That’s right, the RP is now podcasting. You can now find and subscribe to our sermons here. Happy listening.
Yesterday was my first official Lord’s Day at Reformed Presbyterian Church, though I will not be ordained and installed until this Friday (d.v.). One of the things I enjoy about this call is that RP practices weekly communion. As a means of grace, the Lord’s Supper is vital to the life and health of the Christian pilgrim. As citizens of heaven who still find themselves on earth–Christian pilgrims find themselves needing nourishment and refreshment for enduring the hardships of the desert pilgrimage. The sin of this world and the ongoing sin in the pilgrim can become a choking dust in the throat of the traveler, and as the psalmist says, the effect of this sin can make one feel like his/her “moisture is dried away.”
For the church who finds herself living between God’s advent in Christ and entrance into the fullness of our promised inheritance of heaven–we are like the church of the OT who found herself living between the advent of God on Mount Sinai and entrance into the promised inheritance of the land of Canaan. To sustain his people on that journey, God provided the means of grace of the peace offering. A meal that both portrayed and conveyed the very peace God would accomplish for them–not through the substitutionary sacrifice of an animal through the mediation of the Aaronic priesthood, but through the mediation of the priesthood of Jesus Christ who not only mediated the once for all sacrifice, but who was himself the substituionary sacrifice.
As the people would feed on the sacrifice as a portrait of the peace achieved for them by another, they simultanesouly experienced that peace when they ate by faith. The point: as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10.16-18,
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?
Just as they partook of the benefits of the altar, we too, partake of the benefits of Christ when we eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper. Although the Lord’s Supper is a beautiful picture of the grace of the gospel, it does more than merely portray that grace–it conveys it when received by faith.
What we have in the Lord’s Supper is nothing less than a communion feast of peace! So are you feeling weakened because of the ongoing pilgrimage and struggle with sin–then get to the table and feed on your savior, so that as your moisture dries up, you may be replenished!
You can read the entire sermon here.
>Yesterday, for the third time in three months, I had the privilege of filling the pulpit for Covenant OPC in New Bern, NC. As in the other times, it was a blessed time of worship and fellowship. It is always such a joy to worship with and preach for a congregation that hungers for the word of God.
Given that it was the Lord’s Day after Christmas and the fact that I didn’t get to preach last Lord’s Day, I took the opportunity in the morning service to preach about Christmas, sharing my thoughts that I had during this season. The main observation I had this year is that there seems to be a general misunderstanding of Christmas. Many Christians seem to have a limited perspective when it comes to reflecting on the birth of Christ. The limited perspective that I am referring to is not so much about a proper theological understanding of the virgin birth or even the right understanding about God taking on to himself flesh.
So, what limited perspective am I talking about? Well, you can listen to it here to find out.
>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!
>Last month I had the privilege to fill the pulpit for Covenant OPC in New Bern, NC on Reformation Sunday. So for my two sermons I chose to look at the two foundational principles of the Reformation: the formal principle and the material principle. The formal principle of the Reformation, or sola scriptura, teaches that the scripture alone is the sole authority for the faith and practice of the church, while the material principle, or sola fide, teaches that the justification of a sinner before a holy God is received by faith alone.
These principles are not extra biblical ideas that have been used for understanding the Bible, rather they come from the Bible itself. And one place where you see these two principles working hand in hand is in the first chapter of Leviticus.
For the morning service, I preached on Leviticus 1.1-3 & John 1.14-18 “Sola Scriptura: The Formal Principle of the Reformation.” You can listen to it here.
For the evening service, I preached on Leviticus 1.1-9 & Romans 3.21-26 “Sola Fide: The Material Principle of the Reformation.” You can listen to it here.
The main content of the sermons comes from sermons I preached last year while in Leviticus 1-7, but they have new arrangements to fit the special occasion.
>In an earlier post, I made an exegetical paper on Psalm 24 available, since there seems to be a lot of interest on that psalm. Well, I seem to get a lot of traffic on that particular post, but often from persons looking for a sermon on Psalm 24. So, I have edited an old sermon that I did that was based on the exegetical work found in the paper.
For those who are extra ambitious, you can listen to a sermon on Psalm 24 by Charlie Dennison (whom though I never met has shaped my preaching very much) who takes the psalm a little differently than I do. Read mine, listen to his and compare!
>In the sermon tonight I talk about the centrality of the cross-centered life, not only for defining the Christian profession but also for living the Christian life.
You can hear the sermon here.
>What is the relationship between the plot line of the Bible, missions and prayer? In today’s sermon I attempt to show how these three things come together. Back in June, the 76th General Assembly requested that today, September 13, 2oo9, be set aside for a special season of prayer for the work of Worldwide Outreach of the OPC. In the OPC, Worldwide Outreach speaks of more than just foreign missions, it also includes home missions and Christian education. Given this call to prayer for the mission of the church, I thought it would be helpful to look at what God has to tell us about prayer and missions.
