thanksgiving.” And if the sexually immoral and impure and covetous are the sons of disobedience and have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (5:5-6), then sons of obedience are also known as sons of gratitude. They are thankful on their way to get their inheritance.

At our L2L leaders retreat a couple weeks ago Ian Lugg talked about wanting to be known as “the gratitude guy.” It wasn’t in this context of opposing these sins, but it fits. It’s for his family, for the aroma of his home, for showing his kids not just what to say but how to say it. What an epitaph to pursue: “the gratitude guy.”

Thankfulness doesn’t mean every desire is eliminated, it does mean that desires don’t panic and get in front of their skis, or point off the trail toward the woods which God has declared off limits.

Fight filth with thanks. Thank God that you’re in the fight. Thank God for good desires, and for the opportunity to obey Him while you wait for Him to provide. So even later in Ephesians 5:20, those filled with His Spirit are “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Lord's Day Liturgy

Let There Be…

We’ve been talking about sexual immorality and inappropriate speech for a few Lord’s Days now. Lusts and lewd words, heart and mouth corruptions, things unrighteous and gross, ought not even be named among saints, they are out of place. In Ephesians 5 Paul is talking to Christians, and he says what we should do instead. It has stuck out and stuck with me since the first time I saw it.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not eve be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be…

What do you expect to finish that line? Let there be repentance. Let there be killing of that sin or putting off of that sin. Let there be holiness. Those are relevant, but not what he says.

And immediately following what he says we should do instead, he reminds us of the identity consequences.

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

So he repeats the trifecta from verse 3 in verse 5, giving the reason that such sins need to be replaced. And what do we do instead?

Instead let there be thanksgiving. In this passage, the primary weapon in sanctification is thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not the clearing on the other side of the woods, thanksgiving is the machete that does the clearing. Tempted to treat a sister in Christ impurely? You are not thankful for what the Lord has given you now. Tempted to tell a crude joke? You are not thankful for the good reasons to laugh by God’s grace.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Not Laissez Faire Fare

Ironic or not, disappointing and yet divinely appointed, a lot of fellowship has been broken over communion. And really, don’t be surprised. Christ gave two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which identify His Body, the Church. So men ought to care, and while we ought to be more patient than some in church history have been, today we could probably use more of the type of conviction they had. The bread and the wine are not laissez faire fare, take-it-or-leave-it stuff.

One part that Christians have argued about is the presence of Christ. Transubstantiation claims that when the priest prays, the substance of the bread physically turns into Jesus’ flesh and the wine turns into Jesus’ blood, even if the elements still appear as bread and wine. Consubstantiation claims that both substances are together, physical bread and physical body. Others claim a spiritual presence.

Beyond philosophical and metaphysical speculation, we should give most attention to what Paul says. As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord’s death “until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). That means that the Lord is not physically here.

In His body He ascended to the Father. He sent His Spirit, and so He can say that He is with us until the end of the age, but that is a supernatural presence, not a physical one. In communion we remember our spiritual union with Him and with one another. And as good as it is, our very participation here proclaims that there is more than the present. He is coming again in His resurrected body and will give us the same.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Out of Place

Sexual immorality has a lot of outlets, but it always starts in the heart. Lust takes root in chest-soil. Impurity is also an internal condition not merely measured externally. And while a lot of men have come out of the covetousness closet, it’s a failure of proper value proposition, hence why it’s also a synonym for idolatry.

In Ephesians 5:3 Paul says these “must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” If a reporter was trying to dig up the sexual immorality skeletons of the church body, he’d have to make things up.

The first part of Ephesians 5:4 adds three more things that don’t belong among God’s children who are imitating the fragrant offering of Christ.

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place

These are mostly mouthy sins. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so addressing wrong mouth-words right after wrong heart-wants shouldn’t be surprising. What is too often surprising is what potty mouths Christians open.

“Filthiness” is shameful, obscene, disgusting. “Foolish talk” is being silly about the serious. “Crude joking” is coarse jesting (NKJV), talking about bodily functions in suggestive and non dignified ways.

This sort of talk is salacious, it gets attention, it’s ubiquitous. It’s “out of place” for Christians. Stop listening to it, enjoying it for entertainment, spreading it. Innuendo, double entendre, sex jokes, all misplace what God gave as good and honorable in its place. It turns your mom into meat, your sister into a punchline. My brothers, these things are out of place.

Rightly Dividing

Blessing Grammar

Trying again, and trying some different things than last week’s video. But I’m still looking at the grammar in Romans 12, and the application of this content is way harder than the observation of it.

Lord's Day Liturgy

No Lazy Zeal

Maybe you are feeling soul-dry, mind-distracted, bone-tired. Summer “schedules” have a temptation toward less structure and a looseness of purpose, while weeks during the school-year have a different problem of weariness trying to keep up.

As for living sacrifices getting up on the altar, we must not hold back. We are prohibited from a lazy zeal (Romans 12:11). And while that requires repentance, it also promotes prayer. Do you know who desires that you would run to win more than Paul (1 Corinthians 9:24)? It is the same One who hears, and delights to answer, prayers.

“This is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us” (1 John 5:14). Is it God’s will that you be zealous for Him? Yes. So ask, knock, seek, that He would continue working zeal into your spirit.

Even as we gather around the Lord’s Table, the Lord gives His people strength. He reminds us of Christ’s zeal in obedience and sacrifice, He encourages us with unity as Christ’s Body, and He equips us rejoice in hope.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Not Even Named

As I said last week I want us to hear the antithesis at the beginning of Ephesians 5. God’s children are to imitate God, and especially the pleasing sacrifice lifestyle of God’s Son. That means there are some things that are completely out of place. Here is the first trifecta of bad bets.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (Ephesians 5:3 ESV)

“Sexual immorality” is porneia, a word that covers a lot of lust and lust outlets. That’s part of how these three sins relate: wanting something that isn’t appropriate for holy people to want. Lust for physical/sensual pleasure, desire for what is dirty/corrupt, greed for material things, fretful about and/or restless with what God has not given. Note how much of this concerns hearts more than parts, or at least hearts first.

These are to “not even be named” among Christians, not that we don’t know the words, but they don’t belong. It is not “proper,” it doesn’t fit with the “saints,” the holy ones.

This isn’t just about our witness. Joking about fornication at a prayer breakfast is almost a caricature. It is more than the threat of Google exposing what it knows about you. We have been saved, we are living sacrifices, and that means sex and stuff have a place, in righteousness, not in discontent and dissipation.

Rightly Dividing

Participles Are Your Friend

I dusted off the old YouTube channel today. I started posting videos there in 2007 (it could drive now if it wanted to, or at least have a permit). And, you know, one of my videos has almost 8,000 views, so it’s pretty serious. But I’ve been toying with how to share some of my love of diagramming, and a friend suggested that I try an app called Explain Everything. EE has its own cloud service to host finished videos, but the shortened link it produces doesn’t produce a preview image in the social media sites I tried. Hence dusting off the YouTube and posting there. This is a first, rough attempt, and, amusingly, there is not really any diagramming (but there is great grammar talk, so stick around!). I’ve turned on comments for any feedback.