Today’s Thyatira

Pastor Jon preaches “Today’s Thyatira” from Revelation 2:18-25.

Revelation 2:18-25 (ESV)

To the Church in Thyatira

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come

Love Dawning

Pastor Jay ends the four-part Advent series Dawning with his sermon “Love Dawning” from Titus 3:1-5a.

Titus 3:1-5a (ESV)

Be Ready for Every Good Work

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

The light of God’s love in Christ is changing the darkness.

  • We should be nice to those still in darkness.
  • We were once in darkness.
  • We are no longer in darkness only by the loving kindness of God our savior.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • How does Paul know the darkness can be made light?
  • What was a Cretan?
  • Can God turn a Cretan to the light?
  • Why should we be kind to those who are in darkness?
  • In what sense were we Cretans?

Cretan or Cretin

Have you ever been called either a Cretan or a cretin? Both terms can be meant as insults but have different spellings and slightly different meanings. A “Cretan” is a person from the island of Crete.  If you call someone a Cretan in that sense, you are saying that they are like the stereotypical resident of ancient Crete.

Paul pigeonholes the Cretans this way (and it’s not remotely politically correct), “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” (Tit. 1:12 ESV) Paul shoots from the hip, but he’s not wrong.  Though Crete had been inhabited for centuries, during the New Testament time period, the island had become a haven for pirates. Titus, whom Paul left on Crete, had his work cut out for him.

“Cretin”, with an “i” is an intended slur, a synonym for “idiot”.  The origin of the term is fascinating.  In the Alps, a distinct type of congenital defect was common. Cretinism is a disease caused by a lack of iodine, which in turn leads to a birth defect consisting in short stature and mental impairment. A cretin suffers from this abnormality.

But how did cretinism get named?  “Cretin” is derived from the French word that means Christian.  The local Christians wanted to show kindness to these developmentally challenged individuals. Whereas some people regarded cretins as subhuman, they chose to regard them as brothers. They called them by the name “Christian” (cretin) to emphasize the worth of their human souls.  Being called a “cretin” may be intended as an insult, but it is a reminder as well, that God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise.

Happily then, “Cretan” and “cretin” are both words that remind us of the redemptive power of the gospel. In the case of “Cretans”, we know that Christ redeemed many on that island for himself.  The gospel of Christ can change pirates into saints of God. In the case of “cretins”, the gospel of Christ redeemed a whole culture’s view of the developmentally disabled.  Christ’s love in the gospel redeems Cretans and cretins for God’s glory.

Tip of the day: If someone calls you a “cretin” ask your detractor to spell it, define it, and then tell him how the gospel changes everything.  It changed you, dear cret*n.

 

Pastor Jay Beuoy

New City Catechism – Week 52

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“All Glory Be to Christ”
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Q52: What hope does everlasting life hold for us?

A52: It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.

Our culture bombards us with a message. “Stay young. Hold on to what you have. Squeeze this life of every possible pleasure, because it’s all you have. Don’t lose out.” Age is no longer wisdom, but loss. Dying is tragic and evidence that if God exists, he must be stingy and harsh.

The Christian lives with a countercultural worldview. We know that our best days are not behind but ahead. Certainly, in this world, we have many good things. God provides our daily bread. God has made everything under the sun beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11), but he also tells us that, in this world, we will have troubles (John 16:33) and that our outer life will waste away (2 Cor 4:16).

No, we confidently hope in that life to come with Christ. Though we are like grass that withers and the flower that fades, yet we know that in our redeemed bodies, we will see God. “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:10).

He will come again. We will be raised incorruptible and made like Him. We will be together with our Lord. He will establish His consummated Kingdom apart from any vestige of resistance. God will dwell with man in a restored new heaven and earth. He will reign eternally and bring in everlasting joy. In His presence, there will be pleasures forevermore. We will delight in His glory without end.

-Pastor Jay

Joy Dawning

Pastor Jonathan continues the four-part Advent series Dawning with his sermon “Joy Dawning” from Luke 2:8-11.

Luke 2:8-11 (ESV)

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

We have joy because the light of Christ dawns against our darkness.

  • The occasion of joy.
  • The revelation of joy.
  • The proclamation of joy.
  • The transformation of joy.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • If you had important news to deliver, who are some people you would tell?
  • Why do you think God chose the shepherds for the announcement of Jesus’ birth?
  • What are some things in our world that make it hard to feel joyful?
  • How does the gospel change how we view those things?
  • What do you think it means to have “solid joy?” How does it relate to the gospel?

New City Catechism – Week 51

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“Come Praise and Glorify”
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Q51: Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?

A51: Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.

It’s simple math really. Subtraction takes away. A child doesn’t understand the concept or rules of subtraction, but he quickly realizes that he had something and now he doesn’t. When it comes to things we like or need, we don’t want that taken away. I saw a funny meme the other day: wrap several empty boxes and put them under the Christmas tree. When your child acts up, take one of the boxes and throw it in the fireplace. Not really good parenting, but it illustrates the how painful subtraction can be!

The book of Acts starts with Jesus again spending time with his disciples. It must have been an incredible moment. He was in his glorified body since he had died and rose again. The conversations they must have had would have been so interesting. Then, suddenly, he is ascending to heaven. The two angels ask them why they’re looking up to the sky since Jesus is coming back again someday.

I’ve always thought that was a silly question. This man whom they’ve followed for years now has gone into the clouds and they ask why they’re looking. They miss their friend and savior! Jesus is literally the greatest person ever to walk the earth and he’s now gone. It’s the ultimate in subtraction.

