GPS — Gospel Positioning System

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “GPS — Gospel Positioning System” from Hebrews 13:7-16.

Hebrews 13:7-16 (ESV)

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

The gospel path of following Christ is clean, so follow it.

  • Follow Christ as you’ve seen and heard in faithful leaders.
  • Follow Christ as you avoid being misled by strange teachings.
  • Follow Christ as you bear his reproach.
  • Follow Christ as you sacrifice to God through Him.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Who is one person in your life who you consider a leader?
  • What makes them a leader in your eyes?
  • What makes Christ a perfect person to follow?
  • Can you think of one unique way you could follow Christ this week?

New City Catechism – Week 22

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“Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery”
(Hymn #184 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q22: Why must the Redeemer be truly human?

A22: That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.

A science fiction movie from a few years ago imagined an alien planet where scientists could live and work among the native species by means of remotely-controlled bodies. The synthetic bodies looked and acted like the aliens, but in fact human operators were making them move and talk while connected to computers back at the base station.

You might be wondering what this has to do with our catechism? The answer is that it has quite a bit to do with it. This movie is similar to a heresy that existed in the early church regarding the nature of Jesus. Gnosticism was an ancient belief system that saw the material world as inherently evil and inferior to the spiritual realm.

Some people reasoned that God could not have become truly human, because to take on a material form would have tainted his perfection. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth could not have been truly human—he was closer to something like a remotely-controlled body, who only appeared to be human.

However, this view of Jesus’ nature denies what we know from Philippians 2:5-11 that Jesus fully identified with us. He did not just pretend to learn Aramaic or the carpentry trade of his earthly father, but he learned as a real human with real human DNA. He did not just pretend to feel pain or to suffer on the cross, but he experienced the real agony associated with that torturous death.

And we should be grateful. For Jesus’ true humanity means that he can identify with us in our struggles. He knows what it is to be exhausted from a hard day’s work, or to feel the pain of a friend’s betrayal. He can help us in temptation, for he was sinless when facing the same (Hebrews 2:18).

But more than identifying with us, Jesus’ full humanity makes him a valid representative for us before the judgment throne of God. Just as Adam was our first human representative and left an inheritance of sin and death, Jesus has now stepped in as our second human representative. But in him, we now have access to the grace of God (Romans 5:2). His sacrifice for our sins was accepted as legitimate by the Father. Let’s rejoice in the hope that truth brings us!

-Pastor Jonathan

New City Catechism – Week 21

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“Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery”
(Hymn #184 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q21: What sort of Redeemer is needed to bring us back to God?

A21: One who is truly human and also truly God.

Empathy is an odd word. Not in the sense of grammar, but in the meaning of the word. Webster’s dictionary has two definitions for the word. One of them we’re very familiar with. It’s the more commonly used sense of the word: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively.” Simply put, it’s being able to share the feelings of someone else. The other meaning is a little more nuanced: “the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it.”

Did you catch that difference? Besides being quite shorter, there’s a subtle distinction between the two. The first talks of being able to put oneself into another’s shoes. The second definition refers to two different objects almost becoming one. When we think about the role Christ played for humanity in our salvation, that definition really comes alive, doesn’t it?

Think about this: it wasn’t just enough that Christ understood what we were like as humans. It wasn’t enough that he was tired, hungry, thirsty, sad, happy, and other human traits. Instead, he took on the nature of a human. His divine nature and a human nature literally became one. It wouldn’t do for a sacrifice to be just “like” a human. The sacrifice had to be human in every sense.

That human sacrifice also had to be sinless. That’s why the divine nature of Christ wasn’t lost in the process of his taking on a human nature. That also allows the sole reason for God sending his Son to be accomplished. His reasoning was as a sacrifice for us. It’s accomplished by his Son taking on a human nature to become the only perfect human ever to walk on earth.

Without this plan being put in motion and accomplished, we have no hope in life. The plan of salvation, the conquering of death, and the hope of resurrection can only be accomplished through a Savior who is both human and divine!

-Pastor Jon

The Gospel 180

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “The Gospel 180” from Hebrews 13:1-6.

Hebrews 13:1-6 (ESV)

Concluding Exhortations

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

The gospel must reorder our affections.

  • We must come to love our brothers.
  • We must come to love God’s design for our sexuality.
  • We must come to love God’s provisions.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Share about ways in which you have loved your family and friends.
  • Who has promised to provide all that we will ever need?
  • How have you seen God provide for you, your family and your needs?
  • What promise does God make to us in Hebrews 13:5?

