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Lord's Day Liturgy

In Remembrance of Where Christ Is

We are in a constant spiritual war and our enemies—sin, the world, and the devil—are relentless. The Lord has not left us without weapons.

Paul told the Romans to reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus by remembering their baptism. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3) This is one reason we don’t sprinkle, we dunk under water as if buried under it. Then, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). We’re united with Christ in death and resurrection. Sin is not our master anymore, so we don’t need to present our members to the enemy but to God as instruments of righteousness. Yield to grace.

And then feed on grace. Our baptism identifies us with the army of God, and our communion strengthen us for the fight. The bread and the wine remind us that the Lord is with us. During this part of the plan we might be in Egypt (an analogy to Joseph), we might be in prison (also analogy), but we are not alone.

The worst part about excommunication, in which an unrepentant but still professing believer is prohibited from the communion table, is that such a person is removed from the protection. He is delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Corinthians 5:5). The rest are “assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus…with the power of our Lord Jesus” (verse 4). We are not alone and hungry. We do not become prey for the enemy. We are fed for strength to succeed in our work and to resist temptation.

So eat and drink in remembrance not only of what Christ has done, eat and drink in remembrance of where Christ is, here, with us.

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A Shot of Encouragement

Why God Sometimes Conceals His Remedies

From John Calvin’s commentary on Genesis 32:

“[T]he Lord willed that the mind of his servant (Jacob) should be oppressed by this anxiety for a time, although without any real cause, in order the more to excite the fervour of his prayer….For although he anticipates our wishes, and opposes our evils, he yet conceals his remedies until he has exercised our faith.

We, also, are to learn from him, that we must fight during the whole course of our life; lest any one, promising himself rest, should willfully deceive himself. And this admonition is very needful for us; for we see how prone we are to sloth. Whence it arises, that we shall not only be thinking of a truce in perpetual war; but also of peace in the heat of the conflict, unless the Lord rouse us.”

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Lord's Day Liturgy

You’ve Got to Know When to Get Out of There

Fight or flight are two typical reactions for a person who encounters a stressful or threatening situation. Let’s say you are walking down a dark alley late at night when three large men in masks step out from behind a dumpster. Or let’s say that your mother-in-law chooses her granddaughter’s birthday party to make a point about the lost etiquette of thank you notes and how she never gets them from this generation. You want to cry and run out of the room, or you want to slap her head in front of all the guests, verbally, of course. Escape or battle.

In the Christian’s war on sin there are times when the appropriate tactic is to run. Standing strong is good in its place, but sprinting away is sometimes the better course. It is similar to the difference between abstaining and avoiding. I can abstain from smoking in a room full of lit cigarettes, no problem. I will avoid a pit of rattle snakes.

God commands believers to flee a number of times in His Word. We must flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). We must flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). We must flee the love of money (1 Timothy 6:11). And we must flee youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22) which may have some overlap with sexual immorality. We aren’t to keep watching the movie to prove how pure our thoughts are.

Joseph provides an example of running par expeditious. When Potiphar’s wife kept enticing him, he initially resisted with principles. When she cleared the house and made her last advance, Joseph didn’t sit her down and exhort her about the dangers of her sin. He fled her presence. Fast. He still got in trouble because she lied. But he didn’t get in trouble with God.

We ought to be awake in the war on sin. The devil prowls like a lion seeking prey to devour. Hanging around to tell him why another target is more tasty is not a shrewd move. As Kenny Rogers once put it, you’ve got to know when to get out of there.

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A Shot of Encouragement

Image Bearing by Battle

Nails are forged for pounding. Man is born to trouble. Man is born for trouble. Man is born to battle trouble. Man is born for the fight, to be forged and molded— under torch and hammer and chisel— into a sharper, finer, stronger image of God.