Knowing the complete story, we see how Christ left so the Holy Spirit could come into believers. But they didn’t get that yet. They’re devastated. Even today, I would love to have Christ be here physically on earth. Why then did Christ need to ascend?

As I mentioned before, Christ explains that part of the reason he ascended was to allow the Holy Spirit to come into believers. Paul explains more of the reasoning in Romans 8, specifically in Romans 8:31-39. Paul gives a clear explanation of exactly where Christ is and why he is there. He’s at the right hand of God which is a place of priority and prominence. He’s there because he’s interceding for us constantly to God the Father.

While subtraction is often negative, clearly we are still benefitting from Christ’s ascension. What an incredible God we serve!

-Pastor Jon

 

Peace Dawning

Pastor Jon continues the four-part Advent series Dawning with his sermon “Peace Dawning” from Isaiah 9:6-7.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

We have peace because the light of Christ dawns against our darkness.

  • Am I surrounding myself with peace?
  • Am I contributing to the chaos?
  • Am I seeking out the peace?

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What comes to mind when you think of “peace”?
  • When was one time you felt really peaceful?
  • What kind of peace does Jesus bring when he died on the cross?
  • What kind of peace are we still waiting for that God promised?

New City Catechism – Week 50

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“O Great God”
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Q50: What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?

A50: Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.

Last week we considered the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection and his rule of his kingdom from the Father’s right hand. This week we will look at that reality in a different light: how it affects us. Or put another way, “given the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, what does that mean for our daily lives?”

Let’s answer that question by looking at three implications of Christ’s resurrection for us: a pattern, a promise, and a warning. First, we see that the resurrection of Jesus is a pattern. 1 Cor 15:20-23 explains that just as Jesus was physically raised from the dead, so will believers be raised again to glorious eternal life with him. Just as Jesus was raised physically, believers will also be raised in our physical bodies, although transformed by God into glorious, incorruptible bodies (1 Cor 15:42-44).

But we do not have to wait until the resurrection of the dead to see the benefits of Christ’s resurrection, since it also contains a promise for us. The promise is that just as Christ was raised, we are raised to new life while still in this world (Rom 6:4). God does not leave on our own to “do our best” with this religion thing. Rather, we have the power of Christ living in us so that we can live by faith (Gal 2:20). He is at work in us to preserve us until the day he returns (Phil 2:12) and to produce spiritual fruit in our lives.

Christ’s resurrection also hold promise for the entire creation, which is broken by sin (Gen 3:17-18) and awaiting the day when it will be fully restored (Rom 8:19-21). As the Christmas hymn “Joy to the World” declares, not only will Christ defeat sins and sorrows, but also the thorns that infest the ground. We await the day when his blessings will be made known “far as the curse is found.”

The final aspect of Christ’s resurrection to consider is that it contains a warning–these blessings we have been discussing are conditional. They will come to those who have believed the gospel and placed their faith in Jesus Christ. For those who have rejected Christ, there will still be a resurrection, but it will not be to everlasting joy and blessedness. Rather, their portion will be “in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8). This is a call for everyone to honestly examine our faith to determine if it is genuine. Do you long for his return? Do you experience the hope that comes from knowing we will be with him forever? Let’s hold firmly to Christ’s resurrection and the pattern, the promise, and the warning it gives us.

-Pastor Jonathan

 

Hope Dawning

Pastor Jay starts the four-part Advent series Dawning with his sermon “Hope Dawning” from Matthew 4:12-17.

Matthew 4:12-17 (ESV)

Jesus Begins His Ministry

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

We have hope because the light of Christ dawns against our darkness.

  • This darkness is our darkness.
  • This light of hope is the good news of the kingdom of God.
  • This light leads to repentance.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Who/what were Zebulun and Naphtali?
  • Why were they in darkness?
  • What light came to them?
  • What did Jesus mean when he said, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”?
  • How does this give us hope?

New City Catechism – Week 49

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“Crown Him With Many Crowns”
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Q49: Where is Christ now?

A49: Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling his kingdom and interceding for us, until he returns to judge and renew the whole world.

Christ rose from the dead in a material body. This is the uniform testimony of the gospels and New Testament letters. Paul summarizes this in 1 Corinthians 15, “that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:4).

By appearances, Paul refers to the fact that Jesus showed himself bodily to the disciples. They touched him, heard his voice and even ate with him (John 20:27). They also saw him taken up into heaven and heard the angels say that he would return again as he had gone from them.

Where is Christ now? Psalm 110 foretold that Messiah would sit at God’s right hand until his enemies were made a footstool. This prophecy is referenced many times in the New Testament both by Jesus and the New Testament authors. The writer of Hebrews, for instance, quotes Ps 110 five times, e.g., “…After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Heb. 1:3b), cf. also Hebrews 12:2.

The right hand represents power. Jesus is reigning in heaven with His Father. He both rules and sustains creation in sovereign power (Matthew 28:18, Hebrews 1:3, 1 Peter 3:22). Though Christ rules sovereignly, he does not rule at this time unopposed.1 Men, devils, kingdoms and rulers may set themselves against him, but in the end all will bow before Him (Phil 2:10, 1 Cor 15:24-25).

In addition to His rule, which is great comfort to His children, He also intercedes on their behalf as their faithful high priest (Hebrews 7:25, 9:24, Romans 8:24). His position next to His Father secures and guarantees our help and redemption.

-Pastor Jay

1A helpful distinction lies in the terms “sovereign” vs. “preceptive” will. God rules sovereignly such that nothing comes to pass that he has not ordained. But God commands men according to his preceptive will, which they in fact resist and disobey. Cf., RC Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith p. 67, Tyndale.

-Pastor Jay