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Redeemer Church

Champaign-Urbana, IL

Call to Worship: Blessed Redeemer written by Fanny Crosby

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-mqOjW_UPY

Introduced a new song for the call to worship.  A very Christ-centered song, highlighting our Lord’s grace and mercy to sinners.  The chorus heavily emphasizes the divine nature of Christ.  The purpose of this call to worship song was to focus our hearts and minds on the person of Christ, his nature, and his work on our behalf.

Welcome

Reading: Honest WorshipAt the heart of successful and dynamic worship, private or public, is the issue of being honest with God and ourselves. We must honestly evaluate our love for God, genuinely express love to God, and sincerely expect love from God. I am amazed that God still seeks those who worship him in spirit and truth. Our corporate worship must grow out of an intense desire to know and love God in all his fullness.

Vernon Whaley, in The Dynamics of Corporate Worship

Congregational Confession of Sin

Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Grace

Song: Unending Songs written by Jack Mooring, Leeland Mooring, Paul Moak

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSZP-ExEzd8

Song: Son of God written by Ed Cash, Gordon Cochran, Jon Neufeld, Tim Neufeld

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0u4Kc0X6Tg

Offering

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 42:1-13

Prayer: Sila People of Laos

Song: I Will Exalt Your Name written by Jeffery B. Scott

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LPjvbCF8CQ

In Isaiah 42 we are called to “sing to the Lord a new song” and “declare his praise in the coastlands.”  There is no one like our God.

Song: Rock of Ages written by Augustus Toplady

A historic hymn magnifying God’s grace to sinners in making atonement for sin and clothing us in the righteousness of Christ.

Sermon: Eph. 4:29 – Purity in Speech

  1. Put off unwholesome speech
  2. Put on speech that gives grace
  3. Honor the Holy Spirit

Song: Praise the Father, Praise the Son written by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhMPOieCMa0

A praise song exalting each person of the triune God.  My hope was that after seeing the work of the trinity in Ephesians and hearing it proclaimed we would be able to sing this song with informed and inflamed hearts, praising God for his work of redemption.

Announcements

Benediction

In recent days I have been greatly convicted by my lack of humility.  There was a time in my life, particularly as a young believer, that I can say my life was probably marked by humility.  But as I have taken on more responsibility in my life my pride has begun to creep in to a point where now true humility seems like a dimly lit rescue boat off the coast of my deserted island.  I recognize it when I see it but it is so far removed from me that to get back to it would require a great deal of sacrifice.

Probably the most prideful area of my life has been contentment with my current life situation.  It is easy to become discontent with God’s providence when things aren’t shaping up in our lives the way we would like.  Sometimes our humble prayers for God’s will to be accomplished in our lives can turn into accusatory questions that put God in the dock and our selves on the throne.  These are things that I have been dealing with in recent months and they were brought to my mind again when I read Thomas Watson’s chapter on the godly man’s humility.  He says, “Are those who are never pleased with their condition proud?  They speak harshly of God, taxing his care and wisdom, as if he had not dealt well with them.  A proud man…is for ever finding fault and flying in the face of heaven.”

How we handle God’s providence in our lives says a lot about our hearts.  Are you discontent?  Are you always looking for something better than what you have, be it station in life, material possession or status?  Do you covet the lives of others who seem to have been dealt a better hand?  Do you long for more worldly comforts than you have been given?  Do you find yourself re-evaluating your current situation to find out how you got there and then regret your past decisions that brought you to where you are?  Are you neglecting current spiritual duties or commitments because you are still looking for something better?  All of this shows a level of discontent and pride.  I am convinced that only those Christians who are content with God’s sovereign hand working out the details of their lives will be able to exercise true, biblical humility.  Only when we submit to his divine wisdom will we be able to lay down our earthly wisdom.  His judgments are unsearchable.  His ways are inscrutable.  We have given him nothing.  He has given us every good thing we have.  What do we have that we have not received?  God clothes the grass of the field and will we question the ways in which he clothes us?  Had God no right to put Joseph in the pit before the palace?

Acts 17 tells us that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.”  Brothers and sisters God has determined your life.  Let that not be a source of trepidation but of contentment and humility.  You have nothing to fear.  You have been given your current lot so that you might reach out for God with what you have and find him.  Let his providence bring you low thoughts of yourself and high thoughts of Jesus, our righteous judge.  His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole world to support those whose hearts are blameless towards him (2 Chron. 16:9).  And let us find contentment in the truth that even though the lot is cast into the lap, every decision is from the Lord (Prov. 16:33).

The first characteristic of a godly man, according to Thomas Watson, is that he is a man of knowledge.  At first this might seem like Watson is saying that a godly man must primarily be theologically astute.  While theological knowledge is implied here, it definitely does not encompass the whole of saving knowledge because anyone can be theologically informed without being godly.  In fact, a lot of people who call themselves Christians live their lives fooling themselves that they are godly because they have grasped a few theological concepts while at the same time rejecting the authority of the God they claim to know.  It is one thing to know about God, another thing to know God as he truly is.  As Watson puts it, “There is a great difference between one who has read of a country, or viewed it on the map, and another who has lived in the country, and tasted its fruits and spices.”  The man who has truly tasted of the goodness of God in Christ will possess a godly knowledge.