—N. D. Wilson, Death by Living, 69

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Every Thumb's Width

Our Cultural Garden

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled last Friday that no State has the right to make it illegal for a man to “marry” a man and for a woman to “marry” a woman. This is on the heels of national news and controversy over a man changing himself into a woman (adding some female parts to his male parts). Some women are mad that this defines womanhood according to bodily features, and pink nail polish. There is also outrage over the Confederate flag presumed to represent motives behind the murder of nine people in Charleston even though no outrage is directed over the US flag which flies over thousands of murders day by day, all claimed it in the name of “liberty.” And, of course, our celebration of Independence Day is a couple days away. Do we, as those who worship the LORD God, Creator of heaven and earth, have a way to explain what we see? Do we have any message in the midst of this?

I took a (sort of) break from Genesis last Sunday to preach about these questions. In fact, I think the ancient chapters of the Bible reveal decisive answers for now.

Let’s start with an argument from greater to lesser. If man entertains the idea that he could be God, then it is less difficult for him to entertain the idea that he could be not a man. He could fancy himself to be a woman. He could figure he could do with another man what he could do with a woman. The step from heterosexuality to homosexuality is shorter than the step from humanity into divinity. Jumping between genders is easier than jumping into deity.

If a pot toys with trying to be the Potter, it is less surprising if a pot toys with trying to be a plate rather than a pot. A man who believes he could be God could believe he could be, or do, anything.

The greater sin is exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden. The woman believed the serpent when he told her that if she ate of the fruit, her eyes would be opened and she would be like God (Genesis 3:5). She would be free from His throttle and restraints. Whatever it was exactly that motivated the man to eat, when he did, he claimed by his conduct that he knew better than God. He put himself in the position of judging God. He was all the god he needed.

Where does that end? Once a man decides that he doesn’t need to listen to God, why should he listen to “nature,” or science, or history, or court rulings, or neighbors? He trumps God; who can trump him?

Abortion and same-sex mirage (as Doug Wilson can’t help but continue to call it) under government license, or ESPN giving Bruce Jenner a “courage” award, each of these sins are found in seed form in Adam’s rebellion. The sins in our cultural garden are not worse than the sin in the first garden. All sins stem from denying the Creator’s authority.

Romans reveals this same chain of sin. A man who rejects God the Creator, who will not honor Him or give Him thanks, exchanges the glory of God for that of man. “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). Men worship and serve the creature, including themselves, and

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26–27)

This is part of the reason why our attention to Genesis changes culture, even if that is only visible in the little cultures/communities of our life together. Genesis 2:24 is a great definition of marriage, but we first need a great understanding of God, the One who gives life and makes marriage. Seeing Him as the creative Giver of all our good, and seeing the serpent as a subtle deceiver, changes how we listen to our options.

Living together, fornication, easy (no-fault) divorce, adultery, are all forms of covenant breaking that disregard God’s word. Though there have always been some abnormally immoral, we are now in a time when that sort of immorality is claimed to be normal. In one sense we’ve worked up to the extreme cases, in another sense we still haven’t done anything as stupid as try to be God.

The original sin went contrary to nature. What should have been more obvious than that man was not God? Man’s defiance was perverse (deviating from what was right and good), dishonorable (shameful, not exalting), and destructive. So it is with every sin, and some are more obvious. Men and women act contrary to nature–as defined by nature’s Maker–and this is the inevitable consequence when men do not see fit to acknowledge God.

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A Shot of Encouragement

When Obergefell Falls

Part stone slung at Goliath, part song sung at Grendel’s mom, read the whole charge from Toby Sumpter that starts with this:

We are being taunted. The giant’s name is Obergefell; he is a six-fingered descendent of the Anakim. He has come out onto the battlefield arrayed in his impressive armor. He wears the media elites like a helmet of brass, and on his chest, he wears the deep pockets of multibillion dollar corporate CEOs. On his legs and shoulders he is clad with the brass of the apathetic masses. He is the hero of the Philistines, the champion of the so-called progressives. He beats his chest and defies the Christian Church, and the Philistine armies cheer and wave their flags and mock the God of Noah, the God of Israel, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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A Shot of Encouragement

Children of the Rainbow

Doug Wilson writing (again, for those who haven’t read him already) about why Christians kids need a Christian education before engaging the culture.

You can’t choose sides before you can see the sides.