Sturdy Defenses

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “Sturdy Defenses” from 1 John 2:26-29.

1 John 2:26-29 (ESV)

I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Children of God

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

The believer has sturdy defenses against the lies of the enemy.

  • To counter the danger we have the abiding of the Holy Spirit.
  • To counter the danger we have the abiding of Christ.
  • To counter the danger we have the abiding unto His coming.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What is the subject of this warning?
  • Who or what is John talking about when he says. “anointing”?
  • What does John mean that we need no one to teach us?
  • What does “abide” mean? What does it mean to “abide in Christ”?
  • What does “his coming” and “when he appears” mean? How does that encourage us to live righteously and in the truth?

New City Catechism – Week 48

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“Facing a Task Unfinished”
(Hymn #348 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q48: What is the church?

A48: God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.

“Literally” has become a word which stymies me a bit. People use it in the exact opposite of the definition. “They were ‘literally’ the meanest people I’ve ever known.” Were they really? Out of all the people you’ve ever met and all the horrible people you know about in history, they were the meanest? It brings up the moment from The Princess Bride when Vizzini says it’s inconceivable that the man in black is still climbing up the cliff. His cohort, Inigo Montoya, says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” ”Literally” has become that word for this generation.

Within the church, there are words which are misused or misunderstood. “Community” can be that way. It’s an often-used term and one that should be a pillar in every church. However, just as having a meal at church doesn’t constitute true fellowship, having multiple people together doesn’t constitute true community. Community, by definition, isn’t simply people living together. We don’t usually think of prisons as communities. It’s more than just proximity; it’s also a common interest and common values.

When the Bible talks of the church as a community, it’s referencing a group of sinners saved by grace who are working together in the midst of diversity for the common goal of encouraging, learning, and reaching others with the gospel. It’s not simply coming together for one day a week. It’s literally people doing life together. Community within the church is sharing hurts, celebrating victories, carrying burdens, working together, and building one another up as we focus on God.

Simply put, true community is not for the faint of heart. It’s risky. People may know your hurts. But, chances are, you’ll find people with similar hurts. You may be challenged in your walk with Christ. But, chances are, you’ll find people who are wanting the same and need some accountability. Being open and honest is always risky, but the church community should be a safe place to be both.

No church has “arrived” when it comes to community. There are none that are perfect. Grace is no exception. It’s a constant work in progress. We are striving to make it better and would love if you came along with us in creating a godly community!

-Pastor Jon

Gospel-Abiding Church

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “Gospel-Abiding Church” from 1 John 2:24-25.

1 John 2:24-25 (ESV)

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life.

Let the gospel abide in you.

  • Do not be moved from it by antichrists proclaiming a different gospel.
  • Do not be moved by threats from the world.
  • Do not let the wisdom of the world make you ashamed of it.
  • Do not let the love of the world diminish your love for it.
  • Do not forget your dire need of the gospel.
  • When the gospel abides in us we abide in the Son and Father.
  • When the gospel abides in us we have the promise of eternal life.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • How does John refer to the gospel in v.24?
  • Is John speaking to individuals or churches?
  • What does it mean to have the gospel abiding in us?
  • What are the promises concerning that gospel in us?
  • What do you think the biggest dangers are that would cause us to leave the gospel?

New City Catechism – Week 47

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“The Communion Hymn”
(Hymn #343 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q47: Does the Lord’s Supper add anything to Christ’s atoning work?

A47: No, Christ died once for all. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal celebrating Christ’s atoning work; as it is also a means of strengthening our faith as we look to him, and a foretaste of the future feast. But those who take part with unrepentant hearts eat and drink judgment on themselves.

Throughout church history, there have been various interpretations of the significance of the Lord’s Supper.  A blog post like this does not give sufficient space to deal with all the different opinions. However, the catechism this week does a good job of outlining the basic Evangelical understanding of the practice.

First of all, it must remain clear that the Lord’s Supper does not add anything to Christ’s once-for-all atoning work (1 Peter 3:18). Under the Old Testament sacrificial system, repeated sacrifices were necessary. However, the work of Christ put an end to all of this (Hebrews 9:25-26, Hebrews 10:12). It is unbiblical to say that Christ somehow is re-sacrificed, re-offered, or re-presented in this ordinance.

What then is the meaning of the Lord’s Supper? We know Jesus commanded that we eat and drink in remembrance of him (Luke 22:17-19). By observing the Lord’s Supper we are proclaiming his death and resurrection (1 Cor 11:26) and looking to him in our hearts. And we are reminded to anticipate his future coming in glory (Matt 26:29). He will return in glory, and it is on that coming we set our hope.

It is also worth noting that the consistent witness of the New Testament is that the Lord’s Supper is to be practiced by the church. It is not something that individual believers should observe in private. Rather it is a fellowship meal of the gathered, visible body of believers. The Lord’s Supper binds us together as God’s people.