In order to do this I look at Colossians 3.1-4 and 4.2-4 together. Here is a preview:
. . . Missions is not something that the church attempts in and of her own strength, wisdom and strategizing for God; rather, missions is about God’s plan and his activities, and the church’s privilege to participate in what he is doing. And one of the main ways that the church participates in missions is through prayer. Praying for the church’s work, then, is not peripheral, but is central. It is central to the nature of missions as God’s work and it is central to who we are in Christ.
. . . The Bible is an integrated and true story with a plot line. And the plot line centers on a God who is on a mission to glorify himself, through his Son, by creating a people for his name’s sake. From the beginning, God has been on a mission to bring a people to experience and enjoy the eternal fellowship experienced and enjoyed among the three persons of the Trinity.
. . . Paul calls us to understand our place in the drama of redemption, our place of sharing in the role of the main protagonist, Jesus Christ, so that we might know how to live out our new roles in this continuing drama.
. . . And hear me, God will accomplish his ends . . . God is on a great unstoppable mission to glorify himself through the Son by saving a people for his name’s sake. When this understanding of God, his purposes, and our new identity in Jesus Christ grips us, how can we do anything other than pray for his mission in which we are participating?!
. . . Those who preach and teach the gospel, those who administer the sacraments and church discipline, those who plant churches here in America, those who go to foreign lands across the globe, those who write and publish studies to help people to be nourished in the their faith and trained for gospel ministry, they are not the only ones who are called to participate in world wide outreach. The congregations, you, Grace Church, also have been called to share in the work by your prayers. Not everyone will be a preacher–but everyone has a role in God’s unfolding drama of redemption. When you pray, you participate in the forward advancement of the gospel and the forward advancement of the plot that leads to the ultimate consummation of the story. And therefore we pray.
What a privilege it is to be redeemed and to play a role in God’s continuing mission of redemption as we find ourselves bound up and united to the main protagonist of the unfolding drama, raised up with him and devoted to prayer.
>This evening I continued in my overview series of the Gospel of Mark and looked at the Triumphal Entry of Jesus, which is the beginning of the Passion Week. Although this is a very familiar text, it is full of OT allusions and quotations, which makes it quite a tricky passage. So let me say this, listen to the sermon because you may hear a perspective on it that you haven’t heard before. Here is a preview:
The Christian life flows from the unexpected humble character of our Messiah. . . . we need to get our expectations in line with the scripture and allow it to shape our outlook on living as Christians in this world. For when we don’t, it can lead us to miss who Jesus is and who we are to be in, which can hinder our identity and mission as the church.
. . . And this, then, anticipates the ultimate unexpected character of Jesus’ Messiahship – it will surpass by far his unexpected humble arrival and his unexpected judgment against the Jews and blessing of the Gentiles – for the ultimate unexpected character of the Messiah will be revealed in the way in which he will secure the blessings of the covenant and eternal worship of God when he is humbled to the point of death on the cross where he is rejected by both men and God.
. . . So how is your grasp of Jesus? Are you receiving him as the unexpected, expected Messiah? Have you come to grips with your King whose rule is characterized by an unexpected humility? Where your life takes on the character of his rule and his life of humility, lowliness, service, rejection and death that will lead to resurrection and exaltation in the heavenly kingdom? Or do you desire that expected Messiah, who with his coming will break the bonds of political tyranny in order to exalt his people on earth as the powerful and influential? The overwhelming majority of people in Jesus’ day expected the wrong Messiah, so that when the unexpected Messiah arrived, they rejected him. And even when he finally began disclosing his identity, he was treated like others and quickly forgotten, for they could not see him rightly because they were so caught up with their religious activities and ideas. You see, there are those who reject Jesus in outright rebellion, like the religious leaders who begin plotting his death. And there are those who reject Jesus as they go about their daily religious routines.
You can hear the entire sermon here.
>My friend Keith Watson has stirred up quite a bit of action on his Facebook page with this status:
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Let me know your thoughts – ladies!
Well, I thought this is a good question. And in light of some of the responses he is receiving, I thought I might weigh in by publishing a sermon I wrote on this text and topic a couple of years ago.
Here is a snippet:
The new creation submission for wives, then, flows out of their union with Christ, who as their mediator submitted himself perfectly to the Father’s will and accomplished the redemption of his people and their marriage to Christ–the very redemption that empowers marriage and that marriage is to reflect. The submission that wives are to give to their husbands flows out of Christ’s very own submission to the Father.
You can read the entire sermon here. Sorry, no audio.
As Keith asked, so do I. Let me know your thoughts, ladies!