Reading Suggestions

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!

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.

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!

All Things Considered...

 https://unsplash.com/@linalitvina

https://unsplash.com/@linalitvina

 https://unsplash.com/@markusspiske

https://unsplash.com/@markusspiske

What's going on at Adoration these days? We have seen the Lord blessing our congregation in so many little ways and in particular we can thank him for the blessing of church bible studies that are going well, the tight-knit cadet and Kingdom Seekers programs, and the resumption of our monthly potluck dinners. We have a congregational meeting coming up at which we can talk together about the financial aspects of maintaining a distinct presence as a Christian congregation in our community. We'll be having a Christmas program (you're welcome to attend!) in December and it will be yet another opportunity to see the many gifts that the Lord has given to our congregants in terms of music, poetry, and the public reading of Scripture.

If you're reading this and not yet a member of a Christian church or struggling to find a church where the Bible is sincerely believed and faithfully taught - or if you are seeking relationships with others because loneliness is a constant guest - please seek us out and join us on Sundays for worship services and through the week for various other activities!

Our Greatest Need has Been Met in Jesus Christ!

“If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior. ” D.A. Carson

The Wisdom of the Proverbs

The book of Proverbs, nestled within the series of books we call the 'Wisdom Literature' found in the Scriptures, is the most straightforward of the five books of Wisdom Literature. It is the 'beginning' of the study of the fear of the Lord, a theme that is built upon and amplified in the course of the Book of Job, the 150 Psalms, and particularly thematic in the book of Ecclesiastes!

So as you go about your day today, perhaps it's fitting to ponder and apply the Word of God as we find it in Proverbs 25-26. Enjoy!

It is not good to eat much honey,
nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into
and left without walls.

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool.
— Proverbs 25:27-26:1

Learning more about who God is...

At Adoration we are striving to learn and grow in our understanding of God and His ways!

Gerhardus Vos, a biblical scholar from a century ago, helpfully explains why we are interested in learning more about God:
“So long as the intellect retained its legitimate place among the functions of the religious subject, so long as to know God was felt to be an essential part of glorifying God, the natural tendency was to make this knowledge as comprehensive and as many-sided as possible – to have it mirror the full content of the divine nature, and not merely a single one of its perfections [ie. love].” 
“... the music of [a well balanced theology] may not always please modern ears, because it seems lacking in sweetness; but it ranged over a wider scale and made better harmonies than the popular strains today.” 
- Gerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, p. 425
 

 (photo from unsplash: Anders Jildén)

(photo from unsplash: Anders Jildén)