Archive for July, 2011

Worship Notes 7/24/2011

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 

Wisdom from the Spirit

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Affirmation of Faith:  Isaiah 40:28-31 

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Song: How Great Thou Art
Lyrics ~ Carl Boberg, 1859 – 1940 English Translation ~ Stuart K. Hine, 1899 - 

O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy pow’r throughout
The universe displayed;

When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze;

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

In the early 1920’s, English missionaries, Mr. Stuart K. Hine and his wife, ministered in Poland. It was there they learned the Russian version of Boberg’s poem, “O Store Gud”, coupled with the original Swedish melody. Later, under inspiration, Stuart K. Hine wrote original English words, and made his own arrangement of the Swedish melody, which became popular and is now known as the hymn, HOW GREAT THOU ART.

The first three verses were inspired, line upon line, amidst unforgettable experiences in the Carpathian Mountains. In a village to which he had climbed, Mr. Hine stood in the street singing a Gospel hymn and reading aloud “John, Chapter Three”. Among the sympathetic listeners was a local village schoolmaster. A storm was gathering, and when it was evident that no further travel could be made that night, the friendly schoolmaster offered his hospitality. Awe-inspiring was the mighty thunder echoing through the mountains, and it was this impression that was to bring about the birth of the first verse.

Pushing on, Mr. Hine crossed the mountain frontier into Romania and into Bukovina. Together with some young people, through the woods and forest glades he wandered, and heard the birds sing sweetly in the trees. Thus, the second verse came into being.

Verse three was inspired through the conversion of many of the Carpathian mountain-dwellers. The fourth Verse did not come about until Mr. Hine’s return to Britain.       -  the Story of How Great Thou Art

Song: All my Tears
Artist: Buddy & Julie Miller lyrics

When I go, don’t cry for me – in my father’s arms I’ll be,
The wounds this world left on my soul will all be healed, and I’ll be whole,
Sun and moon will be replaced with the light of Jesus’ face,
And I will not be ashamed, for my saviour knows my name.

Song: Help My Unbelief
Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal #278
Words: John Newton, 1725-1807. Music: Clint Wells, 2005.

I know the Lord is nigh,
And would but cannot pray,
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away.
And frights my soul away.

I would but can’t repent,
Though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
Till Jesus makes it soft.
Till Jesus make it soft.

Help my unbelief. Help my unbelief. Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.




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The Gospel and Social Issues

Whether speaking in institutional or organic terms, how the church deals with social issues such as poverty, injustice, crime, etc. is a question with which the church has always struggled. Different folks have come up with different answers, but nearly all agree that the church has a major role to play. Most pastors that I have talked with don’t have a clear idea of how to handle the constant calls from complete strangers needing some kind of help. I don’t have a clear idea of this either. I only know the way I currently handle it is pretty weak. Such calls are only one example of the issues the church struggles to address, but if we don’t know how (or have the guts) to handle people knocking on the door of the church asking for help, then little hope is left for us handling the hairier social issues in a Christ exalting manner.

Tim Keller, in his book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, gives a good reminder of the need to properly identify and address the root of the every social problem, sin. He writes,

The ideology of the Left believes big government and social reform will solve social ills, while the Right believes big business and economic growth will do it. The Left expects a citizen to be held legally accountable for the use of his wealth, but totally autonomous in other areas, such as sexual morality. The Right expects a citizen to be held legally accountable in areas of personal morality, but totally autonomous in the use of wealth. The North American “idol” – radical individualism – lies beneath both ideologies. A Christian sees either “solution” as fundamentally humanistic and simplistic…

Only the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ, and the millions of “mini-churches” (Christian homes) throughout the country can attack the roots of social problems. Only the church can minister to the whole person. Only the gospel understands that sin has ruined us both individually and socially. We cannot be viewed individualistically (as the capitalists do) or collectivistically (as the Communists do) but as related to God. Only Christians, armed with Word and Spirit, planning and working to spread the kingdom and righteousness of Christ, can transform a nation as well as a neighborhood as well as a broken heart. (Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 26).

So, how does the church deal with social issues? Part “A” of the answer, we must deal with sin and this requires the gospel.