Simplify Your Friendship

Pastor Jon leads this weeks sermon with “Simplify Your Friendship”, from John 15:5

John 15:5 (ESV)

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Creating a relationship can over-complicate things.

  • I need to understand pruning.
  • I need to learn to abide.
  • I need to refine my fruit production.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Share about some of your favorite memories that you have with your mom.
  • What does it mean to us to abide in Jesus?
  • What happens to the branches that do not bear fruit?
  • Why are we only able to produce fruit through abiding in Jesus?

New City Catechism – Week 20

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“Hallelu Jah My Redeemer”
(Hymn #200 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q20: Who is the Redeemer?

A20: The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom God became man and bore the penalty for sin himself.

Last week’s catechism was something of a cliffhanger. After being confronted with our sin and idolatry in weeks 16 and 17, and the fact that God will not allow it to go unpunished in week 18, humanity was in a bad situation. Justly condemned by a righteous God and deserving of his wrath.

But then, there was a glimmer of hope in week 19. A way to escape the punishment we deserve, opened by God’s mercy alone, through a Redeemer. This week we pick up the story and answer who that Redeemer is. But first we should understand the concept of redemption, because it’s not a concept use very often in our day.

In biblical times, the word was often used of buying someone out of slavery. When you redeemed someone or something, you gave a payment that satisfied whatever claim the other party had, and then it belonged to the Redeemer.

Who is the spiritual Redeemer? The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ. Think about that concept of redeeming someone from slavery and apply it to salvation. Jesus paid a price—the very penalty for our sin—with his own blood (Galatians 3:13). His payment satisfied God’s justice, so that now we do not belong to sin.

However, we are not freed to simply ignore God or to continue in sin. Since Jesus purchased us, we now belong to him (1 Corinthians 6:20). We are set free to live righteous lives that honor him.

The next couple weeks the catechism will look at the specific characteristics of Jesus that make him the perfect and only Redeemer. But for now, just let it sink in that Jesus Christ, God become man, willingly offered himself on your behalf. It was not because of any great quality or anything you had to offer him, but only because of God’s great mercy.

When you begin to grasp that truth, you begin to see that it is not burdensome to obey God’s commands, but it is a joy. For the one who saved us by his blood, we gladly serve him. And we have the Holy Spirit enabling us to do it. Let’s pray that we can live in that reality each day.

-Pastor Jonathan

Ooooh Boy

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “Ooooh Boy” from Hebrews 12:18-29.

Hebrews 12:18-29 (ESV)

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Take stock of where you stand in relationship to the holy God of the Universe.

  • Don’t refuse him who speaks.
  • Be grateful for an unshakable kingdom.
  • Offer to God acceptable worship.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Share about someone who you look up to and admire.
  • What happens if you do not listen to your parent’s warning?
  • Why can’t God’s kingdom ever be shaken?
  • Why is God so deserving of our devotion and worship?

New City Catechism – Week 19

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“Grace Greater than Our Sin”
(Hymn #78 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q19: Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?

A19: Yes, to satisfy his justice, God himself, out of mere mercy, reconciles us to himself and delivers us from sin and from the punishment for sin, by a Redeemer.

“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing” go the words of the old hymn. Were we to look to our own innate righteousness or our best works for escape from judgment, we’d be lost.[1]  Our answer to today’s catechism question would be a resounding “no”.  We would not escape.

The reason we would be without hope for escape lies in the nature of our sin and the nature of God. Our sins left us morally bankrupt.[2] God’s nature is perfect justice. He says that he does not let the guilty go unpunished.[3]

But God is also a God of perfect mercy and compassion.[4] He was not willing for us to perish. God acts. He initiates. While we were still sinners and enemies of God, he sent the redeemer into the world to reconcile us to himself.[5]  We can truly say, “For God so loved the world.”[6]

God did not do this because we were lovely, worthy or irresistible. He did this by the determination of His free will[7] and an act of His incomprehensible grace.[8] God chose to redeem us sinners from our sin and from its power and its curse.  He brings us into relationship with Himself reconciling us to Himself.  Can we escape judgment? Yes, because God who is rich in mercy has given us a redeemer.

[1] Romans 7:8, Ps 51:5, Eph 2:1
[2] Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23
[3] Nahum 1:3, Exodus 34:7
[4] Exodus 34:6
[5] John 3:17, 2 Cor 5:18-19
[6] John 3:16
[7] Acts 2:23
[8] Titus 3:5

-Pastor Jay