To Serve God

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “To Serve God” from Hebrews 9:13-14.

Hebrews 9:13-14 (ESV)

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

To serve God you need the blood of Christ.

  • The blood of animals was never going to be sufficient.
  • The blood of Christ was fully sufficient to our need.
  • The blood of Christ was offered through the eternal spirit.
  • The blood of Christ is perfect to purify our consciences from dead works.
    • From dead works.
      • They were dead because dead men do them.
      • They are dead because they cannot bring life.
      • They are dead because they lead to death.
    • To serve the living God.
      • Power
      • Purpose
      • Privilege

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What does it mean to serve?
  • What is needed to serve God?
  • In what ways are we able to serve God?
  • What does the blood of Christ do for us?

New City Catechism – Week 5

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Read our weekly blog below. Here are other resources related to this week’s question:

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“This is My Father’s World”
(Hymn #44 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q5: What else did God create?

A5: God created all things by his powerful Word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule.

I love looking at the stars. The first year I lived in Kansas, I was driving one night on a dark highway. There was no moon and the sky was clear, revealing a breathtaking panorama of stars. I had to pull the car off on a side road, got out of the car and just marvel as I thought about the God who created the universe from nothing.

Psalm 19:1 says “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” We can know that God exists from looking at creation. Whether it be the vast expanse of the universe, the intricate detail of a snowflake, or the complex systems of a living organism, the truth is plain. The Bible says this truth is plain even to unbelievers (Rom 1:19-20).

But there are other things we can know about creation because God has revealed them to us. Let’s quickly look at three of them.

First, God’s creation was very good (Gen 1:31). His wisdom and goodness were perfectly reflected in everything he made. We are not a product of random biological and chemical processes, but the product of a God who designed us. This also means there is an intrinsic value to the created world. The world is not to be used up like a disposable product, but cared for as part of God’s original mandate to men (Gen 1:28).

Secondly, creation is fallen. When Adam and Eve sinned, all creation was spoiled and subjected to sin and futility (Gen 3:17-18, Rom 8:20). Now we face drought, disease and suffering. Our world is no longer in its original good and perfect state.

But finally, creation will be redeemed. It is appropriate to end on this hopeful note, because just as we look forward to the resurrection of our bodies, we also anticipate the “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1). We will not exist in eternity in a disembodied spiritual limbo, but in glorified and resurrected bodies. In this new earth, God will bring heaven down so that his presence will be with us (Rev 21:2-4).

So, as we live, let’s remember the world is created by God and it is good. We don’t adopt the flippant attitude of “it’s all gonna burn.” Rather, we treasure and care for the world, remembering that it speaks of God’s power and goodness. And we look forward to the glorious day when creation will be redeemed to no longer bear the curse of sin.

-Pastor Jonathan

The Art of Marriage 2017

Dates: February 24-25, 2017
Location: Candlewood Suites, Salina, KS
Cost: $150/couple (see below for what is included)
Register: Online at gccmarriage.eventbrite.com

We are excited to be hosting “The Art of Marriage,” a six-session video experience which combines dramatic stories, real-life testimonies, expert interviews, humorous vignettes and other teaching methods to lay out God’s design for marriage in a fresh, engaging way. Guests attending the event are each provided a manual with projects to help them apply the principles taught in each session, augmented by dozens of articles and additional content to help them dive deeper.

The location will be the Candlewood Suites Hotel in Salina, KS. Cost is $150 / couple and includes a night at the hotel, breakfast and snacks, and all materials. Lunch on Saturday is on your own in Salina. Register online at gccmarriage.eventbrite.com.

For more information visit theartofmarriage.com or watch the trailer below.

The True Day of Atonement

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “The True Day of Atonement” from Hebrews 9:1-12.

Hebrews 9:1-12 (ESV)

Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover.But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

The Blood of Christ

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

We really needed Jesus.

  • We had a separation problem.
  • We has more sins than we could shake a stick at.
  • We had alarmed consciences that needed stilled.
  • We needed eternal redemption.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What are some things that all people need to live?
  • Why were we separated from God?
  • In your own words, how would you define sin?
  • What did Jesus do to bring us the eternal redemption that we needed? Why?

New City Catechism – Week 4

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“Come Praise and Glorify”
(Hymn #44 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q4: How and why did God create us?

A4: God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.

At the beginning, when God made human beings, he fashioned us to be a reflection of Him. Another way of saying it is, we were made to display His glory. His glory was to shine forth from us and reflect back to Him. We were like a self-portrait displaying the genius of the artist.

In Psalm 8:5 we read, “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (ESV) This glory was ours from Him and for Him.

While in the garden, Adam and Eve were able to walk with God, enjoy His fellowship, serve Him perfectly, and please Him. But when man fell into sin, the image of God in man was corrupted. Sin, death and futility marred our creation, and the reflection of God’s glory was darkened.

Christ, who is the second Adam in his humanity, redeemed mankind to our original purpose. In fact, the writer of Hebrews sees Psalm 8:5 perfectly fulfilled in Christ. He is the one who is ultimately crowned in glory. Those of us, who are in Christ, now share in that glory.

