Catechism, and the Use Thereof

Even as Catechism lessons came to a close for the season this past week, it’s important to keep in mind why the Catechism is so useful. The Catechism is a faithful summary of what we believe in God’s Word, and as a summary it can be used in particularly practical ways.

Tim Challies in his article Use Your Catechism, Silly shows how the Catechism can be used to quickly come to an answer to some controversial questions. The questions he uses as examples are these: “Is it wrong for human actors to portray God the Father and God the Holy Spirit? Furthermore, is it wrong for human actors to portray God the Son?”

Challies shows that by using the Catechism and the Bible together provides a practical way to answer those questions. But the point of the article isn’t that those specific questions are answered, the point Challies is making is that it can be applied to many other questions as well.

Let's not take the practicality of the Catechism for granted!

Join us for our Christmas Program!

Wednesday, December 21st at 7:00 PM

We invite you to join us for our annual Christmas program as we celebrate through music and scripture the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! We will be honouring our Messiah and King who has come to vanquish death and deliver us from the judgement that our sins deserved! 

The program will include a lot of congregational singing, scripture readings, and special presentations by our musically-inclined members as we together meditate on and celebrate the coming of our Saviour! We'll also have a time of refreshments after the program. 

If you need assistance to join us, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will send someone to pick you up or assist in any other way!

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@tadasmikuckis

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@tadasmikuckis

Reflection on Luke 1:1-4

In our most recent afternoon sermon, we took up the opening four verses of Luke's gospel and the unique way that Luke introduces the writing he had laboured over as a means of producing 'certainty' in the hearts of his readers. 

Darrell Bock, a NT professor, offers a helpful explanation of the purpose of this introduction:

“The background of Theophilus illumines our Gospel. Many people entering the church walk into a new world. The “church” society often has its own theological language, its initially strange customs, and its traditions of worship and interaction. At the start, the fit may seem awkward. To become a Christian in Bible times required a cultural shift, just as it does now. People today need to be reassured that the change in their life is for the best. They live in a world that often regards Christianity as a man-made religion, as a perversion of Judaism, as one of many ways to God, or as one cultural expression of religion. Luke argues that Christianity is unique, in that God worked in Christ for those who trust him. Luke reassures his Christian readers that they belong in relationship with God in this new community, the church. What God did in Jesus, he did for those who have come into this community, as well as for others like them who recognize they must come to God on his terms, not their own.” (Darrell Bock, NIV Commentary, 45)

Thoughts on Matthew 15 and the traditions of the elders

When man-made rules are taught as the laws of God, all worship becomes useless.
— Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, p. 54

As Jesus demonstrates so clearly in his message in Matthew 15:1-20, man-made rules miss the heart because they focus on externals. Man-made rules mask the human problem of sin and corruption whereas the commandments of God unmask us and bring knowledge of sin. 

God’s word – and His laws in particular – strike right at the very centre of our corruption and sin – our hearts. 

That’s what this showdown was all about on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee – in the land of Genessesaret. This was a contest between two opposing views of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to be the only rule of faith. It was a contest of views between the LORD Jesus Christ who was calling His people to return to and focus on the whole manner of worship which God requires of us... and the Pharisees and their extensive efforts to supplement and surround the Commandments of God with a web of traditions.

Jesus was confronting the blind leaders who were trying to lead the blinded people and warning them of the consequences of what they were doing: for the sake of their tradition, they had made void the Word of God.

So. How might we today heed this warning? 

Truly Successful Preaching

Over at The Reformed Readerthere's a great post up about preaching and the reflections of John Newton:

"Sometimes we think that a successful preacher is one who is well-known, is the pastor of a large church, whose sermons are downloaded by the thousands, whose conferences are always sold out and books are bestsellers.  The truth is, these things don’t necessarily mean a preacher is successful in the biblical sense of the term.  Heretics and unorthodox preachers can have all these things!

"What makes for a successful preacher, biblically speaking?  What is truly successful preaching?  Well, it doesn’t depend upon popularity, sermon download numbers, church size, or best-selling books and conferences.  John Newton described it well while discussing the sovereign grace of God in regenerating dead hearts:

…We may observe the proper use and value of the preaching of the Gospel, which is the great instrument by which the Holy Spirit opens the blind eyes. Like the rod of Moses, it owes all its efficacy to the appointment and promise of God. Ministers cannot be too earnest in the discharge of their office; it behooves them to use all diligence to find out acceptable words, and to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Yet when they have done all, they have done nothing, unless their word is accompanied to the heart by the power and demonstration of the Spirit.”

