This exhortation was given on December 8, 2019 at Christ Church Downtown.
Many years ago, a messenger of God named Gabriel visited a young virgin in the city of Nazareth. Her name was Mary, and she was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David.
After greeting Mary and comforting her, the angel Gabriel presented her with a message from the Lord:
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:31–33).
“But how can this be?” asked Mary in all sincerity, “since I do not know a man?”
Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).
And Mary, in all meekness and humility, responded to the greatest mystery of our faith saying: “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38).
This Lord’s Day I want us to consider the Virgin Mary, our example in the faith.
These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Rev. 2:1-7).
The following exhortation was given at Christ Church Downtown.
Here at Christ Church, many of us hold to an eschatological position called ‘postmillennialism.’ Postmillennialism, put simply, is the optimistic belief that the gospel will be victorious in history, and that the nations of the earth will be largely won to Christ prior to His return in the end.
This is not a new doctrine in Church history. From Athanasius to Calvin, many have found this truth in their study of the Scriptures. And as an evangelical church in the Reformed tradition, we too share this vision. While you may only hear a sermon specifically on this topic from time to time, this confident attitude and expectation permeates how we worship, how we raise our children, how we work, and how we generally live in our community.
But sometimes, even though this conviction undergirds much of our activity, we can forget this great hope and expectation in the busyness of our daily lives as husbands, wives, parents, children, students, and employees. It is one thing to intellectually agree that by God’s grace, the world will be won, someday, down the line, and in a future that you can barely imagine. It is another thing to live, and work, and fellowship, and study, and evangelize, praying and expecting to see this happen in front of your own eyes.
Foundational to right worship and liturgical practices is an undergirding conviction regarding when to gather for worship and what this day looks like. The fourth commandment in the Decalogue reads, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Thereforethe Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Ex. 20:8-11). This commandant of the Jewish Sabbath under the Old Covenant is fairly clear and straightforward. But how does it relate to the New Covenant and what Christians refer to as ‘the Lord’s Day’?
Proverbs 10:7 reads, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.”
Or put another way, the name of the righteous is blessed in being remembered—there’s memory of it, while the name of the wicked will perish, being ultimately forgotten.
Now one can think of many infamous and wicked men, such as Hitler, and ask then why their names live on; while countless missionaries or ordinary Christians who led many to the Lord in their lifetimes have been forgotten by their communities and even their families.
The following was preached at Christ Church Downtownduring our time of exhortation prior to our confession of sin and assurance of pardon.
“He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:7-9).
“But fan mail from children is delightful. They don’t gas. They want to know whether Aslan repaired Tumnus’s furniture for him. They take no interest in oneself and all in the story. Lovely.”
“Unredeemably savage religion goes on in the village: the Hermit philosophises in the forest: and neither really interferes with the other. It is only Xtianity wh. compels a high brow like me to partake in a ritual blood feast, and also compels a central African convert to attempt an enlightened universal code of ethics.”
“…though California must be a very attractive state, I confess I prefer New England. It is more my sort of country.”
This paper was written as part of my studies in the Greyfriars Hall ministerial training program.
In this position paper, I will address key areas of focus and emphasis that a local church should value as they seek to obey Christ’s Great Commission in the world (Mt. 28:18-20). Due to length limitations, this paper will not dive into a deep biblical/theological explanation of the Great Commission, but instead presupposes that Christ’s command to “make disciples of all nations” is part of the mission of the local church, and the question at hand is how a church should go about this work.
The topics included are: the centrality of the local church in missions, the qualifications of a missionary, how many missionaries a local congregation should support, equipping indigenous leaders in the field, and why our optimistic eschatology should encourage and fuel missions efforts.
This is now the fourth year that I have kept track of my favorite books of the past year. This list is merely based on personal enjoyment, and all of them I have read for the first time this year. According to Goodreads, I read 100 books this year—but that number is a little deceiving given a number of booklets and smaller works included.
As always, this is somewhat in order, but I didn’t agonize over it. You can see last year’s list here, 2016, and 2015.