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1 Corinthians 1.18-2.5 – The Word of the Cross = Folly = The Power of God

1Cor. 1:18   For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  19 For it is written,
     “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
        and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

1Cor. 1:20   Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.  22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,  23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1Cor. 1:26   For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1Cor. 2:1   And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.  2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,  4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 

In 1 Corinthians 1.17, Paul made the point that he didn’t preach with eloquent words of wisdom because he did not want to empty the cross of its power. Does this mean that Paul’s sermons were incoherent and the Spirit just kind of magically worked in people despite his acting a fool? Of course not. Paul was making the point that trying to handle the gospel as the eloquent wisdom of the popular wisdom teachers in Corinth handled their teaching would be to empty the cross of its power. In 1.18-2.5 Paul builds his argument for why it is the case that relying on human wisdom empties the cross of its power.

Paul sums up his argument in 1 Corinthians 1.18. The same “word of the cross” is viewed very differently by two different groups. Those who are being saved know the word of the cross to be the power of God. Those who are perishing see the same word of the cross as foolishness. One group says the gospel is the one and only message by which man can be saved from the eternal wrath and curse of God. The other group says the gospel is a ridiculous and silly proposition. From this point, Paul lays out how the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God are so fundamentally different that through his own wisdom, man cannot know God and he will judge the gospel to be foolishness. Therefore, forcing the gospel into the mold of human wisdom is to empty the cross of its power.

Paul continues his argument along two very practical lines. First, he reminds the Corinthians that they, as a general rule, were not called because they were impressive by the world’s standards. Second, he reminds the Corinthians that when he was with them he didn’t preach as their wisdom teachers taught. When Paul came to Corinth he preached Christ and him crucified. In fact, if we study Paul’s ministry we find that his whole church planting strategy can generally be summed up in five steps: 1. go where the Spirit leads, 2. preach the gospel in the synagogue (if there is one), 3. when rejected by the Jews go to the Gentiles in town, 4. if they believe in Jesus stay for a little bit and teach and preach some more, 5. if they try to kill you go somewhere else and start over.

In an age when church can accurately be thought of and described in the terms of an industry – with all sorts of sub-industries like church-growth, church-planting, and church-revitalization – whose principles and practices are often nothing more than the wisdom of business consultants baptized, translated into Christianese, and applied to the church, Paul’s message is needed and his strategy is refreshing. Such strategies will certainly get a group of people together, but if we are interested in seeing the church grow and not simply growing larger and larger groups of people who like sing in public, then we would do well to remember that the proclamation of the word of the Cross, however foolish it may seem, is the only biblical means.

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Worship Notes 7/17/2011

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 1.18-2.5

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

The mystery of the kingdom
“The mystery of the kingdom is the mystery of the cross: salvation through condemnation, victory through defeat, life through death, exaltation through humiliation. “

— David Naugle

“but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.” (Rev 10:7)


Call to Worship:Psalm 107

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
107:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble 
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Confession of Faith: Westminster confession of Faith 8.1

Chapter VIII – Of Christ the Mediator.
It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man; the Prophet, Priest, and King; the Head and Saviour of His Church; the Heir of all things; and Judge of the world; unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified


Song:How Firm a Foundation 

First published in 1787. By the time of the Civil War, “How Firm a Foundation” was a favorite in the North and the South.

President Andrew Jackson requested it to be sung at his bedside shortly before he died, saying he wanted only to join his wife in Heaven. Robert E. Lee requested the song for his funeral “as an expression of his full trust in the ways of the Heavenly Father.” Even Theodore Roosevelt recognized the importance of this song during a time of great need.   -Bill Dagle

From a hymn storybook published in 1906,
“The popularity of the hymn in America has been remarkable and promises to continue. Indeed, there are few more reviving or more spiritually helpful. It is too familiar to need  quotation, but one cannot suppress the last stanza, with its powerful and affecting emphasis on the Divine promise-”

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake

Song:In the Shadow of the Glorious Cross

Brooks Ritter and Rebecca Bales

When death’s dark shadow’s at my feet
When I am plagued by unbelief
You place my hands into your side
By precious blood identified
By precious blood identified

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

These crowns I’ve clenched with fisted hands
I cast them down before the throne
Of Christ my God the worthy lamb
Christ crucified, the Great I AM
Christ crucified, the Great I AM
Christ crucified, the Great I AM

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Song: Melt My Soul To Love

Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal #951
Words – J. Swain, 1838 Music – Brian T. Murphy and Benj Pocta, 2006.

Hark! From the cross a gracious voice,
Salutes my ravished ears;
Rejoice, thou ransomed souls, rejoice!
And dry those falling tears!

Amazed, I turn, grown strangely bold;
This wondrous thing to see;
And there the dying Lord behold,
Stretched on the bloody tree.

“Sinners”, he cried, “behold the head,
This thorny wreath entwines;
Look on those wounded hands and read
Thy name in crimson lines.”

