This past Sunday morning during Sunday School, we spent time talking about the sermon text Romans 8:31-39. In the sermon I had talked about God’s commitment to conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ and the security that commitment gives us to follow our Savior. It is a security grounded in a divine marriage that we have with a loving husband who has given himself for us – and therefore – will not let us go. This love grants us the courage and freedom to give ourselves away to him, or as Isaac Watts has said,
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
The goal of ministry is for the pastor to believe this, and practice this, in order to help others embrace and practice it, as well. However, how do you embrace such an urgent message, let alone lead others to embrace it when things just don’t seem that urgent to us? Continue reading
>This past Lord’s Day I once again had the privilege of filling the pulpit for Covenant OPC in New Bern, NC. And once again it was a great and refreshing time of worship and fellowship. Given the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to preach a sermon that I hoped would broaden and deepen our perspective of giving thanks. Often in “Thanksgiving” themed sermons there is much said about the earthly blessings of God enjoyed in this life (food, clothing, housing, employment, health, etc.) and the spiritual blessing of salvation. But, these different blessings are often treated separately from one another in a way that gives the impression that they are not interrelated, and that the earthly blessings are not really that important. And other times they are united so closely that they are treated together as one and the same thing, so that salvation is equated with earthly affluence in material possessions, influence in the culture and increasing dominion in politics. Both of these approaches are incorrect–the earthly and the heavenly are neither mutually exclusive nor mutually identical–but they are mutually interconnected.
In Genesis 3.8-15, God in his abounding grace provides the blessing of an ongoing earthly history and humanity in the face of increasing rebellion and sin in order to provide the promised seed of the woman who will earn and bestow the spiritual blessing of heavenly communion. If there is no history and no humanity, then there is no theatre in which God can execute his plan of redemption and there is no woman from which the promised seed will come. And yet, if there is no plan and goal for redemption, there is no need for the existence of history and humanity after the fall. There is truly, then, much for which we are to be thankful!
You can listen to “Where Sin Increased, Grace Abounded” from Genesis 3.8-15 and Romans 5.18-21 here.