There is a now and not yet to this renewed glory. Though we have been reborn by His Spirit, we are also said to be growing in that reflection of His glory. Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, 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.” (ESV)

If the purpose of man’s creation was to display God’s glory, and if the purpose of the new creation is to increasingly display His glory, then we know why God created us.  We are meant to seek Him and grow more and more into the image of Christ who is the image of God.  Nothing less will satisfy us. Nothing less will give meaning to our lives.

-Pastor Jay

New City Catechism – Week 3

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“Holy, Holy, Holy”
(Hymn #48 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q3: How many persons are there in God?

A3: There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

“It’s like the three parts of an egg”

“It’s like the three stages of water.”

“It’s like a dad who is also a husband and an employer.”

No matter how we try, there are some concepts about God we simply cannot understand. The Trinity is one of them.  But before we resign to not understand it, we must try to comprehend it as best we can. There is a Latin phrase, Deus cognosci potest, comprehendi non potest. It means that God is known but not comprehended.  So let’s take a moment to know him a bit better…

The Trinity is a concept in Scripture in which God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons which (all three together) make up God. It’s not three types of God, three roles of God, or even three Gods. It’s one God in three distinct persons.

Probably the best analogy I’ve ever heard is time. Time exists in the past, present, and future. Each parts are time in of themselves, but without all three together, time doesn’t exist. You can’t have the past, present, or future without the others.

Before we tune out because this is getting impractical and deep, take a look at why the concept of the Trinity is so important to Christians. In other words, what does this mean in our relationship to God?

Each member of the Trinity has a distinct purpose in our salvation. Throughout Scripture, we see it is God the Father’s plan for our salvation. From the fall of mankind in Genesis 3 through his setting up of the final kingdom in Revelation, our redemption has been part of his plan. It has always been the Son, Jesus Christ, who was to be the sacrifice for us. We come up short in our perfection, so Jesus took on the wrath of God for us. Finally, it is the sealing of the Holy Spirit which sets us apart from the world in that salvation so when the final judgement comes, we are safely adopted into his family.

It’s easy to say we can’t understand the Trinity, so what benefit is there learning about it? When we see the role each members of the Trinity have on our behalf, it should create in us a mentality of worship and awe.

May we continue to be in awe of God as we live our daily lives and see all that he has done for us.

-Pastor Jon

A Better Covenant

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “A Better Covenant” from Hebrews 8:6-13.

Hebrews 8:6-13 (ESV)

But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Christ has brought us into a new and better covenant.

  • We failed to live up to the first covenant.
  • God makes the new covenant work.
    • He makes it eternal.
    • He makes us His people.
    • He makes himself known impartially.
    • He makes our sins to be remembered no more.
  • We see the obsolescence of the first.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What can make one promise better than another?
  • Why did Jesus need to bring us a new and better covenant?
  • How is God able to make the new covenant work in our favor?
  • What has happened to the first and older covenant?

New City Catechism – Week 2

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“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
(Hymn #2 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q2: What is God?

A2: God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

A word that serves us well in the attempt to describe God is “holy.” However, we first need to debunk some common misunderstandings of that word. To modern ears, “holy” sounds like a synonym for “pious.”

We might imagine a person detached from the world, sitting in a remote monastery and devoted to prayer. Or perhaps “holy” invokes a more negative image—the so-called Christian who puts on a show of religion to appear better than everyone else, but whose faith goes no deeper than his Instagram Bible verses or Jesus bumper sticker.

However, neither of those caricatures captures the meaning of the word “holy.” At its most basic level, to be holy simply means to be set apart or separated. When we say that God is holy, we mean that he is completely different or “other.”

So, when we say God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything, we realize that he stands outside of creation and that it could not exist without him. He is totally separate, not bound by creation or by time and space but above it.

And when we think about justice, wisdom, or whatever attribute, it’s not just that God displays that attribute better than anyone else, although he does. More than that, God’s justice is a holy justice; his wisdom is a holy wisdom. His holiness is “not so much an attribute of God as it is the foundation of all his attributes. It is Him.” *

In each of these areas, God is beyond and superior to whatever we can imagine. Matt Papa puts this in poetic imagery, saying that God is “An ocean without a shore. A mountain without a peak.”*

Is your mind stretching yet? Good. But don’t let the difficulty of comprehending God lead you to frustration. Instead, let it lead you to worship. For this holy God does not remain far off, but he has spoken and revealed himself to us.

And when God speaks, we can trust what he says because he is sovereign. God is not a benevolent, figurehead king with no real power. Rather, he rules over every molecule in the universe.

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3). Let’s submit to him and bring him our reverent worship.

-Pastor Jonathan

*Matt Papa, Look and Live (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2014), 41-42.

Such A Priest

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “Such a Priest” from Hebrews 8:1-5.

Hebrews 8:1-5 (ESV)

The High Priest of a New Covenant

Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

We need such a high priest.

  • We need one who is seated at the right hand of God’s throne.
  • We need one who is a minister where it matters.
  • We need one who has something to offer a holy God.
  • We needed one who is not earthly.
  • We need one who does not serve a copy.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Name some things that are needed to make it through a day.
  • Where do we find out from this Scripture passage that Jesus is seated?
  • Why do we not have anything to offer to God on our own?
  • What does Jesus alone have that He is able to offer to a holy God?