The power, the sweetness of that voice
My stony heart does move;
Makes me in Christ my Lord rejoice
And melts my soul to love.

Heres a great song by Ricky Skaggs titled 1 Corinthians 1.18  Go figure?

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Genesis 3 records the fall of mankind and its far-reaching effect,

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat plants of the field (Genesis 3.17-18, ESV).

Likewise, we find a statement of the extensive effect of the fall in Paul’s letter to the Romans,

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8.19-22, ESV).

Due to the fall there is a brokenness that appears to be inherent in creation. As a result of Adam’s sin, the peace and fruitfulness of the natural world as it was in Eden has been shattered.

To be sure, the extent of the fall also reached mankind; however, in as much as man differs from the rest of creation, the effect of the fall on man differs from the effect of the fall on the rest of creation. The fall had a particular, moral effect on man. While still bearing the image of God, this image has been marred. Drawing on several Old Testament passages Paul writes of man,

‘None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.’
‘Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.
‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’
‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.’
‘There is no fear of God before their eyes’ (Romans 3.10-18, ESV).

We are born in sin. We continue in sin. Apart from God’s saving grace through Jesus, we die in sin. As we are all sons and daughters of our covenant head, Adam, we are all guilty with Adam in his first sin. As we have all continued in Adam’s rebellion against God’s commands, we are all guilty in ourselves. We are dead in our sin and held captive by sin and death. We are corrupt in every part of our being. We deserve God’s eternal wrath and curse, “for the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6.23, ESV). We need a Savior.


Genesis 3 records the words from God to the serpent, announcing his curse on the serpent and foretelling the serpent’s sure demise,

Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3.14-15, ESV).

Throughout the Old Testament we find promises of a coming seed, a Son, who would bring blessing, justice, rule, and the grace of God to the people of God. In the Abrahamic covenant, there is a promised seed of whom Paul writes,

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to your offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ (Galatians 3.16, ESV).

Isaiah prophesies to Ahaz saying, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7.14, ESV). In Matthew’s gospel we find these same words repeated, explaining the angel’s message of comfort to Joseph.

‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel’
(which means, God with us) (Matthew 1.21-23, ESV).

Jesus is the promised seed who would crush the serpent’s head, the promised seed who would save his people from their sins.

Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, came as a man to glorify his Father by redeeming his people from sin through his self-sacrificial and atoning death. The author of Hebrews writes,

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption… Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant (Hebrews 9.11-12, 15, ESV).

Those who have faith in Jesus Christ are redeemed from the curse of the law. No longer slaves to sin and death, we have been set free from the law of sin and death by the sinless One who died a sinner’s death in our place, and we are called righteous.


Genesis 3 records the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden as a result of their disobedience.

Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’ therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3.22-24, ESV).

Before the fall, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden in unhindered communion with God. In the midst of the garden was the Tree of Life. The Garden of the Eden is the original temple, the original holy place, the original glory scene, and Adam and Eve could not remain there in sin. While Adam and Eve could not remain, their expulsion was not entirely hopeless; rather, it came with a shadowy promise of redemption and return through the promised seed of the woman.

Throughout the Old Testament, types, shadows, and prophecies make the future glory that has been established for God’s people increasingly more clear as they reveal more and more of the glory of God himself. Embedded in the curse and the covenants is the same promise of redemption and return to glory through the promised seed. “Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’” (Genesis 12.7, ESV). Paul expounds on these words writing,

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3.16, ESV).

Pictured in the nation of Israel, the tabernacle, the temple, and the promised land is the reality of God’s kingdom, ruled by his King, inhabited by his people, and filled with his glory.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40.34-35, ESV).

Foretold by Ezekiel is a vision of the New Temple in the New Jerusalem.

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar…

…And he said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen this?’ Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, ‘This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes’ (Ezekiel 47.1, 6-9, ESV).

Each of these scenes finds its grandest fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the true and better King of the true and better Israel dwelling in the true and better Jerusalem where the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb is the true and better temple. John records his glorious vision of this fulfillment with these words,

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever (Revelation 21.22-22.5, ESV).

In our sin, we deserve God’s wrath and curse. According to his will, God chose a people in Jesus Christ to be his own before the foundations of the world. In his justice and love, God sent his Son to die for the sins of his people that we may have life. By his Spirit, God works faith in us uniting us to Christ. By his power, God keeps his children for the day of glory, and so Peter writes,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1.3-5, ESV).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been created again in Christ for glory.

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Hymn Sing

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