It is a grounded knowledge:

It is a knowledge that is informed by the Word of God and brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus chastises his Jewish kinsmen in John 5 for searching the Scriptures to find eternal life not realizing that those very Scriptures bear witness to their Messiah who is standing right in front of them.  In one sense these Jews knew God but their zeal for God did not accord with right knowledge (Rom. 10:1-4).  But in another sense they were rejecting him because they were rejecting the one sent from God.  Their knowledge was not grounded in the Word of God.  They were blinded by their own expectations of a Messiah who would deliver them from earthly oppression and set up an earthly kingdom in Israel.  They had set their hope in Moses, but it was Moses who was accusing them.

It is an enlivening knowledge:

John the Baptist was described as a “burning and shining lamp.”  The work of the Spirit in the life of John resulted in a deep affection for his Messiah and a willingness to forsake all worldly comforts in order to prepare the way for him.  Here we must be careful to maintain a proper balance.  There are those who have a deep affection for God but it is not grounded in the Word of God.  They are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine because their minds have not been trained to discern truth from error.  Such a person is like an untrained hunting dog chasing every car that passes while neglecting the pheasant in his own back yard.

It is a transforming knowledge:

When we have a true knowledge of Christ and we view him in all of his beauty and splendor we actually partake of his divine nature.  Second Corinthians tells us that “with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  We become what we behold.  The spiritual man, when he spends his days gazing at the perfections of God, revealed in his Word, is transformed more and more into his likeness.  Many Christians will say that they are seeking to be like Christ yet spend no time meditating on his divine attributes revealed in the Scriptures.  Oh how we could be changed by the holiness of Christ, the authority of Christ, the judgment of Christ, the love of Christ, the goodness of Christ, the omniscience of Christ, the unchangeableness of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the eternity of Christ, the dual nature of Christ, and on top of all of this the manifold perfections displayed perfectly in the work of the cross.

Conclusion:

Watson has a lot more to say to us about a godly man’s knowledge.  But my question for us is simply this: do you know God as he has revealed himself?  Have you fashioned for yourself a god of your own understanding?  Does the knowledge of God that you possess result in affection for Christ that leads to transformation?  To know God is to know his Son and to know his Son is to know the Scriptures.  Let us be people of the book and search the Scriptures in order to find Christ.

Getting Out

I work with many teenagers that have either been pulled from their homes for various reasons or have been placed in a residential treatment facility because, according to someone important, their parents cannot or perhaps will not care for them appropriately.  Working with these kids day to day I am able to see them make many unwise choices.  Some of them go AWOL.  Others constantly bicker and fight with their peers and staff.  Some physically harm themselves and do everything in their power to get the attention of someone who cares.  Others develop elaborate plans of deception in order to get their peers to join with them in some kind of negative behavior.  Whatever the offense, when one of them makes a poor choice and I am fortunate enough to talk with him or her afterwards I am convinced that most of what I say and the advice I give falls on deaf ears.  In fact, I’m sure it does because the client has no problem telling me so.  That is, until I bring up one thing: getting out.  It has been my experience that most instruction given to teenagers in a residential treatment center goes in one ear and out the other.  However, when I start asking them about what they really want in life they almost always say they want out.  They want to go home.  They want to get a job, make more friends, enjoy time with their families, make lots of money, drive fast cars and most of all, eat good food.  Once the conversation reaches this point I am able to drive the dagger of common sense into the heart by saying something like, “Do you think the decision you just made is showing us that you are prepared for that kind of life?”  If they are honest, which they almost always are at this point, they will see things my way, the conversation will continue and their negative behaviors will subside (for a while).

In his book, A Godly Man’s Picture, Thomas Watson opens his introduction with these words, “The soul being so precious, and salvation so glorious, it is the highest point of prudence to make preparations for another world.  It is beyond all dispute that there is an inheritance in light, and it is most strenuously asserted in Holy Scripture that there must be a fitness and suitability for it.”  Just like the kids I work with I long for the day when I can get out.  I long for my true heavenly home.  I long for my new physical body and most of all I long to eat at my Father’s table.  It is at this point I hear Watson whisper in my ear, “Do you think that what you are doing now is preparing you for that life?”

As Christians we are being fitted for heaven.  That’s not something we hear a lot about in our Christian bubbles but it’s true.  Psalm 24 asks the question, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart.”  Okay, but what does it mean to be fitted for heaven?   What does it mean to have a pure heart or clean hands?  What does that look like?  That is Thomas Watson’s goal in A Godly Man’s Picture.  He wants to give us a picture of true piety.  What is piety?  To put it simply, to be pious is to be devoted and conformed to God in all aspects of our lives.  I’m going to take the next several blog posts and do my best to present what Watson says is a true picture of piety.

You see, the truth is that I am just like the kids I work with every day.  Sometimes I can’t believe how they can be deceived so easily or how they can do what they’re doing and expect to get out of their current situation.  But how many times have I traded eternal pleasure for those that are fleeting and temporary just like them?  Perhaps as we think about what it means to be fitted for heaven we will admit with Watson that “[piety] is the grand business that should swallow up your time and thoughts.”  Maybe we will stop going spiritually AWOL.  Maybe we will stop trying to justify our minimal commitment to the gospel and the church of Christ by comparing ourselves to other minimalistic Christians.  Maybe we will stop self-destructing.  Maybe we will stop buying in to the deception of the world around us.  Maybe we will start to see that our souls are precious and our salvation is glorious and we will seek to do everything we can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to prepare ourselves for the day we finally get out.