Without this blessing, an apostle might labor in vain: but it shall be in a measure afforded to all who preach the truth in love, in simplicity, and in all humble dependence upon Him who alone can give success. This in a great measure puts all faithful ministers on a level, notwithstanding any seeming disparity in gifts and abilities. Those who have a lively talent that affects emotions, may engage the ear, and raise the natural passions of their hearers; but they cannot reach the heart. The blessing may be rather expected to attend the humble, than the talented speaker.”
— John Newton, Works, volume 1 page 286-7.

Sunday Preview (December 11th edition)

As the Lord's Day draws near, we are again drawn together to the worship of our Holy God as an ecclesia or gathering of believers. We do so with adoration of our Holy God and with wonder at His saving ways! 

Tomorrow we will focus in our third advent sermon on the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the Righteous Branch of David who serves as the Good Shepherd of the people of God. To that end, I wanted to share a rich quote to meditate on from John Calvin's lectures on our text in Jeremiah 23:1-8, where he writes: 

The difference between the righteousness of Christ and the righteousness of kings ought to be here noticed. They who rule well can in no other way administer righteousness and judgment than by being careful to render to every one his own, and that by checking the audacity of the wicked, and by defending the good and the innocent; this only is what can be expected from earthly kings.
But Christ is far different: for he is not only wise so as to know what is right and best, but he also endues his own people with wisdom and knowledge; he executes judgment and righteousness, not only because he defends the innocent, aids them who are oppressed, gives help to the miserable, and restrains the wicked; but He doeth righteousness, because he regenerates us by His Spirit, and He also doeth judgment, because he bridles, as it were, the devil. 
We now then understand the design of what I said, that we ought to mark the transcendency of Christ over earthly kings, and also the analogy [similarity]; for there is some likeness and some difference: the difference between Christ and other kings is very great and yet there is a likeness in some things; and earthly kings are set forth to us as figures and types of him.

In our second service, we will be fed again in God's Word with our sermon being taken from Matthew 15:1-20 and then we will be fed through the ministry of the Lord's Supper. May the Lord richly bless us with fellowship, unity, and joy in Christ tomorrow and always!

Sunday Preview (December 4th edition)

Our Advent series continues tomorrow and we'll consider how the incarnation of our LORD Jesus Christ was anticipated by the prophecy of Isaiah in chapters 7, 9 and 59 (with particular focus on the Warrior King anticipated in chapter 59).

If you have a moment, consider watching this astounding performance of Handel's Messiah and particularly if you follow this link it'll begin with a setting of Psalm 69 and the phrase "He saw there was no man" to music: https://youtu.be/iTMJVvld9ok?t=1h15m46s

In our second service, Dr. Ted Van Raalte from the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary will be proclaiming God's Word from Romans 4 as we see that it is "Not by Performance but by Grace". 

Please join us!

Congregational Meeting (November 28th at 7:30pm)

This is a notice that our Fall Congregational Meeting will be taking place on Monday, November 28th at 7:30pm. This is a change from the previously stated date of November 21st. All members and visitors are welcome to attend as there will be a presentation of the 2017 Budget and a presentation by the Ontario Christian Gleaners. 

Contact the clerk at clerk@adorationurc.ca if you have any questions or haven't received a copy of the agenda and the budget. 

Advent Series at Adoration

https://unsplash.com/@guimzvisuals

https://unsplash.com/@guimzvisuals

With our traditional celebration of Christmas quickly approaching, we will be devoting time to a special series of Advent sermons. While we are not obliged to follow a set pattern of Advent preparations, there are many blessings to be found in meditating on God's Word in connection with the wondrous news of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through the Word of God, we meet Him "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8 ESV)

If you would like to read the passages for our sermon series in advance (and read surrounding texts to learn something of their context) we will be hearing from:

KING: November 27th: 1 Chronicles 17
WARRIOR KING: December 4th: Isaiah 7 & 9 & 59:16-17
SHEPHERD KING: Jeremiah 23 (esp. vs 5-6); Psalm 110
KING OF PEACE: Micah 5 (esp. vs 4-5)
KING OF ZION: Psalm 2 & Matthew 1:1-25

Gifts

Did you know that by faith in Jesus Christ, you have received the richest outpouring of gifts from God?

He has freely given you the Son of Righteousness to free you from condemnation and grant you eternal life!

And He has freely given you the Spirit of Holiness to sanctify you and make you grow in holiness in this life!

Your Rock and Redeemer has acted, He’s told you about it in the Word, and He’s told you what you can do in thankfulness for such a great salvation!