In the midst of this rich symbolism the Bible also gives a warning about the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is more than just a meal, it is a solemn observance instituted by Jesus Christ himself. Therefore, we must not come to it with a flippant or unexamined heart—to do so is “eat and drink judgment” (1 Cor 11:29) on oneself. The Lord’s Supper should be approached with prayerful and honest self-examination, laying our hearts open and confessing our sin to God.

The EFCA statement of faith speaks of the ordinances as “nourishing” the believer. While we come to other meals for physical nourishment, may our observance of the Lord’s Supper provide us with the rich spiritual nourishment of comfort, hope, and fellowship with the church.

-Pastor Jonathan

Nonchalant Confidence in Battle

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “Nonchalant Confidence in Battle” from 1 John 2:18-23.

1 John 2:18-23 (ESV)

Warning Concerning Antichrists

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.

We, God’s children, have confidence in the war of the world, because we understand our situation.

  • We understand the hour.
  • We understand our enemy.
  • We understand our advantage.
  • We understand the big lie.
  • We understand our confession.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What advantages do God’s children have in the conflict of this world?
  • What is an “antichrist”?
  • What does “anointing” mean? What is our anointing that John speaks of?
  • What is the big lie? What are we to believe concerning Jesus?

New City Catechism – Week 46

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“All Creatures of Our God and King”
(Hymn #11 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q46: What is the Lord’s Supper?

A46: Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom.

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are visible ordinances or sacraments that the Lord commanded. They do not replace the preaching of the gospel but they convey the gospel in an additional and dramatic way. As baptism signifies our death to our old self and new life in Christ, so the Lord’s Supper proclaims the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

There are several key truths that the Lord’s Supper portrays regarding the gospel. First, Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of me.” When we celebrate communion, we are focused on the substitutionary death of Christ for our sins. We are reminded, that as the Passover lambs were slain in the place of the firstborn children of Israel, so God’s firstborn, is put to death for the redemption of His covenant people.

Jesus told his disciples, before that last Passover supper, that he had earnestly desired to eat the meal with them before he suffered (Luke 22:15). In similar fashion, the Christian will see communion as a deep fellowship with Christ. Paul wrote that the cup we bless and the bread we break are a communion in the blood and body of Christ. When we take the elements we draw near to the Lord in our hearts and affirm once again our need of His saving work.

The catechism says that by taking this we feed and nourish our souls. Such a statement does not mean that we have a magical view of the elements. When Paul writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26) he uses one of the same words “proclaim” as he uses for preaching the gospel. The Lord’s Table, in a very tangible way, feeds and nourishes us, as would the very preaching of the gospel. Communion is a celebration of the gospel in physical form.

Though the formula is nowhere found in scripture, we say that we “celebrate” communion.  There is good justification for doing so. The supper reminds us of our redemption from the bondage to sin, our glorious communion with Christ, His love for us in laying down his life as atoning sacrifice, and that He is coming again. So, we will continue doing so, “until he comes.”

-Pastor Jay

The Face-Heel Turn

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “The Face-Heel Turn” from 1 John 2:15-17.

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

Do Not Love the World

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Do not love the world.

  • To love the world invalidates love for the father.
    • Three contents of the world to recognize as incompatible:
    • Beware of the desires of the flesh.
    • Beware of the desires of the eyes.
    • Beware of the pride of life.
  • To love the world is to choose the temporary over the eternal.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What is “the world” as John means it?
  • What does it mean to “love the world” in this context?
  • What are the examples John gives that are part of loving the world?
  • What are the main reasons John gives that we should love God and not the world?

New City Catechism – Week 45

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Q45: Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

A45: No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin.

Symbols can be weird things. Sometimes they mean very little to anyone other than the person displaying it. People sometimes wear a t-shirt that no one understands. If you’re showing a symbol which needs to be explained, perhaps a new one is in order.

Symbols can also be very powerful. In the film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne said, “People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.” Symbols can be very powerful if leveraged correctly.

In fact, some symbols and symbolic gestures carry much weight. Within the church, symbols mean a lot. Communion and baptism are meant to be symbolic, but carry much weight. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11 exactly how important the Lord Supper really is. It’s not able to save, but it’s a reminder of Christ’s death on the cross for our sins. It should be treated respectfully.

In the same way, baptism should also be respected. It’s a joyous occasion, but it isn’t something to be done lightly. It’s so important that even Christ himself showed obedience to the Father by being baptized. The act of baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. When someone is baptized, they are showing others their commitment to Christ through the symbolic act of being immersed in water.

Baptism isn’t shown to save in Scriptures. It’s not what takes away one’s sins. If it were, then Jesus being baptized would be problematic. Instead, it’s a public display of an inward commitment to Christ. Only trusting in Christ’s work on the cross and subsequent resurrection can save someone from their sins.

-Pastor Jon